Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pour ~ Shake ~ Curse ~ Repeat.

"When you're experimenting you have to try many things before you get what you want, and you may go days getting nothing but exhaustion." ~ Fred Astaire

Since Homemade Laundry Detergent was so successful I thought why not try dishwasher detergent?  Little did I know it was going to take weeks of experimenting to concoct the perfect recipe, but eventually I nailed it and then some.  

Before testing out a homemade detergent, might I suggest the simple (yet disgusting!) task of cleaning your dishwasher, as detailed on, "The Quick & The Hungry". You will be amazed at what you find, and even if you don't plan on using a homemade detergent, I would just about guarantee this process will help your dishwasher run much better.

As for the homemade detergent, I tested out several different recipes,with similar ingredients, washing soda, baking soda, vinegar, borax, lemon juice, kosher salt, etc.. I tried 2 versions of powdered detergent, Powder#1 and Powder#2.

I learned quickly that anything powder would leave residue on my glasses, so I went with this liquid version, Liquid Homemade Dishwasher Detergent I. Still the residue remained, clouding up my dishes. I even went as far as to test the liquid laundry detergent from the last entry in the dishwasher and while it cleaned the dishes, it also left the cloudy residue. I used white vinegar in the rinse compartment on all test runs.

Test Container--Using Liquid Detergent #1

It then became apparent to me that perhaps it was the borax/washing soda/baking soda that was causing the residue effect, so using the same website, I attempted the very last recipe, Liquid Homemade Detergent II. The only one I had seen in all my searching that used liquid ingredients only.

Powder-less Dishwasher Detergent
  • 1 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

Now here's where my issue comes in. (There's always atleast one!) I had been searching for liquid Castile soap for quite some time and was unable to find it anywhere in my local area. I was at the grocery store (E.W. James & Sons) one afternoon and just so happened to see a bar of Kirk's Original Coco Castile Soap nestled neatly beside the Lava soap on the very bottom shelf of the cleaners aisle.

Castile Bar Soap
It wasn't the Dr Brommer's Castile that Ive read about everywhere but it was the only Castile I could find and at $1.39 a bar it was worth a try. I figured with water and a little heat I could make a liquid version. Experimentation is my thing.

 The first thing I did was grate the soap into my S.O.P. (Soap Only Pot) I then added 2 cups of water and let it simmer, making sure to stir it frequently. It took awhile for it to melt down completely but I didn't want to turn it up and have it stick to the pot.

 Converting Castile Bar to liquid.
  •  1 4oz bar of Castile Soap 
  • 2 cups of water. 
Grate the soap into a pot. Add the water. Heat on the stove top til soap is dissolved. At this point I wasn't sure if the soap would thicken or if I'd just made a pot of clear liquid, but it was an experiment, one that eventually paid off quite nicely!

After the liquid castile was finished, I poured it into a measuring cup, it made exactly 2 cups of liquid(I was afraid the heating would evaporate it). Taking a cup of the castile and mixing it up with the other ingredients from the recipe above, I made exactly two cups of dishwasher detergent. I mixed it in an old powerade container and shook it up.  Using the other 1 cup of castile, I mixed up this recipe for dish soap.

Dish Soap
  •  1 cup of liquid Castile Soap
  •  1/4 cup of water
  •  1 Tb of vinegar
You know you love my writing.

Mix it up and put it in a container. I used an old Lemon Juice container. The dishwasher detergent was white and foamy liquid. The dish soap was a thick & clear gel. The only difference is the amount and type of liquid added to each. I.e. the dishwasher detergent had more water & vinegar plus lemon juice added.

24 hrs later they both thickened up ALOT. But once again I was disappointed as the liquid dishwashing detergent left the same residue on the dishes. This led me to believe that my theory of the powders were dead wrong. So again I searched for more recipes. I came across one on Natural and Organic Products & Recipes that had one ingredient that I had yet to use. Citric Acid.

Found in the Canning Section
 I had used lemonade powder  in past tests because its citric acid properties is supposedly the same.  It had no effect what so ever, so I did alittle research and found that a .15 oz packet of sugar-free lemonade has about .03 of citric acid, as well as Maltodextrin (a sweetner?!), salt, calcium phosphate, natural flavor, ascorbic acid, artificial flavor, artificial color and a preservative. (which is what citric acid is?!?)

This Recipe makes 158 oz (average) which is about 19 cups. It uses a total of  3.6 oz of lemon kool aid, which if you recall only has about .03 oz of citric acid per .15 oz.  3.6 oz of kool aid=.108oz of citric acid.

