Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Experiment

Being the cheapskate that I am, I'm always on the lookout for saving money.  Of course, this must also combine with my lazy side.  I mean, there are tons of ways to save money, but if it's going to waste too much of my time or cause me a great deal of pain (chronic pain sufferer here) then it's a no-go.
I recently stumbled on this...homemade dishwasher detergent.  There are all kinds of recipes out there on the internet (just Google homemade dishwasher detergent and see how much you come up with), but this is the one that I tried:

The Dishwasher Detergent Experiment (via wellnessmama)

2 parts borax
2 parts washing soda (NOT baking soda)
1 part citric acid
1 part salt (epsom)

I didn't want to make a big batch just in case I needed to tweak things so I actually used: 
.5 cups of borax 
.5 cups of washing soda
.25 of citric acid 
.25 cups of Epsom salt

I measured 2 tsp for the one load of dishes and gave it a whirl.  And it worked!  Look at how nice and clean my glasses came out.  

Some people use white vinegar as a rinse agent to combat the spot problem, but I didn't need to.  I always let my dishes air dry to save on energy and I don't know if that has an effect on spots or not.  One of the nice things was that when I opened up the door to let the dishes dry, I wasn't hit smack in the face with that strong detergent smell.  I opened the door and it smelled like nothing.  I wish I had known this when I was pregnant many years ago...the smell of the dishwasher detergent used to make me sick to my stomach!  Even now (unpreggers) there are many strong detergent smells that I just can't stand.  I have a bloodhound nose and I'm very sensitive to odors!
The weird thing is that when I went to take the pics today (the day after I made it) the mixture seemed to harden a feels a bit like wet sand (yesterday it was very powdery).  I think I'm going to take it out of the container and use my ice cream scooper to form it into flattened balls and let them harden.  I'd use ice cube trays, but I don't have any!  This way I can just take one out and pop it into the soap tray on the dishwasher door. (*Update:  I tried to do this and it didn't stay together too well.  I'd definitely need the ice cube trays to have this work, and since I don't have any I'll just leave it as-is and shake up the container a bit to break the mixture up if necessary.)

It almost looks like snow...weeeeeee!!!
If this continues to work, and it's not some fluke, here are the numbers (for those math geeks like me):

Cost of Ingredients:
Borax (76oz)... $3.97
Washing Soda (55oz)... $3.24
Citric Acid (5lbs)... $17.99 (I ordered this: MILLIARD 100% Pure Food Grade Citric Acid, 5lb. from Amazon)
Epsom Salt (4 lbs)... $2.86

And this is everything I used...

Recipe Used Units Used Cost

Borax 2 parts 0.5 cups 4 oz $0.21

Washing Soda 2 parts 0.5 cups 4 oz $0.24

Epsom Salt 1 part 0.25 cups 2 oz $0.09

Citric Acid 1 part 0.25 cups 2 oz $0.45

1.5 Total cups 12 Total oz $0.98

72 Total tsp

The cost per load comes to 3 cents!  If I ran a load of dishes every day for a year, the total cost in detergent would be $10.95.  For the year!  Uneffingbelievable!!  In comparison, I was purchasing the tablets from Costco...those cost approximately 15 cents per tablet.  Still sounds pretty cheap, right?  Until you do the math... at 15 cents per load, and one load a day for a year... $54.73 total for the Costco brand.  That's over a $44 difference!

And it took me approximately 3 minutes of my time to "make".  Maybe an extra added minute to put it in a fancy container and make a fancy label :)

Have you tried homemade versions of store bought items?  Please share in the comments below!


  1. Wow! That's a brilliant idea and an amazing saving! I'd use your recipe but I don't have a dishwasher, but I'll bet there's a recipe out there somewhere for a hand washing version. Must go Google it...... Cheers! ;-)

    1. Google is an amazing thing...everything you ever need to know you can find through a Google search! Hope you find a hand washing recipe!

  2. Sounds like a great way to save money!

    1. I still can't believe how cheap this is!