Monday, 18 March 2013

Stubborn Home-made Dishwasher Powder

Sometimes, when it is 9 degrees C in your kitchen, you haven't slept well, and you have spent the day being frustrated that your husband has a hangover and feels, I quote, "bleak", even patch-working while listening to Sean Bean reading an audiobook doesn't hit the spot. On those days it is good to keep busy, stay productive, try not to be smug that you are on the wagon, and let your Bear With a Sore Head (husband) "stay in his cave" (yes, I have read Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus) whilst encouraging your children to keep themselves occupied. 

Feeling extra stubborn and self-sufficient, I decided to make some dishwasher powder myself, for no other reason than to put a recipe I found on to the test, and to prove that I was a master chemist. "See, look what I can achieve," I was essentially saying to my long-suffering spouse, "while you are merely sipping pints of tepid orange squash."

To make Stubborn Home-made Dishwasher Powder, you will need: 

1/2 cup borax. My supermarket does not stock this so I have to buy it on Ebay. Be aware that Boric acid is an acute eye and respiratory tract irritant, which is toxic if ingested.

1/2 cup soda crystals (a.k.a washing soda in the US, or lectric soda powder in Australia). The reader who submitted this tip to SimpleSavings says 
DO NOT USE BAKING SODA, which is sodium bicarbonate, or your dishes will come out with a white film over them.

1/4 cup table salt

1/4 cup citric acid (in powdered form). Another item I have only been able to find on Ebay. 

Whilst listening to something cheerful like my new favourite, All Over the World by ELO, mix all the above ingredients in a large bowl then transfer to a screw-top jar. Mark the container clearly (I use a waterproof permanent marker pen) and keep it out of reach of children, just as you would with other cleaning products. 
Use one tablespoon per dishwasher load. I have found this to have excellent cleaning results but it does tend to "cake" a bit in the jar - this could be due to the damp weather we are currently having - so you may need to break it up slightly with a spoon.

I also use white vinegar instead of rinse aid - I just add it to the rinse aid dispenser in exactly the same way when the "empty" indicator flashes. I haven't found an alternative for dishwasher salt yet. 

Lastly, I have found that I get best results with the "Eco" programme, which runs at 50 degrees C. The "quick" setting on our dishwasher does not cut the mustard, with either frugal or shop-bought powders. 
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