DIY cleaners & body care

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DIY cleaners & body care

Post by jennypenny » Fri May 31, 2019 8:23 am

I thought there was a thread on this but I can't find it. Apologies if I missed it.

I currently don't use any nasty cleaners in the house, and stick to 'natural' products for things I don't want to DIY. I've decided to go all natural and (mostly) homemade, even with stuff like makeup. I'm curious if anyone does this and what they use. There aren't many DIY recipes on the wiki except for the standard laundry soap recipes.

I'm really into herbs, which ought to help me with the DIY part. I'm going to post when I try new recipes. I'm cheating a little to get started with a gallon of Dr Bronners in addition to my normal baking soda, vinegar, lemon, etc. I do have bleach around because DS has health issues and I need to be careful with cleanliness (particularly mold). I might also cheat with toothpaste and deodorant at first to help ease the family into it.

I've given up coloring my hair and I find the grey hair doesn't need special products. It's much easier to care for. A little olive oil on the ends is all I need to keep it manageable. If anyone has a favorite makeup or DIY recipe for lotion in particular, I'd love to hear it. For the summer I can get away with a natural sunscreen, bare minerals powder, and DIY lip balm, but when the school year resumes I'll need more makeup than that.

I'm a little nervous ... most people in Stepford will think I've completely thrown in the towel. I'm hoping I feel so much better about not using those products that I won't care what people think. We'll see. :?

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by C40 » Fri May 31, 2019 9:33 am

I made my first batch of deodorant myself a few months ago and I like it a lot. I also made some toothpaste but I didn't like it, so I may try that again with a different recipe.

Deodorant Recipe:
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of arrowroot powder (this is a thickener like cornstarch)
  • 6 tbs organic coconut oil
  • 25 drops of essential oil (I believe I used tea tree, eucalyptus, and lavender)
  • Mix together the dry ingredients to be sure they are well incorporated
  • add in your coconut oil while melted as well as your essential oils
  • Mix the combo well, I used a wooden spoon, until smooth
  • Once everything was well incorporated I fine-tuned the essential oils by adding just a few extra drops of each to get the desired smell
    (at this point, I mix that about 50/50 with some lotion (I use Cetaphil moisturizing cream (the kind in the plastic tub) and I love it. Adding the lotion keeps the deodorant from solidifying at cold temperatures, and makes it much easier to apply)
  • move mixture to your container and seal
Source: ... -deodorant
Last edited by C40 on Fri May 31, 2019 9:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by vexed87 » Fri May 31, 2019 9:34 am

You might have seen this already but:

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by jennypenny » Fri May 31, 2019 2:21 pm

@vexed -- I don't think I'm comfortable going without soap. There's a difference between plain soap and the chemical-laden antibacterial stuff that's overused everywhere. I know people argue that humans used to live without soap, but they also used to die of all kinds of things lol. Some things need to be removed with soap.

I thought about this when listening to a Wheaton podcast a couple of weeks ago. He mentioned how he decides whether or not to use dish soap based on how dirty the dish is. I don't think that's the right metric. He should decide based on what kind of food was on the dish. Meat? Oily food? Use soap. A plain salad or fruit? Rinsing is enough. Or cook it clean if it's a pot.

Did anyone watch Chemerical? At one point it looked like she was using olive oil to polish her floors. Would that draw ants? That's another concern I have with using cleaners that are food-based.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by chenda » Fri May 31, 2019 3:04 pm

@jennypenny - are there any specific concerns you have about bought cleaners, or is it more a self sufficiency thing ?

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by jennypenny » Sat Jun 01, 2019 7:37 am

@chenda--It's a combination of things. First, it's the known and unknown properties of some of the chemicals. I don't like all the additives in processed foods so gave them up. Seems like I should do the same with other things that I surround myself with and put on my body. Second reason would be environmental concerns (effects, excess packaging, disposal). Third would be simplicity (I do this a little already but it would be nice to limit cleaning products to 3 or 4 things and a pile of rags). Fourth would be cost.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by horsewoman » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:21 am

Hi jennypenny, I buy very little cleaners and skin care and have been doing so for years.
My hair is washed mostly with water only, sometimes with rye flour or very seldom with organic hair soap. I use apple cider vinegar once a month as a rinse. My daughter uses organic shampoo, and my husband has a buzz cut, so water only.
For extra care my hair loves aloe-vera gel, my daughters hair responds well to coconut oil.

