Category Archives: DIY Household Products

Hand & Body Soap – UPDATE

Made my first gallon of homemade liquid soap about five months ago. I made a second batch about 3 weeks ago. Still really happy with the results.

You can read the original post for the recipe and instructions.

My initial reactions to this homemade product are pretty much the same. I mean…it’s soap. So, not a lot to get excited about. It lathers. It rinses. It cleans.

I plan to continue making it. Sometimes I miss Bath & Body Works antibacterial foaming hand soap…but then I remember that this soap only cost about a ninth of the BBW variety. (Not a scientific number, just an estimation. But it’s probably not far off.)

What do you think? Is the savings worth the time it takes to make your own soap?


Laundry Detergent – UPDATE

For the past five months or so I’ve been making my own Laundry Detergent. I’m not as enthusiastic about it as I was at first, but I’m not disappointed enough to give up on it just yet.

I’ve tinkered with the recipe a bit in an effort to eliminate the “dingy” effects of the soap. Depending on the hardness of your water, homemade laundry detergent can cause your white clothes to look dingy after a while. This has not been a huge problem for us – mostly just t-shirts that have been affected. But, I’d like to eliminate this problem if I can.

You can view the original recipe, if you’d like. I am currently using the following mixture:

2 cups Borax powder (found in the laundry isle)
2 cups Arm & Hammer Washing powder (not baking soda – washing powder is found in the laundry isle)
1 bar Fels-Naptha laundry soap (FINELY shredded)

Use 1 tablespoon per load. Two tablespoons for extra large or heavily soiled loads.

Doubling up on the powders increases the “whitening agents” in each load of laundry vs. the mixture I used originally. It also reduces the overall cost per load a bit as the soap is the most expensive ingredient. I have not, however, done the math on that.

Will I keep using it?

Eh…hard to say at this point. It’s really hard to argue with the savings. Less than $2 for probably 60+ loads is a considerable savings over store bought brands (even with coupons!). My plan for now is to try this mixture a bit longer. If I’m still less than thrilled with the results I’ll try using a different laundry soap to see if I get different results.

The other laundry soap option is Zote. The only reason I picked the Fels-Naptha initially was because I found it in the first store I checked. It might be worth a little trip to Walmart to see if I can find the Zote.

Many recipes you can find online use simple Ivory bar soap instead of a “laundry soap”. I read about some concerns with regular soap clogging septic tanks because it has more oils than laundry soap. Part of me thinks that if it’s ok to use in the shower it should be ok to use in the washer. The other part of me doesn’t want to risk it. Though, it would be considerably cheaper than the laundry soap options…assuming you don’t break your septic tank.

For now, for me, it is still well worth the time and effort it takes to make my own laundry detergent. I’ll keep you posted on the dingy-factor.

Dishwasher Detergent – UPDATE

It’s been a while since I started using homemade cleaning products so I thought I’d give you an update on how things are working out.

My favorite homemade product is still the Dishwasher Detergent. Fairly simple to make. Only $1.93 per batch. I haven’t changed the original recipe at all, it is still working great for me.

In fact, I haven’t even had to make a second batch. I made the first batch in mid to late April (don’t remember the exact date) and I’m STILL using that same batch! And it’s not like I never use the dishwasher – I run it at least every other day, if not every day.

Detergent that I made for $1.93 has lasted 4 to 4.5 months. And there’s still probably 3-4 weeks left before it runs out. You can’t find that kind of deal in the store…even with coupons.

I have only noticed one downside to making my own dishwasher detergent – it seems to be a bit harsh on metal after a while. My silverware doesn’t look as shiny as it used to. For me, this is really a non-issue as the only metal I usually wash in the dishwasher is my (cheap) silverware. My pots and pans are not dishwasher safe and the silverware we use was hand-me-down from one of Mike’s aunts when we got married. Ten years ago. Dull spoons don’t really bother me but I wanted to mention it all the same.

I’m also still using white vinegar as the rinse aid. Still thrilled with that as well.

You can find the recipe and instructions for making your own dishwasher detergent in the original post. Anyone else make their own cleaning products?

Homemade Lip Balm

Having lip gloss or balm or some chapstick on hand is always a must. Buying it from the store is not what I would consider “expensive”, but why pay dollars for something you can make for pennies?


– 2 TSP Beeswax (grated)
– 2 1/4 TSP Coconut Oil
– Vitamin E Oil

Melt Beeswax and Coconut Oil together in the microwave. Add in a few drops of Vitamin E. Pour into small tubs or tins and let cool for at least 20 minutes.

