Friday, December 26, 2008

Wave Goodbye to Dishwasher Detergent.

Bleatings from EnviRambo.



After making the decision to lead a more sustainable life, I gave up my beloved Electrasol tabs and started the search for an eco-friendly dishwasher detergent. The first one I tried was 7th Generation Free & Clear Automatic Dishwasher Powder. I hated it. It did not get my dishes clean and left them in a cloudy haze. So I moved on to BioKleen Automatic Dish Powder. I actually like this stuff. It has a pleasant smell and does a pretty good job of cleaning the dishes. There was some residue left after the final rinse, but I was willing to live with it. Then one day I ran out. It is not available locally. I had been ordering it online from drugstore.com or Amazon. Being unprepared, I picked up a bottle of Earth Friendly Products Wave Auto Dishwasher Gel at my local grocery store.


I LOVE it! No residue, clean dishes, available locally - yes! Phosphate free, chlorine free, caustic free - Yes! Plant based and totally biodegradable - YES! Yes! Yes! Yes! Packaged in plastic - yes. What? Packaged in plastic - Oh, man. It was damn near perfect. They even have a rinse agent I like, also packaged in plastic. Shucks.

All this plastic is wreaking havoc on our planet and on ourselves. Something must be done. Scores of people have decided to cut plastic from their lives. I, too, have committed to reducing the amount of plastic my family consumes. So it is with a teary eye that I must bid adieu to my new found favorite. It was fun while it lasted.

So now what? I know, I know. 7th Generation dishwasher powder comes in a cardboard box. See above. I hate it. As much as I want it to, it just does not work for me. Surprisingly, the answer lies just on the other side of the wall of my dishwasher, in the washing machine. Huh?

Borax and Baking Soda.



Just mix equal parts borax and baking soda.
Add 2 tablespoons per load.

Adjust the quantity or baking soda ratio for hard water. I have also read recipes using washing soda instead of baking soda. I store mine in a glass pickle jar under the sink. No more plastic. I have been using this combination for several weeks now with no complaints. My dishes are clean, in fact I think they are cleaner now then when I was using actual dishwasher detergent, and there is no residue left behind. Once my rinse agent runs out I will switch to white vinegar to be truly plastic free.

23 comments:

Donna said...

This sounds fantastic! And cheaper, too! I was wondering if you'd explain the "rinse agent" thing. Are you putting something else in the dishwasher as well?

Green Bean said...

I usually use Ecover which comes in a cardboard box but this sounds tempting. Do you think it's okay to use Borax on dishes? Isn't Borax supposed to kill ants and stuff? I use it to clean out my toilet bowls but . . .

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Really? It really gets them clean? I've been using Ecover with less than stellar results. I bought a box of Trader Joe's dishwasher powder to try when the Ecover runs out. But if this will work better, I'll give it a try.

I too use vinegar in place of rinse agent.

fearlesschef said...

I *hate* the Ecover stuff, too. I've been using the Method detergent, but perhaps I shall give the mix a try... does it get rid of spots on glasses, too?

badhuman said...

I got washing soda and borax in a laundry detergent kit and decided to try the recipe for the dishwasher. It works great and I think there is less residue than even using traditional dish detergent.

kelly said...

thanks, i tried this last night and it worked great!

pamela said...

I have not found an eco detergent that works yet.and feel guilty, but I want clean dishes!

Burbanmom said...

Can't wait to try it!

Wendy said...

Thank you for this "recipe." I picked up a box of Borax today at the grocery. It's like 72 cents per whatever measure they use (probably quart) as opposed to a couple of dollars per volume for the eco-friendly stuff we use. I'm so excited to use up our "stash" and mix up a batch of this stuff.

Anyway, my point is that it's eco-friendly AND it's eco-nomical :). Both of which are appealing to me, as the latter makes this sort of thing more palatable to my husband :).

