13 April 2011

99 Skills Challenge: #33 Make your own dishwasher detergent

#33 Make your own dishwasher detergent

When we ran out of dishwasher detergent the other night, Willis wrote on the shopping list, "Dishwashing Liquid."  Little did he know that making your own detergent was #33 on the skills list and most of the homemade recipes I found (if not all) were for powders, not liquids.

Normally, I'd buy liquid because I've convinced myself that powders get clumpy and don't work.  I also kind of really enjoy the smooth feel and ease when the liquid pours into the dispenser.  Crazy, I know.  But for the sake of this challenge, I'm gonna get over it.  In the past, I would purchase Seventh Generation liquid dishwasher detergent because, in the grand scheme of things, they are pretty "eco-friendly."  If I remembered my own container (something, I'm really really trying to be better at), I'd buy it in bulk.

But it's time to kick things up a notch.  Yes, the stuff I buy uses "natural" products and yes, the plastic containers are made of recycled materials, and yes I might recycle or re-use them, but then what?  Does the plastic just vanish? Is recycling really all that sustainable?  Is my detergent really being made in Vermont? Is there not something better?

I'm not really sure.  I'm not even fully convinced that using the dishwasher is even better (in terms of energy, soap, and water usage) than washing by hand.  All of the articles I've read on dishwashers vs. hand leave production and materials out of the equation, I'm sure that has a lot to do with it.  And where do all these dishwashers end up when they retire?  My guess is a landfill, the side of a road, or a hoarders front lawn.  But, we have a dishwasher. And I'm lazy.  Maybe my next challenge will be to go a certain amount of time without using it...

Making your own detergent is definitely cheaper.  See a cost break down here.  In my research, I came across many different variations on a theme for a homemade dish detergent.  I didn't use citric acid because I forgot to purchase it while I was at the store.  So, it's basically just washing soda or soda ash and borax.  Although I'm sure neither company is reliable in terms of "eco-friendliness," both products come in cardboard boxes that we can compost in our backyard.  These products are also useful in other places throughout the home (clearing drains, cleaning tubs and toilets, deodorizing furniture, etc.) In the future, if not too expensive, I might look into other brands or alternatives.

I gave the powder a test run and so far, so good!

Dishwasher Detergent

1 cup Washing Soda
1 cup Borax
Vinegar (to be used as rinsing aid)

Other things you can add: 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup citric acid, lemon essential oil

1. Mix the washing soda & borax (add additional other ingredients if desired)

2. Place in sealed container

Use 1 Tbsp. per cycle (distributed between pre-rinse and main wash).
Fill rinse aid dispenser/indicator with vinegar.

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