Why waste money or jeopardize your family’s health by using store-bought cleaners when you can make your own safe, effective cleaner for anything from plates and glasses to pots and pans?

When you walk into any store, it’s clear that detergent is a huge business. Despite the seemingly limitless options, today’s customer is increasingly resorting to handmade detergents. This is especially true for parents with small children since reports indicate that detergent poisonings have increased by more than 20% since the introduction of the colourful cleaning “pods” that have inundated the market in recent years. (In 2016, poison control centres received complaints of 10,673 children aged 5 and under being exposed to excessively concentrated sachets of laundry detergent. 

Symptoms include vomiting, coughing, and gasping, as well as corneal abrasions caused by detergent seeping into the eyes; one kid died last year after ingesting a detergent pod.) While pods are undoubtedly convenient, they are also expensive, potentially increasing your cost-per-load by 50%. You probably spend between $0.13 and $0.40 every load, depending on the brand of powdered detergents, pods, or a mix of the two. The non-toxic, effective homemade dishwashing detergent detailed here costs around two pennies—yes, $0.02—per load. So, whether you want to save money, protect your family and the environment, or just know what you’re cleaning with, give it a try today.

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How To Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

STEP 1 Construct washing soda (sodium carbonate) from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pour approximately half an inch of baking soda into the bottom of the baking dish and bake for one hour, stirring once or twice, until the texture changes from smooth and powdery to gritty. Allow cooling before storing in an airtight container labelled “washing soda.”

STEP 2 In an airtight container, such as a big mason jar, combine one cup of washing soda with the remaining components (1 cup Borax, 12 cup kosher salt, 12 cup unsweetened lemonade mix, and up to 10 drops essential oil). Put a label on it that says “dishwasher detergent.”

STEP 3 Add one spoonful of homemade dishwashing detergent to each batch of dishes and wash as usual. If you wash at a lower temperature or have “hard water” in your area, you may need a little extra for each load. Experiment with the proportions, adding a tablespoon or two at a time. Add no liquid dish detergent to this mixture, since this might harm your appliance.

Using Your Detergent

• Homemade dishwashing detergents work better if you rinse off any stuck-on food first.

• If you don’t have the time or want to create your own washing soda, you may buy it ready-made online or in supermarkets or hardware stores. However, ordinary baking soda will not work in your dishwasher detergent formula.

• Don’t be put off by the chemical-sounding name! Borax, also known as “sodium tetraborate” or “sodium borate,” is a naturally occurring mineral that is a salt product of boric acid. While it is not optimal for consumption, it has the same safety rating (“1”) as salt and baking soda. As a result, if your child consumes some homemade dishwasher detergent, he or she may experience minor nausea.

• If your water is “hard,” increase the kosher salt from half to a full cup. This will prevent build-up, which may otherwise produce unsightly stains on glassware.

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