Dryer Sheets, Shampoo, and 15 Other Everyday Things You Can Make at Home
Recently, my daughter and I have been reading the "Little House on the Prairie" series, and I've been reminded of how life used to be. As we've experienced these books together, we've begun to explore what it would mean to make some of the everyday things we usually buy. (See also: Grocery Items You Should Make at Home)
For the most part, we've found recipes readily available and fairly easy to make, and that the finished products work at least as well as their counterparts in the grocery store. You can dive as deeply as you want into making things on your own. I'd suggest that you pick one or two of the recipes to try and see how you like them. Once making and using them becomes routine, add more recipes to your repertoire.
For the Body
Most of that stuff in those bottles of personal care products that you lather on every day is probably safe, but not very frugal. These homemade body products are all-natural, and all are affordable. (See also: 4 DIY Facial Products)
1. Body Wash
An infusion of oats and rosemary adds depth to this body wash recipe that has its base in liquid castile soap. In doing so, it avoids many of the scary ingredients, like sodium laureth sulfate. Some people worry that the castile soap will be too harsh, but I've found that the other ingredients temper it enough that I don't experience any difficulty there.
2. Lotion Bars
These lotion bars are not only great for personal use, but they make great gifts as well. Who doesn't like a sweet-smelling, useful gift? Some of the ingredients may sound intimidating, but if you can't find them at Whole Foods or your local natural food store, you can always buy them on Amazon. I recommend adding the vitamin E oil for preservation, as the recipe makes quite a few lotion bars, and they each take a while to use.
3. Lip Balm
I have been a lip balm addict for most of my life. It started with Lip Smackers in grade school, progressed through all sorts of specialty balms later on, and now most often manifests itself in plain old Chapstick. Or, it did until I found this recipe for basic lip balm. The recipe itself is very basic, and it can be made with any flavor you want. Again, this is not only good for you, but makes a good gift, as well.
4. Body Butter
Pretty much all I have to say about this body butter recipe is YUM! It can seem just a little oily going on, but I love the way my skin feels after I rub it in. I've never loved either the texture or the scent of most lotions, but I could use this stuff several times a day. In our dry Colorado winter, it has helped keep my skin summer smooth.
5. PH Balanced Shampoo
I've been a fan of the "no 'poo" movement for several years, but every time I tried to wash my hair with a baking soda rinse, it got coarse and unruly. For my fine, light hair, that's saying something. So when I found a shampoo recipe I liked (and the accompanying article, which talks about why the baking soda may not work for some people), I felt relief. I will say that this shampoo takes some getting used to — it doesn't foam, and sometimes it feels like it leaves a bit of residue on the hair. But it has also kept my hair soft and manageable, and it hasn't caused any oil problems. (See also: DIY Hair Conditioners)
6. Baby Wipes
It really wasn't until baby #3 that I realized just how much I spent on wipes, and I also noticed that they seem to irritate the skin of at least one of my kids. Both of those things motivated me to try these homemade baby wipes, and I've been pretty happy with them. Even the thickest paper towels don't hold up like regular wipes, though, which can be annoying. Also, I usually add a couple of drops of essential oil, because I hate the smell of baby oil.
7. Dry Shampoo
For those days when you don't want to wash your hair, or when your scalp is adjusting to the "no 'poo" shampoo above, dry shampoo can be a lifesaver. Just sprinkle it on and any minor oil problems will seem to disappear almost immediately. To avoid looking like you have some serious dandruff problems, there are separate formulas for dark hair and light hair.
I'm gonna tell you the truth: I've been a little wary of trying this all-natural deodorant formula. I've heard wonderful things about it from a couple of different people, though, so I include it here so that you can let me know how it goes! Just kidding. I'm including it because I have heard such good things about it, and because it's still unclear as to whether the ingredients in regular antiperspirant/deodorant are harmful.
9. Bubble Bath
My kids love bubbles in their bath, but the stuff you can buy at the store is expensive and it has a ton of ingredients I can't pronounce, which always makes me a little nervous. This bubble bath formula, on the other hand, has ingredients I'm familiar with and seems to work just as well. The bubbles don't always last quite as long as with the stuff from the store (I'm not sure why), but I love being able to make it whatever scent I want.
For General Cleaning
You probably buy lots of different cleaning products for general cleaning inside and outside. Now you can make your own. (See also: Clean Everything With Just 3 All-Natural Cleaners)
10. Glass Cleaner Wipes
These homemade glass cleaner wipes aren't quite Windex, but they're the next best thing, and they are all natural. I have found that they clean as well or better than Windex, actually, though occasionally they leave streaks and, even when they don't, I have to work harder to achieve that than I do with the blue stuff. Since nearly all chemical cleaning products cause me to have breathing problems, though, I've been happy to work a little harder in exchange for clean windows.
11. Window Cleaner
Although this DIY window cleaner fluid doesn't produce wipes and has slightly different ingredients than the recipe above, it does clean your windows. I prefer the above formula (whether I make the wipes or not), but another all-natural friend likes this one. You can try them both and choose the one that works best for you.
12. Bleach Wipes
These bleach disinfecting wipes aren't all-natural, but they're cheap, super easy to make, and great to have around for spills and stains that just need bleach. I go through a batch of these so slowly that I sometimes have to re-moisten whatever I'm using for wipes before I can use them. I actually like that, though, because it means I don't have the bleach mixture sloshing around in my cupboard, but I still have wipes to use when I need them.
Wise Bread recently covered a bunch of DIY laundry detergent recipes, so I'll focus instead on those not-quite detergent products we use in the laundry room. (See also: 8 Ways to Make Your Clothes Last Longer)
13. Fabric Softener
This fabric softener formula is so easy and works so well that I can't believe people use anything else to soften their clothes in the washing machine. It doesn't hurt your clothes or your machine, and you have your choice when it comes to scents (so you can avoid some of those awful floral mixtures they sell in the store). Some people worry about a vinegar odor on their clothes, but I've never noticed it.
14. Bleach Gel
Again, this recipe is not all-natural. But this bleach gel is a lot cheaper than buying those bleach pens over and over and over again, and seems to work just as well. I'm a little hesitant to leave it on clothes for too long, because I worry about bleach stains, but I feel the same way about the commercial products. I will say that you should probably make this in a well-ventilated kitchen, if you don't want to smell bleach for the rest of the day.
15. Dryer Sheets
I've never made my own dryer sheets because I'm trying a set of homemade dryer balls right now, but this recipe intrigues me. I don't know that these would function very well to keep down static, like commercial dryer sheets do, but I think they'd do a great job of leaving your clothes smelling fresh and I like that you can use them more than once before you have to wash them, and change the scent every time you do wash them. If you try them, let me know how it goes!
Other Useful Recipes
And here are a couple of bonus recipes, just because they are cool — one for outdoors and one for the kid's playroom.
16. Insecticidal Spray (for Plants)
This all natural plant spray is supposed to ward off insects, as well as keep other animals away from your plants. I haven't started my garden yet this year, so I haven't used the spray, but I have heard raving reviews, and you can bet I'll be whipping up a batch here in the next month or so. (See also: The 7 Easiest Plants to Grow)
17. Polymer Clay
My kids are still in the Play-Doh phase, so we haven't graduated to making clay yet. But I saw this homemade modeling clay formula, and now I can't wait until we do! I loved modeling clay as a kid, and I remember feeling like I had to ration it because it was too expensive to just play with. Who knows… if I could have made my own, maybe I would have been a famous sculptor by now!
Do you make your own of anything that most people buy? I'd love to hear about your experience.