Thursday, March 11, 2010

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

By Bill Gerlach | Follow me on Twitter

On the heels of the DIY Laundry Detergent, here is a new recipe for homemade powder dishwasher detergent.

What makes this DIY project great is that it uses two of the primary ingredients from the laundry detergent: Washing Soda and Borax.
  • 1 cup of Washing Soda
  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 1 packet of Lemonade Kool-Aid drink mix (for the citric acid, optional)
  • 1/4 cup of salt (optional)

There are several optional ingredients you could use -- citric acid and salt being at the top of that list. Based on my research most are used depending on the quality of water you have (hard vs. soft). I have used two versions -- one with the citric acid and one without -- with the same results. I have not tried a version using salt. You may want to start with the basic recipe of Washing Soda and Borax and expand from there depending on your results.

In an empty jar or container (mason jars or large yogurt containers work great), mix the Washing Soda, Borax, and Kool-Aid drink mix. Cover and shake well to incorporate. That's it.

This recipe yields sixteen 2-Tablespoon "servings" (your per-load amount).

A note about the Kool-Aid mix: You want to use the lemonade flavor because it is light in color. Other flavors contain coloring that could stain your dishes. (Bad!)

Unlike the laundry detergent, this DIY project isn't saving you a lot over the conventional dishwasher detergent. That said, if you have the ingredients on hand and can spare five minutes of work, you gain the satisfaction of making something instead of buying it.

Now the numbers:
  • Store Bought Detergent -- Using the 100-oz box of Cascade as our baseline, the per-ounce cost (according to Stop & Shop's Peapod site) is $0.07. Since two tablespoons weighs about an ounce, this works out to be your per-load cost as well.

  • DIY Detergent -- One cup of either the Washing Soda (55-oz box at $2.99) or Borax (76-oz box at $3.99) weighs about eight ounces. Doing the math, 16 loads works out to $0.85 or $0.05 per load. 
Now, a two-cent savings per-load doesn't sound like much. But if you run your dishwasher three times a week that adds up to $3.12 in a year. Just enough to buy that next box of Borax!

Like I said, it's not the savings on this DIY project that counts, but the satisfaction of being resourceful and making something on your own. We have been using it for several weeks now with good results. You can't tell the difference. And, if you want to go all the way and get rid of the Jet Dry, consider using white vinegar instead.

Good luck! Let me know how you make out!


Kristin said...

Thanks Bill! I know Polly has been using this with good results and I just ran out of Cascade, so am going to try this today. Excited that it uses the same ingredients. I have been using vinegar instead of Jetdry for quite a while and it works great to. Who knew? Kristin


Thanks, Kristin! I'm waiting for the current supply of Jetdry to run out then I'll throw the vinegar in.

Let me know how it works out! It sounds like water quality (hard vs. soft) can impact performance.

What DIY should be next??