Save money by making these common household items yourself

It’s easy to pop to the supermarket and buy a whole bunch of plastic-wrapped, expensive items that have been manufactured who knows where. But, when you know how, it’s just as easy to make these common household items, and you could save yourself some money in the process.

Dog treats

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (cooked and cooled)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup gelatine powder (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (or bacon grease)
  • 1 egg
  • 1-2 tablespoons water


Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

Combine all ingredients and mix until well incorporated. If needed, add a little extra coconut flour to get a dough that is slightly thinner than Play Dough.

Form into 2.5cm balls and flatten with your hand.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until slightly browned on the edges.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely before removing.

Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for several weeks or freeze for several months.

Hair masks
There’s a DIY hair mask for everything from reducing split ends to helping your hair grow.

If you’re prone to greasy hair, an egg mask can work wonders as egg whites have protein enzymes that help remove excess oil.

Smooth one egg white and the juice from half a lemon over your hair, from roots to ends. Leave on for 30 minutes to one hour then rinse with lukewarm water.

Laundry detergent
There are mixed reviews on making your own laundry detergent and even more ‘recipes’ out there.

Sustainability site offers a simple one:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 2 cups washing soda
  • 1.5 cups grated Castile soap
  • 30 drops of lavender, lemon, or grapefruit essential oil (optional).

But do your research before deciding on whether this is right for you.

Read more: How often should you wash towels, bras?

Dishwasher detergent
Here’s a way to slash the cost of dishwasher detergent: make it yourself.

Erin Huffstetler, the blogger behind My Frugal Home, says it takes a few minutes to mix together washing soda, kosher salt, baking soda and lemon juice and then portion it into moulds.

Ms Huffstetler says it’s a simple process – and well worth a few minutes of your time.

Paper towels
Instead of buying one-use paper towels, keep old T-shirts or other worn-out cotton clothing and cut them into squares to use as cloths and rags.

Most of the time, they can be washed and reused but if the spill is particularly sticky, probably best to throw the square away.

Tip: when cutting up a worn-out collar shirt, save the buttons for future clothing repairs.

Fabric freshener
If you need to freshen a pillow, a throw blanket, or an old pair of shoes, this fabric freshener spray will quickly replace the one you’ve been buying, and probably become a new favourite. The chemicals and artificial fragrance in traditional fabric sprays can be toxic, and they’re often more expensive than this DIY option.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vodka (or rubbing alcohol)
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil

Add all ingredients to a spray bottle and shake to combine. Go ahead and spritz your curtains, sofa, dog bed, rug, gym bag or anything else that smells a bit off.

Read more: Fragrances in cleaning products and air fresheners making us sick

Litter box deodoriser
Have you ever walked into a house and known immediately that a cat lives there? A trick to keeping smells contained is to line the bottom of the litter tray with a thin layer of baking soda before filling it with litter.

Every week or so, you should be emptying the box entirely, scraping off any dried litter and scrubbing the whole thing with hot water. Then fill it with hot water and mix in one teaspoon of chlorine bleach, leave for five minutes, empty and give it a good rinse.

Hard-water stain remover
Mineral-saturated water can make some really ugly stains on bathroom porcelain, but white vinegar can come to the rescue.

The process couldn’t be simpler; apply vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes, scrub then rinse.

If it’s a toilet, turn off the water supply and flush until the bowl is mostly drained, then pour in a lot of vinegar and start scrubbing after a few minutes.

Pizza dough
A store-bought pizza base can be as much as $3 for one, often more. Yet you can make a large batch of dough for half that price, roll out the bases and freeze them so you always have dinner on hand. Another plus is that homemade pizza can be tailored to your taste.

Read more: Neapolitan-style pizza

Taco seasoning
It can be tempting to pick up the little sachet of taco seasoning for a few dollars, but you can whip it up with nine common spices.

  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

What do you make from scratch? Have you had success with homemade laundry detergent? Share your recipes and tips with our members in the comments section below.

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Written by Ellie Baxter