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We could always use a few more ways to save money wherever we can, right? You have to admit though that some people go overboard and make almost everything themselves.
We can scroll through Pinterest and see some of the extreme stuff – from decorating your closet shelves with lace liners and matching lace hangers and baskets to carving pretty faces onto cheese slices for your summer burgers.
My first thought is “these people have WAY too much time on their hands”.
But there are some household products you can make yourself and save a lot of money than buying them. Not only will these be cheaper, but they’ll also be healthier for you and your family too.
First, my quoted prices are from Walmart. Secondly, don’t forget to also use your cash-back apps to save even more money too! Lastly, many of the materials needed for one product can be used in creating others for even more savings.
For example – buying ingredients for the toothpaste, deodorant, and shaving cream in bulk to save money and last a lot longer.
Now, here’s my list of 13 sensible money-saving household products to make yourself.
1. Laundry Detergent
The easiest money saving DIY is making your own laundry soap. I’ve done this in the past and can vouch for it.
- 1 ½ Cups Zote Soap Flakes ($2.97 for 17.6oz)
- 2 Cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda ($4.12 for 55oz)
- 1 ¼ Cups Borax ($4.47 for 65oz)
Dump and mix all the ingredients well in an airtight storage bucket (I cleaned out and reused an old soap bucket).
This batch makes about 6 ½ Cups of laundry soap that’s low-sudsy which is great for high efficiency washers. This soap is also great for sensitive skin as well. You’ll only need 1 to 2 Tablespoons per wash. That will cover about 100 washes!
These ingredients are enough to make 1 ½ batch with the Zote soap, but getting one more Zote bar for $2.97 you can make another 1 ½ batches with the rest of the ingredients. For a total of $14.53 you can make soap to cover 200 washes!
Let’s compare that to buying Free and Clear ALL detergent (for sensitive skin) at Walmart – $12.87 for 123 loads x 2 = $25.74. You’re saving $11.21!
2. Fabric Softener
When you have laundry soap, many times we’d like to have fabric softener as well.
Here’s an awesome trick that extends the use of your fabric softener and requires very little work!
You’ll need a bottle of your favorite liquid fabric softener and either a new, or old facecloth.
Pour the fabric softener onto the facecloth until it’s soaked. Squeeze out as much of the excess you can over a bowl (to return to the bottle afterwards). Now either lay or hang the facecloth until dry – this can take up to 3 days! The important thing is that it’s completely dry!
Now, toss the facecloth into the dryer along with your wash for awesome soft clothes! This facecloth fabric softener “sheet” lasts for about 40 to 50 loads! Rehang sheets after use to dry completely again and store in an airtight box or jar to last longer. Once the “sheet” stops being effective, just repeat the process.
Let’s look at the prices – $2.88 for a 50oz bottle of Suavitel. Let’s assume it takes 1 cup of liquid to cover a facecloth (before squeezing it out) – that’s about 6 Cups which lasts 240 – 300 loads. Buying 3 boxes of Gain dryer sheets for $11.91 will cover 315 loads. That’s roughly a $9 difference!
Tip: Make 2 or 3 facecloths “sheets” to save on time waiting for the sheets to dry.
3. All-Purpose Cleaner
Who has bought different types of cleaners for different surfaces? I’m sure we all have, and that can be pricey over time.
We usually have:
- All-purpose spray – $2.47 for Lysol Spray
- Powder Scrub Cleaner – 88¢ for Ajax
- Shower Cleaner – $2.24 for Clean Shower Spray
- Toilet Cleaner – $1.97 for Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- Bathroom Cleaner – $2.97 for Lysol Bathroom Spray
- Garbage Disposal Cleaner – $3.96 for Plink Lemon Fresh Disposal Cleaner
- Stainless Steel Cleaner – $4.44 for Sprayway Stainless Steel Polish and Cleaner
And on and on, I’m sure you get the idea. What about making one all-purpose cleaner to replace all those? One that can actually clean, fight germs, can actually remove stains, and smell nice too.
