So far I have not found a completely corn-free automatic dishwasher detergent. The corn-litest of them at least contain citric acid from corn. The citric acid does seem to rinse off pretty well, and many people can and do get away with using detergent that contains it. I just got tired of looking at my dishes funny and feeling like I needed to hand wash them again before I used them.
This recipe is based on a common recipe on various frugal living and natural beauty type blogs. The main difference is that those recipes also call for citric acid. I did do some searching to try to find a corn-free version of citric acid powder. It does exist, however it was an industrial supplier and I highly doubt that they’d fill orders for small quantities. I never called to really find that out though. I just gave up and found a safe-enough-for-me lemon juice, the ingredients of which are only lemons. Lemons naturally contain citric acid. The idea to just use lemon juice came from Meg from the Facebook Corn Allergy & Intolerance group.
Anyway, here’s what I arrived upon:
Homemade Corn-free Dishwasher Detergent
2 cup borax
2 cup washing soda
1 cup kosher salt (for scrubbing action)
Santa Cruz Pure Lemon Juice
Mix together dry ingredients and put into a jar or pitcher for storage.
When it’s time to run the dishwasher, add 3 tbsp of the dry powder to the detergent bin, and then add about 1-2 tbsp lemon juice in with the dry powder. Fill the rinse aid compartment with safe-for-you vinegar (I use homemade kombucha vinegar.) I also liberally splash vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher as a rinse aid/descaler. I run my dishes on the “heavy wash” cycle every single time because it just makes me feel more confident that it’s removing any corny residue from my boyfriend’s food or just the general ambient corn of my workplace.
If you find that your dishes have a white film on them after washing, splash vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher before running, as well. This stuff works as well for me as the corny dish detergents I was previously using, and even better than some of them. It works *way* better than the Trader Joe’s dishwasher detergent, and it does not leave a white film on my dishes except for on rare occasion when I place things in the dishwasher poorly and they don’t get rinsed well.
However others who have tried this recipe report that it doesn’t work- the dishes stay dirty, the white film is impossible to get rid of, etc. No idea. It works for me.
Lemon juice: I personally wouldn’t drink the Santa Cruz lemon juice. I think it’s on the safe list and the ingredients look safe, I just don’t trust juices. But I’m fine with using it in the dish washer.
Washing soda: This is *not* the same as baking soda. Baking soda is sodium bi-carbonate, and washing soda is sodium carbonate. You can buy washing soda from the laundry section of your local grocery store, but you can also just make baking soda into washing soda by heating it up.
Borax: I use 20 Mule team, from the grocery store. There are some concerns about the safety of using borax to wash your dishes, since borax isn’t edible. I would highly encourage you to read a few articles and blog posts about the safety of it. I read a bit, and came to the same conclusion as Crunchy Betty: It’s safe enough for me. Please do your own research and make your own decisions.
Kosher Salt: I use Diamond Crystal brand.