My requirements are:
1. It must be close to or cheaper than what I can buy
2. It must be stinkin' fast and easy. Like 10 minutes to get ready, make it, and clean it up.
3. It must work as well or better than what I can buy at the store.
So, here's your fast, easy, effective recipe for dishwasher detergent:
3/4 cup borax
3/4 cup washing soda
2 tsp citric acid or 2 packs unsweetened lemonade mix (must have no sugar in it and must be lemonade flavored)
Mix them in a jar, shake up, and there you go!
The directions I've seen say use 2 Tablespoons per load, but I just use one Tablespoon and it works great with our soft water. Also, I just dump it in there, I don't put it in the little compartment.
Bonus tip: Vinegar makes a great, cheap rinse aid, also.
No spots, no stuck on food, and no nasty chemicals sitting around on our dishes for us to consume next time we use them!
If you find that you need some extra "oomph", check out this revised recipe, she uses some vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in each load. She also uses kosher salt, which is good idea if you have hard water.
*update: I think it's a good idea to add some vinegar and maybe a drop or two of dish soap to each load, too. After a while, my dishes weren't getting completely clean. Also, the original recipe I had said to use 1/4 cup of kosher salt. I will start adding that as well.
Confession: I gave a great recipe for weed killer several weeks back, and there's one caveat to it: It doesn't work unless you use it. I have procrastinated on spraying that back patio to the point that Dennis is actually having to mow it. On the upside, I discovered that the majority of the weeds are something called purslane. Not only is it edible, but highly nutritious! So, now I have a good excuse, at least...