Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent September 14, 2012

The recipe we use for homemade dishwasher detergent is extremely simple.


1/2 cup liquid Castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Oil Liquid Soap)

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

3 drops tea tree oil extract (Optional – I don’t use this because it’s already in my Castile soap)

1/4 cup white vinegar


Mix the water and Castile soap in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and tea tree oil extract. Add the vinegar, the mixture will slightly curdle. Whisk the ingredients until everything is evenly blended. Use a funnel to transfer the mixture to a storage bottle (I use old 1gl. vinegar containers).’ll want to use about 3 tablespoons of the mixture per cycle at first, then decide for yourself based on your dishwasher and load size what works for you. I let my dishwasher run one time through, then add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the dishwasher and let them rinse again. This keeps the white film from appearing on dishes after the drying cycle.

***There’s a note on the original recipe, provided by my mother-in-law around seven years ago, which may be important to you: Do not substitute conventional liquid soap for the Castile soap unless it is a “low sudsing” soap. Regular soaps will produce too many suds and overflow the dishwasher***



I typically multiply the recipe by four and make a batch which lasts around two months or more, depending on how much I’m running the dishwasher. This recipe has been in use in my house for over six years now and I’ve never thought to purchase dishwasher detergent again.

Let me know how it works for you if you try it out!


Sustainable Living August 31, 2012

I used to measure my sustainability efforts in loads of cloth diapers, laundered with homemade detergent and hung to dry outside on a line. I used to pride myself on knowing all the vendors at the farmer’s market, for being an owner at our local co-op grocery, and for making homemade baby food out of seasonal vegetables. I wowed my friends with stories of natural birthing and annoyed my family with unsolicited information about ingredients lists. I spent the last eight years perfecting my ecological sustainability, but I was not living sustainably all around.

I am now focusing on “the ability to be sustained.” Sustain has numerous meanings.

I will not give way. I will not yield. I will keep going.

Becoming a single mother has been the hardest challenge of my life and I cannot pretend that things are going to get significantly better any time soon. Finishing graduate school, being due with my third child in February, dealing with the immensity of guilt and fear and frustration that comes with having a restraining order against someone I used to share a bed with, keeping the hope of someday being able to have a conversation with him despite the numerous times he has hurt me…

I have experienced great suffering, and life-altering loss, but I will endure. I will bear the weight of these burdens.

These days living sustainably is measured in how many times I can see the silver lining. It is the smile I wear in public even though I am crying inside. It is my unwillingness to drop out of graduate school no matter how impossible my situation seems; my decision to remain positive about an unplanned pregnancy; my dedication to continuously work toward being a more patient, respectful, and attached parent; my refusal to let my marriage, The Big Incident, or the aftermath of them destroy me.

I will build up my support system and my inner strength. I will live sustainably. The environment’s long-term ecological balance
will certainly benefit from more strong-willed, intelligent, sustaining women.