Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
There are so many things that we take for granted. Common household items may top the list next to food, and there’s rarely a store that doesn’t have a good amount of those things in stock. But if for any reason those items aren’t easily available or affordable, you may have to make your own.
In some instances, it’s surprisingly easy. Others take a bit of time and effort. All of them save money, and if they’re simply not available – making your own could really make life easier. Here’s what we’ll cover…
Some of these fall in the category of personal care and hygiene while others are for general household cleaning and chores. There are significantly more, but on a daily or weekly basis, these tend to be the most often used and needed.
If you find yourself making one of those things that require some time and effort like soap or toilet paper, the obvious solution is to make a lot of it. It’s not about making enough for a week, but for a year or more. If you’re taking the time to make the extra effort, you might as well think big.
What we’ll try and do is define the basic process and ingredients and then provide links to expanded and detailed information about how to make all of these things.
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The Grid-Down Dilemma
On an ordinary day-to-day basis, it’s easy to find the materials and resources to make a lot of your own stuff. Hand sanitizer is a good example. All you need is some glycerin and rubbing alcohol in combination to make a product that tends to be more expensive than those two ingredients alone.
But if the grid is down and stores are closed or shelves are empty, you may not be able to buy the basic ingredients you need to make anything. For that reason, we’re going to offer as many alternatives as we can for making these items. Some will assume that you can buy stuff at a store, or maybe you have it on hand.
Other solutions will be more of a pioneer approach using natural materials that you find or produce like apple cider vinegar for general cleaning or animal fat and wood ashes to make soap.
We’ll also cover some substitutions that will allow you to improvise if resources are limited or not available. With that in mind, here are the various ways you can improvise many of the things you use every day.
The fundamental recipe for most soap is a combination of an oil or fat with lye. In some instances, fragrances from herbs or flowers are added, or exfoliates like pumice. How you approach making your own soap is up to you, whether it’s just to learn a new skill or satisfy an unmet need following a major disaster.
- How to Make Soap from Fat and Ashes (A pioneer approach when no resources are available)
- How to Make Castile Soap (A gentle soap alternative)
- Oat and Honey Soap Recipe for Beginners (A soap using oatmeal as an exfoliate)
- Goat Milk Soap Recipe (The fat from goat milk is used as an oil substitute)
- 3 Ingredient Soap Recipe (A simple recipe for a basic soap)
- Basic Soap Making Tutorial (A step by step examination of the soap making process)
Laundry is inevitable and the price of detergents are rising like everything else. It’s smart and easy to make your own as a way to save money, and following any disaster, the dirty clothes really seem to pile up.
One of the key ingredients that most laundry detergent recipes call for is Borax. It’s easy to buy at a store or online, but if you’re going the pure pioneer route, you’ll have to grow your own borax crystals first.
Here are some basic laundry detergent recipes and in a pinch, you can always use some of that soap we just covered.
- How to Make Liquid Laundry Detergent (A simple and basic approach)
- How to Make Your Own Laundry Detergent (Requires borax)
3. All-Purpose Cleaner
Whether it’s cleaning countertops, sinks, or floors, a general all-purpose cleaner is a common product in every kitchen. There are a variety of approaches and most have disinfecting properties.
The pioneer approaches typically use vinegar as a primary cleaning and disinfecting ingredient. In a desperate environment, you may have to make your own vinegar, but it’s fairly easy to do and can be used for a variety of purposes.
- Home Cleaning Products You Can Make (A range of options using various ingredients)
- Keep Your Home Clean with 3 Things (The 3 things are baking soda, vinegar and Castile soap)
- Homesteaders secret cleaner recipes (Vinegar again)
- Natural Cleaning Recipes (More pioneer solutions)
4. Hand Sanitizer and Disinfectants
A couple of years ago, the whole idea of hand sanitizers showed up as an occasional solution that we used from time to time. Today many of us have bottles of the stuff all over the place. There’s an easy way to make it that’s much cheaper than many of the hand sanitizer products you see.
