Something embarrassing I will admit ONLY TO YOU …

Because I am hoping people can learn from my mistakes, I’ll admit something I messed up. I ran out of something. Something I use all the time. Something that was on my list. Something that I should have had lots of extras. Something that my family has come to rely on. Yeah, me, I did. Me, the person who gives advice and claims to be an authority, I had an error in my stockpiling and I totally ran out … of dishwasher detergent. Not the suds-in-the-sink kind, but the dishwasher machine kind. So, not the worst thing I could have done. I could have just done the dishes in the sink.

I really, really didn’t feel like doing the dishes in the sink tonight. I don’t know how I ran out, it’s been on my list the past few weeks, and this past week I even had a Perfect Storm lined up … manufacturer’s coupons plus store coupons plus a sale at Bi-Lo. I just missed it. It just got by me and I forgot. I was so excited about a different good deal I got, which I’ll also tell you about, but anyway, here’s what you can do:

  • about a third of a cup of baking soda
  • about a tablespoon of salt
  • one packet of unsweetened Lemonade Kool-Aid (of course, Wylers or store brand will also work, and so will Orange flavor)

Put those in the dispenser you would normally put your powdered dish detergent. WOW you will be impressed with how clean and sparkly both your dishes and your machine is! It cleans EVERYTHING! I am so happy I found this – I will do this probably once a month regardless of whether or not I have dishwashing detergent. The secret is, the citric acid in the lemonade mix, the anti-sudsing and cleansing properties of the salt and baking soda, and the absence of other additives and fragrances and other such things that dull a dish and washer over time.

For me, this is also way cheaper than using dishwashing detergent. Arm & Hammer was Buy One Get One Free earlier this year at Rite-Aid, with a $10 money back on any $20 purchase up to $80. Since I use baking soda for all sorts of things – and it is useful in all sorts of machines, first aid, cleaning and deodorizing, and has many uses, I bought as much as I could and paid 25% (you save half by buying BOGO, then you get half of that money back) which means I bought $160 worth of A&H products for $80 then got $40 back. The baking soda was right around a dollar per box then, meaning I paid net 25 cents per box. Each box has about 6 portions right for dishwashing detergent, so roughly 4 cents per washer load.

The salt I got with coupons at Publix that ended up doubling and getting a can of salt for about 18 cents, plus I had a 40 cent refund from Saving Star (I’ve told you about that before and recommend it!) so I got as many cans of salt as I could qualify for and made 22 cents on each. Each has approximately 12 portions for the dishwashing detergent equivalent, so roughly minus 2 cents cost per washer load.

The lemonade Kool-Aid was from the recent coupon and Catalina deal at Bi-Lo. They were on sale 4 for $1, coupon was for buy 10 get 3 free, and there was a $2.50 refund by Catalina that would print at the time you checked out. So, that’s 26 packets for $2.50, call it 9 cents per washer load.

Nine plus four minus two equals 11 cents per washer load. Now that I know this, that will be my new standard for “buy now” with washer detergent. I know I have some approximates and rounding in this, but using round numbers makes it easier to keep straight in your head. Eleven cents per washer load is easy enough to remember.

I found out this substitute by googling “substitute for dishwasher detergent” and I read several pages with dozens of pieces of advice and I took the ones that made the most sense to me and that had some reasoning behind their suggestions. I don’t have anyone in particular to credit for this recipe because no one gave this recipe in particular – everyone had combinations of liquid dish soap (didn’t seem necessary to me considering the properties of the other ingredients), or vinegar as a rinse aid (my machine doesn’t have a separate rinse dispenser so it would have just reacted with the baking soda), or even suggested HE laundry tablets (gasp! Those are WAY too expensive! But I can see how that would work in in pinch). So the actual recipe I’m giving here was my own idea based on the research.

Catalina deals are found at the “Your Offers” section of Coupon Network.

SavingStar refunds are available here.

Coupons for salt are fairly regular on coupon aggregate sites like this one.

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