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

Green Bean - I had the same thought as you about the safety of using borax on dishes. I recently used it to make some poison balls to kill cockroaches, so putting it on my dishes sounded risky. But I did a Google search, and apparently it says right on some borax boxes that you can "dissolve 1/2 cup of borax in a sink full of water to clean delicate dishes like fine China." My husband said, "Yeah, but that's in a sink where you're handwashing and can make sure it gets rinsed thoroughly." But I think a dishwasher would rinse as thoroughly as my lackluster handrinsing, and if you add vinegar to the rinse, that would make it even better.

Looking forward to trying this!

Anna said...

I am with Green Bean on the borax idea. I would be concerned if some of the borax would not dissolve. Has anyone tried soapberries yet for a dishwashing soap? They are soap nuts grown in India. I have them for laundry.

I use trader joes' dishwashing soap and like it. I do find that I have to rinse my dishes with some of the eco detergents including trader joes.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

I'm sure the dishwasher would rinse with some force, just listen to the noise going on in there when it's washing. I'm going to give it a try. Think I'll wait until next Sunday morning which is the only morning we have a cooked breakfast. If it can get egg of the plates it will be a winner.

Emett S. said...

This is cool, I'll be trying that soon. Any more cleaner recipes out there? I like using Borax, Baking Soda, Salt, Steam (my steamer died :( ) or Hot/Boiling water (#1), vinagar to clean... but I've not mixed them... must be a list somewhere? I do add borax to a spray wipe-away degreaser and triple dilute it: 3 bottles for the price of one!
And so I wanted to know why people are worried about borax being so poisonous. ? It rinses away so well there's like no chance of any being left on your dishes, and I don't usually do any rinsing with the spray I make (some surfaces will show faint white residue w/o rinsing)... If that's bad, please tell me... Ah, my family is all healthy. Borax is also better for your skin than soap or shampoo in the shower or bath (disolves oils even less well than hot water, so it's non-drying ie: doesn't de-fat the skin while cleaning and freshening).
One more thing: I used the Earth Friendly Wave product but I failed to SHAKE it before pouring the first time and ended up ruining the rest of the bottle, whatever component had floated to the top was critical...
Thanks again.

greeen sheeep said...

Donna - The rinse agent thing I currently use, Wave Jet, is also made by Earth Friendly products. It's like Jet Dry but eco-friendly. It contains water, natural earth salts, and coconut oil derived surfactants. It is a spot and residue eliminator. I have heard plain white vinegar works just as well and will be switching to that once my Wave Jet runs out.

Green Bean, Erin, Anna - Yes, Borax can be used to kill ants, fleas, roaches and other bugs. I mix it with honey and set out on cardboard strips to de-ant my house in the summer. It's basically like a salt. Sucks the moisture out of the bugs exoskeletons and dries them out; dead. I don't know of any other dangers associated with it other than it can be irritating to the skin and should not be inhaled. The back of my Wave Jet has the same warning.

Use your judgment and make the best decision for your situation. For those concerned with using Borax, I have seen the same recipe using Washing Soda (sodium carbonate). Or, you could use castile soap.

Ingredients:

2 cups liquid castile soap
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 drops tea tree oil
1/2 cup white vinega

Method:

stir all ingredients together until blended. Store in a squirt top bottle. Use 2 tablespoons per load of dishes, shake well before use.

I have not tried either method and cannot attest to their effectiveness.

Beth - Yes, really. It gets them cleaner than anything I was using before. So far I am very happy.

fearlesschef - So far I have had sparkling glasses. That was one of my gripes with other detergents I have tried. We have hard, rusty, sandy well water. We have a whole house softener system and reverse osmosis for drinking water. Two tablespoons of this mixture, plus a rinse agent seems to work for us. I let them air dry in the dishwasher, too, no heat cycle used.

Emett - You are absolutely right on the Wave detergent; you MUST SHAKE before use. Made that mistake myself a time or two. What a mess!

Farmer's Daughter said...

Hi folks-

I read this post with interest because I am yet to find a good green dishwasher detergent that actually gets the dishes clean. The best I've found it Palmolive-Eco, but since they don't list their ingredients and it's in a plastic bottle, I'm doubtful of how "eco" it really is.

