Going zero-waste doesn’t just mean finding products with more sustainable or less packaging. While that’s definitely a goal, the products we use to clean ourselves and our homes are washed down the drain and wind up in our waterways and soils, greatly affecting our wildlife and our overall health.
When you opt for the DIY route, you save money while creating products that are effective and safer to use than store-bought, chemical-filled ones. Don’t fret; this isn’t like some complicated Pinterest recipe for a DIY wedding cake. Making your own cleaners, lotions, and balms can be quite simple.
Here are 13 easy DIY recipes for everyday items:
1. Dishwashing Detergent
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda (or baking soda will also suffice)
1/2 cup citric acid
1/2 cup of kosher salt as a scrubbing agent
Use vinegar as your rinsing agent.
2. Shaving Cream
1/3 cup shea butter (72.67 grams)
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil (72.05 grams)
1/4 cup jojoba or sweet almond oil (54.88 grams)
10 drops rosemary essential oil
3-5 drops peppermint essential oil
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the shea butter and coconut oil, stirring until just melted. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat-safe bowl. Add in the jojoba oil and the essential oils. Stir to mix.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator and chill until solid. Remove from the refrigerator and whip using a hand beater or a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Spoon into a jar. Lid and keep in a cool, dry place
3. Makeup Wipes
15 paper towel sheets, cut in half
2 cup of distilled water
1-3 tbsp olive oil or fractionated coconut oil
1 tbsp witch hazel
25 drops essential oil of choice such as lavender or diluted tea tree oil
A quart-size mason jar
Cut 15 sheets of paper towels in half, then fold them into small squares and stack them into a large, clean mason jar (a wide-mouthed jar may result in fewer frustrations…speaking from personal experience).
4. Plant Insecticide
Make the base:
1 head of garlic
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 cup water
Make a batch of insecticidal soap:
2 tablespoons base mixture (above recipe)
1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap
2 cups water
Remove the garlic cloves (you don't need to peel them, though) from the head of garlic
Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and 1 cup water to a blender and process until it forms a runny paste
Make a batch of insecticidal soap:
Mix 2 tablespoons of the base mixture, with 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap and 2 cups water
Combine in a squirt bottle
5. Lotion Bars
1 cup coconut oil
1 cup shea butter, cocoa butter, or mango butter (or a mix of all three)
1 cup beeswax
optional: essential oils of choice
optional: 1 teaspoon vitamin E oil
Combine all ingredients (except essential oils if using) in a quart-size glass mason jar and place jar in a small saucepan of water until melted. Turn the burner on and bring water to a boil. Stir ingredients constantly until they are melted and smooth. Remove from heat, let cool a bit, and add any desired essential oils and/or vitamin E.
Gently stir by hand until essential oils are incorporated. Carefully pour into molds or whatever you will be allowing the lotion bars to harden in. Allow the lotion bars to cool completely before attempting to pop out of molds.
6. Body Wash
1 Tbs steel cut oats (optional - to infuse)
1 sprig of rosemary (optional - to infuse)
1 c. distilled water
1 Tsp citric acid (to prevent bacterial growth in your bodywash)
2 Tbs coconut oil (can swap out with olive, grapeseed, almond, jojoba, apricot kernel or any other oil)
1 Tbsp honey
1-1/2 c. liquid castile soap (I used Dr Bronner’s)
1 tsp guar gum (you can find it in most markets that carry natural foods with the Bob’s Red Mill grains)
30 drops essential oils (your preference - I used a blend of lavender, chamomile, and lemongrass)
Boil water in a kettle and once boiling, pour over the oats and rosemary (or whatever you decide to infuse). Cover and let sit for an hour, then strain to remove oats and rosemary bits from your infusion. In a bowl whisk your oil, honey, infusion, and citric acid together.
Sprinkle in the guar gum, whisking to combine, and then immediately afterward whisk in the castile soap (if you wait too long the guar gum will thicken and you’ll have clumps) until blended and smooth. Drop your essential oils in and fold with a spoon or spatula. Store the mixture in a bottle that you have sterilized (opaque is best) out of direct sunlight and shake before each use.
7. Laundry Detergent
4 cups borax
4 cups washing soda
2 cups baking soda
4 cups lye or Castile bar soap 2-4 bars, grated
10-20 drops essential oil for scent
Cut the bar soap into large chunks with a knife, then crate the soap chunks with a fine cheese grater or food processor. Blend as fine as possible. Place grated bar soap in a pot, cover with water, and simmer over medium heat until all soap is melted, stirring occasionally.
Pour melted soap mixture into a clean 5-gallon bucket, then add washing soda, baking soda, and borax to the soap mixture and stir. Pour enough hot water to almost fill the bucket and mix until all ingredients are dissolved. Once the mixture has cooled off, you can essential oils. Let the mixture sit overnight to turn into a gel-like texture. Shake well before each use.
During this process, be sure to use a breathing mask and gloves.
8. Stain remover
In a spray bottle, combine 1 part hydrogen peroxide, 1 part baking soda, and 2 parts water.
9. Glass Cleaner
In a spray bottle, mix together 1 cup rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, 1 cup water, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
10. Hair conditioner
Mix together 1 can of coconut milk, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
5-6 tablespoons coconut oil
1/8 cup arrowroot powder
1/8 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup baking soda
Several drops of bergamot or another desired essential oil (optional)
Mix the powders together in a jar and slowly add the coconut oil until you have a "pomade" consistency and powders are mostly dissolved. Add a few drops of oil until it has a hint of scent.
12. Room and Fabric Refresher
A glass spray bottle
1 1/2 cup distilled water.
1/2 cup unscented pure witch hazel or white vinegar
1-2 tablespoons baking powder
20-30 drops total of essential oil
Add baking soda to warmed water and stir to combine. Combine all ingredients in your glass spray bottle and shake to mix! Give the bottle a shake to recombine every time you use. Store somewhere cool and dark to increase shelf life.
13. Drain De-Clogger
Mix together 1 cup of baking soda, 1 cup of salt and 1/4 cup of cream of tartar. Measure about a quarter cup of the mixed powder and pour into your clogged drain. Pour two cups of boiling water into the drain, and let stand for about an hour, then run fresh water from the tap.