Homemade soap
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40 Products You Can Make at Home If You Can't Get Them

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Homemade soap
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Unexpected DIY

During the pandemic, we often can't rely on the convenience of supermarkets — or even online stores — to fulfill our household needs, but the good news is that many cleaning agents, toiletries, and more can be easily whipped up at home, often at a lower cost to the environment (all that packaging!) and your pocketbook. For many consumers, this is also a way to avoid long lists of chemical ingredients without the high price tags of the "natural" products on store shelves. Here’s a collection of simple home recipes you can substitute for common commercial products.

Related: 17 Easy-to-Make Foods to Stop Buying at the Store

All-Purpose Cleaner
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All-Purpose Cleaner

The acidity of lemon juice and vinegar make them antimicrobial and refreshing cleaning agents, perfect for harnessing into an all-purpose kitchen and bathroom cleaner. Whenever you happen to use a lemon, save and cover the peels in vinegar, leaving them submerged in a sealed jar in your cabinet for at least two weeks. Then, simply strain the resulting mixture into a spray bottle (which can be bought from the dollar store or recycled from another product).

Related: 20 Cleaning Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

Glass Cleaner
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Glass Cleaner

All you really need to clean your windows and other glass fixtures is some rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle, plus recycled newspaper pages to wipe. A slightly more complicated recipe adds half a cup ammonia and 1 teaspoon dish soap to 2 cups of alcohol to help with grease and other stubborn particles. No Windex necessary.

Oven Cleaner
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Oven Cleaner

The self-cleaning function on your oven can smell up the entire kitchen, and there are cheaper options than commercial oven cleaners, using either baking soda or ammonia. For the latter, leave a baking dish filled with this common cleaning solution sealed in the oven overnight, then use gloves and a sponge to scrub the pre-loosened residue in the morning.

Related: 16 Filthy Things Even Clean Freaks Miss

Dishwasher
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Dishwasher Detergent

A similar mixture can be used to clean dishes by hand or in the dishwasher, circumventing the expense and waste of those individually packaged detergent tablets. About four medium deseeded lemons, 4 ounces white vinegar, 1 cup kosher salt, and water make an effective detergent that harnesses citric and acetic acids to easily degrease and preserve your dishware.

Related: Do Diluted Detergents, Soaps, and Shampoos Still Work?

DIY Laundry Detergent
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Laundry Detergent

With an initial investment in a few standard cleaning products, you can create a cost-effective detergent at home that will run you only 4 cents per load of laundry, triple the value of Tide powder. According to Happy Money Saver, the ingredients you’ll need are ivory soap, baking soda, super washing soda, borax, and Oxy-Clean.

Related: Are You Making These Laundry Mistakes?

Stain Remover
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Wood Restorer
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Wood Restorer

Too stubborn for all-purpose cleaners, wood scratches are one of those blemishes you might typically buy a specialized polish to remove. Before you do, try rubbing them out with a homemade restoring solution made from olive oil, vinegar, and water.

Cold Medicine
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Cold Medicine

The most reliable cure for getting over a cold is time, but there are still plenty of homemade remedies that can ease recovery. One way is to combine a few common immune-boosting ingredients like raw honey (which has anti-inflammatory and cough-suppressant properties), lemon (said to promote immunity and fight infection), ginger (used for treating nausea and loss of appetite), and apple cider vinegar (good for acid reflux). Add these ingredients separately to tea, or mix and jar them all together for a quick medicine to take by the spoonful.

Canola Cooking Spray (Store Brand)
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Cooking Spray

You don’t need a pressurized, aerosol-style can of Pam to make cookies that won’t stick to the pan. All you need to make your own cooking spray is a spray bottle, water, and the cooking oil of your choice, used at a ratio of 1 part oil to 4 parts water. This homemade method also lets you use different kinds of oil for different purposes, like olive oil for savory dishes and canola or coconut oil for sweet.

Making Soap
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Bath Soap

While the use of lye renders traditional soap making too dangerous to do at home, it’s easier than ever to find “melt and pour” bases made from vegetable glycerin, goat milk, or cocoa butter and get results that are just as good. The process requires liquefying the soap base, adding any essential oils or scented ingredients (like coffee grounds, rose petals, or dried lavender), and then letting them solidify at room temperature in a dedicated mold or a loaf pan lined with parchment paper.

Deodorant
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Deodorant

Bet you didn't know you could make your own deodorant. It’s easy to do with coconut oil, baking soda, and arrowroot powder (a common thickener), plus essential oils for your favorite scent.

Toothpaste
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Toothpaste

Recipes for DIY toothpaste show how easy and cheap it is to make your own. All it takes is baking soda, fine sea salt, peppermint or other essential oils, and filtered water.

Body & Face Scrub
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Body and Face Scrub

Body scrubs are valuable for exfoliating skin and clearing away dead cells for improved appearance, but they can also get fairly expensive. The ingredients needed to make your own, including coconut oil and brown sugar, are probably already lying around your kitchen and can be applied on the body or face.

