The Mom and I have, for quite a while now, made many of our own cleaning products. However, we've never attempted dishwasher soap. I don't know that I can pinpoint the exact reason for our apprehension with this particular product, but last week, The Mom decided to give it a shot.
After we went to the Farmers' Market last weekend, she sent me home with a little sample of her creation. Since our tiny family of three can easily fill the dishwasher in a day (sometimes multiple times a day, depending on how crazy I get in the kitchen), it wasn't long before I had the chance to test out the new concoction.
The result: fair. The dishes came out with a bit of a film on them. The Man and I have had this problem before, and it's pretty easily solved by adding about a 1/4 c of white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher and running it again. When the cycle was complete, the dishes were sparkling!
Needless to say, I'm hooked, and the timing couldn't be more perfect since we've got one packet of dishwasher soap left in the cabinet! So today, I bought the stuff to make my own batch - all of these items can be found either in the laundry or dish soap area at Walmart. Here's The Mom's "recipe" and notes:
(washes 32-64 loads of dishes)
1 cup Baking Soda
1 cup 20 Muleteam Borax
1 - 2 cups Lemi-Shine (**Update: this amount will depend on your water and your dishwasher! Hard water will require more Lemi-Shine, while softened water may not require any at all. Experiment away! And let me know how much you ended up using. Like The Mom said in the comments below, this can greatly affect the price per load, so it's worth playing with.)
Mix all the ingredients together and place in an airtight container. Done!
Use 1 - 2 Tbsp per load.
****If your dishes feel like they have a powdery film on them, put white vinegar in your "spot-reducer" dispenser of your dishwasher. You can add more Lemi-Shine, too, if you want.
You can't really see it in the photo above, but I bought A&H Washing Soda today. It's in the laundry aisle right next to giant boxes of baking soda. I haven't yet used my version with the washing soda to see if it works any differently, but I'll let you know! :)
I also went ahead and used 2 c of Lemi-Shine since we have very hard water at our house, and we use Lemi-Shine in every load anyway.
As the "recipe" above suggests, you should use 1-2T per load. I'm going to experiment with this to find out what works for us, and I would suggest you do the same, since all dishwashers are not created equal.
Now let's talk about cost because that's an important factor in our house.
We usually buy the little packets of dishwashing soap, mostly for their convenience, and we've had good luck with them in our crappy dishwasher. A bag of a popular brand of these packets costs $8-$9. To be fair, we'll use $8 for the comparison. This $8 bag washes 32 loads of dishes, just like our mixture if you use 2T per load.
Cost of materials purchased:
1 box Borax - $3.38
1 box Washing Soda - $3.24
1 bottle Lemi-Shine - $3.96
Cost of materials used:
I would estimate the box of Borax would make 8 batches of dishwasher soap, and the box of washing soda will make approximately 6 batches. So...
Borax - $.42
Washing Soda - $.54
Lemi-Shine - $3.96
Total cost per batch: $4.92 (that's about $.15 per load of dishes compared to $.25 per load with the popular brand of packets)