Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Make Your Own Household Cleaners.

Making your own household cleaners is a great way to save some money.  Although I love saving money I also love things that are good for the Earth too.  It is great how often these two go hand in hand!!  I also have an old house with old sinks, bath tubs, toilets etc. that just seem to get dirtier a lot easier.  It is really important for me to have some homemade household clearners that actually work!
Since my goal is to meet both criteria, I chose ingredients that not only clean well, but are as "green" as possible.  You really only need a few to clean almost everything in your house.  It is awesome!  My favorite "base" cleaners are vinegar, baking soda, borax, and fels naptha.  I also use lavender as my essential oil of choice.  Alright enough yakking, lets learn how to make your own household cleaners :)

Make sure to follow all instructions on the boxes of the products below.  Products such as Borax, although a naturally mined resource, are considered toxic and should be kept away from small children.  Read all safety information on the boxes of all of these products.

Windows: I keep a spray bottle with just vinegar that I use for windows and mirrors. I find newspapers or cloth towels work very well. Spray on and wipe until vinegar is completely gone.
Shower: First sprinkle baking soda all over the tub.  Then put white vinegar in a spray bottle and completely cover the baking soda.  Let this sit for a minute to break down any soap scum. Use a scrub brush and scrub like crazy.  Let this sit for 15-20 minutes.  Go back and rinse out the tub.  Scrub the surface one more time (you don't have to go crazy this time) and rinse again.

It can be tricky to clean the sides of the shower.  I just take a bar of Fels Naptha and rub it on the walls of the shower.  I then scrub and rinse off.
Stained coffee cups: Put 1 tsp of baking soda and about 2 Tbsp vinegar in cup. Swish foamy mixture around cup and let sit a few minutes. You can empty the contents into the sink or garbage disposal which will help with odors. Wipe down inside of cup with a towel and rinse. The stains come off very easily. This method is much better for you than harsh bleach.
Stains around drain: Dump a little hydrogen peroxide directly on the stain. Let sit for a minute, then scrub with an old toothbrush. Seriously this stuff starts breaking the gunk up right away.  It is awesome!
Mildew: Never mix vinegar and hyrdogen peroxide. It is a dangerouse combination. You can use EITHER vinegar OR hydrogen peroxide on mildew in your shower. Just spray the contents directly on the mildew and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub with an old toothbrush and rinse spot.
Clean coffee makers: Use 1/4 C vinegar and fill the water resevoir full with water. Run through coffee maker. Run through again with just water. You should be able to easily wipe off any coffee from the coffee pot after you are finished. You can run water through a third time to ensure there is no vinegar left.
Cleaning floors: Mix 1/2 C vinegar with 5 or 6 drops essential oil of your choice and hot water.
Toilet cleaner: Pour about 1/2 C vinegar and shake a little baking soda in the toilet. Let sit for a few minutes and scrub clean. You can mix a few drops of essential oil if you like.
Cleaning the fridge: Empty your fridge, and spray a mixture of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 hot water. Scrub your fridge and wipe clean with a dry towel. Place a box of baking soda in the back of your fridge to help deodorize.
All purpose cleaner: In a spray bottle but 1/4 C. white vinegar, 1 teaspoon Borax, and about 5 or 6 drops of essential oil.
Check out my post on my homemade laundry detergent recipe and learn how to make your own!

I am continually experimenting so please check back for more additions :)

Homemade Shampoo Ideas

Recently I decided I wanted to try and make my own homemade shampoo. Regular shampoo is filled with all sorts of nasty stuff that is bad for you and the environment.

Why is it bad for your hair? First it strips your hair of all of its natural oils. I have always had to use a lot of conditioner to balance this out. Also, shampoo is filled with yucky stuff that gets absorbed into your skin, since skin is very porous. The chemicals used in shampoo and other household products pollute our water, killing fish and other wildlife.

So what are your best options for homemade shampoo ideas? Since every one's hair is different, it is best to try out a couple of ways and see which one works best for you. Some of these processes take a couple of weeks for your hair to regulate back to its natural state.

Remember to always use caution when trying a new homemade shampoo. Although most of the ingredients recommended are natural, you could still have an allergic reaction. Never use on babies or children without consulting their doctors. Also remember that pets will lick their fur after you wash them, so it is best not to use homemade shampoos on them.

My personal favorite (and the cheapest option!) is a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Yeah I know it sounds weird but it really works! Well for me it does. It is very simple. Simply mix a tablespoon or two of baking soda with warm water. Pour over the top of your head, and gently rub into your scalp. You don't have to worry so much about the ends of your hair, just concentrate on your scalp. Rinse your hair well. I do this twice, as it seems to keep my hair from being oily.

Next fill a spray bottle with equal parts apple cider vinegar, and water. Spray the ends of your hair. Let the vinegar sit in your hair for about a minute, then rinse. Don't worry, the vinegar smell will go away after your rinse your hair. You may need to experiment to find out how much baking soda and vinegar your hair will need.

