Before I dive into a DIY project, I like to consider a few things. Do I have the ingredients on hand? If not, is it imperative that I buy the ones I’m missing, or can I just substitute what I do have? Am I going to use this all by myself or will I be able to give some away? How am I going to store this project?
Admittedly, I used to only consider the first two questions, but over time, I’ve learned just how important it is to think about what you’ll do with the finished product before you even begin.
Here are a few tips I’ve picked up when it comes to storing your DIY projects:
1. Use Glass
I love glass, especially canning jars of all kinds. They’re inexpensive (especially when you find them used), reusable, decorative and you don’t have to worry about harmful chemicals leaching into your items.
2. Reuse When Possible
I’m all for reusing whenever possible. Many of my DIY projects are stored in canning jars of all sizes, purchased used or given to me. I’ve also reused olive oil bottles and other containers that I thought were pretty or interesting.
I am so bad about labeling the things I make and tend to go by sight or smell to determine what’s in my containers. Take my advice – label! Simply marking what you’ve made will suffice, but you can also add ingredients, the recipe or directions for use. (Find labels here or here.)
4. Note a Best Used By Date
If you’re making something perishable, it’s a good idea to also note a “best used by” date. Dried herbs are best when used within a year, so is homemade sunscreen. Some items last less time, so make sure you write down when to use it on the container, or keep a master list somewhere with use by dates.
5. Store in a Cool, Dark, Dry Place
Many items I make on a regular basis contain ingredients that shouldn’t be exposed to a lot of light, or that will melt or spoil in warm temperatures. Typically, storing whatever you make in a cool, dark, dry place will extend the shelf life and inhibit mold and bacteria growth. Storing things in cobalt or amber glass or in the refrigerator will also help.
6. Choose the Appropriate Container
I made this mistake recently with homemade deodorant for sensitive skin. I poured the mixture into a small canning jar and put it in my bathroom for later use. Now, I have a hard time scooping it out to use it.
I should have poured it into a muffin tin or some other kind of mold or empty deodorant container to make it easier to use. Now, I need to melt it down again and transfer to something else so it gets used. Plan ahead!
7. Decide on Bulk or Individual Containers
Some items, like homemade laundry detergent and herbal tea for cramps, get stored in bulk in a jar. Others, like homemade lotion and arnica balm are split up into a few smaller containers, even though they could be stored in a bigger jar.
Decide ahead of time when possible so you don’t have more work to do later.
8. Inspect for Holes and Cracks Before Using a Container
I’ve made the mistake more than once of not checking for holes or cracks before pouring something into a container. There’s not much more frustrating than carefully creating something and then watching it run all over your table when it’s time to put it away. Often, just looking it over quickly can prevent this from happening.
This isn’t terribly important, but it sure looks Pinteresting. Use similar containers for your bath and body items, like small decorative glass jars. For cleaners, try canning jars and glass spray bottles (using old glass vinegar bottles). Try dark amber bottles for herbal remedies and essential oil blends.
10. Keep Travel in Mind
While I love all things glass for storing my projects, I have to be aware of the risk of breaking when I travel. Often, I’ll store items in smaller glass containers that I can protect while traveling.
Some of you may want to opt for plastic or other non-breakable containers. When I do choose to package in plastic for travel, I try to reuse another container (my fractionated coconut oil bottle makes a great travel bottle for homemade body wash).
11. Choose Giftable Containers
Often, a DIY recipe will yield a pretty good amount of whatever it is you’re making. If you’ve decided to store items in individual containers, put some in giftable jars, tins or whatnot. Many natural DIY projects make excellent gifts.
12. Shop Smart
Sometimes it’s tempting to see the first item you need and buy it right then. However, every time I’ve done this, I’ve found the exact same thing, somewhere else, at a smaller price. With jars and other containers, you can comparison shop online or in local stores.
My favorite place to keep an eye out is at thrift shops. I ask others to be aware, too. Recently, my sister-in-law called me to let me know she’d found several pop-top amber bottles for homemade beer or soda at a great price. They were on my, “when I find them at the right price” list, so I had her pick them up. This happens all the time.
What tips can you share for storing DIY projects?