It will start to harden quickly, don’t be slow about pouring it into containers. Clean up tip – wipe out as much as you can with a dry paper towel. The beeswax turns into a greasy mess when you pour water on it. Product tip – use food grade, edible ingredients. You might have to check the labels (not all Vitamin E Oil is edible) but since you’re putting it on your mouth why not make sure it’s ok to ingest – though I wouldn’t suggest taking a bite.

Does it Save Money:

Yes, but I’m not sure how much. Beeswax is generally sold by the pound so its a bit difficult to determine the cost of 2 teaspoons. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing a whole block of beeswax just to make lip balm. It can also be used in lotions and other toiletry items. You’d have to make an awful lot of lip balm to use the whole pound. Also, if you can find it from a local bee keeper (at a farmer’s market perhaps), you’d probably save rather than ordering it online or buying it at a store.

If your goal in making homemade products is just to save money (as is mine) I would not purchase these ingredients just for lip balm. However, if you already have these ingredients on hand for other items, give it a try.

Is it Easy to Make:

Yes, very. Melt the beeswax bit by bit in the microwave, stirring in between. Anything you can make in the microwave is easy, right?

How Does it Work:

Very well I think. It smells like honey, which I really like. Makes your lips soft and shiny. It has a really good texture – smooth and soft. I actually like this better than some of the sticky store bought lip balms. I did read somewhere that people with bee allergies might have a bad reaction to beeswax. I tend to have bad reactions to bee stings but I’ve never had a problem with honey and the beeswax didn’t bother me at all. Maybe just use a tiny bit on your hand or something first to make sure its ok.

All in all, a very successful DIY product. I’m very happy with how it turned out. Now to figure out how to use the rest of that beeswax…

Homemade Deodorant

After experimenting with quite a few homemade household products I’ve been really happy with most of the results. Products that work just as well as the ones you buy from the store yet cost much, much less and are relatively easy to make. Homemade deodorant did not meet those requirements, at least not for me. I wanted to share the recipes just in case someone wanted to give it a try.

My main motivation for making my own products is to save money, so the store bought variety is still an option for me if I’m not happy with the homemade. If someone had health or environmental concerns causing them to want to make their own products and the store bought version was not an option, one of these might work just fine.

I tried two different recipes. The first was a solid deodorant. Mix 1/4 cup of Cornstarch, 1/4 cup of Baking Soda, 5-6 TBSP Coconut Oil. You can add in 5-10 drops of Tea Tree Oil for its antibacterial properties if you want. If you read my post on Homemade Hair Serum you know that Coconut Oil liquefies at 76 degrees – it is a creamy solid at cooler temperatures. This deodorant smelled lovely and looked like it would be great. BUT… it felt very weird to rub oil on my armpits. Armpits are generally warmer than 76 degrees so the solid deodorant felt very melty and oily and weird. For me, this does not work. Perhaps adding a bit less of the coconut oil would give it a dryer texture. If you decide to give it a try, let me know how it turns out. Here’s a post from Homestead Revival with more detail.

The second recipe was a powder deodorant. It costs literally pennies and it has potential to be a really good option. Its ingredients – cornstarch and baking soda. Cornstarch absorbs moisture and baking soda absorbs odor. I first tried a mixture of 1 part baking soda to 2 parts cornstarch. Baking soda can feel a bit abrasive so the cornstarch helps to soften the texture. This may be more information than you want to know about me, but this mixture seemed to keep my pits dryer than my store bought, name-brand antiperspirant. However, I felt stinkier than usual. Maybe its because I was obsessively checking to see if I smelled.

I tried it again with 2 parts baking soda and 1 part cornstarch. It felt too itchy with more baking soda and I still felt stinky. Perhaps if you stink less than me this would be an extremely frugal alternative to store bought deodorant. Also, if your concerned about the chemicals in store bought deodorant affecting your health or the environment, tweak the ingredients to see if you can find something that you’re happy with.

What’s a household product you’d like to make yourself instead of using the more expensive, store bought version?

Homemade Hair Serum

Around our house there is a lot of frizz to tame. Not everyone needs to put a cream or serum in their hair but for me and Mikayla it is an absolute necessity. In researching homemade household products, I found that a hair serum could be made from products I already had on hand so I thought I’d give it a try.

Keep in mind that my requirements for homemade products are that they 1) save money, 2) are easy to make and 3) work well.

