Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DIY. Show all posts

Thursday, March 11, 2010

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

By Bill Gerlach | Follow me on Twitter

On the heels of the DIY Laundry Detergent, here is a new recipe for homemade powder dishwasher detergent.

What makes this DIY project great is that it uses two of the primary ingredients from the laundry detergent: Washing Soda and Borax.
  • 1 cup of Washing Soda
  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 1 packet of Lemonade Kool-Aid drink mix (for the citric acid, optional)
  • 1/4 cup of salt (optional)

There are several optional ingredients you could use -- citric acid and salt being at the top of that list. Based on my research most are used depending on the quality of water you have (hard vs. soft). I have used two versions -- one with the citric acid and one without -- with the same results. I have not tried a version using salt. You may want to start with the basic recipe of Washing Soda and Borax and expand from there depending on your results.

In an empty jar or container (mason jars or large yogurt containers work great), mix the Washing Soda, Borax, and Kool-Aid drink mix. Cover and shake well to incorporate. That's it.

This recipe yields sixteen 2-Tablespoon "servings" (your per-load amount).

A note about the Kool-Aid mix: You want to use the lemonade flavor because it is light in color. Other flavors contain coloring that could stain your dishes. (Bad!)

Unlike the laundry detergent, this DIY project isn't saving you a lot over the conventional dishwasher detergent. That said, if you have the ingredients on hand and can spare five minutes of work, you gain the satisfaction of making something instead of buying it.

Now the numbers:
  • Store Bought Detergent -- Using the 100-oz box of Cascade as our baseline, the per-ounce cost (according to Stop & Shop's Peapod site) is $0.07. Since two tablespoons weighs about an ounce, this works out to be your per-load cost as well.

  • DIY Detergent -- One cup of either the Washing Soda (55-oz box at $2.99) or Borax (76-oz box at $3.99) weighs about eight ounces. Doing the math, 16 loads works out to $0.85 or $0.05 per load. 
Now, a two-cent savings per-load doesn't sound like much. But if you run your dishwasher three times a week that adds up to $3.12 in a year. Just enough to buy that next box of Borax!

Like I said, it's not the savings on this DIY project that counts, but the satisfaction of being resourceful and making something on your own. We have been using it for several weeks now with good results. You can't tell the difference. And, if you want to go all the way and get rid of the Jet Dry, consider using white vinegar instead.

Good luck! Let me know how you make out!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

DIY Laundry Detergent

Want to save $50 in 15 minutes? Read on.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to become more resourceful on the home front when it comes to the DIY (do it yourself) category. I’m not usually all that handy – as my friends and family can attest to – but 2010 is the year to change all that!

Why? For me, it’s part environmental, part financial, and part this crazy notion of wanting to be a suburban homesteader. At the end of the day though, if a person can learn a new skill, lessen their impact on the planet, live a bit more simply, AND save a few dollars in the process, then it’s worth the while.

So the first “how-to” I wanted to share is DIY laundry detergent.

We were reaching the end of our economy size bottle of store-bought detergent and I figured, what the heck, let’s see what we can do. There are a ton of resources out there for making the stuff and clearly I’m not breaking new ground here, but nonetheless, let me give you the tutorial. (I made a liquid-based detergent because of our high-efficiency washer, but you can find a powder recipe here.)

Most, if not all, of the recipes out there are based on three, easily-accessible ingredients:

•    Basic bar soap (preferably a low-suds, low-fragrance variety)
•    Washing soda (a.k.a, soda ash or sodium carbonate; I used an Arm & Hammer brand).
•    Borax (a.k.a., sodium borate; I used the 20-Mule-Team brand) to brighten and de-odorize

Add to that the following materials:

•    5-gallon bucket (preferably with lid)
•    Liquid measuring cup
•    Dry measuring cup
•    Large sauce pot
•    Box grater
•    Large stirring spoon
•    An empty and clean one-gallon jug

Just about everything you need to get started

Now, for the tutorial:

1.    Measure 4 cups of water, place it in the sauce pot, and bring to a boil

2.    Grate one bar of basic soap into small shavings. I used Ivory because it is low-suds, doesn’t smell all that much, and is cheap. Remember, the cleaning action is not from the volume of suds. In fact, if you have a high efficiency (HE) washer, the less suds the better.

3.    Slowly add the soap shavings to the boiling water, stirring until everything is dissolved and combined. Lower heat and keep it on simmer.

4.    From there, add 3 gallons of warm-to-hot tap water to the 5-gallon bucket

5.    Add 1 cup of the Washing Soda

6.    Add ½ cup of Borax

7.    Add the dissolved water/bar soap mixture; stir all the contents well with the spoon

Everything combined and ready to be capped

8.    Put the lid on the bucket and allow the mixture to stand for 24-hours.

9.    After 24 hours, check out your mixture. Depending on the temperature of where you stored the bucket you should have anything from a liquid with small gelatinous chunks to a full gelatinous mixture akin to a semi-hard Jello. We had the latter because everything is in the basement. Just take your spoon and give it a good mixing. The mixture will break apart and become more liquid-y in the process.

It's tough to see, but our mixture had quite a gelatinous consistency when we first pulled off the lid. It broke up easily when stirred.

10.    When you’re ready to do a load, measure 1 cup of the mixture and add it to your wash as normal

Ready to roll. The little chunks easily dissolved in the wash.

We’ve run a few loads so far and we can tell no difference. If we had something with a stain, I’d probably still try to pre-treat it. But the clothes come out feeling, smelling, and looking fresh. I’m sure you could add some natural oil essence to the mix if you wanted to enhance the olfactory experience a bit.

Now for the dollars and cents (or should that be sense?):

For the DIY laundry detergent:
  • Total cost for all the ingredients (including tax) was $10.04 ($2.99 for the Washing Soda + $3.99 for the Borax + $2.58 for the 6 bars soap). Using the above measurements, we will get 6 complete batches with some Borax to spare.

  • Each batch provides 52 liquid cups of detergent. Multiply by 6 batches and that gives you enough detergent for 312 1-cup loads.

  • Cost Per Load = $10.04 / 312 = $0.03

For the traditional laundry detergent:

Let’s use Tide 2X Ultra Concentrated Liquid Laundry Detergent Original Scent (150oz bottle; 96 loads per bottle) -- something we've bought in the past. At Stop & Shop’s Peapod site, this retails for $19.99. You would need 3.18 bottles of this to give you 312 loads of detergent – the amount we get with our DIY version. For the sake of simple math, let’s round down to 3 bottles.
  • Total Cost = $19.99 x 3 = $59.97 (not including tax)

  • Cost Per Load = $59.97 / 312 = $0.19
Now, I bet you could get the ingredients cheaper (I bought them at Stop & Shop) thus lowering your per-load cost. But even with these numbers, we’re saving $0.16 per load across the six batches (312 total loads) for a total savings of $49.92. Not too shabby for 15 minutes worth of work.

Financial benefits aside, we’re using ingredients that are free of petroleum byproducts, further lessening our oil dependence and eliminating toxins from our home. When you stop and take stock of all the things in your home that uses a petroleum by-product (e.g., plastics for starters), even this very small step feels good.

Good luck making your own! Be sure to drop a line and share your results!