When Mark and I got our first place together it was an apartment out in the country in Iowa. We only lived there a few months, but it was a decent little place. It had 2 bedrooms and an open floor plan. It even had a dishwasher! This was my first time ever having one, and I hated it! Looking back I'm sure it was the most basic kind money can buy, but it sure gave me a terrible impression of dishwashers. When we bought a house in town and remodeled it, installing a dishwasher didn't even make my project list!
Fast forward to today. We're now on our 3rd house, and the last two have had dishwashers (Maytag) already installed when we moved in. And they have been fabulous! I don't know what I'd do without them! However, I'm not crazy about spending so much money on detergent filled with chemicals. I purchased Seventh Generation Detergent when we moved in to get me by until I had time to make my own... which finally happened this weekend!
After researching several recipes on Pinterest and reading the comments on each I discovered a lot of people weren't impressed with the homemade stuff. Determined to make it work, I combined some recipes and gave it the ole' college try. I'm sure glad I did, because I am in love with this stuff! I have had no problems with spotty dishes, clumpy detergent, or food residue left behind (the typical complaints I came across). My dishes are cleaner than they were with the store bought stuff, for a fraction of the price, and minus the crappy chemicals! Read on to see the recipe I used.
1/3 cup citric acid (75 cents)
*I found this in the canning section of Wal-Mart. The jar is $3 but you use less than 1/3 of it.
1 box of Super Washing Soda ($3.25)
1 box of Borax ($3.40)
3 cups Epsom Salt (88 cents)
1 cup rice (about 25 cents, used what I had at home)
*I mixed this in to keep the detergent from clumping. The rice will fall out when you run the dishwasher, but it leaves no residue and isn't a problem.
Total Cost: Less that $9 for a HUGE container full! (I'll update later on how long it lasted me!)
I poured everything into a huge container that I purchased at Wal-Mart for less than $6 (it even has a spout for pouring!) and had Mark shake it up for me (make sure to put your hand over the spout so none leaks out as you shake). It's that simple!
Make sure all dishes are rinsed before you load them! This takes very little water (for caked on food just let soak for a while) and will prevent re-washing dishes. I pour about 1-2 tbsp. into my dishwasher. I also keep my rinse compartment full of plain white vinegar for use as a rinse agent. This prevents the dishes from being spotty for a minimal cost (I always purchase the giant jug and refill a smaller one that I keep under my sink). I run my dishwasher on normal cycle with no extra features (like sanitize, dry, etc...). I find this works while still being economical. To dry dishes I just pull out top rack a few inches and then close the door so they can air-dry before I put them away.
I couldn't be happier with my all-natural, cost-efficient, homemade dishwasher detergent. I hope it works as well for you!
I am making my second batch today, July 21st! I have enough detergent left to last me 3 more days, which means one batch of my homemade dishwasher detergent lasted me ONE YEAR!! That is a total cost of 71 cents per month! I am so happy to say that I can clean my dishes for under a dollar a month (including rinsing agent...I use white vinegar)! Now, obviously that price will vary depending on how often you run your dishwasher. I run mine on average every other day. This will change depending on how often you cook and how many people are in your household. However, this is still a very cheap way to naturally and effectively clean your dishes, and it takes less than 5 minutes to make. STILL in love with it a year later!