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In our old house, I was utilizing castile soap in my dishwasher and always getting fantastic results. I had no clue that the difference in my water softness could make such a huge difference in how well some of my natural cleaning products worked. When we moved into our new home, my first load of dishes came out of the dishwasher covered in a white film. I was beyond disappointed. At first, I had no idea what had happened, but after doing some reading, I found my problem. If you have really hard water, castile soap will turn the water cloudy, and consequently, will cause your glasses to come out cloudy too. I knew that now I needed to come up with a new dishwashing plan for hard water.
I Needed Something To Soften The Water Naturally
When I first made a powdered dishwasher detergent, I mixed together equal parts borax, washing soda, and baking soda but my hard water was preventing my dishes from getting clean. I needed ingredients that could soften my water and help my dishes get cleaner. I didn't know at first that I already had two amazing water-softening ingredients in my pantry; citric acid and salt.
Citric acid – A very mild acid that is derived from the peels of citrus fruits, citric acid comes in a powdered form and is the main ingredient in products like Lemishine and lemon Koolaid packets. Used as a natural preservative in food, citric acid can be found in the canning/preserving section of some grocery stores or brewer's stores.
Salt – Salt has been used in food and preservation pretty much as long as man has been preserving food. It is used for much more than just an additive to great tasting food. Earlier generations of man have used this mineral rich abundant resource for everything from scouring cookware to removing stains from clothing. Salt is even great at deterring ants and killing poison ivy. Not only is salt a great cleaner, it is also a natural water softener. When added to your dishwasher detergent recipes, salt naturally helps to soften your water and aids in cleaning your dishes.
The Answer To My Problem Was Bath Fizzies
The problem with my original powder recipe was that I had mixed all the ingredients together into one container, and left it at that. The next day, the whole thing was one hard brick. The Hippy Hubby had to use a knife to stab out pieces, just so that he could put them in the dishwasher. This is what made me think, “I need to make dishwasher tablets instead!” Since this recipe already contains the citric acid and baking soda that my bath fizzies recipe calls for, I wondered why not make these the same way that I make the bath fizzies. From this thought, a recipe was born!
Don't want to take all the time to make these dishwasher tablets? Try making my Lavender Lemon Powdered Dishwasher Detergent instead!
The Hippy Homemaker's Citrus Lavender Dishwasher Tablets
- 2 cup washing soda
- 1 cup Oxyboost oxygen bleach ( optional – this really helps to add the extra cleaning oomph especially with hard water. OxyBoost is my favorite eco-friendly oxygen bleach with no fillers so you need a lot less than you would the main brands out there.)
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup citric acid
- 1 cup salt (kosher or rock salt would be the cheapest options, but do not use Epsom salt, as it is full of minerals and used by aquarium enthusiasts to harden water.)
- 30 drops MRH lemon essential oil or PT lemon eo (optional, the tablets will work perfectly fine without essential oils, but this adds extra disinfectant, antibacterial, etc.)
- 30 drops MRH lavender essential oil or PT lavender eo (this can be replaced with tea tree essential oil as well, both are great for antibacterial properties.)
- 2-4 Tbsp. filtered water
- ice cube trays or another mold
- Combine the washing soda, baking soda, citric acid, salt, and essential oils (if you are using them! You can also combine other essential oils instead of my choice!) in a large bowl, until the essential oil drops are thoroughly combined into the mixture.
- Add 1 Tbsp. water and stir the mixture until the reaction stops. Feel the mixture to see if it needs more water. Too much water will make the ingredients over react. You want the ingredients to be JUST WET ENOUGH TO MAKE A PACKED DOWN SNOWBALL. If it needs more water, add one Tablespoon at a time, and stir.
- When you get the right consistency, pack down the dishwasher powder into the molds. If you put too much water into your mixture, it will likely puff up, so if you hear it fizzing still while you are packing the molds, I would only fill them 1/2 – 3/4 of the way full to be sure the tabs will still fit into your dishwasher.
- Once the molds are packed down and full, allow them to sit for 12-24 hours before trying to remove them from the ice cube trays. If the tabs are not releasing from the mold, then they are not yet dry enough. Once they are dry enough, they will come out easily. If you get too impatient and try to get them out too soon, they will crumble to pieces…I should know! You can even let them sit out for another 12-24 hours after getting them out of the trays, just to further harden them before storing them in a sealed container.
- Place one tablet into the dishwasher soap dispenser. I put them into the large section that the lid closes over.
The Hippy Homemaker's Citrishine
Lemishine is a product that I see everyone with hard water and homemade dishwasher soap, using to help with the white film that ends up showing up all over their glasses. The main ingredient in Lemishine is citric acid, but they don't tell you what else is included (only that it's “all natural”). I don't know about you, but I am trying to be more mindful of the products that I am using in our household, and not knowing what exactly is in a product is the reason why I make my own products as much as possible. My version is called Citrishine! Like I just pointed out, I have no clue what else is in Lemishine, so I had to make my own recipe up (I am not claiming this to be the Lemishine recipe).
- 1 cup citric acid
- 2 cup salt (kosher or rock salt work great, but do not use Epsom salt as it will further harden your water and make your soap less effective.)
- a re-purposed spice container
- Combine powdered ingredients into the spice container and sprinkle into the dishwasher container that you aren't putting the tablets in. In my dishwasher, it goes into the small spot to the right of the area that I put the dishwasher tablet in. If you do not have this extra spot in your dishwasher, you can sprinkle the Citrishine onto the bottom of the dishwasher.
The Hippy Homemaker's Citrus Dishwasher Rinsing Agent
You should, if you aren't already, be using vinegar as your rinse agent (to replace the Jet-dry that you used to use!) in your dishwasher. It works really well as a rinse agent, and also kills 99.9% germs and bacteria. Some people, like me, fill up the spot in their dishwasher for rinse aid, though others prefer to pour 1/2 cup vinegar into a bowl and leave it in the top of the dishwasher. Those who use the latter usually find that it works better for them because some dishwashers just don't release the right amount of rinse aid as they are supposed to. I like to kick my vinegar dishwasher rinse agent up a notch with orange oil! Orange oil is cold-pressed from the peels of oranges and when added to this recipe, takes the 2 week wait time out of those citrus vinegar recipes that are floating around Pinterest.
- 32 oz. (or 4 cups) distilled white vinegar
- 1 tsp. orange oil
- a re-purposed 32. oz. container (I used an empty Dr. Bronner's bottle)
- Use this to as your rinse aid. You can either fill your rinse aid compartment in your dishwasher, or you can put 1/2 cup of the rinse aid in a bowl and set it on the top rack while the dishes are washing. (Just a note, it is normal for the vinegar to turn cloudy when you drop the orange oil into it. That is exactly how it's supposed to react!)
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