This is one of the green & clean projects I've been working on around the house. As you may recall, many many posts ago, I put up this recipe for a powdered dishwasher detergent. It worked okay but honestly with the super duper hard water we have out here (I once did a test kit and the result was higher than the enclosed scale :P) I wasn't convinced it was a total winner. When you add in the fact that my rinse agent dispenser (filled with vinegar, of course!) is a bit haphazard about dispensing at all, I was having some fairly regular problems with films & spots left behind on my dishes.
I had done some research and found that for hard water, gel detergents are recommended the highest. I guess since they are pre-dissolved they have less of a tendency to leave undissolved detergent behind??? My first batch of homemade gel detergent never gelled. Still not sure what happened there but it wasn't much thicker than pure water. Definitely NOT what I wanted. I'm on my second batch (different recipe) and it sort of gelled. It more resembles gel curds and whey. All the gel curds float to the top and clump up, so I have to shake it up before I use it. When I pour it out, it kind of looks like curdled milk (and splashes a bit when a big chunk blops out). So while its doing an okay cleaning job, I'm not super happy with the consistency of it. I will eventually get something worth sharing with you guys. In either case, whether I was using the powder or gel homemade dishwasher detergents, they definitely worked MUCH better when I added LemiShine to the other detergent compartment.
I discovered LemiShine when they changed the formulations of branded dishwasher detergents a few years ago. I had noticed that I was having a LOT of reside on my dishes. I thought maybe my detergent was bad, so I bought a new box. Same thing happened. I tried rinse agents, no change. I starting reading online to see if my dishwasher might be broken when I found some board posts about this very problem. The solution everyone recommended was LemiShine. You find it in the dishwasher detergent aisle at WalMart. You put it in with your soap and voila!! no more spots or residue. I fell madly in love.
Unfortunately, as I've been removing more and more chemicals from our food and cleaning products, I was a little bit uncomfortable still using LemiShine. It says that it's "all natural" but you know how misleading that can be. Also, they don't list ingredients. I finally stopped using it altogether when I started making my own cleaners around the house. But, boy was it sorely missed!!
In searching for a substitute or replacement, I scoured the internet. The only consensus I could find is that it likely contained citric acid (used in ethnic cooking and canning) and salt. I decided to start with a simple formula with just those 2 ingredients in a 1:1 ratio and see how it did. And, it worked wonderfully well! Sparkling glasses and no spots!! So, I upped the salt and did a 2 parts salt to 1 part citric acid. (Since citric acid is the "expensive" part of the formula) It still did great! I upped the ratio again to 3 parts salt and 1 part citric acid. This time it was okay. A few spots. Not horrible but not really sparkling either. So for me, I stick to a 2:1 ratio but if your water is softer you can probably get away with 3:1 ratio. I'd recommend starting at the lower ratio and seeing if it has enough power for you. If you're happy, then increase the salt to citric acid ratio-- stop when it gets ineffective!
As a note here, this is NOT an attempt to "break" the formula of LemiShine. But if you would like to cut costs or only want to use products that you know EXACTLY what's in them, this recipe will work well for you!
After using this regularly (probably 10+ loads of dishes run) in the last 2-3 weeks, I am confident that this should work consistently for others as well. I'm super excited to get this out here and see how it works for different city waters/different detergents.
Lemi Shine Substitute:
2 cups non iodized salt (usually right next to regular salt or near pickling supplies)
1)Place in an airtight container (a washed & dried recycled yogurt tub works great....) and shake to combine.
2) Use 2-3 Tbs in the detergent compartment of your automatic dishwasher (I put it in the open one and the soap in the closed one but you can do it the other way as well. See what works best for your machine!). If you only have one compartment, add 50/50 with your detergent.
Salt: .59 for the whole tub.
Citric Acid: 2.97 for this 7.5 oz jar at WalMart. I used a small amount of this for canning tomatoes. I've since made 2 half batches plus smaller "single serving" size testers of this mix and still have powder left. So you can expect 1- 1.5 batches maybe? per jar.
Total expenses: $3.56
If you get 2 batches out of it, this would be $1.78/batch.
If you get more like 1.5 batches then its $2.37/batch.
Typical WalMart LemiShine price (about the same volume as a 1/2 -3/4 batch) is around $4.00. So somewhere around 1/2 the price of the original (depending on where you source your citric acid...)
I'd love some feedback on how this worked with your water (hard or soft!) and your detergent (store bought or homemade!) Please comment below!!
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