Back to Basics with Homemade Household Products

Here’s something to put up on your refrigerator door: a chart showing 72 practical uses of common “core” ingredients that make up our (far more expensive) store-bought soaps, lotions and surface cleaners. The idea is that all of the countless “new and improved!” drugstore potions lining our cabinet shelves are really just permutations of six or seven simple active components with a heap of unneeded scent, color, and potential toxins thrown into the mix. You’ve got your alkali, your acid, your emollient, your abrasive and your lubricant—combine a couple and you’ve got yourself a functional household or beauty product.

While we’re not quite as ascetic and bare-bones as the folks who wrote up this reference sheet seem to be (we love ourselves a good store-bought gadget, nice-smelling cream or miracle cleansing product), it would be an excellent and thrifty experiment to whip up a few items at home. Sneak in a few more basic ingredients from the kitchen—sea salt and brown sugar, and maybe an essential oil or two—and, combined with cold-pressed coconut oil, you’ve got yourself a marvelous face and body scrub.

Meanwhile, there’s our ever trusty epsom salt + lavendar oil aromatherapy bath, with other ingredients we consider essential!

Tara Mann

Tara Mann

What concoctions can you think up, using only the items on this chart?


Sinnae Choi via GreenMed

4 Responses to Back to Basics with Homemade Household Products

  1. Sandy Shaner 07.31.2014 at 1:38pm #

    I never cease to be thrilled by the combo of baking soda & vinegar to clean drains. I’m like a little kid pouring in a glump of baking soda followed by a glug or two of vinegar (cheapest possible) and watching the volcano bubble & snort. More vinegar if not all the baking soda has dissolved followed by a pot of boiling water at the end. So much fun!

  2. Sally 07.31.2014 at 3:27pm #

    What a great description of that strange and satisfying delight! Definite volcano that WORKS! thanks.

  3. dr 07.31.2014 at 6:22pm #

    Do you think you can post a link of just the chart? I would love to print it, but can’t enlarge it as it currently is, embedded in the post.

    Thanks so much!

  4. Sally 08.02.2014 at 3:37pm #

    The link to the chart is at the bottom of the chart and HERE.

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