A 5 oz container of pure citric acid contains the acid itself with less than 2% silicon dioxide which is merely an anticaking ingredient. The recipe I used calls for 1 cup of acid, which is 8 oz.  8 oz verses .108 oz....?

Citric Acid Dishwasher Detergent 
  • 2 cups Washing Soda
  • 2 cups Borax 
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt 
  • 1 cup Citric Acid
If you were to multiply the ingredients to make the complete 19 cups as the lemonade recipe calls for you'd use about 5 cups each washing soda  & borax, then 4 cups each salt  & citric acid.

Lemonade Recipe:
19 cups with .108 oz of citric acid 

Citric Acid Recipe: 
18 cups with 32 oz of  citric acid.

There is a big difference that obviously sets pure citric acid as the winner, though it is more expensive at $4 for 5 oz.  You'd spend $8 to make a whole cup.  As always, I halfed the recipe for my test run and recommend you do the same so that you dont spend the money if the detergent doesnt work for you.

Now the question you are asking is, "Did it work?"

Test Container- Using Citric Acid Recipe
Praise Merlin it certainly did!  Obviously Citric Acid in pure form is the key to the perfect Dishwasher Detergent.

Now let's go back to the Homemade Dish Soap.  I only made it to test it out...and it works wonderfully. It suds up real nice and has a fresh clean scent.   Its just...well I already had a 64 oz container of dish soap so I didnt actually need it.  Allow me to randomly go off on a tangent and brag for a moment.  

When we moved into this house, we replaced alot of the old fixtures (the house is over 100 years old), one was the kitchen faucet.  The sprayer had been completely removed and like my dishwasher (also added by us), I could not see my life without a sprayer.

 I found an awesome set where the sprayer pulled down from the faucet itself  and it came with a soap dispenser, which magically fit right where the old sprayer had been. The soap dispenser came with a plactic container that you fill with soap and screw onto the dispenser from under the sink.  It wasn't easy to do at all but I loved being able to dispense soap as I needed.

The plastic container broke not long after being put it and the husband said he'd get me a new one.  Months went by and I had to squeeze soap from a bottle.  (Oh poor poor me!)  Well one day the husband had a brilliant idea, which sometimes scares me especially when it comes to my daily routines, but I encouraged his project as he planned to fix my soap dispenser.   He worked diligently under the sink for about half an hour and when he was done, showed me that the soap dispenser was now working again!

Now this may not seem like a big thing as he probably just replaced the crap plastic, right?   Wrong.  Instead he rigged a tube to the dispenser that led under the sink and into a 64 oz soap bottle.   No more refilling the plastic bottle, no more breaking plastic crap! Its pure genius really.

Anyway back to the topic....Homemade dish soap.  I decided to see what else I could use it for.  I needed some degreaser and didn't have the ingredients on hand to make some of the recipes that I had come across so I decided to do my own experimenting.

 I poured the homemade dish soap into a spray bottle, it was probably about 1/2 cup and it was seriously thick at that point.  I filled the bottle with hot water and shook it up real good, then I let it sit for a while to make sure it wasn't going to go all thick again.  After a few hours it remained in a thin liquid form, so I set out to find a mess.

The Husband had made chili that day as well as a mess that I just can not understand how it came to be.  The stove top was completely covered in sauce drippings and splatters, so I sprayed it down with my "degreaser" and let it set long enough to switch clothes from the washer to the dryer.   Then I took a regular dish towel and wiped across it.  I was immediately amazed.

I now have no need to look for a degreaser recipe as I have found the perfect cleaner.  I added some fresh apple essential oils and anytime I clean, my house smells like fresh apples, its most awesome!

Fresh Apple All Purpose Cleaner 
  • 2 cups liquid Castile soap (See bar to liquid conversion at the beginning, if needed) 
  • 4 cups hot water 
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar 
  • a few drops of fresh apple essential oil (or whatever fragrance you prefer!) 

Put it all in a spray bottle and shake it up!

Note:  All my soap didn't fit in one container, I had to put some in another bottle for future use. If you find your cleaner has thicken, it needs more water.  You can add to the bottle and shake or you can dump  it all out into your S.O.P, add water and heat it again.  

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  1. sounds great! I am going to try this!

  2. I am going to make the Citric Acid Dishwasher Soap and the All Purpose Cleaners today! Can't wait!