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March 31, 2011

Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

About a year or so ago I started researching homemade cleaning products, mostly to save money…but also to use fewer chemicals.  A web search will lead you to many different posts on the subject.  I finally settled on a Dishwasher Detergent recipe that works for me, so I thought I would share it…along with my newest suggestion for making it work better. {Disclaimer: This recipe contains Borax – which you shouldn’t go eating, drinking, or inhaling as a rule – but is actually a “natural” product.  The ultra-purists will want to tell me why it’s bad and if you are one of them I do respect your opinion, but humbly make this choice for myself and family}.

Here’s the one I started with…which worked really well, except for one issue I’ll mention in a minute:

1 cup borax – 3/4 c. baking soda – 3 Tbs. Citric Acid – 2 1/2 Tbs. ground castile bar soap.

It worked great {we have a 13 yr. old dishwasher & use a whole home water softener}…except that it would clump in the jar {maybe from the moisture in the soap???}.  We tried it without the castile soap, but it still clumped, and didn’t work quite as well for us.  So I came up with a solution that we are now loving! Same ingredients, I now just keep them in separate containers – No Clumping!

borax-box-590 PeppermintCastilebaking-soda

The Citric Acid was the trickiest ingredient for me {but I think necessary for sparkly clean dishes}.  You want to use food grade citric acid.  Because I had to pay shipping anyway, I ordered 5 lbs. from Mountain Rose Herbs…and when you see how much I use per load, you’ll know why it should last us for years!! Some say they have found it in the canning section of their grocery or discount stores – but not around here.

Castile Soap – I use Dr. Bronner’s because I can get it in 2 different stores without having to leave my suburb :).  I actually prefer the Citrus Orange, but my local stores don’t carry it any more so I switched to peppermint {my daughter loves that}. I first grate one bar of the soap in my food processor, then I switch to the cutting blade to grind it up finer.

I used a tag image from a digital scrapbooking kit and a cute font & made these little labels, glued them to some thin cardboard I recycled from the back of a notepad, cut them with my exacto and tied them on to the jars with some polished hemp twine and voila…there they sit above my dishwasher ready to go!

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My new per-load recipe is:
1 Tbs. Borax – 2 tsp. Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp. citric acid – 1/4 tsp. soap

NOTE:  I also fill the rinse agent dispenser with distilled white vinegar & check it once a week – great for clean rinsing and cutting down on spots!!

I realize a few of you will be shaking your heads now because we actually have to scoop out of 4 separate containers, but this works for us splendidly…and I’ve had no complaints from my husband or daughter that it is “extra work”.

Hope this helps someone!

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