- A spray bottle (98¢ for a 32oz bottle, or find one to clean and recycle)
- 2 bottles 16oz bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide 3% ($1.04)
- 1 tsp Lavender Essential Oil ($4.87 for 1oz divide by 6 = 81¢)
- 1 tsp Lemon Essential Oil ($4.87 for 1oz divide by 6 = 81¢)
Pour ingredients into spray bottle and shake to mix. For best disinfecting power, spray onto surface and leave for a few minutes. You’ve now replaced all your cleaners for only $2.66!
Bonus Tip: Don’t bother buying “special” garbage disposal cleaner and waste $4! Instead get a lemon for 58¢ and cut it in half and drop into your disposal along with several ice cubes. The lemon will freshen the smell while the ice cubes sharpen and cleans the blades.
4. Drain Cleaner
If you’re trying to live healthier and use chemical-free products. This is one store product that’s heavy in chemicals.
Let’s take a little look at Drano’s Ingredients:
- Sodium Hydroxide – Lye
- Sodium Hypochlorate – Bleach
- Sodium Nitrate – Preservative
- Sodium Chloride – Salt
The warning label states: DANGER: MAY BURN EYES AND SKIN ON CONTACT. HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED. Avoid contact with body and clothing. TOXIC GAS MAY FORM IF MIXED WITH OTHER CHEMICALS.
This is something you definitely don’t need, especially when you have children.
Instead, use this chemical-free and cheap alternative:
- ½ Cup Baking Soda
- 1 Cup Vinegar
- 1 Gallon Boiling Water
- The Sink’s plug or something to temporarily plug the hole.
These are ingredients you already have around the house and are safe (vinegar may burn eyes, but isn’t corrosive). If you had to buy these brand-new, you’ll only spend $1.77.
First, try and remove as much debris like hair and clumps from the drain (I used a bamboo skewer and tossed it afterward). Carefully pour the baking soda down the drain. Pour in ½ Cup of the vinegar and cover with the plug. This forces the created fizz to go downwards. Pour in the last ½ Cup of vinegar and cover again. Wait 15 minutes and then flush down with the boiling water.
5. Floor Cleaner
I could never find a floor cleaner I liked. Some left a residue and others left strong smells. I decided to try this homemade recipe and I have been using it ever since.
This recipe is for when you’re using a mop and bucket:
- 1 Gallon of Water
- ½ Cup Vinegar ($1.54 for 64oz divided by 16 = 10¢)
- 1/3 Cup Isopropyl Alcohol (88¢ for 16oz divided by 5 = 17¢)
- 1 tsp Liquid Dish Soap (96¢ for 10oz divided by 60 = 2¢)
- Several drops of your choice of Essential Oil ($4.87 for 1oz divide by 6 = 81¢)
This will work on laminate, tile, and linoleum without issues. It “can” work on hardwood floors but some people have said the vinegar or the alcohol is too strong for wood. So, use your own judgment there.
Caution: The alcohol may create strong fumes, so be sure to be in a well-ventilated area when you mop. Although these fumes won’t be toxic like its chemical counterparts but do seek help if breathing doesn’t improve after getting fresh air.
6. Dishwasher Soap
Dishwasher soap seems to be one of the most expensive house products to buy.
Walmart lists them between $1.97 for a 12 pack of Great Value dishwasher pods to $18.47 for an 82 pack of Finish Quantum Dishwasher pods.
We’ve seen the commercials where they’re throwing in 2 pods to use, that’s about 33¢ to 45¢ a load!
Let’s try a homemade version for about 58¢ instead:
- 2 Cups diced Lemon (Fruit and Rind, except seeds)
- 3 ½ Cups Water (Divided into 2 Cups and 1 ½ Cups)
- ½ Cup Vinegar
- 1 Cup Kosher Salt
- Cut lemon into small 1/4” chunks (check to be sure there’s no seeds)
- Place lemons in a small saucepan with 1 ½ Cups of water and heat to slow boil.
- Simmer, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes until water has reduced and is syrupy. (Add water if needed)
- Pour contents of saucepan into your blender with 2 Cups of water. Blend until smooth.
- Strain blender contents back into saucepan.
- Add Salt and Vinegar to the saucepan and mix well.
- Bring to slow boil and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until thickened like runny applesauce.
- Let cool completely, stirring occasionally to mix salt back in. Store in an airtight container.
You now only need to fill your dishwasher dispenser with the gel (roughly 2 – 3 Tablespoons) and run your usual cycle.