Coconut Oil is the main ingredient. It is a unique oil in that it liquefies at about 76 degrees and when it cools it returns to a creamy solid. It is a food grade product that has many nutritional benefits when used in cooking. It is also good for your hair. Again, not everyone can get away with putting oil in their hair. We have thick, coarse, curly (very, in Mikayla’s case) hair that soaks up the extra oil just fine. I imagine that it would weigh down softer, finer hair or make it look too oily.

The coconut oil is fine on its own but I also had some pure Vitamin E oil on hand and mixed in a few drops. Vitamin E is also really good for your hair and skin.

I just poured the liquid coconut oil in a travel size bottle and mixed in a few drops of vitamin E. It solidifies between uses but I just sit it in a cup of hot water to melt. It doesn’t hurt the oil to let it solidify and re-melt and since it melts at 76 degrees it only takes a few seconds. You could also store it in a jar and soften a little cream in your hands for each use.

A little goes a LONG way. Just a few drops is all you need. Seriously, just drops. I really like this oil for us. It does a great job of softening my coarse hair and calming Mikayla’s curls. I don’t know that I can break down the price because such small amounts are used. It’s cheaper, and longer-lasting, than the $3-4 bottles of hair cream you can buy at the store. So I consider this DIY product a success!

Would you consider putting oil in your hair, or am I the only one?

Homemade Face Cleaner

When searching for recipes for making your own cleaning products, there’s almost too much information available. You can easily review dozens of ways to make laundry detergent or hand soap and try out the ones that suit you best. That was not the case when looking for a homemade face soap recipe.

Many of the recipes I found were too much effort or required too many ingredients – not meeting two of my three requirements that homemade products save money, be easy to make and work well. I did find one that was intriguing…if not a bit odd. The Oil Cleansing Method seemed ineffective but there are tons of rave reviews from people who swear by its cleaning powers.

So I thought I’d give it a try. The idea is that soap strips your skin of the oil it needs which causes you skin to then produce more oil – a vicious cycle. By cleaning your face with oil you supposedly dissolve the dirt and debris on your skin while also helping to unclog pores and moisturize.

In short, the Oil Cleansing Method did not work for me. After a few days my face broke out severely. I rechecked the positive reviews to make sure I didn’t do something wrong. Some people made comments that initial use would cause impurities to come to the surface and may cause a breakout but for my already imperfect face it was just too much. Perhaps for someone who has fairly clear skin to begin with, this method would be more effective. For me…I think I’ll keep searching for another option.

Has anyone else tried this? What were your results?

Reusable vs. Single Use

These past few months I’ve been trying to save money and reduce our grocery spending by making my own household products. So far, I’ve had really great results and while I’m not saving tons of dough each week, I know those pinched pennies add up over time. Another way I’ve found to cut back on our grocery spending is to use reusable items rather than single use items.

Instead of using a Swiffer I use a steam mop. Granted steam mops are not cheap, but as mine was a Christmas gift from my mother in law I didn’t have the initial investment expense. Steam mops use only water to get your floors sparkly clean and germ free-ish. No chemicals and no recurring expense. The mop pads are washable – reduces waste and, again, no recurring expense.

Instead of a Swiffer duster I use a microfiber duster that can be washed and reused. I bought mine several years ago for about $15 at Bed Bath and Beyond. I imagine you could find them a bit cheaper at Target. They work just like a Swiffer duster (maybe even a bit better) but you just wash and reuse the same one rather than throwing it away and having to buy new ones.

Instead of buying cases of water bottles (a ridiculous expense, by the way) we use the washable/refillable kind and fill them with filtered tap water. No more water bottle trash. No more paying for water. And, really, is it that inconvenient to fill a bottle yourself? I think not.

Instead of cleaning with paper towels I use microfiber cloths that can be washed and reused. I’ll admit this was a tough one for me. Paper towels are so convenient and papery – you just wipe up a mess and throw it away never to be dealt with again. Using a reusable towel means I’ll have to either rinse the mess down the sink or wash it in the washing machine later. But paper towels are expensive. Even on sale you can expect to pay $8-10 for 12 rolls (I use Bounty, I’m sure there are cheaper brands). And you think those 12 rolls are going to last FOREVER until you open the closet a few weeks down the road and pull out your last roll. I paid $4 for 4 microfiber cloths in the automotive section at Target and they will probably last a few years. Huge savings here.

