As part of the Black-Belt Tightwad series, we’re going to go over ways you can eliminate exposing yourself to toxins while saving some money, sometimes big money, in the process. Saving money is great, yes, but the toxin end of the equation is far more important. Avoiding things your liver has to filter (or worse) keeps your body in better shape.
As a bonus, you have more money in your wallet so you can spend more on the things that really do matter- pastured meats and fats, organic veggies, a better lifestyle, organic clothing and other things that better your quality of life even more. I often find that middle class and upper middle class women don’t want to DIY because they feel being able to buy certain brands of these items are a status symbol. Personally, I’d rather save the money while having less nasties for my body to filter AND have more money to spend on really nice things. 🙂 Each of these items in this series will save you $30 or more a year; some will save more than $200 a year.
So every Monday for the rest of the year, I’ll be sharing my own DIY recipes with you for cleaning, personal care, home care, make-up, food recipes, spice mixes and more that will save you money while reducing your toxin exposure. Saving money is just the fringe benefit, however, some of these items can save you significantly. We’ll keep the tally.
Homemade Rinse Aid
For where we live, the need to use a dishwasher rinse aid is a fact of life. Due to having hard water, if we don’t use a rinse aid, we have a nasty film on our dishes that looks quite unappetizing. After a while, that film builds up and the dishwasher quits working well. If you let it go, the dishwasher will quit cleaning entirely.
The thing that bothered me most is that I couldn’t find exact information about what is contained in a rinse aid in the form of an ingredient list, so I could evaluate if it was something I would want my family to use or not. The one website I did find that had a link to their ingredients and MSDS sheet was very difficult to find and it was a broken link, so you couldn’t see the information. Yeah, no, no thanks. If I can’t know what’s in it, I don’t want my kids eating off of plates cleaned in it.
So instead, I use straight, white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment of my dishwasher. It cuts the soap film without causing problems. I’ve used it successfully for several years with no issues. I’m not concerned about my kids consuming vinegar.
There are two caveats. First, some people online have reported that it will not work for very hard water. Secondly, some people have reported that plastic dishes with printing on the outside have the printing wear off. We don’t use plastic in our kitchen, so that isn’t an issue for us. There are some reports of the vinegar damaging dishes, but those reports I found were anonymous, and because stronger acids are reported to be the main ingredients in rinse aid, I have problems believing that a weaker acid would cause those types of problems with china.
Cost of 1 year of Commercial Rinse Aid (730 loads a year): $47.94
Cost of 2 gallons of white vinegar: $3.10
Total savings for one year when running two loads per day: $44.84
Hi Kerry, I was wondering if there is any odor from the vinegar left on the plates or silverware? Not fond of the smell of vinegar. I do use it to clean floors and mirrors but I don’t really get my nose too close to those lol.
Pat, there is not. Once it’s dry, I don’t notice it at all.
Kerry, I’m still struggling with homemade nontoxic dishwasher detergent. Mine always seems to harden into a brick. What do you use? We too have very hard water where i live and vinegar is working quite well. I did see a post once that putting it directly into the machine could harm it and they suggested placing the vinegar in a small dish on the top rack.
Tamra, I’m currently testing recipes for homemade detergent. When I find one that works well, I’ll be posting it as part of this series. So far, I’m not having luck but I’m going to continue working on it.
Our water is on the extreme end of hard! I not only use vinegar as a rinse aid, but I add a few splashes to the tub of the dishwasher during the washing cycle. It keeps the dishwasher working well, without getting clogged up with mineral deposits, and my dishes come out sparkly clean! To the posters wondering about a vinegar smell or taste on your dishes, worry not, there is none at all!
Rachel R. says
I haven’t personally found vinegar effective. But Seventh Generation’s Rinse Aid works beautifully in our (insanely) hard water.
just sharing so you don’t have the same problems i did..i used vinegar for about six months as a rinse aid and my dishwasher began having problems. the dishwasher repair person said the rinse aid was like a lubricant for the parts inside my dishwasher and because i had been using vinegar, some parts inside of my dishwasher dried up and broke, sigh..i really liked using the vinegar and it did a really good job, but it didn’t save money having to call a repair person.
In the published lists of ingredients, I don’t see any ingredients that act as a lubricant. That’s interesting. I’ll see if I can dig up any more information.
I’ve been using vinegar for quite some time. Hubby says it neutralizes the alkaline of the powder, balancing the pH of the solution.
I love DIY homemade products to replace the store-bought chemical laden ones – thanks!
I have heard that the vinegar will eat away at the plastic parts inside the dishwasher. I used the vinegar and did have problems with the inside parts. The tech could not figure out what happened, I did not tell him about the vinegar right away but he determined after that it could have been the vinegar. I have switched to Ecover rinse aid. It was very expensive for the service call,
We Also Had A Problem With Vinegar Eating The Plastic Parts Inside The Rinse Compartment. The Solution Was To Put It In A Cup On The Top Shelf. I Had Read This Was Better Because It Empties Slowly Throughout The Cycle.
Linda Hendrex says
We have tried all the home made cleaning recipes and find that there are problems with all of them. Like other posters have said, vinegar will eat away at dishwasher parts, and can destroy tile in the long run just like it can destroy teeth.
Sometimes the home made cleaning solutions simply don’t do a good job. I have NEVER been able to get my kitchen sink clean using baking soda and lemon juice. Home made laundry detergent settles in and builds up on clothes, and has never left ours looking really clean.
I have found that plain water will work well for most things, but for the big jobs that need the help of a cleaning product I think it is best to stick with earth – friendly manufactured products. We finally stumbled on Melaleuca products and have loved them. I would never go back to toxic standard cleaning products or ineffective home made solutions. Their dishwashing detergent gets our dishes cleaner than anything we have ever tried, and it is super inexpensive. If we run out mid month and switch to a standard brand for a few weeks, we can really tell the difference. The same goes for all the cleaning products and laundry products.
Anyway, this is just my 2 cents worth, but I’ve not experienced good luck with home made products.
Our water is probably medium for hardness and the vinegar works beautifully. Glad to see it getting shared here.
I am concerned about the cost of your vinegar because to my knowledge most inexpensive vinegar is made from petrochemicals unless it states on the label that it is made from grain like Heinz. I eliminate as many petrochemicals as possible from our home.
Judith, my vinegar states that it is made from grain.
I’m glad to hear that! I have soft well water so don’t need to worry.
Anyone know what long term effect it has on the seals?
Do you need to fill the rinse aid compartment every wash? Thanks
Amanda, I fill it maybe once per week.
John Anderson says
If the components inside your dishwasher are rubber, the vinegar will break it down over time. FYI
John, I have heard this, but I’ve used this for at least 15 years and haven’t had any problems in that time. My current dishwasher is 7 years old and doing fine.