New Household Cleaner at the Urban Homestead

17 Feb

Like Chris says in Parks and Recreation, this is literally my favorite topic in the world: saving butt-loads of money and helping the environment- AT THE SAME TIME.  Like the post it in the picture says, “Great Job”!

As my sickness gets progressively worse and nothing I do seems to help, I’ve decided to combat this by making a big change in my household. I’m kickin’ the dishwasher tabs to the curb. Yup- I’m sick of spending gobs of money on these things. I figured out that I spend $0.30 per load using the Method Smarty Dish Tabs. Don’t get me wrong- I love them because they’re environmentally friendly and, most importantly, work really well. But at that cost, we’re spending about $50 a year just on soap for our dishes. And those of you who know me knows that everything goes in the dishwasher- this girl does not do dishes.

We could switch to the Cascade brand, which works out to $0.25 per load, but I can’t bring myself to sell my soul out for a nickel. These things are full of nasty petroleum based solvents and phosphates, but the worst part is that they’re wrapped in a plastic shell that gets sucked down into the wastewater stream where it eventually ends up in our oceans. Ugh- even “biodegradable” plastics last thousands of years. I want to leave a legacy on this earth- but it’s not plastic.

So I’m converting to homemade dishwasher detergent using Borax, washing soda and kool aid.  For about $0.07 per load, that same $50 investment will last me 715 loads, or over 4 and a half years. It’s the little things, right?

Here’s the recipe: 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, 4 packets of sugar-free lemon kool-aid. The kool-aid is for citric acid- so if you have that, use instead. I like the lemon-lime sugar free kool-aid- it’s adding a nice scent to the wash. Stash it in a tight mason jar and add a tablespoon for each load.

Now I’ve seen lots of recipes online. The couple at Young House Love use baking soda, while the author at is using washing soda. She is also adding salt as a scrubbing agent. For now I’m sticking with the washing soda, but I’ll let you guys know if I change it up.  Oh- and I’m definitely using the white vinegar pre-wash to get those glasses sparkly. has some other good uses for Borax, which is a new addition to my cleaning arsenal. Some reader claims that it’s good for a face cleaner, successfully getting rid of liver spots and acne pok marks. Wow. Other uses include drain cleaner, weed preventer, roach killer and a laundry boost. Check out Green Components helpful catalog for Borax uses. Read carefully- and although sodium borate is about as toxic as baking soda, it’s still a good idea to keep it out of reach for pets and kids.


2 Responses to “New Household Cleaner at the Urban Homestead”

  1. Gail February 20, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Hey – I wanna know how it works. We could make up a batch and use, if it works. So keep us posted….

  2. little pebble February 20, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    the formula works great! My only issue is this- we have the option to pre-fill the prewash in our dishwasher reservoir, which we did. But now the dishwasher smells like vinegar every time I open it to load. So in the future, I will only put the vinegar pre-wash in right before we start the load. Lesson learned.

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