An update on my homemade dishwasher detergent:
We have been using it for several weeks now and it is great. It's so simple to make and use. And cheap!!
Mix equal parts of borax (completely safe) with baking soda. I filled a quart size paint can with my detergent and used my dymo labeler to label the can. I put a little scoop inside the can to make for easy dispensing.
We use white distilled vinegar as a rinsing agent, and we just fill both detergent compartments in our dishwasher with the homemade detergent. It works great. But, if you're not a pre-rinser, then don't bother using this (we always pre-rinse). Also, just put dishes in the dishwasher. No pots and pans (we always wash those by hand, it keeps them better looking after many many uses). I am not sure how those would wash with this type of detergent in a dishwasher. But anyway-so far so good!
And as for cleaning our kitchen surfaces-Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap works like a charm and just one bottle of the stuff goes a very very very long way.