Face Masks
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Face Masks

To step up your home skincare regimen, you can make spa-style facial masks using relatively common kitchen ingredients. Options for bases include egg, milk, avocado, honey, and oatmeal. There are plenty of recipes that allow you to customize the mask, whether your concern is dry, oily, or acne-covered skin.

Hair Masks
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Hair Masks

Topical remedies for common scalp issues can come with steep price tags at most health and beauty stores. Luckily, the active ingredients are easy to find and needed in only small quantities. Good Housekeeping suggests basic ingredients ranging from apple cider vinegar to coconut oil to fix a list of problems ranging from flakes to dullness.

Lip Balm
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Lip Balm

The next time your lip balm runs out, don’t hurry to buy a new one. Instead, save the tube to store your own homemade concoction instead. Simply melt and combine equal parts sweet oil (e.g., almond, coconut, or grapeseed), butter solids (e.g., cocoa butter or shea butter), and soy or beeswax. You can also add essential oils and/or powdered herbs for color and flavor before the mixture hardens.

042016 natural bug repellents slide 1 fs
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Bug Repellent

For consumers who want to avoid the nasty-smelling chemical DEET, the most common active ingredient in bug sprays, an effective (though not as long-lasting) substitute can be made with the active ingredients of lemon and eucalyptus essential oils. DIY Natural has a recipe that uses vegetable oil and witch hazel or vodka to serve as a filler and preservative, respectively.

Related: 22 Cheap, Natural Ways to Rid Your Home of Pests

Ants
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Ant Poison

Don't like the idea of spraying commercial poison around the house to deal with an ant infestation? A Good Tired recommends making a nontoxic ant killer that lures ants with sugar and dispenses of them with borax. Soak cotton balls in the solution and place them on a small tinfoil sheet wherever the ants are a problem.

Windshield De-Icing Spray
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Windshield De-Icing Spray

Commuting during winter in a cold climate means devoting part of each morning to scraping ice off your car windshield. You can make this process easier using a spray bottle filled with equal parts water and rubbing alcohol to melt ice away within seconds of contact.

Ice Packs
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Ice Packs

For keeping refrigerated ingredients fresh and cold throughout the day, it doesn’t get much simpler than this: Instead of using store bought ice packs, just soak a sponge in water, seal in a zip-lock bag, and freeze before using in your cooler or lunchbox.

Potpourri
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Air Freshener

Homemade air fresheners don’t require anything too fancy or unusual — just whatever ingredients make the air smell fresh. For instance, you can create your own version of the toilet spray Poo-Pourri (to be sprayed in the bowl before you go) by filling a small, 3- to 4-ounce spray bottle with water, 1 teaspoon alcohol, and 3 drops of the essential oil of your choice. For a more traditional potpourri, you can leave around the house, try simmering some fragrant cut fruits like orange or grapefruit with spices or extracts like rosemary and cinnamon atop the stove, then cooling and storing in mason jars.

Weed Killer
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Weed Killer

If you struggle with unwanted weeds sprouting in your garden, you can save time pulling them out using a few ingredients from your kitchen for a homemade weed killer. Combine 1 gallon white vinegar, 1 cup salt, and 1 tablespoon dish soap (or the equivalent ratios) in a spray bottle and apply to weeds when the sun is high for best results. Just be careful not to exterminate your prized plants, too.

Goo Gone
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Goo Gone

There are few tasks as seemingly minor yet monumentally infuriating as trying to remove the sticker residue left behind by price tags, labels, and the like. Instead of using Goo Gone, you can clear away these residues using an even mixture of baking soda and vegetable oil. Leave it to penetrate the surface for at least five minutes before rinsing away with warm water.

Makeup Remover
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Makeup Remover

Make a cheaper makeup remover by mixing 2 ounces of water with a quarter-teaspoon of tear-free baby shampoo and seven drops of the oil of your choice, such as almond, in a travel-size bottle. Shaking before each use, pour a few drops of the mixture on cotton balls or pads to swab your skin clean.

Jewelry Cleaner
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Jewelry Cleaner

To spruce up a wedding ring and other items of jewelry that have lost their shine, try putting them in a solution of hot water containing equal parts salt, baking soda, and dishwashing detergent (about a tablespoon per cup). Whatever hasn’t come out after 15 minutes of soaking you can scrub out with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Fruit & Veggie Wash
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Fruit and Veggie Wash

If you’re determined to remove all the dirt and germs from your fresh produce, opt for a homemade vegetable wash solution over store-bought spray. All you need is water mixed with equal parts lemon juice and baking soda plus a spray bottle for easy application.

Related: 12 Easy Storage Tips to Keep Produce Fresh Longer

Carpet Cleaner
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Carpet Cleaner

Baking soda is a natural stain remover and deodorizer, which you can sprinkle before vacuuming to leave your carpets clean and fresh. Adding a few drops of your favorite scent, in essential oil form, gives the room a pleasant scent, too. Try reusing an old Parmesan cheese or large spice container to sprinkle it across the carpet evenly.