I’d like to eventually be 100% paper towel free. I haven’t really found a good substitute for kitchen use. We re-heat food on paper towels. Sure you can use a plate sometimes but sometimes you just need a paper towel. And after preparing raw chicken – I’d rather throw the salmonella in the trash than have it sit in my laundry basket. But at least doing the general cleaning with a cloth is a good start. We will slowly break our paper towel dependence.

What other reusable products have you used in place of a disposable?

DIY Bathroom or Kitchen Cleaner

Ok guys. This is quite possibly the cheapest and easiest of all my homemade products so far. I’m so excited to share this with you.

What you need:

1/2 Cup White Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Borax powder (found in laundry isle, hopefully you already have this if you’re making your own detergents)

Mix your ingredients in a pitcher and add enough water to make 1/2 gallon. Stir. Pour it into spray bottles to use and store.

Does it Save Money:

Um…a lot. This is roughly 10 cents for a 32 oz bottle. A 32 oz bottle of Lysol spray cleaner is about $4 or maybe $2-3 if you buy it on sale. 10 cents is a significant savings.

Is it Quick and Easy:

Super easy. Pour and mix. Done.

Is it Effective:

Sure. Seems to be. I don’t know really, but I didn’t really “know” the Lysol was effective either. There is a vinegar smell when you first spray it but as soon as it dries the smell disappears. Everything looks clean. Since I haven’t figured out how to make a homemade germ testing kit, I’m just assuming it works. I’m comfortable with this for general use. The next time we get hit with a stomach bug I may break out the emergency supply of clorox wipes – but I would probably do that regardless.

I love the idea of spending pennies for something I used to pay dollars. This product definitely meets my requirements homemade cleaning products. And, there’s just something satisfying in making it yourself.

What homemade cleaning products have you tried to make?

DIY Hand and Body Wash

Liquid hand soap is expensive. Liquid body wash is even more so. Sooooo…let’s try to make it ourselves.

What you need:

– 8 oz bar of soap (or 2 bars at 4 oz. each)
– 2 Tablespoons Glycerin (found in the bandaid section at Walmart and Publix)

Directions: Heat 1 gallon of water in a large pot on the stove. While it’s warming up, grate your bar(s) of soap. Once the water is steaming (not quite boiling) add in your soap shavings and glycerin. Stir it until all the little soap pieces are dissolved.

Ok, here’s the hard part – you move the pot to the back of the stove (or wherever it’s convenient and off of heat) and let it sit there. For like 12 hours.

That’s it. Melt the soap, let it sit. Simple. After 12 hours or so, stir it really well. I used a hand mixer. The top will be too hard for liquid soap and the bottom will be too runny – once you incorporate it well it should stay at a “hand soap consistency”. Pour it into an old (cleaned) milk jug and please clearly label because from the outside it does kinda look like milk.

Does it Save Money:

Yes. A fortune. I used Mrs. Meyers bar soap because that’s what the recipe I found online used. However, I think you could use about any kind of soap as long as you use 8 oz – most regular bath bars are only 4 oz so you’d need to use two bars. I found Mrs. Meyers for $4.50 a bar so it was on the expensive side, as soap goes. A bottle of Glycerin is $2-3 depending on where you find it. Altogether, I made a 24 oz bottle of bath wash for about 88 cents. Even a cheap bottle of bath wash would cost a couple dollars in the store so this is a significant savings. If you used a cheaper bar soap, you’d save even more.

A note about the soap – make sure it’s actually a “soap” you use and not a “moisturizing bath bar” such as Dove. Dove contains lots of extra oils and moisturizers so it wouldn’t work with this recipe. You’d have to significantly reduce the amount of water to get it right.

Is it Quick and Easy:

Well, it does have to sit for 12 hours. So, don’t plan on using your pot for a while. But it’s fairly simple. Melt the soap, let it sit, stir. Not a lot of effort.

Is it Effective:

I mean…it’s soap…so…yes. The consistency was right for what hand soap or body soap should be. It lathers. It cleans, or at least seems like it cleans. I’m not swabbing my hands to check for germs or anything so I can’t say for sure.

I will note that it is soap and soap feels different on your skin than a moisture rich body wash would feel. Don’t expect to step out of the shower feeling like an Oil of Olay commercial. But, for me this is a very small sacrifice when compared to the savings. Experiment with different bar soaps to find one you like.

If you tend to have sensitive skin, make sure you use a bar soap that you know doesn’t cause negative reactions.

I’m very happy with this DIY project and plan to keep making my own liquid soap. Any one else want to give it a try?