Of all the recipes, this one has been the most difficult to formulate. I have tested dozens of procedures over the years: cutting lemons and trying to make a liquid detergent from them, mixing Castile soap and vinegar, shuffling different powders in all sorts of imaginative combinations, and so on.
I'm still asking myself how my dishwasher can still be working - still “be alive"- after so much creativity and experimentation with my personal DIY!
I have learned that it is extremely difficult to identify the most eco-friendly and, at the same time, effective formula for a dishwasher detergent when there are several elements that affect the outcome - the dishwasher brand, the kind of water, the cycle you decide to use and, of course, the amount of grime.
After extensive research, I have concluded that this is the best recipe and the best combination of powders I can find - so far, anyway!
50 gr Sodium Carbonate
30 gr Sodium Citrate
20 gr Sodium Percarbonate
1-3 drops Washing up liquid
How to prepare
Mix the powders together in a glass or plastic jar.
How to use
Put one scoop (10-15 gr) of this mixture into the detergent compartment of the dishwasher, then add up to a maximum of three drops of your washing-up liquid. Always remember to refill the rinse-aid dispenser with your citric acid solution (recipe here).
With this recipe, you have to use a little bit of washing-up liquid. You can increase the amount in order to make your detergent more effective, but do not use too much soap, unless you want soap bubbles all over your kitchen floor!
Seriously, though, always remember that too much washing-up liquid can damage your dishwasher.
This formula is safe for the septic tanks.
About the ingredients
SODIUM CARBONATE - Na2CO3- is also known as washing soda, soda ash, soda crystals and soda Solvay.
It is familiar in the home as an everyday water-softener used in laundering: it counteracts the magnesium and calcium ions in hard water and prevents them bonding with the detergent being used; however, it does not prevent scaling.
Originally, it was intended as a laundry booster, so it can be used to scrub and to remove grease or oil stains.
SODIUM CITRATE - Na3C6H5O7 - is an essential ingredient that acts as a sequestrant.
It is suitable for use as a “builder” in laundry detergents because of its ability to sequester positively-charged calcium and magnesium ions found in tap-water and, unlike phosphate builders, it is environmentally safe.
Sodium citrate, acting as a water softener, basically allows the detergent to work more effectively. In fact, the resulting soft water - treated with sodium citrate - requires less soap for the same cleaning effort, as soap is not wasted mopping up calcium ions. Soft water also extends the lifetime of plumbing by reducing or eliminating scale build-up in pipes and fittings.
Sodium citrate is not the same as citric acid. In fact, citric acid is a weak organic acid (pH 2 approx), sodium citrate (pH 7 approx) is the sodium salt of citric acid. This means that to make the sodium citrate you need the citric acid. Like citric acid, it has a sour taste. Like other salts, it also has a salty taste.
More info about citric acid here.
SODIUM PERCARBONATE - Na2CO3·1.5H2O2 - it is an adduct of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide, and basically the "friendly" alternative to bleach
As a bleaching agent, it is used to get rid of stains, to deodorise, to improve fabric whiteness and to get whites white. It is very effective as a laundry presoak for heavily- stained articles. You can also use it for cleaning and removing organic stains (such as coffee, tea, wine, fruit juice, food, sauce, grass) from fabric, plastic, porcelain, ceramic, wood, carpet, asphalt, concrete etc. It's ideal for whitening and deodorising your nappies or whitening old linens and yellowing whites.
Always remember that for it to release the oxygen and be effective as a disinfectant, sodium percarbonate needs temperatures over 40°C, as hot water accelerates the bleaching action; otherwise, it won’t work and will be wasted, polluting without purpose.
WASHING UP LIQUID is really important for making our recipes as it will help us to clean correctly and to achieve effective results.
Detergents are amphiphilic: they help oils become more soluble in water. The hydrophobic (non-polar) parts of the detergent molecules bind to the non-polar oil molecules. Simultaneously, the hydrophilic (polar) parts of the detergent molecules bind with the water, so that the entire molecule can dissolve in water: this results in a cloudy solution of water and the molecules formed by detergent and oil.
Of course, when I speak of washing-up liquid, I mean only the bio-based type. You can find many ecological, environmentally-friendly, green washing-up liquids with recyclable or recycled packaging. Nowadays, both local shops and supermarkets sell them. The best policy is to buy in bulk and decant as needed.
You can buy all the ingredients here in bulk choosing the quantity that suits you or here if you wish to have the KIT already prepared with my DIY recipes book.
You can find more DIY recipes in my book.
Have a look at this website for more dishwasher recipes and tips.