I have more great recipes like this I will add to the blog separately but these are great basic ones , perfect for when you’re just beginning to make your own cleaning and personal care products. I’m also working on putting together a print zine , due out the end of this summer.
SNAP allowances can only be used to purchase items that are for human consumption (with the exception of alcohol,of course). You can’t buy shampoo,deodorant, toothpaste, toilet bowl cleaner or laundry detergent with food stamps. Basically, if you can’t put it in your belly, you can’t use food stamps to buy it.
You know what you CAN buy with food stamps,though? Vinegar & baking soda. These 2 items can be used to make a gazillion things to clean your house, your things and parts of your self with and they’re both inexpensive. I’ve been asked countless times for tips on how to score great deals on cleaning and personal care items or how to find the best coupons for such things and my answer is always ,”Don’t buy -DIY.”
You can also use food stamps to buy corn starch,lemon juice,oranges …and a few other ingredients you can use to make all-natural, frugal cleansers that actually work. One thing I have learned about being dirt poor is that the things that are most economically advantageous are also the most environmentally friendly, while also being non-toxic . It’s a nice incidental bonus.
In this post, I’ll cover all the things you can make yourself with vinegar, baking soda and a few other items purchased with food stamps.
Kitchen & Bathroom Cleansers
Vinegar alone will clean and disinfect all your surfaces, including cutting boards. It naturally kills bacteria,molds and mildews. Also, wiping your counter tops with vinegar on a cloth deters ants, so that’s an added bonus. To remove stains (especially tea and coffee) from dishes and counters, add a tsp of salt to the vinegar.
On linoleum floors, 1/2 of vinegar in a gallon of warm water is a great floor shine,too
Both vinegar and baking soda, together or separately, removes odors from pretty much everything. Use them together as a drain cleaner.
You can also make a Citrus Scented Cleanser by places orange peels in a quart jar of vinegar. Let it sit for 2 weeks, then fill a spray bottle with half water and half the vinegar-orange solution. It works to clean every surface, with that fresh, lemony scent.
My vinegar-orange peel mixture,brewing
You can use baking soda to make a Soft Scrub -like cleanser. Just put baking soda in a dish and add water to make a paste. you can also add a bit of liquid dish soap to it. It works great on stovetops, ovens, scouring countertops and cleaning the sink.You can also use the same pasty mixture to clean your cast iron pans and enamelware.
To clean toilets, just baking soda let to soak is supposed to do a good job. I never get to find out exactly how well any toilet bowl cleaner works . The minute I put any sort of cleanser in the toilet, someone has to go pee, even if I just made the announcement, “I’m getting ready to clean the toilet! If you have to go, go NOW!” Those kids need to learn how to put a cork or tie a not in it,seriously.
Now, I have also heard that Tang and Coke both work well as a toilet bowl cleansers but I’ve never tried it. You can buy both of those with food stamps. I don’t suggest drinking either one of them, especially if it does such a great job at cleaning toilets. It does amuse me to think of buying soda to use for cleaning with all the talk lately of not allowing food stamp recipient to use SNAP to buy soda . “But…but…I need it to clean my toilet!”. If anyone has tried either Tang or soda to clean their toilet, tell me if it really does work.
Like I said, baking soda and vinegar removes odors really well. When I have stinky towels or rags (we’re a paper-free household so especially the rags because you know…they sop up milk and crap like that) ,I let them soak in the washer with about 1/2 cup of baking soda. Then add some of my homemade laundry detergent to run the rest of the wash cycle. During the rinse cycle, I’ll add about 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar is a great rinse and softens clothes,too. A lot of people are skeptical of this and are worried their clothes will smell like vinegar but trust me…no vinegar smell is left at all.
The same technique also works for cloth diapers,too.
You can also make smelly fabric softener:
6 Cups Water
2 Cups Hair Conditioner (You can use any kind, I did have the Suave Rosemary Mint on hand so I used that.)
3 Cups White Vinegar
Although you can’t buy hair conditioner with food stamps, you can buy the really super cheap Suave conditioner for less than a dollar. The scent left behind is just a whiff…not overpowering like many of the store bought fabric softeners are. You don’t have to add it to the rinse cycle – you can instead soak a washcloth in it and throw it in the dryer , like a dryer sheet.
This recipe from Sustainable Utopia can be made entirely will ingredients you can purchase on food stamps. It’s simply:
- Coconut Oil, any brand
- Baking Soda
Follow the pictorial here
for complete instructions.
My Grandma used to use just corn starch as a deodorant. She used a powder puff to apply it. I don’t remember her ever being smelly so it must have worked ok.
I rarely use shampoo. Instead, I’ll use baking soda to clean, apple cider vinegar to rinse. The times I’ll use a tiny dab of shampoo is when I’ve been doing something sweaty and dirty like gardening and feel the need to have a little something extra. Otherwise, baking soda and vinegar is all you really need.
The practice of not using shampoo has become known as No Poo , which kind of weirds me out. It’s also a little inconvenient to have to exlain that you’re referring to shampoo and not poo poo. Whatever you’d like to call it, it’s exactly what it sounds like : Not using shampoo to wash your hair.
I haven’t been able to convince anyone else in my household to be shampoo-free but it works for me. The first week of shampoo detox is AWFUL. Just plain and simple ew. When you use shampoo, it strips all the essential oils your hair has naturally. Quit using shampoo and your body makes more oil to compensate. I promise, after the first week when things are more balanced out, it’s all good. Make it through the first week and you’re golden. You still clean your hair, you’re just not using shampoo anymore.
Here’s more on how to go Shampoo Free , including how to get it right for frizz-free curly hair:
Or if you’re no so into the No Poo scene, consider some Hair Smoothies for conditioning:
More on Hair Smoothies…
A simple baking soda & water paste is completely effective as a tooth paste but if you’re not that crazy about the sound of that (it doesn’t taste that great), this is a great recipe from One Good Thing by Jillee
. Remember that coconut oil i mentioned back when I was talking about deodorant? You can use that for this.
3 Tbsp coconut oil
3 Tbsp baking soda
25 drops peppermint essential oil
1 packet stevia
2 tsp vegetable glycerin (optional)
Put the coconut oil and baking soda in a bowl and mash up with a fork until blended. Add the peppermint essential oil, stevia and optional vegetable glycerin and continue to mash and stir until you’ve reached toothpaste consistency.