Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Product Wednesday - Dishwasher Dilemma

Originally uploaded by anamoly23

In my quest to change my family's impact on the environment I've been systematically eliminating any cleanser/cleaning product with harmful sulfates, bleach, dyes and/or perfumes. As I posted last week we've eliminated conventional laundry soap from our up, Dishwasher Detergent.

This one is a bit tougher as there are quite few prerequisites for an automatic dish washing soap.

It cannot suds up during the rather intense dish washing process.
It cannot break down the components of the machine.
It must break the surface tension of the water...or make the water "wetter".
It must be able to dissolve food particles while not being to harsh on dishes.
Finally, it must rinse away relatively easily not leaving a residue on the dishes.

After some pretty intense (for a person who has 2 & 3 year old boys in her work environment) research online I kept encountering variations on the same recipe for an alternative to store bought detergents. Aside from the fact that the recipe is more environmentally friendly than what we had been using, it's also MUCH less expensive.

The Recipe:

* 1 tablespoon Borax (I buy mine in the laundry area of my store)
* 1 tablespoon baking soda (we buy this in bulk as it is used for so many things around here)
* A dash of salt

Add white vinegar to the rinse receptacle (where you would put jet dry)

Another key component to this recipe seems to be that your hot water must be set to 130* or higher to effectively clean/rinse the dishes. Any lower and a white film and lingering food particles have been reported.

Some folks have said that this mix, the borax specifically, have been reported to be bad for the hoses of your dishwasher and should not be used. My first instinct is to question this. I use Borax as a Laundry additive because it is an antiseptic/white booster/odor eliminator and have never heard any concerns about it being harmful to my washing machine or it's hoses. I've heard/read many testimonials from folks that have been using this homemade detergent for years with no adverse effects. But, since I am not an expert on the inner workings of a dishwasher, don't take my word for it.

My plan...I will do a load of dishes using all of the many variations of the recipe I was able to collect and then report back my findings, and the best recipe variation.

If any of you have any experience with Automatic dishwasher alternatives I'd love to hear about your experiences.

Stay tuned...

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