I find that my hair is very easy to brush after I wash it using this method. If your hair is very tangled after doing this, you could use a little No More Tears by Johnson and Johnson. It will help detangle your hair. Just a tiny bit on the ends of your hair should do the trick. Some people use olive oil or jojoba oil, but I would start with a very small amount on the ends of your hair.

If you have been using regular shampoo your whole life, it may take up to 6 weeks for your hair to regulate. Trust me though, it is worth it! Your scalp just needs time to regulate the amount of oil it produces. Since it is used to being stripped of natural oil, it may over compensate for awhile. You might get lucky like me and my husband did, and have it work right away. This combination can also help people who suffer from dandruff.

You can also either grow soap wort or buy it dried online or at a health food store. Soap wort is a small flowering shrub that contains a natural detergent. When dried soap wort leaves or stems are boiled, it will create a wonderful rinse that can be used as shampoo.  Here is a recipe for soap wort shampoo. 

Another option is to make your own homemade shampoo using castile soap. Just use equal parts castile soap (which can be found on Amazon or at most health food stores), and water. You will also want to add a tablespoon or so of jojoba oil, grape seed oil, or olive oil. You may need to play around with the amount of oil you use. If you buy your soap in bulk, this will save you money and packaging. The mixture lasts for about a week, so only make as much as you use in a week.

If you don't really want to make your own soap, or if baking soda doesn't work for your hair, you can buy bar soap made especially for hair. Etsy has some shops that offer this. Just search for "bar shampoo" and you will find many options. Although it may not be the cheapest option, when you consider the health and environmental benefits, it is worth it!  Check with the shop owners to see if they give discounts for buying the bars in bulk.  You can also make your own shampoo bar soap with this recipe.


Felt Campfire Tutorial

This tutorial has moved to here!

Baking ingredients you can make yourself and save money!

With the holidays here my baking is increased a lot.  I don't generally make sweets during the rest of the year, but I love making them at Christmas time.  It is only once a year after all! 

It is frustrating to me when I go to make a recipe but I don't have something like, buttermilk for example, on hand.  It is also silly for me to buy something like buttermilk when none of us drink it, and most recipes only call for a small amount.  I just hate to waste the money throwing it out!  Over the years I have found easy and cheap ways to make these ingredients at home. 

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is usually more expensive than sugar, but the great thing is you can make it yourself at home for less! All you need is two ingredients; brown sugar, and molasses! Just combine 1 C sugar with 1 Tbsp. molasses and mix together with fork, making sure to get out all of the clumps. If you need it darker just add another Tbsp. of molasses. Molasses can be stored in a cool dry place after being opened for about a year. Just make sure the lid is on tight and that you wipe down the rim after each use.

Self Rising Flour

If you have a recipe that uses self rising flour you can substitute it by adding 1 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. of salt to every 1 cup of flour. Sift the ingredients together to evenly distribute the salt and baking powder.

Cake Flour

Cake flour is a starchy flour used in making cakes and cookies. The bad thing about it is it's expensive! The good thing is you can easily make it yourself! Just take 3/4 C flour and sift it with 2 Tbsp. cornstarch. That is it!


Buttermilk is a great baking product to have. It will make baked goods nice and fluffy, but really how often do you need it? Usually you have leftovers so unless you like to drink buttermilk it is best to make your own. All you need is milk and some kind of acid. I usually mix 1 C milk with 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (white works fine too) and let it sit for 5 minutes. You will see the milk thicken and start to curdle. You can also use 1 Tbsp. lemon juice instead of vinegar.

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Condensed milk is used in a lot of dessert recipes and candy recipes. It is also pretty expensive but easy to make on your own. Just mix 3/4 C sugar, 1/2 C water, and 1 C powdered milk in a pot. Turn the heat on high and bring it to a boil. Turn heat down to medium and stir until thickened. This takes about 15-20 minutes but it is a good workout for your arms!

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is simply milk that has has most of its water content taken out.  Just combine 1/2 c non-fat dry milk with 3/4 c water.  That is it!

Welcome to Simple Frugal Homemaking!

Welcome to Simply Frugal Homemaking!  My name is Leslie and I am a voluntary stay at home mom. To me homemaking is a wonderfully fulfilling way to spend my days!  Although I am not an expert, I hope to share some of my best frugal living and simple homemaking experiences with you.  I will be filling this blog with frugal living tips, simple homemaking ideas, recipes, do it yourself handmade crafts, and all sorts of fun stuff! 

More and more families are turning their minds and hearts back to their homes.  I know personally I became fed up with the rat race.  I wanted to stay home and create a warm, loving, and safe place for my husband and children.  I find so much satisfaction in making things myself and living frugally.  There is a common misconception that people who live frugally do so because they have to.  I am lucky enough to say that is not the case for me and my family!  If that is the case for you, I hope that this blog will help you to see there is much to love about simple homemaking!

I want this to be a place where people from all walks of life who are interesting in homemaking and frugal living can get support, ideas, and encouragement.  I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I do!