- How to Make Hand Sanitizer (The basic glycerin and alcohol formula)
- How to Make Your Own Hand Sanitizers and Disinfectants (Covers recipes for both hand and surface sanitation)
- How to Make Disinfectant Spray (For use on surfaces)
- How to Make Hand Sanitizer (Another perspective on hand sanitizer)
5. Hand and Body Lotion
These are moisturizers that preserve overall skin health, particularly for people who work outdoors for any length of time. Some have medicinal properties derived from various herbs and plants as well.
- How to Make DIY Lotion Bars (Bars that are easily portable and can be used both dry and in the shower or bath)
- How to Make Infused Oils from Weeds (They should be called indigenous wild plants but some of us call them weeds)
- Essential Oils Every Homesteader Should Have (A real money saver for a product category that is always expensive)
Okay, so some of us just use a bar of soap in the shower when there’s no shampoo, but maybe it’s time to skip the soap and make your own shampoo.
- How to Make All Natural Shampoo and Conditioner (A one-two punch with conditioner too)
7. Insect Repellent
A surprising number of plants naturally repel bugs and that includes mosquitoes, but it’s not just about citronella. What’s great about many of these solutions is that they only require simple and easily found materials or plants.
- Natural Mosquito Repellents and Traps that Really Work (If you can’t keep ‘em away, trap ‘em)
- Natural Fly Repellents (Not just for the house but the barn, garage, garbage can area and other outbuildings)
- DIY Mosquito Traps (Who needs a bug zapper when you can trap ‘em with easily found and upcycled materials?)
- How to Use Neem Oil, Natures Insecticide (If you’re worried about chemicals in insect repellents this is the best natural alternative)
- Do It Yourself Bug Spray Recipe with All Natural Ingredients (Another approach to making an insect repellent without harsh chemicals like DEET)
- These Houseplants Keep Bugs Away (If you don’t want to spray yourself with any kind of insect repellent just surround yourself with these plants)
- Herbs and Flowers that Mosquitoes Hate (Another way to create a natural bug barrier with plants)
Some of these ideas are worth doing for everyday use right now and all the time.
- How to Make Natural Deodorant (Who needs harsh chemicals on their skin?)
- How to Make Natural Deodorant that Works with 3 Ingredients (A quick video defines the basic process)
- Cornstarch as a Deodorant (Who knew?)
How often do we squeeze a tube of sunscreen only to find it’s empty? Here’s how to make your own and adjust the level of blockage to suit what you need.
- How to Make Sunscreen (Very detailed step-by-step instructions)
- DIY Sunscreen that’s Safe for Babies (Who knew sunscreen could be unsafe for babies but it that’s your concern, here’s a solution)
You can make it to look like the stuff that comes out of the tube or consider some time-tested and proven alternatives.
- How to Make Your Own Toothpaste (Tube optional)
- How to Clean Your Teeth Without Toothpaste (Yes, charcoal dust is a good alternative and there are others)
If you’ve ever torn apart every drawer in the house looking for a pen that works, you could always make your own ink. It’s actually pretty easy, and even Martha Stewart weighs in with her version. Now all you have to do is find a turkey quill in one of those drawers to dip into your ink.
- Natural Ink Colors (More inks from nature complements of Martha Stewart)
12. Toilet Paper
If there’s one thing the Covid pandemic taught us, it’s that people panic at the thought of a life without toilet paper. The next time there’s a run on the rolls, you’ll be ready with these varying approaches and ideas about the precious tissue.
- How to Make Toilet Paper (From recycled paper to wood pulp you can make a pretty close toilet paper)
- Toilet Paper Alternatives (When in doubt, think like a bear in the woods and you’ll easily begin to understand all of your toilet paper options.
- Ways to Wipe Your Butt When the Toilet Paper is Gone (Not to be outdone, here are more ideas about a daily natural ritual)
This Stuff is Worth Knowing
It doesn’t have to be a natural disaster that turns us towards improvised pioneer solutions for basic household goods. The way prices are going up on everything, it might be worth a bit of time to try some of these ideas even, if it’s just to save a little money.
You may even find your homemade alternatives are better than what you’ve been buying at the store. Even if they’re only “just as good” it’s a good bet your home-brewed alternatives will be a whole lot cheaper.
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