7. Oven Cleaner
Are you like me and dread cleaning the oven? Just thinking of using the store’s oven cleaner makes me gag. I have an older, used stove that does have a self-cleaning setting – but the thought of having an old stove locked up at 500+ degrees in my kitchen makes me cringe.
Instead, I use this homemade non-toxic recipe, you’ll need:
- Baking Soda
- Kosher Salt
- Liquid Dish Soap
- Warm Water
First, remove the racks from your oven and clean out whatever loose debris you can. Mix together enough baking soda, salt, and dish soap to make a heavy paste (add a little water if needed).
Spread the paste all over the oven interior and leave for several hours (or overnight). Moisten the sponge in warm water and wipe everything down, scrubbing in the tougher spots.
Rinse and repeat until clean. If your oven is particularly caked, you may need to repeat the process or spot clean. Lastly, you can spray with some vinegar to remove the last bit of paste residue.
This paste also works on oven racks and stovetops (especially those drip pans). Do be careful that the salt can be abrasive on glass surfaces.
I know toothpaste is relatively cheap to buy – between $1 and $5.
But with the different ingredients being added to toothpaste:
- Sulfate – A surfactant added to make toothpaste foam up. Causes dry mouth, canker sores and can strip enamel off teeth.
- Triclosan – Added to prevent gingivitis. Proven to be an endocrine disrupter, which causes hormonal imbalance.
- Artificial Sweetener – Not good for diabetics and other medical issues.
This is just some of the few ingredients, you can Google the rest.
Instead, use this healthier alternative:
- Small storage jar (new or cleaned reused one)
- ¼ Cup Soft Coconut Oil ($3.68 for 14oz = 53¢)
- 6 Tbs Baking Soda (50¢ for 16oz = 1¢)
- ½ tsp (or less) Spearmint Essential Oil ($4.87 for 1oz = 41¢)
- 1 – 2 drops Liquid Stevia ($2.74 for 1.68oz = 2¢)
Start by softening the Coconut oil (but not liquefying it). Whip in Baking soda until smooth and then add in the oil and stevia. Store in the storage jar. You’ll only need a little bit to be effective.
This batch of toothpaste only costs 97¢ and you have enough ingredients to make several more batches!
We all could use deodorant, and those that don’t use it need it the most don’t they?
What’s so bad about deodorant? It contains:
- Aluminum – Linked to breast cancer and increased risk of Alzheimer’s
- Parabens – Chemicals that disrupt our hormonal balance
- Phthalates – Chemicals linked to birth defects
- Triclsoan – Actually classified as a pesticide
Pretty scary ingredients! As a substitute, make this all-natural and healthier toothpaste:
- A clean mason jar with lid
- 3 Tbs Coconut Oil
- 3 Tbs Baking Soda
- 2 Tbs Shea Butter
- 2 Tbs Arrowroot (or organic cornstarch)
- Essential Oil of your choice (optional)
- Place the Coconut Oil and Shea butter in the mason jar and place jar in a pan of hot water until contents are melted.
- Add the baking soda and arrowroot (or cornstarch) and mix well.
- Add your essential oil and put the lid on and store it for use. (It does not need to be refrigerated).
- Another option is to shape into a stick and put into a clean deodorant stick container for ueasier use.
Let’s see the prices:
- For $9.99 this recipe will make 10 batches
- Cheapest Walmart Deodorant is 97¢ and you’ll need 15 = $14.55
- You’ll save $4.56 and have fewer health risks too.
10. Shaving Cream
Again, if you’re trying to avoid chemicals, preservatives, and other strange ingredients, shaving cream would be another item.
This shaving cream is so simple to make, you’ll need:
- A mason jar with lid
- 2/3 Cup Shea Butter
- 2/3 Cup Coconut Oil
- ¼ Cup Olive Oil
- ½ tsp (or less) of your favorite Essential Oil
- 2 TB Baking Soda
- Contents of 2 Vitamin E capsules (optional)
- Mix the Shea butter and Coconut oil in the mason jar and melt in a pan of hot water until melted.
- Stir in the Olive Oil
- Add the Essential Oil and mix again
- Tighten the lid and put in fridge to solidify.
- Remove and let soften slightly.
