Friday, December 14, 2012

Homemade Dishwasher Soap - A Review

Reviewing Homemade Dishwasher Soap  

--1 box of Borax (4lbs or 76oz)   $4.23
--1 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (55oz or 7bls) $3.17
--24 packets of (unsweetened) Lemonade .20 each, =$4.80
            -or Citric Acid (found in canning section)
--3 cups Epsom Salt (found in toiletry isle as a bath salt)  $3.53
--Lemi Shine 12 oz   $3.70

Total investment = $19.43

And to be fair, I only used half the Epsom Salt—So I'll knock the price down to $17.16.

Total  # of ounces = 172.52

At 1 Tbsp per load... I'm rounding to about 1oz, making an approximate 172 loads. This puts the cost at  about 10 cents per load. (.099)  At 1 load per day, we're looking at  $36.50 a year vs $80.30 a year (calculated from my usual brand).  Woo Hoo! That sounds worth the effort!

The Scoop 

I was super excited when I made this dishwasher soap (though the process was extremely dusty). Who wouldn't want to save money on everyday household items? My usual brand is approximately $4.46, which works out to about 22 cents per load. Between the two, I could save almost $45.00 a year if I did one load of dishes per day.

The first load was fabulous! I no longer felt the need to put off doing dishes 'til the dishwasher was full—I could do half-loads and not worry about wasting soap (or $), which kept the kitchen cleanliness a bit more up-to-date, since emptying the dishwasher was so much quicker...(probably saved a whole minute! *rolls eyes* )

To get to the point, I was extremely happy for a full week. Then, the clumpiness of the powder became a pain in the butt. I honestly didn't mind crushing chunks to make a tablespoon of powder—a small price to pay for saving so much, but as the second week passed, I had to work at scraping enough powder from the solidified block to make a full tablespoon. What a sticky mess it was! And the container I chose didn't allow for a lot of leverage. (my whole hand, yes, but leverage, no). Maybe it's the wet climate of Oregon. Anyway, I threw in a few silicon packets you get with new shoes, which worked for a chiseling depth of about 1/16 inch. I did not try rice or bread encased in nylon (or some other type of mesh) because even if the powder wasn't a solid brick, I had other issues.  

After the honeymoon bliss, my rose-colored glasses turned a bit milky (not spotted), and a powdery texture coated all my plates. Silverware didn't come clean at all. If the dishwasher was overloaded, NOTHING got clean. It was as if the dishes only got a good rinse from a distance and nothing more. Like hosing off muddy hand prints on a sliding glass door instead of getting out the window cleaner and some elbow grease. I was never one to scrub the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher but seriously, not even peanut butter would come off the butter knives. I tried doubling the amount of soap used in each load (1 Tbsp in prewash, 1 in regular wash) which had no effect. So now, I give up. 

To be fair to the recipe, there were options to add if needed, like vinegar or more Lemi Shine, or other rinse agents. But extra items add to the expense, and it also means I'd need to make more space for more cleaning agents... not to mention the fact that I now have no way of getting the solidified powder out of the containers. Grrrr.  
So, to end this money-saving experiment, paying a bit more for clean dishes in ONE wash (and storage convenience) is sounding better and better. 

Here's what I'm doing now:
            - I pay $4.46 every 3-4 weeks
            - I don't run loads every day
            - That shiny green box takes very little room under my sink. (Though, I find it difficult to throw away all the stuff I'm storing from the failed experiment. 

Maybe an ice-pick, so I can save the containers?) Sigh.

The REAL discovery!

Here's what I learned that actually does save me money. I'm using half the amount of commercial soap than what I used to. Instead of leveling off the dishwasher's compartments for pre-wash and wash, I fill them up halfway. That amount seems to work great! The dishes look and feel spotless. And I figure it cuts the $/load in half (or close to it). So, I'm back down to 11 cents per load (which is probably where I would've been had I added all the 'fixing' agents to the homemade stuff) with less hassle and a lot more convenience.  

I can still save $40 a year if I don't do loads every day. Not that I did loads every day before, but at least I'm more aware of how it all adds up. Every bit helps when it comes time for buying Christmas presents!

Lastly, there are hundreds of people who love this recipe and had fiddling tips for how to improve it in the comments, at the awesome-blog link from the very top of this article. It just didn't work for me and I'd rather not put any more time or money into it. :-)

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