Skin care is also mostly ACV. I have rather sensitive, dry skin but I seldom need additional face cream after applying diluted ACV on my face (with upcycled cotton pads, of course! :P )
Makeup I still buy at the drug store because I use it only very sporadically, homemade stuff would spoil to fast I suppose.

For home cleaners I mix in different ways water, citric acid, vinegar essence, soda,cheap vodka and soap.
My recipe links are mostly in German, so sharing them would be pretty pointless, I'm afraid.

Window cleaner = water, vodka and cornstarch
Floor cleaner (we have tiles and stone flooring mostly) = Water and vinegar
Laundry liquid: grated soap, washing soda and water (+ citric acid for whites)
Fabric softener: white vinegar
I buy organic dish soap, because a bottle lasts me around 6 months.
Kitchen spray: Water, vodka, a little vinegar and a few drops of dish soap
Toilet cleaner: citric acid, vodka and water
Bathroom cleaner: vinegar and water, a little dish soap
Dish washer - store bought powder - I tried to make a homemade detergent, but after using one jar, my dishwasher died :shock: It might have been a coincidence, but I'm wary now... I do use white vinegar instead of a rinse aid.

Thats what I can think of now. My main household aid is vinegar, it seems :) My husband sometimes complains of the smell, but I really don't care all that much. The smell evaporates really fast.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by vexed87 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:33 am

jennypenny wrote:
Fri May 31, 2019 2:21 pm
but they also used to die of all kinds of things lol. Some things need to be removed with soap.
Skin tissue is an incredibly effective barrier to pathogens, so I think those concerns were a more to do with lack of antibiotics and non existing or poor sanitation of early settlements where humans were unnaturally confined to smaller spaces and more dense living arrangements for the first time, i.e. before running water. This is a non issue for diffused rural settlements or nomadic people, there was little reason to shit where they ate, human waste could be composted effectively where needed.

But yes, if you live in today's urban and intensified world where humans are constantly co-mingling and rubbing up against each other, coughing and sneezing an array of pathogens on every surface, antibacterial soap is basically essential, especially when dealing with the sick, very young or old. If population density becomes less unnatural then there will be little reason to worry about a constant barrage of deadly pathogens because we will all travel a lot less and a lot shorter distances, extremely dangerous pathogens will have limited vectors, and where rsiky outbreaks do happen they are more likely likely fizzle out due to limitations of long distance travel.
Last edited by vexed87 on Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by jennypenny » Mon Jun 17, 2019 4:59 am

@vexed -- I know I can be uptight about this. I'm trying to thread the needle between going 'natural' and cleaning just for the sake of cleaning. I'll admit I probably worry more because of my son's CF -- if I followed the guidance for that I'd be bleaching my house from top to bottom daily. I obviously don't do that, and we travel and he attends high school so I don't keep him locked up in the house. I'm trying to figure out where I can relax what I'm doing and use natural cleaners, and where soap gets the most bang for the buck cleaning-wise (like hand-washing). I try hard not to use antibacterial products ever and prefer basic soaps. I'll keep bleach around for occasional use when there is a specific need. I imagine I'll change what I do frequently based on the situation.

Progress this week: Instead of immediately trying to get my family on board with homemade everything, I decided to walk them down a path towards that end. I bought several flavors of Dr. Bronners so they could sample them and decide which scents they liked. I think this made them feel like they were a part of the process. They also liked experimenting with the different dilutions to see how well it cleaned. Then we removed all of the old products from the bathrooms and kitchen. I'm hoping to go even further than Dr. Bronners but I don't want to discourage my family's participation. Wheaton scales and all that.

I also found a safe/natural sunscreen, mascara, and moisturizer. I was always careful about what I put on my lips and I'd already given up most other makeup. Again, I'm looking for bang for the buck. I need moisturizer and sunscreen, and I've found that a coat of mascara makes me look awake and 'made up' more than other types of makeup, so I use that and skip the other stuff. I keep a pot of pink mineral powder that's safe for my eyes and face and rubbing into my lip balm if I need to look more made up for an occasion.

This week I'm deep cleaning the house before we travel so I'll be testing different products around the house. I acquired an older steam-type floor cleaner and I'll be trying that out to see if I feel the steam-only approach gets the floors clean enough. (dirt in the house -- the bane of gardeners everywhere :lol: )

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by Sclass » Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:00 am

This is interesting that you can make makeup. I was always worried about my wife using commercial makeup. I see all that powder and glitter and wonder what the heck it is. Some of it is obviously metallic. The nail polish gives me a headache too. Smells like automotive paint. She’ll nervously bite her nails too and I see her touching up the chips. Oh well she’s a big girl.

