Sustainable Living

DIY Dishwasher Pods

Happy Monday! I figured I would share this recipe while everyone is stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for something to do.

I’m a big fan of dishwasher pods. To be honest, I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t use dishwasher pods. Unfortunately, though, they’re fairly expensive, and of course full of chemicals that I don’t necessarily want to use on things that I eat off of. My solution? DIY! (Seriously, when isn’t DIY my solution?) I found a super simple recipe on Pinterest, that only requires 4 ingredients: salt, baking soda, white vinegar, and dish soap.

  1. Start by combining 1/4 cup of salt with 1 cup of baking soda in a medium bowl.
  2. Mix in 2 teaspoons of a dish soap of your choice. I use my own, all natural dish soap, the recipe for which can be found here.
  3. Add white vinegar until the ingredients form a thick paste. The instructions in the original recipe say to start with 2 tablespoons, adding more as needed. I always use about 3 tablespoons.
  4. Spoon the paste into a silicone ice cube tray (or in our case, a silicone soap mold). Once each chamber has been filled with roughly the same amount of paste, use a spatula, spoon, or a finger to pack it tightly.
  5. Allow the pods to harden for a few days, then pop them out of the silicone, and store them in a jar or other container.
The silicone soap mold that we use to make dishwasher pods and miniature bar soaps for guests.

My only complaint about these dishwasher pods is that they sometimes leave our son’s bottles looking a bit cloudy. After doing some reading, I found that our dishwasher doesn’t rinse the dishes as well as it should, because we have very hard water. To overcome this, I started using diluted vinegar as a natural rinse aid, and problem solved! Adding straight vinegar to the rinse aid dispenser isn’t recommended, as vinegar can cause the rubber seals to deteriorate.

Here’s a link to the original recipe:

Sustainable Living

5 Minute DIY Dish Soap

At our house, we love DIY solutions, especially when they’re all natural and save us money. We also love finding creative ways to use our handmade goat’s milk soaps besides just washing our hands and bodies. We’ve been making our own laundry soap for quite a while by grating our end bars, and combining the shredded soap with washing soda, borax, and baking soda. When I stumbled upon a super simple dish soap recipe, I couldn’t resist trying it out!

This recipe only calls for three ingredients: shredded soap, baking soda, and water. The first time I made it, I used our own peppermint goat’s milk soap (of course). In hindsight, I should have opted for a bar that didn’t contain dried herbs, because the little bits of leaf stick to the dishes. The next time I used a bar of balsam instead, and I was much happier with the result.

This recipe couldn’t be simpler to make:

  1. Set a small bowl on a kitchen scale. Grate a bar of soap over the bowl until you have 35-40 grams. (You can use any natural soap that you like!)
  2. Place the grated soap in a pot, and add 2.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the soap flakes are completely dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat. Allow the liquid to cool until it is warm, but not hot. Stir in 2 teaspoons of baking soda.
  4. Allow the mixture to stand overnight. Transfer to a bottle or jar for use.

This recipe is based on one I found on I made a few changes to make it work better with our soap. I also omitted the essential oil because I felt that the essential oils in our soap provided enough of a scent. The result is much thinner than a commercial dish soap, most likely because it lacks glycerin, however, I’ve found it to be equally as effective at cutting through grease. Just give this dish soap a little shake every now and then to keep it from separating, and enjoy washing your dishes with something all natural!

Looking for an alternative to plastic sponges that you have to throw away? My mother-in-law crochets these adorable dish scrubbies out of 100% cotton yarn.
Sustainable Living

My Plastic-Free Shampoo Obsession

You may have read my last post, about the greasy, stringy DISASTER that was my homemade shampoo experience. After spending two months looking like I hadn’t showered, I was ready to give up on my mission to find a plastic-free shampoo solution. It just didn’t seem possible. I knew that I couldn’t pull off making my own shampoo, but I also had read quite a bit about how shampoo bars don’t really work, so what other options did I have? As it turns out, I had two other options: shampoo in returnable aluminum bottles (Plaine Products was the one I kept coming across) or Beauty Kubes. I decided to test out the least expensive option first, and ordered a box of the Beauty Kubes Shampoo for Oily Hair, and the Beauty Kubes Conditioner.

Photo comes from the Beauty Kubes website:

What are Beauty Kubes? They’re the greatest thing since sliced bread! They’re little cubes of shampoo (like sugar cubes) that you crumble in the palm of your hand and rehydrate in the shower. From the first time I used one, I was hooked. So what do I love about them?

