Cutting the Budget: DIY Cleaning Products

It started with a budget…

I’ve been “couponing” now for almost three years. I’ve built up a fairly decent stock pile and rarely (if ever) pay full price for household products like toiletries, detergents, paper towels, etc. In fact, I usually pay only half price or less for the majority of non-food items we use. Half price is great! $7 bottle of detergent for $3-4, yes please! Couponing has taught me that I don’t have to use a specific brand and that I don’t have to pay the store’s price. If I buy items when they are on sale and let go of “brand loyalty”, I can decrease the amount I spend on non-food groceries by a considerable amount.

If you’ve never done any couponing or other extreme cost cutting, you may not realize how addictive saving money can be. It can be quite exciting to leave a store knowing you saved 60% or 70% or 90% on items your family will actually use or eat or enjoy. It’s like a game…where the prize is a debt free vacation. On average, I cut my grocery spending by about 60% each week just by following a few basic couponing principles. And, I was shopping at Walmart before, it’s not like I was buying high-end products. Now I can shop at Publix (favorite store ever), purchase name-brand items and still save money.

Then a few weeks ago, Mike and I took a serious look at our budget. I have a love/hate relationship with budgeting. I know it’s necessary and I love being able to save for vacations or other fun things but sometimes I hate having to be all grown up and responsible. In looking at what we spend on groceries each week I wondered if I could find a way to save even less. What if I could save another 10-20% each week?

One way to cut costs is to eat less meat. Chicken and beef are quite expensive and with the price of beef being so high, it’s almost impossible to find it on sale. So, we’ve pretty much cut beef out of our weekly menu rotation. And we try to eat two or three non-meat meals every week. Healthier and cheaper – win win! Instead we eat fruits, veggies and we’ve gotten creative with sandwich toppings. An additional benefit being that dinner preparations are much less stressful when I’m only cooking a “full meal” three nights a week instead of six.

Then I started getting low on laundry detergent. I didn’t have any in my stockpile and it wasn’t on sale. Great, I’ll have to hope I don’t run out and hope it goes on sale next week OR I’ll have to spend the whole $7 on a new bottle. I was low on dish detergent too. And the only hand soap in the house was already in the containers at the sinks. What happened to my stockpile and why have I not kept up with it??

Maybe I can make my own…

A little background – I have always been a firm believer in “why do yourself if you can afford to have someone else do for you.” Admittedly, this is not a very good motto to live by. It’s a tad selfish and really not responsible money management. But, it’s true. If I could pay someone to cook and clean for me I’d have a hard time telling myself that it was excessive. Maybe it was cutting cable. Maybe it was awareness of how a little money (by my standards) could greatly impact the work of organizations like Blood:Water Mission or WorldVision. If I can save $25 a year on my grocery budget and send it to BWM to provide clean water for someone in Africa, shouldn’t I do it? Whatever the reason, my motto has started to change. 

Now I wonder why I would pay more for pre-packaged cleaning products, when I can make them myself at a fraction of the cost. Not to mention avoiding all those crazy chemicals, reducing waste and using more environmentally friendly products.

Oh no! I’m about to be all grown up and responsible.

I have already made my own laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, dishwasher rinse aid, bathroom cleaner and hand soap. I plan to also make my own face soap, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, lip balm, dish soap, deodorant, maybe even candles. I haven’t had a chance to extensively test everything but what I’ve used so far I really like. And, I am not kidding, spending pennies instead of dollars for products we use every day.

I’ll post about each product as I test them out to give you the formulas and the results. I’m excited about this new DIY adventure. Next thing you know I’ll be gardening and sewing and raising chickens.

Question: Anyone else make their own household products? What have you tried and liked?

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2 responses to “Cutting the Budget: DIY Cleaning Products

  1. Kristal Woods May 8, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    I have been thinking about doing this for a while now…but never get up the nerve to buy the ingredients instead of the bottle of pre-made detergent at the store. I’m curious to hear what you have to say about the formulas. I have super-sensitive skin, so I’m always worried about how I’ll react to homemade detergent…but it can’t be worse for me than the chemical-filled bottle sitting in my laundry room, right?

    • Chrystal May 8, 2012 at 12:34 PM

      My daughters skin is very sensitive too. We’ve always used the dye-free odor-free stuff. I’ve been using the laundry detergent for a little over a week with no problems. Even washed her bedding and undergarments with it. Im super happy with it! Plan to share details after I’ve tested it a bit longer.

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