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By: Kimberly Daun, Certified Aromatherapist

I have been hand washing all the dishes for my family of 6 for the last 4 years. At the end of the month I am very much looking forward to having a dishwasher! My excitement pales in comparison to that of my boys, especially when they found out that the dishwasher doesn’t just wash but dries as well! I have a spinning pie wheel that has each of my boys names, and their job with the dishes. This morning I handed the chart to my 9 year old and asked him to throw it away. Before I knew it he had gathered his brothers and was doing a ceremonial march to the trash at the curb to officially retire the chart, my 7 year old loudly humming Taps, and an eruption of cheers as they all put it in the trash together.

I went to purchase dishwasher detergent and experienced some sticker shock.

When I considered the fact that I would probably need to run it twice a day, I was looking at $20 a month in new expenses. The worst part was the ingredients – so many dangerous chemicals. As I started to research a few I found frightening studies on the potential dangers, ranging from eye irritation to cancer. It made me question the efficiency of the dishwasher at eliminating these chemicals, and if I was willing to risk having chemical residue left on our dishes.

It didn’t take long before I realized I needed a safer alternative.

Washing Soda: I didn’t have washing soda but quickly found out that by cooking baking soda I could change the chemical makeup into washing soda. Simply spread ¼ inch on a cookie sheet, bake at 400 degrees stirring every 15 minutes for 45 minutes. You’ll notice a visible difference, – it will be more course, much like sand. This is helpful with cleaning and deodorizing.

Borax: This is a natural mineral compound used for thousands of years and is a strong cleaner. It will help to kill any little germs hoping to hang onto my dishes.

Epsom Salt: I used this for its odor eliminating properties, as well as its texture to help scrub any leftover food.

Lemon Juice: I use lemon juice to clean everything! The citric acid is disinfecting and the lemon juice smells fabulous.

Clove Bud Essential Oil: This essential oil is used in most of the top germ synergies in the industry. It is high in Eugenol (mine has 84%) which is a constituent well known for being effective in household cleaning. Clove is helpful in minimizing seasonal illness and an essential oil I use often in multi purpose cleaner.

Cinnamon Cassia Essential Oil: This is certainly my favorite aroma of the three essential oils I use in this blend. Studies show that he high level of cinnamaldehyde (high in all cinnamon chemotypes) is very helpful in household cleaning.

What you’ll need:
  • 8 ounces borax
  • 4 ounces Epsom salt
  • 8 ounces washing soda
  • 4 ounces lemon juice
  • 4 drops Clove Bud essential oil
  • 10 drops Cinnamon Cassia essential oil

What you’ll do:
  1. Mix Borax, Epsom Salt, and Washing Soda.
  2. Slowly stir in the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time.
  3. Add essential oils and mix well.
  4. Push firmly into mold.
  5. You can allow to dry for 3 hours or stick them in the oven on 200 for 20 minutes.
  6. Pop out of mold and store.

These have a 6-month shelf life if refrigerated. Citric acid is a natural, mild preservative, however I tend to err on the side of caution and make these fresh every two weeks. I store them in a cool cupboard.

How do you like to clean with essential oils?

*UPDATE* I’ve been so pleased with how well recipe has been working. As a huge bonus, I don’t have the residue buildup that my friends do from using store bought detergents.