Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dishwasher Detergent

Yet another handy product to make yourself and save a bundle on is dishwasher detergent. I make my own detergent from a few simple ingredients, and that, combined with plain white vinegar as a rinse agent, gets my dishes cleaner than ANY commercial detergent I've tried- powder or gel, AND it works orders of magnitude better than commercial detergent plus ridiculously expensive JetDri!

Get out your handy dandy Borax and washing soda- this is yet another recipe that uses'll also need a few other goodies: Kosher salt, citric acid (available at home brewing shops, or special order on the internet. I am able to find it easily in 1lb bags locally, and my fave local brew pro shop will order it for me in 10lb bags as well- I pay about $4.50 a pound for it). Citric acid prevents the cloudy/powdery residue that most "green" cleaners leave behind. You'll also need an empty tub of some sort to keep the final product in. I use an old 32 oz yogurt container with a snap lid, but a screw top would be better. Basically, something that will keep air and moisture out will work better than something that doesn't. The citric acid will tend to draw moisture from the air and clump up. This doesn't affect it's usefulness in the detergent, but just makes it a little tricky to use. To make the detergent- just put the following into your container:

1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup washing soda
1/4 cup citric acid
1/4 cup kosher salt

snap on the lid and shake it up. It's now ready to use. I just fill the rinse agent cup with white vinegar, and add a tablespoon of detergent in the detergent cup on the washer.

The first time I used this, I loaded up my barely functioning washer with the greasiest, nastiest, baked on, caked on, dried on, gross food bits I could find. I wanted to KNOW if it made a difference. It got every dish sparkling. What's more, it didn't leave a single water spot, unlike the Cascade I had been using. This is the MOST cost effective, and generally effective detergent I've ever found. It really does work orders of magnitude better than any commercial product I've ever used. It also costs about the same to make a year's supply of it as you would spend on about a 2 month supply of commercial detergent.

A breakdown of cost can be found on this website, where I got the original instructions from (I try to give credit where credit is due- This blog is more about putting all of the information in one place after I've gathered it from scattered sources than it is about me claiming to have made all this up myself):


  1. Hi Jen, this is probably a really stupid question but is there a reason to use kosher salt rather than just salt? Can't get it over here in the UK. Have located the washing soda as "soda crystals" and some bigger supermarkets sell Borax I think, so nearly good to go!


  2. I'm not sure the exact reason to use Kosher salt, but I would guess it's a twofold reason- first, Kosher salt is very coarse grain, and therefore would be more abrasive. Second, iodized "table" salt, when you put it in water, develops a sort of film. I would guess that you could use a coarse sea salt, which should be easy to find there, and it would work just fine. Unless you have a Jewish market or store that sells "pickling goods", that should carry the Kosher salt. Good luck! Let me know how it turns out!

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