First, I am a stay-at-home Mama (a wonderful dream come true!!!!) and the only money I can make right now is the money that I save. Someday I'd love to be a holistic family care provider and help my husband make money, but for now, I hardly ever get the dishes done so I figure I'd better not add anything to my plate :) So I've taken it upon myself to search high and low for cheap ways of doing things.
Secondly, once I became a Mama, I became super protective of the things that my children (and myself, since I always seem to be either breastfeeding or pregnant :) come in contact with. If my 409 kills a fly with just a squirt, (yes, that used to be my very favorite way of killing a fly :) is it really that safe for my toddler if I use it to wipe off my table? And my toddler wants to "help" Mama do EVERYTHING! So when she begs to scrub the tub with me, do I want her inhaling 409 fumes? Absolutely not! So I've changed my ways a bit and thought I'd share with you.
But first, I have to mention how I change my ways. Because I'm lazy. There, I've said it. Even if I have all the ingredients to make my own wipes for my baby, and I know it will save me money and be better for my baby's bum, I'm not going to take the 2 minutes to mix them together if I have some store-bought wipes staring at my face. Because I'm lazy. Same thing with baby food -- if I have a jar that my MIL gave me, I give my baby that instead of taking the extra seconds to smash up a banana. It's ridiculous. And I can't tell you how long I had the gallon of vinegar in my cupboard before I finally put some in a spray bottle and tried it out :) So I have to force myself to try out my natural solutions by refusing to buy the store bought kind. Because then I don't have any other option! And guess what? I'm always so glad that I did!
So here are my favorites in no particular order:
1. I brush my teeth with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide -- I wet my toothbrush, dip it in the baking soda (which I keep in a shallow Tupperware), and squirt a little hydrogen peroxide on it. No, it doesn't taste as good as that minty toothpaste, but it isn't horrible, either. And get this -- I used to get sores in my mouth all the time when I was stressed out or bit my lip. But I haven't gotten a single one since I started this brushing technique! I've definitely bitten my lip several times and I've probably been stressed some, too, but I think the hydrogen peroxide helps heal my mouth. I actually started this method to avoid the fluoride in most toothpaste and the big price tag on the "natural" ones that don't contain fluoride. You won't find much cheaper than a couple drops of hydrogen peroxide and a dip of baking soda :) I stopped this method for a short time when my morning sickness was so bad and the mint flavor of the store-bought kind seemed to help. But guess what? I started getting sores in my mouth again if I bit my lip! So now I'm pretty set in my hydrogen peroxide/ baking soda ways :)
2. I cleanse my face with olive oil and moisturize with coconut oil. I know you might think that the oil would make my face break out, but it doesn't. I have always had dry skin and had to use tons of lotion after washing with even a super gentle soap. But now I just rub olive oil on my skin, wipe with a warm, moist cloth, and then moisturize with a little bit of coconut oil. And my face has felt so much better! I have saved so much money since I don't have to buy all that expensive face wash and moisturizer! I've read that a lot of people add in a little bit of castor oil to the olive oil for more help with acne, but I haven't tried it myself. Another one of my friends adds some plain, white sugar to the olive oil for a natural facial scrub in the morning. And I've read that if you have oily skin, you should use a mixture of oats and honey as a cleanser, but it sounds a little too messy for me. I can only vouch for the olive oil :)
3. I clean everything with a spray bottle of half vinegar- half water or a water solution with several drops of tea tree oil in it. If I REALLY want a deep clean, I will spray hydrogen peroxide on top of the vinegar before wiping, but most of the time, I just use the vinegar. No, I do not like the smell of vinegar, but it goes away in about 15 minutes. And I also flavor my vinegar by letting orange peels soak in it for a couple of months, so it doesn't smell quite as badly :) You can also put drops of your favorite essential oil in the solution to help it smell better. Commercial all-purpose cleaners are about 20-30 cents per ounce. My vinegar solution costs about 2 cents an ounce and is perfectly safe for my kids! For scrubbing my tub or anything that needs a little more "oomph," I will sprinkle some baking soda down first and then spray the vinegar.
