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Green Cleaning for your Dishwasher

If you are searching for an inexpensive and green alternative to chemical dish washer detergents, I have a simple and low cost sollution that I have been using in my home.

Simply mix one part borax and one part Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda in an air tight reusable container that will keep moisture out when it is sitting under your kitchen sink. Borax is also known as sodium borate and is a naturally occuring mineral that contains no phosphates or chlorine. It can be used to get your clothes cleaner in the wash and clean all sorts of things around the house. Washing soda is sodium carbonate, which is similar to baking soda which is sodium bi-carbonate. They are actually in the same family, but washing soda is more caustic than baking soda and should be kept out of the reach of children and pets. If you would prefer, you can replace one part washing soda with one part baking soda, however, sometimes baking soda leaves a film on your dishes that many people don’t like.

Use anywhere from one tablespoon of the mixture if you have soft water to filling up the detergent container if you have hard water. I will warn you that this concoction does not do well with grill grease or clumped on food. So make sure that all dishes are rinsed in the sink before they are put in the dish washer. I have also started adding white, distilled vinegar to the Jet-dri dispenser to help with spots on my glasses. This works great and since I clean with vinegar, I always have some around when I need it.

How does it compare?
In the past, I always used Cascade. It’s easy to find and will disolve just about anything off of my dishes. Unfortunately, Cascade contains chlorine bleach and phosphates that are both toxic to the body and bad for our water supply. Our home made detergent will not disolve as much, but rinsing dishes before they go in the dishwasher takes care of that problem and I don’t have to worry about chemicals sticking to my dishes and ending up in my body!

We also tried commercially availble green cleaners including Seventh Generation and Earth Friendly Products. We were sorely disappointed in the Seventh Generation product because we had to re-wash almost all of our dishes on multiple occassions and it seemed like a waste of water and time. I had really high hopes for the Earth Friendly Products option because we love their Dishmate liquid that we use for hand washing. Unfortunately, this product also fell short of our expectations when dishes were not cleaned properly or covered in a greasy film. The price of these commercially available products is also quite high and something to to take into consideration.

So how much is this going to cost?
Actually, it is much less expensive than your standard, bleach and toxin filled product and much cheaper than your average “green” product. Borax and Washing Soda can be purchased for $2-$3 each in the laundry detergent section of your local grocery store and last a long time (especially if you have softer water). I have to admit that in my area, not all grocery stores sell washing soda, so I had to hunt a little. I found that it is always in stock at my local Cub Foods. Borax is much easier to find and I have purchased it at a variety of grocery stores and even at Target.

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