Shampoo
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Shampoo

Given how many scents and ingredients go into commercial shampoos, it may be surprising that DIY Natural has a recipe that’s just baking soda and water. The simplicity is part of the appeal, however, as the baking soda clarifies the hair and cleans out other products without diminishing your hair’s natural scent and self-cleaning properties. Just don’t use it every day, at the risk of drying out the scalp.

Apple Cider Vinegar
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Conditioner

DIY Natural recommends following up the two-ingredient homemade shampoo with a two-ingredient conditioner. Other than water, all you’ll need is raw apple cider vinegar, which smooths and de-greases the hair (surprisingly, without making it smell like pickling liquid). It’s also safe for all hair types and balances pH without any of the waxy, adhesive chemicals found in cheap store-bought conditioners.

Lotion
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Lotion

To make your own lotion, you’ll need cocoa butter, coconut oil, shea butter, and beeswax, which is used as an optional filler to decrease oiliness. Blend equal parts of the first three ingredients before adding any essential oils you’d like for scent, then refrigerate overnight to settle. You can store this lotion in a plastic tub or push dispenser, although it will be somewhat thicker and denser than what you’re used to from the store.

Use Soap-Free Body and Face Wash
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Body Wash

If you’re not already an avid DIYer in the kitchen and bathroom, you may need to buy a few components for organic body wash. Even when purchasing soap as an ingredient, the end result costs at least half the price of brand-name products. The recipe includes steel-cut oats, citric acid, coconut oil, raw honey, liquid Castile soap (a useful additive for many bath and cleaning products), and guar gum. The final product cleans and lathers just as well without any of the chemical additives, though you may need to refrigerate whatever you can’t use within three to four days of preparation.

Disposable Wipes
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Baby Wipes

Baby wipes might seem like a simple product, but they can have up to 25 ingredients and cost $3.50 for a pack of 60 — an expense that adds up quickly with regular use. To make them at home, you’ll need dry wipes (available in store or online), liquid Castile soap, and water. Soak a package of 100 wipes in 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons Castile soap within a zip-lock bag, and you’ll have completely safe and convenient cleaning wipes.

The Best Organic Sunscreen Is...
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Sunscreen

Some consumers prefer to avoid chemical sunscreens because of concern about their active ingredients, but organic sunscreens are typically pricey. It’s worth considering making the switch to homemade sunscreen, which isn’t as difficult to prepare as you might think. Live Simply has a recipe that includes coconut oil, sweet almond oil, shea butter, beeswax, zinc powder, and carrot seed essential oil, all of which create a spreadable lotion that naturally moisturizes and protects the skin from sun exposure.

Shaving Cream
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Shaving Cream

Whether you're shaving your legs or your face, this unisex homemade shaving cream will keep your skin feeling smooth and smelling fresh. After combining shea butter, coconut oil, olive or grapeseed oil, and baking soda, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to customize the mixture. With a jar of shaving cream, you can be more precise about selecting the amount you need, versus unpredictable spray cans.

DIY Hairspray
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Hairspray

It’s possible to make an alternative to commercial hairspray with only four ingredients, none more potent than rubbing alcohol. After boiling sugar and water together, add rubbing alcohol and essential oils while cooling. You can store your hairspray in a normal spray bottle, avoiding the propellants of standard aerosol cans.

Homemade Bath Salts
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Bath Salts

Any item normally encountered at the spa might seem too fancy to make at home, but bath salts are surprisingly simple to make, and a great way to indulge in some self-care. The only ingredients necessary are baking soda, salt, liquid oil (sweet almond, tea tree, avocado), and essential oils plus some pipettes and jars to infuse and store them.

Mascara
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Mascara

While natural makeup brands can quickly jack up your cosmetics expenses, homemade mascara is easy and cheap to make with nothing more than some egg yolk and activated charcoal. Just make sure you put it in the fridge to store it between uses.

Fabric Softener
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Fabric Softener

If you want soft and fluffy clothes without scented commercial fabric softener, it’s white vinegar to the rescue (again). It’s a natural softener that reduces soap residue and static cling, and with the addition of some essential oils, you’ll still be able to enjoy the perfume-y smell upon taking your clothes out.

Dryer Sheets
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Dryer Sheets

Chemical dryer sheets are unnecessary for leaving clothes smelling clean. One popular alternative is wool dryer balls, or you can make your own dryer sheets by recycling small squares of cotton fabric and adding a few drops of essential oil per load. These can be reused about two or three times.

Massage Oil
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Massage Oil

It’s easy to overspend on a fancy branded massage oil simply because you don’t understand enough about the product. But you don’t need much at all for a massage that leaves skin feeling slick and refreshed – just one or more base oils and essential oils. For the base oil, consider grapeseed, sunflower, sweet almond, or olive oil. Then add rosemary, lavender, ginger, or eucalyptus the appropriate scent. The Untrained Housewife has more about the specific nourishing properties of each ingredient.