As for the safety concerns- I spoke to the "chemistry guru" at my school. He's got 30 years under his belt teaching chemistry and knows the answer to any chemical question I ask him. Anyway, he said that Borax is water soluble and should therefore rinse completely clean from your dishes in the hot dishwasher. When I asked about the vinegar rinse aid, he gave me a long explanation about the reaction that would occur between the Borax, baking soda and vinegar. It sounded like "blah, blah, blah" to me, but something about some kind of weak acid forming and since all acids are also water soluble, the vinegar rinse aid will help to get all the Borax off the dishes, just in case it wasn't already gone. Not to mention the fact that it says right on the box you can use it on fine china.

I plan to start using this method when my detergent runs out.

Julia-Wisconsin said...

I use a lemon castile soap by Mabel's Miracles. It has no SLS and contains more olive oil than other castile soaps. On their website they recommend using a small amount of castile with granulated citric acid (1 teaspoon of soap and 2 teaspoons of citric I believe). I've used this for about a month and the only issue I had is when I use too much of the castile soap. Then on some of the dishes I get a light residue. I also use their castile soap on my tile floors, laundry (along with some borax and soda)and general cleaning. Its done a fantastic job for me and because it is concentrated, I don't use as much.

j said...

HELLO PEOPLE! Borax is toxic and caustic...it is NOT, I repeat, NOT green.

Plastic, if recycled, is far greener than dumping more caustic material into the rivers, streams, waterways, to rob oxygen from aquatic life.

If you are a true greenie, I'm sure you will be responsible about recycling, but you cannot stop the waste from spilling into water ways.

Hope the first guy gets this...

Inside Juliet's World (eek!) said...

Dear J (3/14/2009)-
Thanks for the brief education and plea to be environmentally responsible with regard to using Borax. As much as I appreciate what you are saying and agree with you, could you possibly suggest an alternative to using Borax? (You offered no such insight in your last post.) I'm sure that any advice would be appreciated and would go far in converting people who use Borax.
Thank you.

Emett S. said...

I had been meaning to ask just how to get more info on comparing the "Green-ness" of some of the various things we've been discussing... Especially of comparing Borax to bleach or detergents in context of it's production-to-waste life cycle, including production wastes and toxisities, too, of course. Anybody find where's there's some info like that: please let me know! Maybe I just need to go to the Wikipedia....

Inside Juliet's World (eek!) said...

I just realized how silly I must have sounded since the posts here do mention environmentally friendly products. I need to clarify my question to you, "J": To prevent the problem of re-washing and/or using other environmentally unfriendly products (i.e. Borax), any thoughts that you have on environmentally friendly products that DO work? =) It seems to be that a lot of these friendly products aren't working well.

And me, I'm just trying to educate myself on how I can be good and keep things clean. Thanks for the help!

Anonymous said...

I was very excited to try this formula. But in the end I had to give it up. I was running the dishwasher and then having to hand wash almost everything. I messed with the doses and finally I just couldn't deal with it. And to top it off I feel like it actually ruined some of my dishes. I still use the vinegar and that works really well...but not the rest. I would love to hear how it worked for others.

Rebecca said...

Here's a link talking about the safety of using borax in your dish washer...

http://greenliving.about.com/od/naturalcleaning/f/BoraxDishes.htm

Something "healthier" would be great but is it out there and does it work effectively? I have been using the borax, baking soda, and vinegar combo and I find it works well as long as I rinse dishes beforehand (which, I had to do w/ commercial detergents as well). I don't have any spots which I believe is from the vinegar in the rinse cycle.

sinders said...

I see that some of these posts are quite old. However, having just frightened myself by using dishes that came from a dishwasher where the tablet had not properly dissolved, and fearing that the dishes would have some poisonous residue. (I had used them before realising that half the tablet was still in the machine)I have decided to go back to hand-washing. Not a big deal,( even with a family) and I sometimes put white vinegar in with the liquid. Does a great job. Cannot risk poisoning the family for the sake of a little washing up. Secret also is to use gloves and really hot water.

LinkWithin

Blog Widget by LinkWithin