Monday, May 7, 2012

DIY Dish Detergent

I'm declaring victory!  I've finally found a DIY dish detergent that works well with our machine and water.  This has been no small feat.  I think I've tried 5 different combinations over the past several months.  All past trials have resulted in various degrees of film left on the dishes.  I recently discovered (Thank you, Sears repairman) that we have high amounts of calcium in our water that is causing build-up on our dishes as well as on the inside of our machine.  Most DIY detergent solutions just aren't equipped to deal with that much calcium. 
And, it should be said, I run my dishwasher A LOT!  We don't use paper plates; we all eat breakfast and dinner  here nearly everyday;  2 (sometimes 3) of us eat lunch here daily; our juicer parts take up significant space on the top shelf; and I'm not a fan of handwashing when I have a machine that will do it for me.  All of this means that I run our dishwasher at least twice a day.  So, having a dishwasher that does its job and does it well is a priority.  

This recipe is actually my own combination of several recipes I've tried. I've been using it now for about 2 weeks and think I've now got a good handle on the ideal proportions, so I'm ready to share it with you!

Here are the ingredients.  (Yes, that's rice you see.) You'll notice that it includes Cascade Complete, which is not a green solution. If you are looking to go entirely green with your detergent, this is not the solution for you.  However, I'm convinced that the green DIY solutions just aren't gonna cut it for my water.  This recipe allows me to use significantly less Cascade than if it were my primary detergent and, in the process, saves me lots of green (cash, that is).

I make a small batch because I have a small container and because I only have to use 1 Tbs. per load.  After all, this mixture will provide me with detergent enough for 64 loads.

Mix together the following:
1 c. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1 c. Borax
1 c. Cascade Complete
1/2 c. Lemi-Shine
1/2 c. rice

The skinny on the ingredients:
The Washing Soda and Borax naturally stretch the cleaning power of the Cascade Complete.  I always have these 2 ingredients on hand because I also use them in my DIY Laundy Detergent. The Lemi-Shine was recommended by the aforementioned Sears repairman and helps keep that yucky film off the glasses.  All of these ingredients are likely to solidify into one giant mass in my container, if left to their own devices.  The rice serves to absorb excess moisture and keep the mixture scoopable.  It's not a problem to have it in the dishwasher as it washes away during the cycle.

Mix it all together in container; throw in a Tbs. scoop and a label; and you're ready to wash.

The skinny on the savings:
At 20 cents per load, Consumer Reports considers Cascade Complete powder a real value.  After all, if you're using some of the new, trendy gel packs, you're paying more like 40 cents per load. 

This above recipe, however, comes out at just over 6 cents per load, a value unheard of on the supermarket shelf.

If you've never had problems with film, I'd give this mixture a try without the Lemi-Shine (which is the most expensive ingredient), and you'll save even more.  But, for those of you who, like me, are plagued with super-calcified water, give this recipe a try.  And, please report back.  I'd love to know how it worked for you!

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