- Add the softened mix, the Vitamin E (if using) and the Baking Soda to a mixer and beat until fluffy and ready to use.
- Store in a cool, dark area when not in use and stays fresh for a month.
- If you want it odorless you can skip the Essential Oil.
Bonus Tip: For the Ladies, I’ve found the best “shaving cream” for legs and underarms is simply hair conditioner. Just a wee bit lathered up and spread on legs and underarms and left for a little bit before shaving off gives the smoothest finish and skin.
11. Ant Killer
Starting to see ants in the house? Instead of running out and buying ant killer traps and sprays, just reach for the Borax you have from making your laundry soap.
Here’s a cheaper ant killer:
- Thin jar lids (optional)
- Cotton Balls
- ½ Cup Sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Borax
- 1 ½ Cup Water
- Mix the sugar, borax, and water together well.
- Soak the cotton balls in the mixture
- Lay the cotton balls in areas where the ants are gathering or place cotton balls in the lid in same areas.
I place them in lids to prevent the stickiness on my counters. The ants are attracted to the sugar and take it (and the borax) back to their nest. I’ve seen the ant problem disappear pretty quickly. Just leave the cotton balls out and re-soak them once in a while.
Another alternative that’s safer on floors where pets can possibly get to the Borax, which isn’t safe, is to use Diatomaceous earth. This is effective as it “cuts” ants exoskeleton and they die from dehydration. It costs $6.82 for 1.3 pounds.
Just use a little bit to dust the problem areas lightly and leave it. It’s food-safe, pet-safe, child-safe and it’ll work on all creepy crawlies – ants, cockroaches, centipedes and more.
12. Bug Repellant
Of course, along with the ant and bug killer, we need repellant. For those outdoor BBQs, pool time, and patio gatherings.
I’ve used commercial bug repellent spray but discovered one shocking issue. I wear a medic alert bracelet that has rubber straps – the bug spray MELTED the rubber all over my wrist! It took several days for the black dye to finally disappear.
So, I now stick to this version, you’ll only need:
- Carrier Oil – Choose a lightweight and absorbent oil such as Jojoba oil, Sweet Almond Oil, or even Coconut Oil (this may take longer to rub in). Be careful if someone has a nut allergy though.
- Essential Oil – Choose stronger smells, or a blend of smells to deter bugs.
All you need to do is put 2 TB of your Carrier Oil into a jar or bottle and add your Oil or Oil blend. Mix or shake together well and store out of direct sunlight. When you’re ready to use, pour some into your hand and rub onto skin until absorbed. That’s it.
Here are some different Oil Blends you might try:
|Blend 1||Blend 2||Blend 3|
|15 drops Lavender||12 drops Lemongrass||10 drops Rosemary|
|5 drops Eucalyptus||6 drops Eucalyptus||7 drops Cinnamon|
|2 drops Citronella||3 drops Cedarwood|
13. Jewelry Cleaner
Jewelry cleaner is not only hard to find in stores (I couldn’t find it in Walmart), it’s expensive for a wee container.
On Amazon a 4.8oz jar is $5.90 and there’s a warning label that if the liquid spills to clean it up right away as it can stain. One customer review stated that it’s too abrasive and actually will dissolve the glue holding stones on.
Instead, grab these things from your kitchen:
- A flat Baking Sheet
- Aluminum Foil
- 1 Cup Boiling Water
- ½ Cup Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda
- 1 Tablespoon Salt
- Line the baking sheet with the foil (shiny side up)
- Lay out your dirty jewelry on the pan so it touches the foil.
- Mix the boiling water, baking soda, and salt together and pour slowly into the pan.
- Slowly add the vinegar and let it foam up.
- Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- If needed, use a spoon to stir the baking soda and salt or move the jewelry around.
- Rinse and wipe dry.
Now, this will work on Silver, Gold, Diamond Rings and such, but NOT recommended for opals, pearls and other soft stones.
These homemade products didn’t take much time and effort, did they? They certainly saved a lot of money – money you can use towards groceries instead.
For many more homemade products check out these books:
- Homemade: 707 Products to Make Yourself to Save Money and the Earth
- DIY Beauty Products: 60 Natural Homemade Recipes for Beautiful Skin, Body and Hair
- DIY Cleaning Products: Homemade Cleaning Recipes for Sustainable Living