What is pink mineral?

After playing with biofuels for awhile I learned all about the rendering business. We have no idea where soap and cosmetics manufacturers are getting their feedstock. Since it isn’t FDA controlled, you literally can be slathering road kill or downer cow on your lips. Not good if it contains prion diseases. People are way too relaxed about this. A cost conscious cosmetics manufacturer would certainly find rendered fats more attractive than virgin oils.

Being a scruffy dude, I pretty much use bar soap and dish detergent for all of my personal care. Shampoo is a luxury I steal from my wife and hotels.

I’ve cut down on my automotive hand cleaner (Goop and Gojo) use by using a sonicator to clean my hands and nails after working on dirty stuff. A biological researcher told me it was dangerous but I still do it. At least it’s mechanical versus chemical. I guess I don’t believe him and it works well on the finger nails.

I use commercial sun blocking lip balm. It’s a trade off between UV cancer and PABA on my mouth. Any natural alternative besides a bandanna?

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by theanimal » Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:25 pm

I'm also curious what the natural sunscreen you use is.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by jennypenny » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:10 am

@sunscreen -- I haven't found anything completely natural other than mud. I'm trying out
Raw Elements
sunscreen right now. It's reef-safe and I like the tin packaging better than plastic or some other disposable packaging. I'll be in Florida next week and report back on how well it does.

They have a lip balm sunscreen as well.

@sclass--I use a pot of loose Bare Minerals color that's safe for face, eyes and lips. It has bismuth oxychloride (the iridescent stuff) but it's the best I can find. I rarely use it on my lips though, it's easy enough to smudge a little berry (raspberry/blueberry) onto my lips for color and cover with lip balm when I need it.

edited to add: Here is the Raw Elements site. I just saw they have a new pink-tinted lip balm. I might try it and use it for blush too. Someone also recommended Badger products but I haven't tried them yet.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by C40 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:35 pm

Yeah I've been using Raw Elements for the last 6 months. I used Bare Republic products before that. I got both free in exchange for promotion on Instagram. Here are my thoughts:

First - skin protection is important. Second - the "chemical" type sunscreen that we've been using in the past has some nasty things in it. Some recent study showed that the 'bad' ingredients in those does indeed get inside your body. Sunblock is one of the things worth spending a premium on compared to the cheap options. "Good"/"safe" (both for you and for the ocean, rivers, etc) is expensive. If you're outside a lot it adds up quickly.

The cheapest alternative is to cover yourself with clothing and not need much sunblock. Like Mexicans, middle easterners, etc.

Raw Elements - good stuff. Great packaging. I got the kinds in the metal tins, which is cool. You can use 100% of the product and then use the tin for storing other things. For application, I cut the product with 50% or even more or lotion. That makes it easier to apply, and that ease of application helps me to not use too much of the product. (It's kind of hard to apply on it's own because of it's low moisture content - so it's very thick and viscous - which is a good thing, I'd rather pay for the product dry than cut with water/moisture). This brand seems to appeal more to purists, environmentalists, those focused on efficiency, etc.

Bare Minerals - Good/great stuff. Horrible packaging. This brand seems more oriented towards standard consumers that will like common wasteful packaging types, scents, and being shiny. It smells better than the raw elements (I think a natural smell from the ingredients, including some seed oils). Applies super easy because it's a liquid. When I put this on it makes my skin shiny/glistening, which some people will particularly like. The spray can totally sucks. For various reasons, don't buy products like this in an aerosal can. One of my cans had product separation. When I'd press the spray button, what would come out was only part of the products ingredients. Shaking it up didn't seem to help, so it seemed like that can was junk.

There are a handful of other natural sunblock companies. Avasol is one that comes to mind immediately. During my brand pitching I got the impression that compared to other companies, these brands seem to be ran by people who are nicer, more positive people than most companies, and they're more focused on doing the right things for their customers, the environment, etc.
Last edited by C40 on Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by C40 » Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:38 pm

Also, I've though about making my own sunscreen. I haven't looked into it much but as I understand, you can buy plain zinc oxide. This is usually the main effective ingredient in natural sunscreens. You must make sure the zinc oxide is the right size of particles/powder. (must not be too small.. afaik, at least "non-nano"). Then mix it with other stuff for application ease, consistency/texture, scent, etc. I expect I may just mix it with moisturizing cream and a bit of essential oils.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by jennypenny » Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:08 am

Everyone here* has adjusted to the natural cleaners and products (or lack of them). I think my family prefers the one-soap-for-everything approach because it means they don't have to figure out what kind of cleaner to use in each situation.

