notes from maggie's farm
Dealing With the Dishes
We have some hard, hard water out here.
Moving in is a pretty hectic affair, with loads of extra glasses and containers sitting around on every surface as precious things find their way to new homes. What's called for is a quick trip through the dishwasher--a handy time-saver we reserve for these types of days when time, and patience, is short, and hand-washing them all is just a daunting task. But, oh the joy, of having the magical machine to expedite the process.
Or so you would think. After a night tucked in by the comforting whirrrr of the dishwasher clicking through it's cycles, I awoke, that first morning in our new home, anticipating the quiet joys of creating order of the day--putting on the coffee (oh yes, the coffee accoutrement always makes it's way to the new home in the front passenger seat of the car, reserved for the most needed, most-if-we-can't-find-it-nothing-can-be-done items. Toothbrushes, toilet paper, coffee. Of course.), and unloading the dishwasher.
Creak, opens the dishwasher door, unused, it appears, for quite some time. And what should my wondering eyes view? Two racks of previously clear glassware, turned a completely opaque, chalky white.
Yes, it seems we have some hard, hard water out here.
Hoping to find an economical solution that's easy on the environment, the septic tank, and the pocketbook, I took pencil to paper, along with no small amount of homesteading research, crunching the numbers and dealing with the dishes in a variety of ways. This is my solution.
20 Mule Team Borax and Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, found in the laundry aisle of your local grocery, (Early on, I had to special order the washing soda through the grocery manager. They carry it regularly now. You may also find it at your local hardward store.) and mixed in equal proportion. I fill a sturdy storage bag about 3/4 full, and then mix, shake, massage, and co-mingle until well blended, then I fill my old, empty (quite expensive, and ineffective) dishwasher detergent container with the goods. I use two tablespoons per load. The savings. less than staggering, will not pay for college tuition, per se, but upon a bit of 'ciphering', I determined that the thrift per (wo)manhour equaled about 18 dollars per hour. Way over minimum wage. Plus, I think my label is cuter than theirs. Sold.
With each remedy, less is more. Use no more than 2 T of powder, and no more than 1/2c of vinegar. Any more is simply wasteful, not more effective, and on occasion, troublesome.
I've been experimenting with dish-washing soap for hand washing the dishes, and I have to say, Fail. I admit to being a little hoodwinked with the addition of sudsing agents in store-bought brands, although I know they have nothing to do with cleaning, however I haven't found an effective, grease-cutting solution yet. I welcome your suggestions. And I'm still in the lab. I am determined to find a suitable, economical alternative to store-bought, or at least exhaust every option in the testing. But honestly, Dawn is winning this race right now, her and her lovely neon-hued colors, darn it. Dawn, watch your back. Your days are numbered.
Or maybe not. I'll keep you posted.
What are your favorite homemade thrifts?