I’ve always had an interest in making things myself. It started when I was a young teen and purchased a natural beauty book full of simple recipes I could whip up. Making these recipes was fun and challenging and allowed me to take creative license.

Reasons to DIY

When my husband and I decided that it would be best for me to stay at home, I turned to making things myself to lower our budget. What I discovered was that I still love making things for myself and not just because it saves us money. There are many reasons to do-it-yourself. Here are my favorites.

Matt’s note: Get started by using any of our free archived recipes, or by investing in our homemade household cleaners guide (so you can make ALL your own household cleaners, naturally.)

Savings

Chances are, saving money has something to do with your decision to adopt a DIY lifestyle. Even if it’s just a little bit. And that’s ok. Homemade items (usually) are much more cost-effective than store-bought items. Let’s take homemade shampoo, for example, which costs less than $.10 an ounce to make if you buy your baking soda in bulk. Not a bad price to pay for beautiful, healthy-looking hair.

The same goes for other handmade items. Even if you shell out more for ingredients than you would for the finished product, you’ll usually end up with more than you need. I’m thinking of herbal ointments here.

It will cost you more than one jar of said ointment to make your own. But. You will end up with several jars, meaning you can a) stockpile, b) give them as gifts, or c) sell them. Cha ching! That’s the sound of more money your pocket.

More value/quality

Hand-crafted items are usually synonymous with quality. Why? Because of the attention to detail that goes into each item. If something is wrong, it’s either corrected or begun again. The end product might not be perfect, but it’s probably pretty close. (Assuming that the crafter has been at this for a while. We shall not speak of the pair of pants I tried to make that one time…). Hence the high value associated with it. This quality also means it will last longer.

Side business

Because there is such high value associated with handmade items, you could even turn your love of making things into a small business and charge a nice price for it. Herbal ointments and laundry detergent can even be sold if they work well and smell nice.

When I buy ingredients for homemade items I usually buy them in bulk to save even more money, meaning I can make much more than I need. Why not sell the rest? Can you think of other people who would love quality, natural handmade items? I know I can.

Great gifts

If you don’t want to sell the extras, you could consider giving them as gifts. A few years ago, I discovered Advent Conspiracy, a call to make Christmas more meaningful. Its slogan, spend less, give more, greatly appealed to me. They advocate spending more time with family, creating meaningful traditions and giving handmade gifts.

The possibilities are endless with homemade gifts – food, crafts, creative kits. They can be as simple as a bag of white chip chocolate cookies (a family favorite) or a bottle of vanilla extract. Or they can be as extravagant as you want.

This year I’m planning on giving simply: scented laundry detergents, cookies, sore muscle salve, hand creams and maybe even a bottle of homemade ale. Hmmm, those gifts might not get any further than my own kitchen. 😉 Of course, these gifts can be given year round, but the holidays are getting closer…

Health

One reason that I enjoy making things myself is because of the way I feel after using my homemade items. Not emotionally, but physically. I have a very, very sensitive body that reacts to things like shampoos, detergents, gluten, dairy, sugar, the list goes on.

Using common ingredients that haven’t been manufactured in a lab saves me from unpleasant reactions. I’ve also noticed that the eczema my kids used to experience is gone. I love knowing exactly what is in the items I use and knowing that the ingredients aren’t toxic.

Unleash creativity

Have you ever reluctantly begun a creative project, thinking that you weren’t creative enough only to immediately start another one because your head was swimming with ideas?

That’s exactly what I experienced last Christmas when I made every single gift by hand. By the time I was done with my projects I was tired, but I had more ideas than ever before for things that I wanted to make.

Even with laundry detergent, I find myself getting creative with the scents I add – lavender lemon, peppermint orange, lemon lime. Creative personalization can make even the most ordinary household cleaner into something fun.

Family togetherness

Making products and doing more household projects yourself is a great way to get your family to spend time creating something useful. Children, though we know they won’t verbalize it, value quality time with adults spent learning, discovering, and making memories.

Why not plan one of our DIY projects for this weekend?

Unique

I have a penchant for one of a kind items. Knowing that I have the only one like it makes me feel special. That’s exactly why I love making and giving handmade items.

As much as you may try to make a batch of things exactly the same, chances are there will be some variations, small as they may be. We can’t help it – we aren’t machines. And that’s exactly why I love creating things myself.

