Friday, January 26, 2018

What Happened When I Used Homemade Dish Powder... & How I Fixed It.

I love natural solutions for everyday purposes, and had been making my own natural dish tablets for years, before finding a less labor-intensive recipe for a simple dish powder consisting only of baking soda, salt, and a few drops of soap. I recently wrote an article about that experience and how to get naturally clean dishes, which you can read here.

The Problem

When someone mysteriously warned me that the simple dish powder would clog my dishwasher, I didn't have any idea what they meant. How could 3 very soluble ingredients create a clog? But about two weeks after switching to this recipe, I found out (and remember, this is after using homemade tablets for years, so this might have been coming anyway). There was an inch of standing water across the bottom of my dishwasher after running a load, and a bunch of greasy buildup in the filter. This is it, I thought. I've gone too far, and broken an expensive appliance. However, fortunately that's not the end of the story.

The Fix

After using a rag to sop up all the standing water, I cleaned everything I could. When I examined the parts of the filter at the bottom of the dishwashwer, I found that they were very greasy, so I cleaned them with soap & hot water. I guess my homemade solution is just not hardcore enough to keep that grease from accumulating. I googled how to fix a clogged dishwasher, and found this helpful website, with tips from a plumbing company. They offer three things to try before calling a plumber, and it gave me hope that this was something I could handle.

While I tried their tips (which didn't seem to help in my case) I also read my dishwasher manual. It said that it was designed for storebought dish soap, particularly dish pods. Using dish pods, it said, would keep the pipes clean from scummy buildup. That very morning I went to Costco to pick up dish tablets. Their store brand is the cheapest I could find from a trusted source.

Bravely, I loaded my dishwasher with the now piled-up dishes, and ran a load with the chemical smelling dish tablet. It appeared to be working as normal, so I relaxed a little. When it came time to open the door, I was prepared for a flood of soapy water, but it didn't come. The dishes were clean and perfect, the floor of the appliance clear and empty. And all it took was running it with one dish pod. Just to be on the safe side, and to clear out any remaining greasy buildup as much as possible, I ran the next load with a conventional tablet as well.

Looking Forward

Now, it may seem like I haven't learned my lesson, but my plan is to alternate using my natural dish powder with storebought tablets. This is not just to reduce the cost, since these dish tablets are only 11 cents a piece, but to reduce the chemical impact. Salt & baking soda are both edible, and I feel much better about flushing them out into the environment. They don't have the grease-busting abilities of harsh chemical detergents, but if I run a conventional dish tablet once a week I think I can keep the pipes squeaky clean, and maintain the life of my appliance.

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