The trend for consumers to make their own homemade dishwasher detergent is greatly on the rise, with more and more numbers of people wanting to save money and eliminate unnecessary chemicals from their homes. They are realizing just how easy it can be, and simultaneously derive a great sense of pride in creating their own cleaning product that not only outperforms the commercial products but is safe and simple.
If you Google “dishwasher detergent,” you will be likely to get numerous formulations for making what each site will try to convince you is the best of all, so conduct an informed search. The tips that follow are some key points to cover in blending your special brand of homemade dishwasher detergent, just the way you like it, and according to specifically what you hope to accomplish.
What to Look For, in Terms of Cleaning Ability
Actually, there are a number of agents that provide extra cleaning power to a wash and one of the all-time best is Borax. Borax is especially good for cleaning your delicate items like fine china and crystal, but not so strong as to effectively tackle heavy cooked-on grime and such. For those heavier jobs, instead of Borax, you can use something called “Washing Soda.” This agent is a common ingredient of most commercial homemade dishwasher detergent, usually included at 50% or more of the product’s total volume.
It outperforms baking soda, borax, and salt, doubly. Not only is it the premium cleaner, but it also serves as an excellent water softener, and brings the cleaning PH level way up from all else. It is highly recommended that you add washing soda to your mix.
About Oxygen Bleach as an Additive
The powdered form of oxygen bleach is the only way to go here, as oxygen bleaches that are in water decrease in effectiveness after a short while. What these bleaches actually are is nothing more than a mix of washing soda and peroxide, so if you have stains on items that you will be washing in your homemade dishwasher detergent, you can just as easily pour in a quarter cup of hydrogen peroxide with your home formulation to get the same results.
Even though Borax is loosely known as oxygen bleach, it’s too weak to even mention. For really tough staining problems, you can even treat each piece directly, by using hydrogen peroxide.
When it Comes to Salt
Many people add salt to their dishwashing compounds, however, it’s certainly not nearly as strong as washing soda, and chlorides (salt,) are not recommended for frequent use on stainless steel. It is a good water softener, and some people swear by it. If you find that, after using it for a while, you are getting spots on your stainless steel flatware and other items, you will want to put in more washing soda and less or no salt.
If you want to cut the cleaning power of washing soda in half, what you wind up with is the power that baking soda will deliver to clean your dishes. It works great for the simpler washes that aren’t very demanding, but washing soda delivers generally more bang for your buck. By all means, use baking soda when you prefer for your dish detergent to be milder.
The Addition of Surfactants
Many commercially sold homemade dishwasher detergent are formulated with surfactants, which typically means soap or synthetic non-soap detergents. These are usually added by grating them into small pieces, and then adding to the mix. Both will foam in a dishwasher, but you should try a little before you go adding either to an entire mixed batch, to get a sense of how much works and how much is too much.
Getting Your Plastics and Glassware Looking Their Cleanest
The makers of commercial dishwashing detergents make the case for buying their products mostly on this one issue. Often, homemade detergent formulations for homemade dishwasher detergent will leave salt deposits, also called sediment, on plastics and glassware that looks like whitish clouding on the surface.
This can usually be remedied by adding vinegar to the rinse compartment; however, rinse compartments are not always capable of holding enough vinegar to do the trick. Some people resolve this issue by keeping some vinegar to lightly spray any such affected items, once dry. The salt sediment will miraculously disappear.
For a more aggressive attack on such hard water white spots, adding citric acid works by keeping the deposits suspended in the wash water, which means they never settle on anything. Citric acid is a common ingredient of most commercially sold rinse aids and dishwasher cleaners.
Finding the right balance will require a bit of trial and effort, as when you increase the amount of citric acid, you are at the same time nullifying the cleaning effects of the washing soda. Start out with a minimum of four parts washing soda to one part citric acid, and if the spots continue, first try adding more detergent mix before increasing the amount of citric acid.
About Sodium Silicate
A good many commercial detergents are basically nothing more than a formulation of half and half-washing soda and sodium silicate. The reason sodium silicate is a mainstay in such proportion so prevalently is that you can’t beat it for removing deposits, it doesn’t cancel out the washing soda and it protects the metal components inside your homemade dishwasher detergent from eventually corroding with use. It’s difficult to find, though, so you’ll be forced to make your own, by mixing potash and sand or silicon packing beads and sodium hydroxide. Before you do this, try the less aggressive methods and see if they don’t work just fine for you.
Start Out Slow and Easy-You Can Always Adjust Your Formula Later, According to Your Results
So, initially just try out a load, using a tablespoon of straight washing soda, to which you can add a little bit of soap. Then, if you get any deposits, next run some vinegar in the rinsing compartment. If this fails to work sufficiently, you can try spraying vinegar. If you find the odor of a straight vinegar spray to be too strong for your liking, you might then begin to experiment with adding different amounts of citric acid in with the detergent.