  1. They make my hair look amazing! In one wash, my hair went from being sad and greasy to being better than it ever has been! I swear, the Beauty Kubes have taken my natural waves to a whole new level.
  2. They smell amazing. I can’t put my finger on exactly what I’m smelling, but they smell of essential oils, which I like.
  3. The ingredients are listed on their website. Many beauty companies don’t disclose all of the ingredients that are in their products for whatever reason. We’re big fans of transparency. We list all of the ingredients that go into our soaps right on the tag, and expect other companies to do the same.
  4. They are sulphate and silicone free. If you aren’t using a sulphate free shampoo already, make the switch! Your hair will thank you.
  5. They are perfect for traveling. No more funneling shampoo into TSA approved bottles, no more using low quality hotel shampoo. Just toss a few cubes into a container and you can have goddess hair no matter where your journey takes you.

I honestly don’t have enough good things to say about them. The only thing that I don’t LOVE about them is the price. It costs $15.00 for a box of 27 cubes, which is a little bit more expensive than the grocery store shampoo brand I had been buying, but isn’t nearly as much as some of the salon quality shampoos out there. I use one cube per wash, and wash my hair every other day (in part to cut down on the cost, but also because I’m lazy). You may be able to get by with a half a cube, or you may need to use two, depending on the length and thickness of your hair.

Beauty Kubes are made by a British company, so the prices on their website are listed in pounds. I ordered through Oregon-based distributor Well Earth Goods. If you are interested in living the plastic-free lifestyle, check them out! They have all sorts of products, from tote bags, to bamboo toothbrushes to reusable coffee filters:

Sustainable Living

DIY Shampoo Fail (And Why We Don’t Make a Shampoo Bar)

Since we made the commitment to eliminate single-use plastics from our life, we’ve been experimenting with a lot of new products, some good, some bad. Today, I’m going to tell you about the really bad. I mean REALLY bad; my hair still looked wet 24 hours after showering and my husband kept calling me “greaseball”. From what I’ve read, there is a transition period when switching from a chemical-laden commercial shampoo to a natural shampoo, but for me, the transition period lasted for a month and a half AKA it didn’t end.

We’re often asked whether our goat’s milk soap can be used as a shampoo, and we usually say yes, but not for the long term. (I’ve tried it, and I wasn’t pleased with the results.) Soaps, and many of the shampoo bars on the market, have an alkaline pH, which makes them a poor choice for maintaining healthy hair. If I’ve learned one thing from all of my research on natural shampoo, it’s that it’s all about pH. Hair is happiest and healthiest when its pH is somewhere between 4.5 and 5.5. This acidity helps to protect the scalp from fungi and bacteria growth. Using an alkaline shampoo will disrupt the pH balance of the scalp. Some people claim that this doesn’t matter, as long as you rinse with something acidic, such as apple cider vinegar, but I did not find this to help much.

I knew I wanted a pH balanced natural shampoo, so I scoured the internet for a recipe that I could make with the ingredients I already had at home. I found one that used coconut milk, castor oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, and essential oils. What was odd about this recipe was that it wasn’t stable at room temperature, which makes sense, since the coconut milk and the honey would require the use of an artificial preservative. Following the recipe, I made shampoo cubes that I stored in the freezer. I thawed one cube every other shower, and kept the thawed shampoo in a Mason jar in the refrigerator when I wasn’t using it. The shampoo had a pleasant smell and a creamy consistency, but it didn’t seem to lather well (which can be normal for natural shampoos). I knew before I began using this recipe that the first few days (or even weeks) would be rough as my scalp adjusted to produce less oil. What I didn’t know is that my hair would turn into a sad, greasy mess for the entire month and I half that I stuck with this recipe, or that it would become progressively more greasy. IT WAS BAD. 

I’m a firm believer in learning from our mistakes, and what I learned is that pH balanced hair care products are best left to the professionals! This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my quest to find a sustainable alternative to buying shampoo in plastic bottles. I’ve found a few companies that sell natural shampoo in recyclable aluminum bottles (and will even provide shipping labels to return the empty bottles to be reused). I am currently testing a product called Beauty Kubes, which are basically dehydrated cubes of shampoo and conditioner that are crumbled and rehydrated in the shower. I haven’t been using them for long enough to draw any conclusions as to whether they work or not, but I will be sure to share the results (good, bad, or ugly) here on the blog!