Friday, 28 February 2014

Making detergent in a dish scrubber go further!

We host international students that come to Brisbane to learn English at a local English school. We host students from all over the world, learn all sorts of new things and make lots of new friends. Its a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!

Along with the different nationalities and personalities, we get a wide range of domestic abilities as well... It seems that not all people in their 20's have done dishes before...

Often I am at work when the students are having breakfast or lunch and getting them to wash their dishes properly can sometimes be a challenge. We have ants in the house, especially in the summer, and they will come in their millions, no, their hundreds of millions to get the smallest crumb or smear of food left on a plate on the bench or in the sink (and in the bedroom).

Asking the students to wash dishes wasn't enough, some of them didn't come with this skill. For some of them, washing dishes needed to be quicker than running a sink of hot water and filling it with detergent scrubbing the bowl and spoon. Not all of them were going to take that much time to do two items. They were running the tap and scrubbing the item under that - no big deal except that they were either using no detergent at all or using a decent squirt (or six) of detergent. On. Each. Plate. My detergent consumption was going through the roof. (Actually - it was going down the drain!)

A solution to not-quite-clean dishes or massive detergent purchases needed to be found

Here's what I did...

I have never been a big fan of plastic and try to avoid it where possible so when I saw these detergent filled scrubbers, I thought they were a new way to remove money from my pocket and pop into some corporation's pocket with no benefit in the end for me.

But they looked like they might to the job. I played with one that a friend had (to her amusement) one afternoon and I decided to buy a cheap one and see how we went with it. I knew the husband, as chief bottle washer in our house, would reject it, but purchasing it wasn't really aiming to improve his dish washing skills (as they are already sublime, my darling!) but to get hot water and detergent onto the odd bowl and plate going through in the off meal time dish washing without using a bottle of detergent a week.

In the first instance it worked really well. The students loved it and were happy to use it. I popped the detergent under the sink and it stayed in its bottle for days on end while they scrubbed away at the odd bowl and plate that they used during the day. The only one that was unhappy were the ten million ants that were used to their mid morning snack!

After a month or so, I was watching one of them scrub away at a plate and thought there was still a lot of detergent being used. Each time you press the scrubber against the plate, it releases more detergent. I wondered about this for a day or so and then decided to try diluting the detergent in the handle of the scrubber.

It worked a treat! The students still get lots of bubbles but I'm not using as much detergent and its easier to rinse off than the thicker layer of detergent and bubbles we had previously. For plates that have had toast on them and bowls that have had cereal and milk in them - this is all that's needed.

*Tip for beginners! I put the water in first and then add the detergent. Otherwise you get a plug of detergent for the fist few days being used and then it dilutes into just plain water. Putting the water in first allows the water and detergent to mix better than it does when you put the detergent in first.

I read some where about vinegar and detergent being a good combination and have diluting the detergent with vinegar ever since. I could kid my self that it some how is "runnier" than if I had just used water. I'm still playing with this idea - if you have tried it - let me know what you think.

I have found that after a while the scrubby bit wears out. There are replacement heads for them but I'm reluctant to replace them until I've got the maximum use out of them (as you can see).

So using a standard cheapo scrubber - I simply cut it to size...

And upcycled a rubber band...

To make a new scrubby bit for the head!
It did come with another clip on head but after 3 months, I still haven't used it. The fresh new scrubbers don't work as well as one that has been used for a week or so. The new ones are too stiff and hard to get into corners and the bottom of glasses. So now I swipe the one that's in current use and the new one goes into the sink to be used.
So far I have got about four months out of the same head but eventually the sponge part is going to give up on me. I wonder if I can cut a sponge to the right shape and rubber band it on as well...!
I have been a dishcloth and scrubbing brush sort of a dishwasher when I'm "allowed" to do the dishes (my husband doesn't like the way I do dishes and insist on doing them himself... not a bad arrangement in the long run) But I do like this wee gadget for doing the odd dish or three. I find that if you use it for a whole sink load you get loads and loads of bubbles as it keeps releasing them each time you press it against a plate. So its great for a few dishes, but traditional methods still work better for lots of dishes in our house!
Score card:
Green-ness: 2/5 for buying a new plastic gizmo. 5/5 for using it daily. 5/5 for reducing detergent use!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for making detergent stretch!
Time cost: 30 seconds to refill!
Skill level: Basic home maker!
Fun-ness: Great fun - the students love it!

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