Crazy-Easy DIY Dishwasher Detergent Tablets


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Let me just start this post out by saying I’m not suuuuper crafty. When people who know me think of me, I sincerely doubt it is because they’re thinking of anything crafty or do-it-yourself; it’s much more likely they’re thinking of my ridiculous facebook posts or my zany antics with wild hair dye colors, or (no brainer) my amazing ability to create such adorable and funny kids. But since leaving the military and embarking on my domestic adventures in being a stay at home mom, I have more of an interest in attempting pinterest projects, and without my second income I also have the drive to be a bit more thrifty. My point is, even a novice like me could mix up a batch of these babies in less than five minutes, so no, you don’t have to be crafty to accomplish this.

I’d also like to give credit for the recipe I used to make these dishwasher tabs, and since I sort of picked and chose from a couple of sources, I will just say that it’s a mix of the ones I found here, here, and here. All of them were nice and actually damn near the same, really, but didn’t quite seem right for me. so I tweaked them just slightly, and voila! I have a super wonderful dishwasher tab that left my dishes sparkly and clean! The glasses had no spots, the plastic containers didn’t have any hazy film (which we did get from several of the store-bought tabs),  and they smelled clean and fresh without being overly soapy-smelling. That strong soap smell that you sometimes get from “real” detergents creeps me out, I don’t want to eat or drink soap. A whiff of it when I open the dishwasher is one thing, but when I’m tipping a glass of water to my lips, I don’t want to feel like I’m getting a belly full of suds.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe:

1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup sea, kosher, or other coarse salt
1/2-3/4 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed or from a bottle

A couple things to note: Washing soda is not the same thing as baking soda. It’s in the laundry aisle, usually conveniently located next to the borax. As far as the salt, any coarse one will do. I used an off brand sea salt because it was cheaper, some of the recipes even used epsom salt, which would likely be even cheaper. I just chose what I happened to have onhand. The salt is used for the abrasive quality and to help soften hard water if that’s an issue where you live, so the type isn’t a deal-breaker.

Mix them all together and it’ll be the consistency of soggy sand. Add the lemon juice slowly, and once you get it to the consistency where it’s easily sticking together, stop. It’ll still work if it’s too wet, but it’ll be messier and harder to form. Next, scoop out tablespoons of the mix. As I scooped it out, I thought I must’ve been doing something wrong because the little half-spheres I was scooping onto my sheet of tin foil seemed a bit crumbly, like they’d fall apart at a touch. Don’t fret, dear reader, your tablets will dry out and somehow become more stuck-together as they do.  I let it stay in the shape of the 1 tablespoon sized scoop and just plopped them out onto the foil, but you can form it into little blocks if you prefer. You might want it to be a different shape to fit just so into your compartment of your dishwasher, it’s up to your preference. I’ve seen several versions where people pressed it into different ice cube trays or even cookie cutter shapes, so go ahead and get creative if you want to. Have an old bachelorette party penis shaped ice mold? Who doesn’t want a little soapy penis to do their dishes? Just make sure there isn’t more than about a tablespoon of the mix in each tab, or you’ll risk having too much detergent, which means that you may end up with soapy film on your dishes. And that would be a bummer, because it defeats the whole purpose of a quick, cheap and easy tab if you have dirty dishes at the end. Who wants to re-run a rinse cycle or some other nonsense? Not this gal. Pay attention and save yourself the headache.

Once you have your own special little creations, let them dry. You can use it immediately but it’ll be mooshy, which means that you can’t store them without them all drying together, becoming one big hunk of hassle requiring an ice pick and a strong arm. If you’ve scooped them out like mine, it takes a few hours for them to dry out. If you put them into an enclosed mold such as an ice cube tray (of any shape, naughty or nice), it may be better to wait a full 24hrs. Let them sit until fully dried out, then place into an airtight container. I reused the container that my old store-bought tabs came in: take that, cascade! This recipe makes 36 tabs 🙂

When I used mine, I just tossed it into the bottom of the dishwasher, because the little compartment wasn’t quite deep enough to fit mine. In the future I could flatten them a bit, but realistically, I doubt I will. That extra few seconds per tab is really not going to matter since they work great the way I am using them, but if you’re the type that will want it to fit, you may want to check that yours do before they dry out.

Also, here’s a shot of the fabulous results:

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Ooooooooh, sparkly 🙂

The exact breakdown of the price was about $0.04, yes, just 4 cents per tablet! I factored in everything according to what the actual used amount cost, so to be fair, I did have to spend a bit more upfront than what I actually used, but since those ingredients can easily be used to make subsequent batches, I’m not bothered about it. The store-bought ones we got from Costco were the cheapest we could find locally, and those were a pretty great deal at just $0.19/tab. Some brands at Wal-Mart are as much as .$0.35 each, which means that at the least they’re nearly 5 times less, and depending on the brand, can be almost 9 times less expensive! I get it that these aren’t likely a huge part of your budget, but it all adds up. I’d rather spend my extra money on something a little more fun and exciting than dish soap!

So good luck making your own, and be sure to let me know what you think! Also, feel free to share this link with your friends, family, and even a few strangers 🙂

 

 

p.s.- if you’d like to know about the minor disaster in my kitchen as a result of making these, read on!

