Singing the Dishwasher Blues + Homemade Cleaning Products

Sometimes, in life, you learn things the easy way. Other times, you learn things the hard way. On Thursday night I learned things the hard way.

It all began innocently enough. I had run out of dishwasher detergent – but I remembered that I had an old sample of Sunlight somewhere under my sink. I dug it out, popped the little packet in the soap dispenser, and started the dishwasher while I washed the pots and pans by hand. Normally I prefer to use greener dishwashing products, but when someone sends a free sample my way I’ll use it, especially when I’m out of my regular detergent. No biggie, right?

Once I finished up with the handwashing, I turned around to wash the kitchen counter. That’s when I saw it: a big soapy puddle spreading out beneath the dishwasher. It was huge. Had I accidentally put regular dish soap in the dishwasher? I’d always heard that doing that would lead to a mess like this. But the soap had come in a neat little packet. Dish soap for handwashing doesn’t come in packets. I grabbed the bag the sample had come in, and that’s when I saw the words LAUNDRY DETERGENT in all caps across the top. This is when I learned – the hard way – that you should never put laundry soap in the dishwasher.

I called for my husband, who came running with towels. We sopped up the mess and drained the dishwasher, then ran the rinse cycle. Then I ran a super-hot wash with baking soda, and another rinse cycle with vinegar. At the end, my dishes had never been cleaner. However, they smelled like ‘Spring Splash’, whatever that means. I don’t use artificially-scented laundry soap anymore, and I’d forgotten how strong they smell, and how long that scent lingers.

I recently attended a local blogger event put on by Aspen Clean. Aspen Clean is a Vancouver company that sells green cleaning products and offers green home cleaning services. The evening featured yoga, food and the chance to try making our own homemade cleaning products. We made all purpose cleaner, glass cleaner and tub and tile cleaner. I don’t love the all purpose cleaner – for most of my cleaning around the house I just use castile soap, and I found that it works just as well or better than my homemade spray. The glass cleaner was good, and I’ll likely keep using it. However, the tub and tile cleaner really knocked my socks off. I normally just use baking soda for any scouring I do, but this worked much better. I am sort of smitten.

green living homemade cleaning products tub and tile cleaner

Here’s the recipe for the tub and tile cleaner:

Tub & Tile Cleaner

2 cups baking soda
1.5 Tbsp castile soap
20 drops essential oil (I used lavender, but you could choose whatever you enjoy)

Mix the ingredients well and store in a reusable container. Aspen Clean was kind enough to provide me with a shaker bottle, and I find that it works very well, but failing that I’m sure a glass jar or even an old yogurt tub would work well.

After my dishwasher fiasco, I’m considering making my own dishwasher detergent. I found some recipes online, but I’m still debating which one to go with. This is where you come in. Have you ever made your own dishwasher soap? I’d love to hear what worked. Or I’d be happy to hear your stories of dishwasher disaster. I can’t be the only one who’s managed to flood their kitchen floor with soapy water, can I?

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  1. Would you be willing to share the all purpose recipe you tried? Also, glad your dishwasher is ok. That sounds like something I would try!!

  2. Oh my—that sounds just like something I would do! I am glad everything turned out alright, even if there was a mess to clean up.

    I am about to try making a homemade powder dishwasher detergent when the ingredients get here from Amazon. I’m going with a recipe that doesn’t have any borax, as I’m comfortable with using it in my laundry, but I’m not sure I feel that great about washing dishes with borax. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!
    Amy’s last post … Friday Favorites: Three Rocks!My Profile

  3. I never thought of making my own cleaning supplies, what a great idea!

  4. I’m doing to try a no-Borax dishwashing soap recipe I found on-line. Just need to get washing soda and I am good to go.

    Thank you SO much for the tile cleaner recipe! Totally going to try it this week. I had quite a time cleaning my kids’ bathroom last week and my usual eco method (vinegar and baking soda) did not cut it at all. I have to admit I broke down and dug out some semi-eco tile and grout cleaner that I don’t like to use (don’t trust companies when they make their claims).
    christy’s last post … {this moment}My Profile

  5. I have given up on using samples of cleaning products because I can’t tolerate the fragrances now that I’m no longer used to them–they don’t smell “clean” to me; they smell like “chemicals”.

    Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has done a series of reviews of natural dishwasher detergents that I found very helpful. She didn’t have any luck with homemade ones.

    I use that same tub and tile cleaner. It’s also great for giving yourself a facial–how many household cleansers can say that?!
    ‘Becca’s last post … CONTEST: Name This Recipe!My Profile

  6. I should really try this, I never like anything I buy. Of course, since my dishwasher just died, I’m going to be able to try out a lot of soaps.
    Triplezmom’s last post … Teaching Tuesday: The Difference Between a Trip in the Car and a Road TripMy Profile

  7. I tried making my own dishwasher detergent, but found that straight washing soda and Lemi-shine work really well. Oh, and vinegar as a rinse agent. Easy!

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