Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wednesday's Cleaning: Make Your Own: Dishwashing Detergent

Last Wednesday I introduced a new series called "Make Your Own." With Pinterest overflowing with ideas, I thought I would take a few ideas and try them out. So for the next few weeks I will be trying out recipes for all types of cleaning and body products, letting you know if it worked, and giving a heads up on what went wrong for me. I gave a list of what I plan on attempting (here), so if you would like for me to try something out that's not on that list, please let me know.

Out of necessity, I skipped topics 1-4, and went straight to #5 on my list: Dishwashing Detergent. I ran out of what I had and I figured, why not start there? So I did. I searched Pinterest and the great World Wide Web in ideas for making your own dishwashing detergent. What I have below is a basic recipe. Most of what I found had the same elements, so it was pretty easy to decide. So off to Wal-Mart I went to get just the few items I needed (and luckily I will need these items again in the near future for other projects, so I'm getting my bang for my buck!). Follow the steps below:

Make Your Own Dishwashing Detergent:

Things You Need:

  • 2 cups Borax 
  • 2 cups Baking Soda
  • 4 small packets of Sugar-free lemonade (kool aid type of mix)
  • White Vinegar
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. OR (in retrospect, I wish I had done this OR), dump all the dry ingredients into a large ziplock bag. Zip it up and mix the ingredients by shaking the bag or by mushing it. Warning: because the ingredients are dry, they tend fly up. I don't recommend you breathing this mixture in, so slowly dump into the bowl or bag and step back just a little. It's a cleaning product, so use your smarts and don't breathe it in. 
  2. Pour mixture into an air tight container. LABEL the container and set out of reach of children. 
  3. TO USE: 
    1. Spoon 2 Tablespoons of the detergent into correct place in your dishwasher. 
    2. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of vinegar into the rinse aid compartment. 
    3. Wash as normal 

Yeah, those jars say "Ragu". So? I recycle!

So this worked pretty well for me. My dishes came out as clean as they normally do, and I was happy with the general results. I attached a measuring spoon to my jar with a rubber band so I would always have one there. The only problem I have had is sometimes not all the detergent would come out of the detergent compartment. BUT this happens every once in a while for me anyway. I'm going to experiment with using a little less since 2 T fills up that compartment. Otherwise, it works fine. These two jars make roughly 100 loads!! Yay! Saving money! 

**Follow Up Review** So after using this for a week, I have to add a quick review on its effectiveness. I have adjusted how much I put in my wash. I use only a 1 Tbsp instead of the recommended 2 Tbsp. BUT I have do a little pre-washing before I put my dishes in. It doesn't work great on the dishes, like the commercials where the kids put in an entire load of filthy dishes in the load and they all come out sparkly clean. But as long as I give a good little rub down of the dirty dishes before I stick them in, the detergent works just fine. 

FINALLY: I try to read through comments of other blogs that experiment with making things, and on one particular blog, a question was raised about using Borax because it can be dangerous. The author of the website wrote this: 

This is a comment found on this website: http://www.thenewhomemaker.com/dishwasherpowder regarding the toxicity of Borax.

Toxic is as toxic does." Here's exactly what Wikipedia has to say:

Boric acid, sodium borate, and sodium perborate are estimated to have a fatal dose from 0.1 to 0.5g/kg.[5] These substances are toxic to all cells, and have a slow excretion rate through the kidneys. Kidney toxicity is the greatest, with liver fatty degeneration, cerebral edema, and gastroenteritis. Boric acid solutions used as an eye wash or on abraded skin are known to be especially toxic to infants, especially after repeated use due to its slow elimination rate.

Example: a 40-lb child is 18.1 kg, which means a fatal dose of borax would be between 1.81 and 9.5 g. That means that child would have to consume about a half-teaspoon to two teaspoons of straight, non-dilute borax, assuming a kid would eat something that nasty-tasting (keeping in mind that as nasty as it is, kids are weird). Of course, you don't keep household cleaners--any household cleaners, including baking soda--where your kid could reach them, right? RIGHT? And it would take a lot less, say, bleach, to severely injure or kill a child that size with a lot greater harm to the environment in general.

If you go to PesticideInfo.org, you'll see that borax is considered neither acutely toxic nor a likely carcinogen. That website is run by the Pesticide Action Network North America, which keeps an exhaustive database of environmental toxins.

Bottom line: Borax is a problem if you repeatedly expose someone, especially small someones, *directly* to it, usually as a strong solution applied to the skin or eyes. Otherwise, washing dishes and clothes with it is not a big deal; it rinses away and doesn't compromise the environment.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

So with that being said, just be careful. Use your best judgement. Otherwise, happy cleaning, everyone! 

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