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Friday, December 26, 2014

Eco-Friendly Dishwasher Tabs

**WARNING: Just because an item is more eco-friendly and SAFER for household use does not mean that you can consume it or leave it lying around so your children can ingest it.**

I am down to my last 4 gelpacs for the dishwasher. It is time to try and convert my dishwasher soap to a safer alternative. So, this morning, I made dishwasher tablets!

In doing my research on this, I looked up the ingredients in my current dishwasher detergent. BTW, they are NOT listed on the box. Finding the ingredients required going to the product website, then finding a link in teeny, tiny print on the bottom of the product's page where I could get more information about the ingredients. They do not make it easy for you to be an informed consumer.

This is the list of ingredients in the gelpacs (yes, I know these are gelpacs and I am making tablets):


Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate             

Propylene Glycol                                          

Sodium Formate                                         

Polyvinyl Alcohol                                          


Sulfonated Polymer                                     

Aqueous Solution of Acrylic Polymers    

Amylase Enzyme                                        

Xanthan Gum                                               

Fragrance / Parfum                                     

Citric Acid                                                       

Sodium Hydroxide                                       

D&C Orange 4                                             

I have added links, where I could find non-product specific or brand specific information, without spending all day chasing links, to show what some of these items are.  Much of the information on these products is written for a chemist to read and not the average person. When I was looking up information, I was interested in trying to find out how safe they were to be used on my dishes. Some of them are completely innocuous. Like Amalyse Enzyme. We make that in our mouth. It's part of spit. But some of these chemicals are not really something I want in my kitchen.My overall conclusion is that I really don't want to continue using this product on my eating and cooking utensils.

I found this recipe that uses products I am more comfortable with. Yes, there are two of the items in this recipe that I would not consume, but I am comfortable using them around my family and have been exposed to them myself for most of my life.


The list of ingredients in the dishwasher tablets:

1/2 c. Borax
1/2 c. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
1/2 c. Baking Soda
1/2 c. Citric Acid
1/2 c. Salt (I used sea salt)
15 drops Young Living Lavender Essential Oil
15 drops Young Living Lemon Essential Oil
1/4 c. of water (I only used about half of this)

The last six items on the list myself and my family ingest on a regular basis. (I use citric acid in canning). This is a list that I feel much more comfortable using on the plates and cups that my family uses on a regular basis.

Here is the process:

Add the oil to the salt first.

1. Put salt in a glass bowl and add essential oils, combine thoroughly.
As you can see in the photo, I put my salt in a small bowl. I mixed the salt and oils in that bowl first. The reason is this: I am using baking soda and Lemon EO. Remember elementary school volcanoes? I did not want that to happen, so I mixed the oil into the salt VERY well before adding it to the rest of the mix. ANYTIME you are using a citrus oil or a blend with citrus oil, try to add it to another ingredient before combining with baking soda to avoid a chemical interaction, ESPECIALLY if you will be storing in a closed container. Failure to do so can result in exploding containers. 

2. Combine the borax, washing soda, baking soda, citric acid. Mix thoroughly. You can use a whisk or a fork to mix. Add the salt/oil mixture. Mix it together really good.

3. Now it is time to add the water. Do NOT add it all at once. Add it slowly and mix as you add. I put about 1 tablespoon in a small measuring cup and slowly poured it in while I was mixing. After I put in that tablespoon, I mixed it really well before adding more. Then I did the same, adding a second tablespoon. This time, I had a little bit of foaming, but I just continued stirring. It only took about 2 tablespoons before my mixture looked like this:

Add only enough water to make it stick.

4. So now it is time to form your tablets. I looked and looked and could not find my ice trays anywhere, so I used my egg holder. It takes about 4 teaspoons of mix to fill a hole. I would add a little, then compress, add a little more, compress, and continue this process until the mold was filled. When I had all 12 spots full, I rubbed all the excess back into my mixing bowl.

5. Since I only had 1 tray, I laid out parchment paper and dumped the tablets out onto it so I could continue using the egg tray.

6. Let tablets dry 12-14 hours. I am in Arizona, which is dry and I had the heater on today, so my tablets were rock hard in about 6 hours. Once tablets are dry, put in a container.

When I was all done, I had 30 tablets.

I calculated my cost because I really want to know if I am saving money. On making dishwasher tablets, I come out about even. The tablets cost me about $.23 per tablet to make. The average for buying tablets (not gelpacs) is anywhere from $.21 to $.25 per tablet. And this is based on buying normal amount of supplies at a normal store. The biggest expense was actually the citric acid. If I can find a cheaper way to buy it (I am almost positive I can get it at Winco at bulk prices), it will reduce my cost even more.

I just checked my dishwasher, and my dishes are just as clean as they normally are. I actually even had one really greasy bowl that is sparkling clean. 

On a side note, I also stopped using the Jet Dry about 2 months ago. Just put some vinegar in the dispenser, and you are set. My glasses haven't had spots since then.

I will definitely continue to make my own tablets. Total time spent making them was less than an hour, and I loved the smell of the lemon and lavender as I was making them.

A better way to get the citric acid--from your chair!


Kristina Bee said...

HooOoray! I have never purchased citric acid, and you bet your sweet patootie I will have to now. I never knew that about jet dry/vinegar! I will certainly be making that switch!

Anointed by Abba said...

Sprouts carries Citric Acid in bulk (with the spices). So does Sahuaro Spice Company at 3611 N. 34th Avenue Phoenix, Arizona 85017. They are only opne Monday-Friday 7-3 and cash only. But best place, by far to get herbs, spices, and citric acid.

Kristina Bee said...

Thank you! I bought citric acid at Sprout's. It was my first time looking at those 'bulk' items...I usually think of 'bulk' as those giant barrels with rice & oats and such. So when I found it on an end cap I noticed dried lavender flower buds, so I bought some of those too. :D (I took about 1/4 of the jar and I was scared it would be expensive. You know how much it cost? 24 cents! :-) I think I'm going to get me some more!! :-) I got half a bulk bag of citric acid for about 4$. It's about a cup and 1/2...

Also, I wanted to just comment about the ingredient propylene glycol. (Thank you for including all these links in your blog post, Kim!) I know it's one of the ingredients in my e-cig liquid and I hate that. :-( The article you linked made me feel better, that I may not have poisoned myself yet, but I still want to quit it!! I was more interested in what the European food agencies had to say about it because they are quite a bit more strict about the purity of product ingredients. Their answer was iffy. Our country says 'YES, go ahead!' Which is what scares me...