When making homemade products goes too far…


I am all about making things at home. I love it. It helps save me money and I feel good about knowing the exact ingredients. I like creating, experimenting, and coming up with that perfect custom recipe that works just right for me.

My journey started 5 years ago when we were going through one of those tight financial spots.

I needed to find ways to save every penny we could so I started experimenting. The first thing I tried was homemade laundry soap. I loved it and it was saving our family hundreds of dollars a year. Before long, I was bit with the frugal-make-it-at-home bug.

Willing to try anything, my poor husband never knew what concoction I would be cooking up on the stove next.

Over the years I’ve discovered some gems:

  • I found a simple cleaner using distilled vinegar and essential oils. I add tea tree oil to the vinegar for everywhere except my kitchen. In the kitchen I use peppermint and clove. It smells so good and I feel much better using that around my food surfaces instead of things with harsher chemicals.
  • I adore my homemade sun block You can read the story behind that here.
  • My newest discovery is homemade lip balm (see my recipe here). I will never go back to buying it at the store again.
  • And oh, my herbal cough drops are a hit in my family. They taste as good as candy and work marvelously.

But I’ve had my share of epic fails too:

  • Dish soap seemed to breed grease. I think there was more on each plate than there was before I ever took a sponge to them.
  • I don’t care who tells you that cheap hair conditioner watered down with vinegar works as well as fabric softener, it doesn’t. I got a gunked up fabric softener dispenser and clothes that smelled all kinds of fun things, but not like I imagined. And when they did smell as they should I got stares because no man wants to go to work in a “man’s profession” smelling like sweet strawberries or fields of flowers.
  • Lotion worked awesome for about 1 day until it separated and became a mass of oil & beeswax floating in a jar of lightly scented water. (still determined to figure this one out but not there yet)
  • Soaking orange peels in vinegar to create a wonderful smelling all purpose cleaner encouraged me to spray sugary sweetness all over my kitchen. 4 years later we are still trying to kill the ants who built a colony under my house during this period.
  • Speaking of ants…ant bait. Leave that to the professionals too. Mixing honey and borax definitely tempts the ants. They came running from miles around. I had a semi-permanent black stripe around my kitchen for about a month. They never died, just enjoyed the extended 4th of July feast that summer.

But nothing, nothing compares to what I tried last fall.

We were in one of those tight financial spots again. It seems to be a cycle for us, but this one is stung a little harder because there wan’t anything left to cut, yet I had to cut. So I started looking at anything and everything that I had not yet experimented on but could possibly turn into a pinterest worthy success story.

And that is when I discovered No-Poo!

I had heard whispers of it for years but never gave it a serious thought. Why would I want to mess with my wonderful shampoo? But since I was cutting the budget and we have 2 girls who are still learning what an appropriate amount of hair product is, it is a significant monthly expense. I wasn’t about to make the girls suffer, but me, I was willing to sacrifice for the bottom line.

I found a simple and good recipe comprised of everything I already had in my kitchen, whipped it up, threw in a few essential oils for scent and 10 minutes later went to take a shower with my new creation.

The first few times were not that great but I knew to expect that. All the reviews said it takes time for your hair to adjust, balance, and get used to not having oils stripped off it daily. Over time my hair seemed to balance, it was a little flatter than normal but I quickly adjusted to that too. I just always wore my hair up in a clip or a ponytail. Easy fix to save money.

Then one day I grabbed my bottle of dinner and tea tree oil to clean the bathroom.

After I got done scrubbing all the grim off my tub and toilet I decided to take a shower to clean that “cleaner smell” off me.

It started with the shampoo. After an awkward wash using baking soda and orange essential oil mixed in water I grabbed my conditioner.

The irony hit me like a deer in the headlights.

I was using the same ingredients to condition my hair as I had just used to scrub the grime and mildew off my toilet!

That’s right, my conditioner consisted of (apple cider) vinegar and tea tree oil!

And that is where I realized I had crossed the line and gone to a place nobody ever wants to find themselves. A place where you lose all kinds of common sense for the sake of saving a penny.

My hair is slowly recovering from the lack of being properly washed for months, and my husband is thankful too. I now smell fresh and good after a shower instead of like toilet cleaner.

Have you ever gone too far and had to be talked back off the ledge of the for-the-sake-of-all-things-frugal-homemade cliff?


As a side note: I have also quit using homemade laundry detergent. I began noticing my husband’s work clothes and our towels were not getting clean so I switched back to commercial detergent for those. I ran out of my homemade stuff and used the commercial detergent on all our laundry one week. I noticed a difference. Recently, I discovered this article  that may explain why homemade laundry detergent is the newest addition to my “homemade fails” list.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. carldouthit1
    Mar 12, 2015 @ 22:16:49

    I very vaguely remember from when I was very little that your grandmother would make some type of soap from ashes, lye, and other ingredients (perhaps including borax). I don’t know what kind of soap it was or what she used it for — and I know that she didn’t make her own soap when I was an older child.
    I remember those ingredients because I got warned about how poisonous they were and that the fumes could make me really sick — and I wondered how something made from them could possibly be safe to use.
    I suspect that this was an old pioneer-type recipe that she learned as a girl.



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