The floor steamer is good for daily use but IMO it doesn't deep clean the floor. I still have to mop with a cleaner once in a while.

I'm going to try using the Dr Bronner's for laundry this month. I don't mind homemade laundry soap but it would be nice to include laundry in the one-soap-for-everything policy.

I like the Raw Elements sunscreen but I find it kinda heavy on my skin, almost like a mask. I perspire a lot when I'm wearing it ... like rivulets running down my body constantly. I use it sparingly now and cover up instead.

Overall, skin issues have improved and we're all embracing looking a little more casual. DS and I are growing in our hair and giving up on traditional haircuts. I've almost grown out all the old color in my hair and I'm getting used to going makeup free most of the time. ( Lather has a new lip/cheek tint that I might try. It looks like an easy natural makeup to use when I need some.) I find getting a little sun everyday (without sunscreen) gives me all the color I need in my face to avoid looking sickly.

*DD recently returned from a year in China. She was really looking forward to western standards of hygiene and beauty products, so she's not totally on board yet. I think she'll come around eventually.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by GandK » Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:06 am

Just saw this thread.

My makeup is Burt's Bees Pomegranate. TMK it's the only one in that line with a reddish tint. I also exfoliate with a cool wet washcloth every morning and follow that up with Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer w SPF 30, which I was able to pick up at Costco on a 2-for-1 deal a month or so ago. Exfoliation + that cream keeps my cheeks a little pink, so no need for blush.

Our cleaner, shampoo and body wash at the moment is Kirkland's Environmentally Responsible dish liquid, which last time I got it at Costco was $17 for 135 oz. However, someone in California has filed a lawsuit saying this product and the companion laundry detergent are not environmentally friendly enough to be called that. Although my household loves this item, I'm reluctantly on the lookout for possible alternatives while waiting to see how that shakes out. It's really important to be all natural in the RV because it relates to our ability to dump gray water when there's no dump station around.

For laundry, we were randomly gifted a very large amount of Tide pods (seriously... they will last until the Rapture). We're working our way through those at laundromats across the midwest. It's been my goal to eventually try the ER dish liquid on our clothes too in an approximate Dr. Bronner's amount as opposed to buying the dedicated laundry detergent because we too want to go to one cleanser. IF we keep that one. :|

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by bigato » Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:05 pm

Congratulations on the improvements jp, well done.

I bought the chemical ingredients to homemade laundry soap but they are idle here while I buy store laundry soap powder. It's a shame isn't it? Pure lazyness. On the bright side, I'm still going through a batch of homemade soap bars I made at home.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by daylen » Fri Oct 04, 2019 1:25 am

Here are two soap-making videos with technical details and demonstration.
Solid with cold process:
Liquid with hot process:

This channel is a great resource for chemistry education.

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by paretotime » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:07 pm

Going natural in our home with cleaners & body care as well, but having a hard time getting rid of the old chemicals. Some of them were 1/2 bottles gifted to us years ago when family moved overseas. I don't like to use the chemicals for daily/weekly cleaning, but did have ALL of them available for our last move out clean since we wouldn't be living/breathing there anymore and I had lots of helpers so it made sense to have a variety of solutions available so people could use whatever they were comfortable with.

In the meantime, I've been doing research. A few good excerpts from Zero Waste books I read:

Zero Waste, by Shia Su [great since it helps you gauge the amount you will need, so you can buy in bulk without overbuying. *These are my notes, not exact quotes from the book]
how much to buy?
white vinegar - 1/2 gallon per person in house per year if used for cleaning (if not using citric acid)
citric acid - 1/2 to 1 cup per person (3.5-7 oz) per year if you don’t use vinegar
baking soda - 20-30 oz per person per year
washing soda - 18-25 oz per person per year (for cleaning only) if you use instead of baking soda, will still need 5-10 oz of baking soda for other uses like tooth powder (you can turn baking soda into washing soda by spreading baking soda on a baking dish and baking for 30-60 min at 400F)
palm oil free castle soap - 20-30 oz per person per year is enough for both cleaning and body care

