I had been buying the Costco-sized (and brand) dishwasher gel, and it worked; but I kind of wanted to get away from the bleach in it which sometimes ended up on my dishrags or towels or hands or clothes...you get the picture. Besides, I wondered if I could make it for way cheaper than I could buy it.
I looked around online for a recipe, and found some, but because I never had the exact ingredients they did, I opted to improvise.
Here's what you'll need if you want to wash dishes in your dishwasher like I do. And I know that you all want to be like me. So here they are:
Washing Soda (not baking soda...)
Canning Salt (or any salt; kosher would work fine too)
Lemi-Shine (or citric acid, but I can't find that so I'm using this. If the store carries it, it's in the dishwasher soap aisle. I got mine at the Walmart down the street.)
You'll also need some White Vinegar. (But not quite yet.)
I'm sure somewhere out there in the world, someone makes this the same way I do, but I'm not going out to look for it. I won't claim this as my own recipe; just my variation.
Here's the basic recipe I use:
1 C Borax
1 C Washing Soda
1/2 C Canning Salt
1/2 C Lemi-Shine
Mix all the ingredients together, and voilà! Homemade dishwasher soap. I mixed it up in a snap-ware container, and then shook it up to mix it all together. I then filled an empty Lemi-Shine bottle for easy dispensing into the dishwasher. I just fill my two soap cups mostly full - I probably use a rounded (or sometimes heaping) tablespoon of soap per load.
Here's the best part: It works GREAT! I do a load of dishes most every day, and sometimes two. I cook, I bake, and we don't use paper plates or cups, so I'm washing our dishes a lot. But I actually don't mind doing the dishes, especially when I realize that it really doesn't take up all that much time. My girls are in charge of unloading the dishwasher, and when it's time to load it up, all it ever takes is about 5 minutes.
Years ago I used to gaze into my dish-filled-sink, and dread the task of dishes. I had lived without a dishwasher before, so I'm not sure why I had a problem filling my *dishwasher* with dishes so it could *automatically* wash my dishes for me.
But when I realized that it really only took about 5 minutes of my time (literally, I timed it...) to fill the dishwasher and get on with my chores? Piece of cake. So now, when I dread the task, I remind myself that A), I have a dishwasher in the first place, which is a super-huge blessing, and 2), I only have to spend about 5 minutes filling it up. It really only ever takes that long.
So anyway, back to my point.
Now, here's where the vinegar comes in. You know how you can buy those bottles of rinse agent for something like $8 per bottle? Maybe I'm exaggerating, but it seems like they're so expensive.
I'm here to tell you: White vinegar works great as a rinse agent in the dishwasher!! Just pour in vinegar instead of whatever rinse stuff you use now (if you use any at all). Pour in vinegar until the pointer points to the "full" line and see how well it works.
I use glass all. the. time. We drink out of Mason jars, I use them for storing food, making kefir, you name it, I've got a Mason jar for it. :) Whenever I see the jars the girls take out of the dishwasher, I'm super impressed at how clean they look! Glass looks great with this stuff, the silverware looks great, the plates are clean.
I know, I'm rambling again. But this stuff works so well I just had to share!
I hope you get a chance to try it.
p.s. Something else you should know - you can use your washing soda and borax to make laundry detergent too; I'll post that one later. But it works great too, and makes my laundry smell heavenly!! Oh, and using vinegar instead of fabric softener? Also a very good idea.
Ok. Stopping now.
Happy dishwashing, y'all.