Homemade Dishwasher Soap Disaster #1

Here’s what happens when you mix an acid and a base, I mean make dishwasher soap from a bad recipe on EHow.  Even though this was a waste of my ingredients I did have a pretty cool science experiment.

The recipe was clearly never tried.  Here are the ingredients they say to use: vinegar and Castile soap.  Well being a scientist I should have seen this coming, but I guess I lost my brain somewhere between college and having a toddler.  Half Acre Homestead does a good job of explaining what’s going on.  But here’s what’s going on, try to remember back to science class for a minute, don’t worry this won’t hurt.  Soaps are bases and vinegar is a acid.  The two are not meant to be combined and what happens is a precipitate is formed.  No explosions, sorry not that cool.  In this case the precipitate was oil.  This is the reverse process of soap making.  Not a cleaning agent.  Back to the drawing board for this one.

I don’t give up easily so I am going to try just using diluted Castile soap and use vinegar in the rinse aid compartment.  We will see how this goes, I may add salt for hard water and possibly washing soda to help clean but I want to start with less ingredients first.  I also thought about adding my citric acid but wake up Court, it’s an acid too.  If anything it could go in with the vinegar if I feel I need more spot remover.

Here’s each ingredients job as I understand it:

Castile Soap: Cleans the dishes, dissolves, not cuts the grease

Vinegar:  Removes the soap scum that can form when Castile soap reacts with minerals in the water

Citric acid/Lemon Juice:  Lowers pH so it works like vinegar

Salt:  Helps soften water, this is what those bad phosphates do in commercial brands

Washing soda:  This guy is tricky for me.  Washing soda is similar but not the same as baking soda and we know what a good cleaner and odor absorber soda is.  So my guess is they aid in the cleaning and deodorizing.  It’s basic so it’s a good partner for soap.

(I am trained as a scientist but remember I lost my brain somewhere, so don’t take all this as advice but merely my thought process)

Here are some pictures of what happened.  Another bummer is that I quadrupled the batch so all that is wasted.

Step 1.  Castile soap only

Step 2.  Vinegar added to the Castile Soap.  Instant cloudiness.

Step 3.  Shake and voila creamy oil rises to the surface.  Cool but not what I wanted.

So what’s the lesson I learned, you can’t trust everything you read on the internet.  Somehow I think I should have known that.

Update:  Check out my post on a successful dishwasher detergent recipe – without Borax.

5 responses to “Homemade Dishwasher Soap Disaster #1

  1. Well, one gains some, loses some. Maybe an essential ingredient that may have been required was purposely omitted to make you flounder.

  2. Pingback: Borax Free Homemade Laundry and Dishwasher Soap | His and Hers Homesteading

  3. SO, did you ever come up with a homemade dishwasher detergent recipe that DOES work?

    When I tried the borax/washing soda mix in my dishwasher a few years ago it permanently clouded the outside of my Le Crueset pots and left a gritty feeling on the glasses. I have an old dishwasher–perhaps that was the problem?

    Hope your full-brain power returns soon!

    • Roxanne, Thanks for letting me know that I didn’t have a link in my post to the successful dishwasher detergent recipe. I feel your pain regarding the etching on your dishes, an all natural detergent (can’t remember which one) did that to our glasses. But it happened when we added a new dose of rinse aid. So we think that was the culprit. I tossed the giant bottle of rinse aid (from Costco) and several of my glasses. Plus the rinse aid says on the bottle not to drink, call poison control. Hmmm I thought doesn’t that get sprayed all over our glasses in the dishwasher.


  4. I’m SO excited that you kept experimenting and came up with something for the DW! I’m off to see your recipe…

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