It turns out that homemade dishwashing detergent doesn't work that well. And the recipe that everyone uses not only doesn't work that well, it SUCKS. 1 part borax to 1 part baking/washing soda. It leaves a nasty film on everything. I had to run a rinse cycle twice with vinegar to get it off. That's not too environmentally friendly, is it?
So I tried an easy alternative I found online: 1/4 c. soda and 1 T dishwashing liquid. I thought, well, I've seen how Dawn can cause the dishwasher to overflow with suds, but that only happens in the movies, right? Plus, 1 T hardly seems like a lot. Let's give it a shot. So I tried it and went to bed. About 30 minutes later, I woke up in a cold sweat, made a run for the kitchen, and witnessed half the floor covered in suds. D'oh! Again, I had to run a couple of cycles to get all the soap out of the system. Again, a waste.
Finally, I ran into another alternative on The New Homemaker. I've copied it here. Don't expect perfection, and yes, I did use the Kool-Aid instead of the citric acid, but it definitely does the job in aiding the dishwasher in sanitizing the dishes. Thanks to Lynn Siprelle of TNH.
I have decided that for the stuff I use, I'm going to do my best to handwash from now on. Katie's stuff goes in the dishwasher. But this mixture saved me lots of dough, so I don't feel so guilty!
In a plastic container with a firmly fitting lid, mix:
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid (available in brewing stores among other places--if you haven't tracked it down yet but must try this formula, use two packets of Lemonade-Flavored Kool-Aid, ONLY lemon, or you'll dye your dishwasher! and ONLY unsweetened Kool-Aid!)
30 drops citrus essential oil--lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, or a mixture
Put all of it in the container, shake it up.