08 January 2011

Chirp, Cheep, Cheap!

Everybody’s all a-twitter about the cost of groceries these days.   Have you seen the prices of cleaning products lately?  We sure spend a lot of money to poison ourselves.  Stop already!  With a few ingredients listed in my earlier post Shrewd Shopping List, you can make dish detergent, laundry detergent, shampoo and more. My latest adventure in the kitchen was dishwasher detergent.  I grabbed a glass jar and mixed a small batch of dishwasher powder. 

½ cup borax
½ cup washing soda
¼ cup coarse sea salt
¼ cup food grade citric acid

My first attempt was double the recipe.  Don't do that.  My mix compacted and hardened in the glass jar and it was hard to scrape it out as I got closer to the bottom.  I got out what I could and then added water.  It fizzed up and once dissolved, I used it as liquid soap for general cleaning. 

With the smaller amount, it should be easier to manage; especially if you store the jar on its side.  I use a spoon to chunk it up and loosen it.  I put one tablespoon into the detergent receptacle.  The rinse agent is a mix of lemon juice and white vinegar.  The dishes came out clean.   I still have water spots because I do not run the dry cycle on the dishwasher to save energy.  There may be a small amount of caked detergent left; chunk it up and leave in the dishwasher for the next cycle.  They key to any dishwashing success is to avoid greasy dishes.  I hand wash (castile soap and water) the greasy cooking dishes.   If grease gets in the dishwasher and leaves a film, I’ll put vinegar in and re-run the wash. I will test my next batch with additional citric acid and see if that works. 

My stash of shrewd shopping ingredients cost me less than $75.00, including shipping and handling for the citric acid.  I have enough ingredients to make over a year’s worth of dish detergent, laundry detergent, body soap, shampoo, general cleaners and whatever else I can find through research.   I used to spend over $50 per month on just a few of my cleaning and body supplies.  No more! 

Some readers may find homemade extreme, but I tried the eco-friendly online dishwasher liquid and it left my dishwasher with regular and recurring mold that I had to constantly scrub and clean.  The big company eco-friendly liquid from the big box store left a thick film on the dishes and the dishwasher smelled like bleach.  The homemade batch cleans the dishes; sometime leaves a film or oil; and I no longer have issues with mold.  At least I recognize the ingredients in my homemade batch and I can tweak the formula to fit my family’s needs.   

The only drawback with homemade items is finding the ingredients.  I was persistent and patient.  I did not go out of my way to find the ingredients, just found them along my normal shopping route.  I found the borax at Target, washing soda at Wegmans, and I ordered the citric acid online.  Do not try to buy citric acid from stores because it is hard to find and may be sold for $4-10 for a 4 oz bottle.  I searched online and found a 5 pound bag for $13 at a biodiesel supply company, which is so much less expensive than the online candy, nut or health food shops. 

Try it and let me know how this works out for you.  If you need citric acid, let me know and I’ll help you find some.

Thanks: publicdomainpictures.net

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