4. Washing clothes -- I used to use this recipe for my own laundry detergent and I still highly recommend it. It is very inexpensive and easy. However, although it is far better for your skin than commercial laundry detergent, I'm not a huge fan of the borax. So when I heard about Soap Nuts, I decided to give them a try because they are every bit as cheap but a lot more natural. I've used them for the past year and have been very pleased. They work great for cloth diapers, as well. If you are interested in comparing natural laundry detergents, Lindsay wrote THIS fabulous post on the topic that I highly recommend.
5. Drying clothes -- I don't use dryer sheets anymore. Instead, I use dryer balls that I found at the dollar store. Yep, I only paid one buckaroo for the pair and I've saved tons of money. You might not be lucky enough to find them for a dollar, but even a $5 pair will have paid for itself in a month or two! Better yet, MAKE YOUR OWN wool dryer balls, which are even better for your clothes!
6. My favorite panacea: Coconut Oil! I use it for almost everything! I absolutely love to cook with it, but it is good for so much more! It is naturally anti-viral and antibacterial and works for just about anything having to do with your skin. Awesome stuff and I love the way it smells! I use it instead of face lotion, baby lotion, diaper rash ointment, hair gel, neosporin, chapstick, Lanolin, and so much more! You might think that it is expensive, but in reality, you need such a little bit at a time that it ends up being a much better deal. And it is ever so much better for you than those lotions and medicines with a ton of chemicals in them! Honestly, my skin has never been healthier. You just have to make sure you get the high quality, extra virgin, cold pressed kind.
7. Home-made wipes solution: Since I use cloth diapers, it really isn't any trouble to throw in some wipes with my dirty load. I use a bunch of extra baby washcloths because we received more than we needed at our showers with my first baby. I don't really measure my solution any more, but this is what I estimate that I do: Pour about a cup of water in a tupperware; add about a drop of tee tree oil and a few drops of olive oil. Shake well. Then I just dip my washcloth in it before I wipe her bum. So easy! You could also use disposable paper towels if you don't do cloth diapers. It is still a lot cheaper and so much better for your baby than all the chemicals in wipes! And a lot of people just use plain water to wipe with, which would obviously be the very least expensive :)
8. I use Everyday Minerals make-up -- They only use natural minerals and essential ingredients -- no chemicals! It has worked fine for me and isn't too expensive, either.
9. I make my own shampoo -- 1 part coconut milk to 2 parts castile soup -- my review and description can be found HERE
10. I make my own lotion -- While I still use coconut oil for EVERYTHING, I found that it wasn't quite enough to moisturize my dry skin during the winter. So I came up with my own home-made lotion. Now I use it for my face, to keep stretch marks off my humongous preggo belly, and everywhere else. And I can't wait for Abbi Grace to get here because I'm going to smear it all over her tiny body as well. I love it because the ingredients are natural enough to eat. (And I did (by mistake); I licked the spoon out of habit after stirring it in my pot :)
There are a number of oils you can choose from in making your own lotion; these just happened to be the ones I had on hand: coconut oil, almond oil, shea butter, and cocoa butter. You definitely want to use coconut oil because of all the antibacterial, healing properties, and the shea butter is very important as well, because it makes the lotion more thick, rather than just a thin coating of oil. Cocoa butter is a pain because it is so hard, but I wanted to use it since I had it and I do think it helped the consistency of the lotion.
I have no recipe; I just dropped spoonfuls of each of them into my pot on the stove and left it on low for a while till I could stir it up together. (You definitely want to keep the temperature on low so that you don't destroy all the healing and nourishing qualities of the ingredients!) Then I set it out on the counter to cool and finished by putting it in the fridge for a while to solidify. I've done it a several times now without measuring and it always turns out a little differently, but it always works. And my skin has never been happier! I clean my face with olive oil and then put this concoction on it and it just feels so good!
*If you are one who likes to measure and prefers a more precise recipe, you could try out THIS one orTHIS one.
11. I started making home-made deodorant. This is probably one of my biggest money-savers because I made just a small amount about 6 months ago and I still have a ton!! I used Lindsay's recipe and it works fine for me. I do believe your body goes through a little change as it gets used to not having the chemicals of store-bought deodorant because I needed a lot when I first started but now only a tiny bit will work just fine.