As it turns out, Fridgidaire makes some of the noisiest dishwashers a person can buy. Ours was making the most awful noise (and lights were blinking) so the repair guy came by and installed some new motor. Hopefully this fixes the problem (though one of my friends has already had 3 different machines because they couldn't repair hers properly). While he was here, he informed me that the dish-washing liquid we were using is not recommended. He told us we needed to use a powder, which makes sense. He said that the liquids are actually gels. Companies must add extra ingredients to the soap to make it a gel. This means that in a dishwasher, it doesn't work as efficiently if it has to break down all the extra ingredients as well as the soap.
Because powder detergent is recommended, that got me thinking. I could make my own dishwashing detergent. This would save me money and I could use all natural ingredients that are safe for my family as well as the environment! Why didn't I think of this earlier!? Most recipes I found use borax. While borax is all natural, it is considered toxic. When using borax in the dishwasher, you must make sure that your machine goes through the entire cycle (and no soap residue is left on your dishes). I think this goes for any dishwasher detergent. And with any cleaner, make sure you store it where kiddos and pets can't get into it. Also, (as the repair guy told me) you must make sure that the water temperature on the heater is no lower than 120 degrees. A bit higher is even better, unless you live in a home with small children.
Through searching for recipes, I decided to develop my own recipe.
1 tbs. baking soda
1 tbs. borax
1-2 drops of essential oil (optional)
Add these all to the dishwasher dispenser. Essential oil is added more for the smell than anything. American seem to be obsessed with the idea that something has to smell good to be clean. Some oils also have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which is always a good thing when it comes to cleaning.
For the rinse aid, pour distilled white vinegar into the rinse aid dispenser.
I cannot get this to work right. We have extremely hard water and every time I wash with this, I end up with really cloudy dishes. Anyone have a solution/suggestion?