Eco-friendliness

I’ve developed a fondness for this planet and I believe that it’s everyone’s responsibility to take care of it. Making things yourself is a great way to do this. Homemade goods don’t come wrapped in plastic. And they aren’t full of toxic chemicals. They also make good use of items that would otherwise be thrown away. There is a vast array of gorgeous upcycled items on etsy. You may see something there you can make yourself. 😉

Everyone has their own reasons for doing things themselves, what are yours?

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Comments

  1. As I have started to regularly keep up with this site, I have made homemade liquid laundry soap, dishwasher soap, and regular dishwashing liquid. I was already making my own facial cleanser & face creams/lotions. All have worked very well and the satisfaction of saying “yes it’s great…I made it myself” is awesome. In the last year, I have slipped up and bought face & body lotions due to lack of time to make up a batch, but I’ve really grown to prefer my own, so I will find the time, in the future. Also, I recently switched from storebought antipersperent (sorry, spelling) to plain old alcohol in a spray bottle…works great and I have found that the “wetness” is about the same as before…which means I spent years using products that were full of harmful chemicals and still didn’t work worth a flip…go figure! I just add a very small bit of some alcohol-based body spray to cut the alcohol fumes (when I use that up, I will switch to essential oils for scent instead). The idea of gifting these homemade products is great…I have a good friend with teenage triplets & a very tight budget who would appreciate not having to buy laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent or dishsoap…the conversion of the masses has begun!!!!

    • Yes! That’s great! My enthusiasm for using homemade products has definitely spread to others. Friends and family are making their own products now (and these are people who made fun of me for doing it). It’s hard to stop once you see the benefits.

  2. I love handmade arts & crafts (as an Etsy shop owner, I make jewelry & accessories, now loathe to buy these things for myself or as gifts) and the thought of trying out some handmade household products is exciting!

    As a young family with a 3 year old and one on the way, the budget-friendly and chemical-free aspects are particular bonuses, but I wouldn’t have thought of gifting handmade laundry or dish detergents. But now that I think of it, as inexpensive as some homemade laundry detergent batch is, gifting a gallon would save a friend $10-20 (and our friends are just as hard-hit by this economy as we are).

    If your friend likes it, you could always have a “hippie homemade party” and get together in an afternoon to “cook” a new batch of several household products at once–spend some quality time AND get your stockpile of household basics at once!

  3. My creative outlet has always been sewing and when my kids were young I made many of their clothes, especially after I got a serger as a gift and learned to make sweatpants and T-shirts. About 7 years ago I turned my craftiness into a little online quilt kit business to supplement our income. I have always enjoyed giving handmade gifts too. As our kids married and started their own families they were sometimes struggling to pay the bills, sometimes hit by job loss, health care expenses etc and when Christmas came around I decided that I had had it with the buying and commercialism and stress of it all. We decided that we needed to get back to what was important as a family and just cut it back to a season of sharing time together and celebrating in a non-commercial way.

    I started reading a lot about simplicity and learned to differentiate wants and needs. I learned that there is very little that I need and that I get a lot more satisfaction from spending my money on experiences rather than things. I started seeing that owning an excess of things actually costs a lot of time, money and energy to maintain and I could use that time and energy more wisely. We are nowhere near as downsized as we hope to be, but we are getting through that process.

    We are currently co-living with our daughter and 2 school age grandchildren and it occurred to me that although this is a temporary situation we needed to set out a plan so that we could all reap the most benefits of this arrangement and get oriented towards our personal goals. So I gave myself the title of Chief Home Economist (hey it sounds better than my previous title of Granny Nanny!) and took on the job of learning how to live a more sustainable self sufficient lifestyle, managing the budget and food buying, cooking, canning, and anything else DIY that I can learn to do for our family. Soap making today, and maybe we will venture into trying that money saving Greek yogurt recipe tomorrow!

    Well last week we got the shock of our life when my husband was suddenly laid off from his job, the first time in 35 years he has been unemployed. I admit that it is a bit scary, because my daughter is going to be losing her job in the next few months too. So we will be making a lot of changes and rise to the challenge of doing more for less. I think we will be ok.

  4. The main reason why I started making & buying all natural products was my food allergies & eczema/contact dermatitis. It’s amazing what cutting out the chemicals can do for your body & health!

    • Yes it is Carla! I have noticed such an improvement in my food allergies and eczema since making the switch. Glad to know you’re seeing positive effects.

  5. I learned a long time ago that the manufacturers of detergent added “optical brighteners” to them. I notice in using the front loading detergent you provided that some whites are not too white. Have you any suggestions?