So, cutting to the chase - if you're not into making your own recipes or reading any more about this, and you want to skip to knowing what to use that's safe -- well, we have the Unscented Co water-soluble coating dish tabs available in bulk with zero packaging, infused vinegars or bulk vinegar for you to use for rinse aid, and my own recipe available for detergent available in bulk. If you want to try it out, keep reading for more info!
You know those highly relatable memes that float around about the people who ‘organize’ their dishwashers and pretty much wash their dishes before they put them in there?
Those do not apply to me. I do not rinse dishes even at the worst (best?) of times. The only rule I have for dishwasher loading and unloading is to put the knives in pointing down, as my partner grumps at me for not placing all of the rest of the cutlery facing up (sometimes they do end up that way, sometimes they don’t!). I am the laziest dishwasher lady there is.
So trust me when I say, this is really easy and worth your time.
I started making this recipe about a year ago after having a lot of success with making my own laundry soap. Back then, I had to order citric acid on Amazon. I hope I can have this for bulk refill for you and you won't have to go down that road. It’s tough to find, that’s for sure.
The baking soda and citric acid have a reaction when you begin to stir as it is exposed to the Sal’s Suds and essential oil liquid. This gives you a bit of a sense of what’s going on in your dishwasher when the water combines with the detergent. So, once you start mixing, you will get a bit of a marshmallow puff. It calms down into the granular dishwasher detergent that you expect. You can leave it to just do its thing and then crumble it up after (like leave it overnight) or stir it occasionally and you won’t have to do the crumble part after. I’ve tried it both ways and it turns out great either way, the crumbling just takes you more time.
Reasons to try this:
There are no chemicals or artificial colourants (like, why does it need to be blue?) or fragrances (it's not like this makes your dishes smell good, so what's the point?). Whatever you're putting in your dishwasher goes down the drain into the water table, and you're also eating off of whatever is put in the dishwasher. You can buy most of this in bulk, cardboard boxes, and there is no plastic casing to melt off and turn into a microplastic sludge that goes down the tube.
And also - this is cheap! "Natural" "safe" detergent is over twenty dollars, and this, my friend, is less than $3.00-ish to make for 36 loads. This is cheaper than the most no-name version of detergent out there.
Rinse Aid Swap: Vinegar
Just put vinegar in there. It will combat your hard water, which is usually the reason most people can't rely on more sustainable cleaners; they don't want the hard water staining. It costs far less than a chemical version, and is a hard-working multi-purpose thing that you've already got around the house if you're swinging towards the natural cleaning game (or even if you aren't!).
The best way to use vinegar in your dishwasher is to flip one of the bowls that's already in there to be cleaned upwards and pour some in there. You can just squirt it in the dispenser, but this will protect those gaskets within the dispenser long term. If you use a bowl that's in the top rack, it will disperse the vinegar so that the top glasses get hit, which is usually the stuff that shows the hard water the most. Bonus - baking soda and vinegar react, so you can be sure that natural friction/reaction is working on those plates and utensils.
I also made a blog post with the recipe to infuse your own vinegars if you'd also like to DIY that!
Handmade Dishwasher Detergent
2c baking soda
1/4c citric acid
1 Tbsp Sal’s Suds
10 drops essential oil (grapefruit or lemon is great for kitchen cleaning purposes)
Mix. Mix again occasionally until detergent powder forms.
Store in a lidded container and use about 1 Tbsp per dishwasher load.
*I have also doubled this recipe to save myself time. Still works great.
Also - cleaning your filter/dishwasher:
We clean out dishwasher filter sometimes. Well, my husband does. And sometimes, like every six months or so, wipe out the dishwasher. You may not need to do this if you're up on making sure your dishes are already washed before you put them in (see above for why this isn't my case, haha).
A small squirt of Sal's Suds into a bowl of warm water makes a great soapy (but powerful) cleaning agent. I grab one of my rags/unpaper towels and wash the walls down. You can leave the filter to soak a few minutes in the bowl if you'd like as you do this and most anything should wipe/rinse off afterward.
Just another idea of how you can use Sal's and keep the chemicals out of your food without too much hassle!