Sunday, March 25, 2012

My first DIY fail- Dishwashing Detergent

Sorry for a little silence here on the blog this week, our whole house has recently gone through the stomach flu and little man has also decided he is going to walk now, so it's been a hectic past week or so!  Now back to our regularly scheduled program.  

I have tried to change the way I clean my home in the past year or so, by changing all of our cleaning products to be a bit more environmentally friendly and safer for little man who is now mobile and touches a lot of the surfaces I clean.  I'll do a general post later with what our home cleaning products are if there is interest, but for now I'll keep it to our dishwashing detergent.

This one hits home to me, because it is not only something we touch daily, but the items washed by our dishwasher directly come into contact with our food, which obviously enters our body several times per day.  Dishwashing detergent contains several chemicals like chlorine, alkyl phenoxy ethanols (APE's), dioxane, phosphates, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, dichloromethane (DCM), diethanolamine (DEA), artificial fragrances, and more.  These chemicals are why you are instructed to store these products in a locked cabinet away from danger of children accidentally or potentially ingesting them.  These chemicals are dangerous to your family if ingested, but it is said to be diluted enough after running through the wash to make it 'less dangerous'.  These chemicals also can harm our water supply as they are washed down the drain, because they can harm the fish and plant life they come into contact with in water.  

This makes me even more concerned, because, while it is pretty, our dishwasher doesn't always do the best job of getting our dishes clean, and sometimes there is a residue from soap left over on our dishes when we use conventional detergents.  

So, being resourceful (ahem, cheap) and conscious of what we put in our bodies, I made my own dishwashing detergent.  I used this liquid recipe, including the following:

2 cups Dr. Bronner's Castile soap
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp of lemon juice
3 drops essential oil
(below I've pictured both tea tree and grapefruit oils, I like the grapefruit better for this purpose)

I mixed all of the ingredients together and put them in my empty 7th generation dish gel container to store.

Well, I had high hopes for this DIY recipe, and let me tell you, it was a big fail.  I used this for about 2-3 weeks (we run our dishwasher pretty frequently) and outside of DH complaining because it made his hands smell, it really didn't work very well.  Not that all my dishes came out of the dishwasher sparkly clean before, because as I mentioned our dishwasher doesn't do the best job, but this was worse.  The dishes did not come out clean, and this soap left worse of a residue on our dishes than previously.  

After this attempt, I ended up just going back to the 7th generation detergent, which I like for a lot of reasons (mainly that if it is accidentally ingested by someone, their typical recommendation is just drink 4-8 ounces of water immediately and you should be fine, but call a doctor if nausea or discomfort continues), but it still doesn't have a totally clean bill with some ingredients I don't like.  

I am going to keep looking for DIY recipes that are better-for-you, so does anyone have any recipes I can try?


  1. I've tried making my own dishwasher detergent many times, and it never, ever works. We've settled on Seventh Generation as well.

  2. You're not supposed to mix soap and vinegar. There's a warning on the Dr. Bronner's site about that.


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