I'm always looking for ways to save money. Dishwasher detergent isn't a huge deal for me since I only have one load a day. I spend about $8 every two months on the little tablets that drop in. When my mom sent me the recipe for homemade I quickly scanned it and realized I had everything on hand so I had to give it a try.
Being the skeptic that I am I only made a small amount until I could test it to see if it works. I didn't have many dishes that needed to be washed so I grabbed my stainless steel dish drainer that was extremely past due for a good cleaning and proceeded to clean out any leftovers in the fridge.
I figured if the mix would clean my dish drainer it could clean my everyday dirty dishes.
I added 1 tablespoon to the cup and turned the dishwasher on water saver. I was so curious to see if it worked that I didn't wait until the dry cycle ended. I wish I had taken before and after pictures of my dish drainer so you could see the difference. It worked. All the yuck was gone from the drainer. Okay, I'm impressed. The rest of the dishes were spotless and had no residue on them. There was also no scent which I like.
Considering that this homemade version costs pennies to make I could probably have a 2 year supply for the cost of my regular two month supply of tablets.
Recipe Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1 cup Borax
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup citric acid
15 drops essential oil -Optional- I don't like scented dishes so I skipped this.
Mix everything up and store in airtight container. Use 1 tablespoon per load of dishes. (Double for hard water.)
The recipe stated to leave the lid off and mix a few times a day for a couple of days because the citric acid makes it clump. I made mine several hours ago and have just shaken it in the jar. (An old Miracle Whip container is what I used.)
Now a few more details:
Borax: A large box, 76 ounces, should cost $5-7. Safe for general use but can be toxic to cats. If you keep it covered and in the small quantities used I don't see it posing a threat. I went to 20 Mule Team Borax website and found this:
"20 Mule Team Borax can be used to deodorize pet odors, but it is NOT recommended to be added to litter boxes. As a reminder, we recommend you keep 20 Mule Team Borax out of reach of pets and children"
Washing soda and baking soda are NOT the same thing. You can however make your own washing soda with baking soda. I will make a blog post soon about that. It's as simple as baking the baking soda. Washing soda can be found in the laundry aisle at stores like Walmart. (That's where I got mine but I do know my grocery store didn't have it.) It comes in a 55 ounce box for around $5. There will be plenty to make dishwasher detergent, floor cleaner or laundry detergent with.
Kosher salt has much larger flakes than regular table salt and is iodine free. It can be found near the regular salt in the grocery store for around $3 a box. I believe it is a 3 pound box.
Citric acid is used for canning and can be found in the canning section of your store. Recently I discovered My Spice Sage that carries it in larger sizes for a fraction of the cost. 4 ounces for $4.00. (The more you buy the less it costs and free shipping.)
$20 should cover all the supplies that you need to make a couple years or more of dishwasher detergent. The borax and washing soda can be used for many other cleaning purposes so any extra won't go to waste.