More Green For Less Green

Living more eco-friendly for less money


9 Changes for 2009- #4 Dish Detergent

This entry is part of a series on changes I made in 2008 that I want to stick with in 2009…

  1. Cut out commercial breakfast bars
  2. Cut out canned beans
  3. Use only environmentally friendly dish detergent
    (homemade to boot)


    So question one is why an environmentally friendly detergent even matters, right? Most conventional dishwasher detergents contain phosphates and chlorine. Phosphates seriously impact our water supply by encouraging excessive algae growth which kills fish and plant life. Chlorine bleach is an environmental pollutant and it may cause immune and reproductive system problems. Now, I am not alarmist about many things, so the possible concern about bleach doesn't faze me too much. But, the dangerous chemical reaction caused by bleach mixing with ammonia that we've all been warned about since we were kids is undoubtedly of concern. Ammonia is a more eco-friendly choice, so I'd just as soon stick with that one and keep out the bleach.

    Here's what we did…

    We made our own. We started off by using a recipe from Green Clean of 1 part borax to 1 part washing soda. We put 1 heaping teaspoon of the mix in the release cup and vinegar in the rinse aid. We started off using 2 tablespoons of the dry mix, but that made the dishes cloudy, so we cut down until we got the right amount for our water. But, we were having issues with cloudiness and chunks of food remaining. So onto blend two…

    Our second attempt was 3 parts baking soda to 1 part borax along with the vinegar in the rinse aid compartment. With this mix you use just as much as you would with a conventional powdered detergent. I read the instructions for the dishwasher to refresh my memory, and it turns out that we've long been putting in too much: the lowest line on the cup is ample for normal loads. We also add 2 drops of essential oil per load on top of the dry mix. Generally I use tea tree oil, which has natural anti-bacterial properties, but if I'll be in the kitchen I'll put in a smell I really love, like bergamot or sweet orange, since the scent will be released in the steam that comes out of the machine.

    We've stuck with this second blend for many months now. I use an old 32 oz yogurt container to mix the powder (measure and dump in, put lid on, then shake to mix). I only need to make up a new batch every other month or so.

    I will be perfectly honest and say that we are still dealing with cloudiness. We've taken to wiping the dishes with a slightly damp cloth as we put them in the cabinet to fix this problem, but I know that cloudiness simply is unacceptable to some people. Some days it bothers me and I consider trying out Ecover or another similar green product, but most days I love that it is so much cheaper than anything else. My price per year is about the cost of a single box of brand name commercial dishwasher detergent. Even if we go to a commercial product, I am committed to staying away from dish detergents with phosphates or chlorine bleach.

    UPDATE: See my improved (dare I say, perfected) recipe here.

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At January 23, 2009 at 8:41 PM , Blogger uncanny said...

You have been awarded a blog award! Swing by if you'd like to see it!

At January 29, 2009 at 11:09 PM , Blogger Cocoanib said...

Looove your Blog! Your tips are great and make being green very accessible for folks!
I would like to add you to my blog roll if you don't mind.

At January 29, 2009 at 11:32 PM , Blogger P said...

Coco- Please do!

At February 2, 2009 at 1:37 PM , Blogger Alison 'n Brandyn said...

I just got turned onto you blog... and so glad I did!! GREAT ideas. Can't wait to put them to use!!

At March 5, 2009 at 10:21 AM , Blogger I'm a heart warrior! said...

Thanks for the recipe. I can't wait to make this! I make laundry detergent, and look forward to making dish detergent too!

At March 26, 2009 at 10:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adding citric acid to your powder mix should help with the cloudiness. About one tablespoon for every cup of other stuff is about right in hard water.


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