Thursday, May 26, 2011
Not Quite: DIY Dishwasher Detergent
One of my continual fascinations, as you know, is attempting to discover cheaper and better ways to accomplish a goal, usually through doing something myself or eliminating a purchase. This winter, my focus turned to trying to replace commercial dishwasher detergent, as this can cost nearly $4 a box and is a pain to lug home from the grocery store.
I researched online, and most sources suggested a 1:1 mix of baking soda and borax. This makes sense, but it set off a long research project to determine whether I thought using borax to clean dishes was safe (even though that is one of the uses listed on the box). I determined that I felt comfortable, and I gave it a try.
And the results were: OK. Not great. Not a substitute for the real thing. Good enough to get us through in a pinch if we run out of store-bought and don't want to make a special trip, but not good enough to be a total replacement.
(Note: Things do not get better if you add a drop or two of liquid dish soap to the dispenser. Let's just say you have a Brady Bunch-esque situation on your hands, and leave it at that. Those of a certain age will know what I mean!)
To make matters worse, I have also uncovered, through reading other blogs and then experimenting with a cheap, phosphate-free store brand, that it may be the phosphates that account for so much of the cleaning power of my favorite OTC brands of detergent. Crud. I wanted to avoid phosphates if possible, so now I feel like I need to figure out what I want to avoid more: phosphates, or hand-washing dishes. Believe me, the choice is not an easy one.
Fast: DIY dishwasher detergent is a snap to mix.
Cheap: It is also far cheaper than the store brand.
Good: However, it doesn't work all that well. I'm going to keep a container of it around for days when I'm just running a load of glasses and relatively clean plates, or for when we run out of store-bought. However, it isn't a substitute for my old faithful. Sigh.
Readers: What do you do? Do you have a DIY recipe that really works? Do you have to handwash your dishes, and if so, is that really less expensive?
Posted by Jennifer Lorenzetti at 10:27 AM