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Monday, October 8, 2012

DIY All Natural LemiShine Substitute

Sorry to be gone for so long. Between fall break (where we had an awesome family vacation) and being sick, its been a few weeks since I've posted but it's good to be back!

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:
 
1 cup citric acid (find in ethnic markets OR in the canning aisle of Mart stores)
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.

Cost Analysis:
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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9 comments:

  1. I can't wait to try this. Do you know...how long can you store the salt and citric acid in a bag together? I was using a homemade detergent that had borax and washing soda in it, but I had to add the citric acid to the wash separately because it causes the other ingredients to harden when mixed and stored together. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. See below-- typed in the wrong box :/

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  2. I actually store mine in an empty Lemishine bottle, so I just give it a hearty shake every time I use it (which is pretty much every day) and it stays pretty free flowing. I'd recommend a plastic or glass container with a tight fitting lid that you could shake-- maybe a recycled large yogurt, sour cream or similar container? Since the salt is non-reactive, it should have an indefinite shelf-life as long as its kept absolutely dry! Happy washing!

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  3. The rinse aid dispenser may not be working because the vinegar may have trashed the rubber components in the rinse aid compartment. if you are adding vinegar, add a small amount to a right side up glass in the top rack. the vinegar will splash out in small amounts and accomplish the same task. - Ryan

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    1. Hmmmmmm.....interesting. I'll have to give that a try! Although I doubt it was the vinegar as it was fairly dodgy before that. Thanks for the tip!

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  4. Thank you very much - this is exactly what I was looking for!! Our local Walmart stopped carrying Lemi Shine for a time and I was having to order online at a much higher price. I am also going green with the cleaning products, so I decided this was a perfect reason to find an alternative. Thank you for the help!

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    1. You are welcome! I hope it works as well for you as it did me! I have to say, it feels great to know what's in everything around your house!

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  5. Thanks for this recipe! However, it did not work with our hard water. Our dishes still came out cloudy. We then tried citric acid alone and that worked. Hope this helps others out there with the same issue.

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    1. And I thought I had hard water--- you must have a terrible time cleaning things! I'm glad you found a ratio that worked for you!

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