how to use all-purpose cleaner
just spray and wipe, or scrub. for tough stains - spray, wait 5 min, sprinkle with baking soda on to the surface. Baking soda reacts with the acid, removing stains effectively. For another scrubbing agent use salt
-kitchen. for all surfaces including sink, counter tops and stove. Use a brush, baking soda, or salt for tough stains. Polish faucets with a dry dish towel
-bathroom - removes hard water stains well. Works on toilet bowl. Spray thoroughly, add 2 tsp vinegar or 1/2 tsp citric acid directly to the bowl water, let sit for 5 min, scrub and flush. Can drizzle 2 drops essential oil into toilet bowl for nice fragrance
-windows and mirrors. spray, wipe and squeegee. if no squeegee, spray only stains, and wipe with wet cloth to prevent residues. let dry and polish with dry cotton rag (old dish towel or t shirt)
floors - add 1/3 cup all purpose cleaner to a bucket full of water

unclog drains
-mix 1/2 cup white vinegar or 1 tbsp citric acid with 1/2 cup water and set aside. Pour 4 cups boiling water down drain, followed by 1/2 cup baking soda or 1/4 cup washing soda. Now pour the acidic mix down the drain, cover with a lid, and let sit 5-10 min. Flush with 1/2 gallon of boiling hot water

to disinfect and remove limescale
1 min
4 tsp citric acide
1 cup water
(or just use full strength vinegar instead)
to disinfect chopping boards or remove mildew. Spray then sit 5 min, scrub and rinse or wipe to clean

oven cleaner
spray all purpose cleaner generously. let sit for 5 min, sprinkle with baking soda and sit overnight or for at least 4 hours. Scrub with a wet brush and wipe clean with a wet cloth

wash handkerchiefs after cold:
put in big bowl and pour boiling water over them. let sit for 15 min then add with regular laundry

Zero Waste Home, by Bea Johnson [*again these are my summary notes, check the book for accuracy]

Sugar wax
combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tbsp water and 1 tbsp lemon juice in a small skillet
boil on high until temp reaches 255 degrees (about 3 minutes boiling)
immediately pour onto a wet, heatproof plate and let cool
when cool to the touch, and before it completely hardens, gather the mixture into a ball
knead and stretch the ball (it will change from clear amber to opaque ivory and should be sticky)
with your thumb, spread the ball into a strip against the hair growth and remove quickly in the direction of hair growth. repeat on other areas with the same ball
store the remaining wax in a mason jar for future use and reheat the jar in a water bath when needed

blush - cocoa (brown) cinnamon (orange) beet root (pink) powder. apply after moisturizer
eyebrow liner - use the brown powder with a chiseled brush wet with water or hairspray recipe
face powder - cornstarch (plus bronzer if needed)

multipurpose balm
in small glass jar combine 1 tbsp beeswax & 4 tbsp oil (any oil, but sunflower has most vitamin E)
place jar in small saucepan with 1 inch water over med heat to melt. stir then pour in a small tin to let cool
-use on lips or nails for shine, hair tips & face for moisturizer, cheekbones & brow as highlighter.
-separate container use for leather protector (on smooth leather) and wood polish

cover 2 sliced lemons (discards of squeezed ones) with 2 cups water in a pot
boil on high 20 min to reduce
strain & pour into a spray bottle
add 2 tbsp vodka to preserve
spray, style then let dry

I have only tried some of the above, but I'm working through the list. Coca powder plus cornstarch is a good dry shampoo that I regularly use
Also recommend this homemade hairspray for wavy look

Beach hair spray (adds texture)
1/3 cup boiling water
1 tbsp salt
4 drops grapefruit essential oil (or other of your choice)
2 tsp almond oil
2 oz spray bottle
in spray bottle. dissolve salt in boiling water. Add essential oil to almond oil, then combine both, and into spray bottle

Sorry for the long post. I'll try to break them up better in future ;-)

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Re: DIY cleaners & body care

Post by paretotime » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:13 pm

Somehow forgot to include the all-purpose cleaner recipes from Shia Su's book above

all purpose cleaning with white vinegar
5 tbsp white vinegar (1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp)
1.25 cups water
3-5 drops essential oil (optional)
mix vinegar & water, transfer to spray bottle, THEN add essential oil. Shake before use

all purpose cleaner with citric acid
(does not affect rubber seals & gaskets)
1-2 tbsp citric acid
2 cups water
5 drops essential oil
dissolve citric acid in water, transfer to spray bottle, THEN add essential oils, shake before use

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