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DIY Toddler Straight Jacket


Dash was playing with one of my hooded sweatshirts; he put his arms in the sleeves, the hood over his head, and zipped it up.

He looked a bit like a monk, and of course, he was thrilled to report, “It fits!” The sleeves hung nearly to the floor, and I realized they could easily wrap around his waist with room to be tied.

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*Lightbulb Moment!*

This is no monk’s robe. This is a Straight Jacket. Yesss!

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Wouldn’t this come in handy the next time Mommy wants to take a quick bathroom break, so I don’t find that half of the pantry has been dumped all over the kitchen floor? Heck, it’d ensure they don’t trash the place, I could even go out for a drink! What about when I’m out  with the kids in public, and one or both starts acting up? Simply taking off my hoody to restrain my wild heathens would be such a convenience! Would it be worth feeling a little chilly? Why yes, it would. I am going to throw a buckle on those sleeves so the knots wont come loose, and market the shit out of this multipurpose garment. If I add a d-ring to the back, I could even hang them on a coat rack for easy storage. What a great way to be green and repurpose old jackets that would’ve gone to the thrift store! I’m going to make a million bucks off of this fantastic idea!

 

 

 

*Before I have a dozen internet strangers calling CPS, Calm down. I will not actually be putting my children in straight jackets when I want them to behave, and especially I will not restrain them and abandon them while I go out, you silly bananas.

Just When I think I’ve Got This Down… I Don’t.


Occasionally I do things that my younger, much cooler self, would never believe she’d one day do. Domestic things, mostly, so get your mind out of the gutter.

Today, I decided to pre-make several meals to freeze ahead.  I discovered the magic of meal-swapping with a group of mom friends, where we each make a really big batch of something, portion out one meal for 2-3 people for each mom involved, and then trade. We all end up with several different meals to grab out of the freezer for an easy homemade dinner, yay! We have a planned meal exchange coming up later this month, and since I was feeling especially motivated (and didn’t know when that would happen again), I decided to knock it out. I always make a few extra portions to keep at home, so I was making 10 pans of lasagna. I dropped the boys off to their half-day of day care/pre school and got going cooking as soon as I got home. I was sauteing veggies and meat, mixing up the cheese and seasonings, making a few adjustments to the store-bought sauce to really make it mine; I was feeling like a domestic superhero! That feeling should have served as a warning.

Things were nearly done when I ran out of noodles to top the last layer, and I was cutting it close on sauce, so I ran to the grocery store on my way to pick up the boys, got them home and brought in the couple of bags of groceries, set them up with lunch and got back to my lasagnas. The hiccup with insufficient ingredients was smoothed over, everything was back on track, and even having the kids home while I was doing this wasn’t causing any problems! Woo hoo! Still doing a great job at being domestic!

I get all of the pans done and wrapped in foil, and now all that needs to happen is for me to get them into the freezer in the garage. I’m like a lasagna-cooking rock star! I grab the first two pans and head out, smiling a big smug smile, because I’ve got this shit down. My house is laid out in a stupid way so that I can’t go directly to the garage from the kitchen, I have to cross through the carpeted living room and dining room areas. So, having made these kinds of frozen meals before, I figured I should be able to stack them two high to carry them over and still have a hand free to open the garage and the freezer doors. I notice that the bottom pan is just barely beginning to leak, spilling just a few drops of red sauce on the carpet. I hurry to the garage door and rush to set the pans onto the shelf, where I unstack them and start to rearrange the other items in the freezer. Crap. If I can’t stack them because I’ve made them too saucy, I may not have room for them. Once they’re frozen, it’ll be fine and they can be stacked, but how do I get them to freeze first if they won’t fit?

The kids are finishing up lunch, and I have to pause my lasagna tetris to get them cleaned up. Once that’s done, I set them up with a few toys so that they won’t be as likely to wreak havoc in the next five minutes. Back out in the garage, I now know I’m on the clock, because Dash and Ozzie will only stay interested in one thing for a few minutes at a time. I go back to rearranging things, and place the last pan of lasagna up near the top on a few bags of frozen corn and peas. One last glimpse shows that something is dripping again. Damn. I’m checking the edges and feeling along the foil to see which pan is leaking when something becomes unstable. one of the pans starts to slide forward, and I grab it, but then another and another shift. Somehow everything in the freezer is no longer cooperating with the laws of physics, and it’s all trying to fly out.

Several scrambling moments later, I have shoved and scooted things back into what seems like a perfect arrangement, and I begin to close the door. Just then, a pan starts to fall and I fling open the door to catch it, but instead I just catch the edge and it flips against me, then sort of slides down the front of my shirt and falls top-down on the garage floor. The pan may as well have been covered in sunshine and happy thoughts, because the foil managed to hold nothing back. I am covered in cold, gooey red sauce, meat, and cheese. Somehow this meal that would have looked delicious and impressive if it had been properly presented hot from the oven, looks like half-processed barf on my self and my garage floor.

I walk back into the house, trying to keep from spreading the mess covering me to anything else, and Dash says, “Ozzie is playing in the toilet.”

So much for being a domestic superhero.