Natural, Healthy Living

Cost Effective DIYs That Really Work

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This post contains math and numbers where I show cost analysis and comparison of four products you may use at home. Don’t worry, I do all the math for you.

Let’s be honest, DIY community – do-it-yourself projects are not always cost effective. We do them because we love it, not necessarily because they provide a cheaper alternative to store-bought products. And this is true across the board: sewing projects, building shelves, paintings, beauty products.

The thing is, even though I LOVE DIY, I have to be extra aware of finances. We are saving for a house so every penny counts, meaning that if I have to buy a product instead of make it to save money, that’s what I have to do right now. But I’ve gotten really good at creating cost-effective products at home that really work.

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All comparison prices are from Wal-Mart’s website.

Homemade Dishwasher Powder

First, let’s look at a couple store-bought options for dishwasher powder. (I’ll be really honest here, after seeing what some teens are doing, the idea of having any washing pods in the house is scary.) Cascade Complete sells for $5.97/75 oz ($.08/oz) and Seventh Generation sells for $6.49/75 oz ($.09/oz). Not bad prices, especially when you think that Seventh Generation offers a cleaner alternative.

The dishwasher powder I’ve put together works great, uses only three ingredients, and is incredibly easy to put together.

  • 4 Tbsp Borax powder [$4.47/65 oz ($.07/oz)]
  • 4 Tbsp Baking soda [$2.24/64 oz ($.035/oz)]

Now, a little math. 1 Tbsp, according to Google, is approximately .5 oz. So, check it out.

4T X .5 = 2 oz Borax & 2 oz Baking soda

Borax powder = 2 oz X $.07 = $.14
Baking soda = 2 oz X $.035 = $.07
For 4 ounces of powder = $.21 or $.05/oz

And not only is it cheaper, you’re using natural ingredients instead of synthetics. Need to boost the rinse cycle? Fill the little pocket with vinegar to help dissolve any powder residue and give your dishes some extra shine when they come out.

Gentle Facial Scrub

The thing with store-bought facial scrubs is a lot of them have microbeads which are made of plastic. These are bad because they get into our water systems, and eventually are eaten by fish, which gets into our food sources – just bad all around. But making a gentle scrub at home is so simple because it uses things you (most likely) already have at home. I’ll give two versions. First, our store options: St. Ives Fresh Scrub is available for $3.63/6 oz ($.61/oz) and Clean & Clear Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub costs $4.47/5 oz ($.89/oz). Wow, I’ve never looked at the price/oz of any beauty products.

Each of the scrubs I use at home use only 3 ingredients, plus a couple drops of water or oil to aid in spreading.

Scrub 1

  • 1/2 tsp Coffee grounds [$6.38/24.2 oz ($.27/oz)] (can use the ones you made your morning coffee from)
  • 1/2 tsp Brown sugar [$6.96/2 lb ($.05/oz)]
  • 1/2 tsp Honey [$11.68/48 oz ($.27/oz)]
  • Enough water/oil to make it spreadable

Math again! This one is a little harder, because 1/2 tsp of anything powder weighs so little, but here we go:

1/2 tsp = ~.0833 oz
Coffee grounds = .0833 oz X $.27 = $.02
Brown sugar = .0833 oz X $.05 = $.004
Honey = .0833 oz X $.27 = $.02
For one use scrub = ~$0.05
For ~60 uses, around 5 ounces = $3

Scrub 2

  • 1/2 tsp ground oatmeal [$2.68/18 oz ($.15/oz)]
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable oil (I’ll price olive oil) [$2.56/17 oz ($.16/oz)]

I know not everyone has coffee or grounds at home. As a Mormon, I usually wouldn’t, but I bought some for the two specific non-drinking reasons – to use in body care products, and to sprinkle around some of my plants. You can really use any vegetable oil you have on hand, some great ones for skin care, though, are olive oil and jojoba oil. Or check out my previous post about skin care oils and to get your own workbook to know which oils work best for your skin.

On to the math again!

Ground oats = .0833 oz X $.15 = $.01
Olive oil = .0833 oz X $.16 = $.01
For one use scrub = ~$.02
For ~60 uses, around 5 ounces = $1.20


This is not something I use often, but I know that a lot of women do. This natural replacement eliminates the need for aerosols (hooray for the environment!) and uses only two ingredients. And it really works! I honestly have better luck using this natural hairspray than I ever had using the strongest aerosol spray. Weird, right? For comparison, Suave Non-Aerosol costs $2.94/11 oz ($.27/oz) and Aussie Mega Aerosol is available for $3.74/17 oz ($.22/oz). Mine?

  • 4 oz Water [Free]
  • 1 Tbsp sugar [$7.92/4 lb ($.03/oz)]

Fill your spray bottle with warm water (helps the sugar dissolve easier), add sugar, shake and use.

Ready for some easy math? Remember, 1 tablespoon weighs about .5 oz.

Sugar = .5 oz X $.03 = $.02
For 4 oz spray = $.02
For 16 oz spray = $.08

Seriously, give it a try. You may be surprised at the results.

Moisturizing Facial Serum

This is another recipe I offer in my free workbook. It’s important to know the best oils for your skin type, but this recipe will work for a majority of people. When looking at store-bought options, it’s hard to find a good moisturizer (at least in my experience) without paying an unseemly amount of money per ounce. Let’s look at one that’s more expensive and one a little more affordable. Olay Complete moisturizer is available at $8.84/6 oz ($1.47/oz) or CeraVe PM lotion is $10.94/3 oz ($3.65/oz). And as you get more specialized creams/serums, you’ll just keep climbing the price scale.

But you can make your own, personalized and specialized, for your needs and scent preferences.

  • 1 oz Sweet Almond oil [$11.58/16 oz ($.72/oz)
  • 6 drops (1% dilution) Geranium essential oil [$11.84/1 oz ($.02/drop)]

Math time!

Sweet Almond oil = $.72
Geranium = 6 X $.02 = $.12
1 oz bottle = $.84
6 oz comparison = $5.04

When making your own facial serum, you’ll have to weight cost versus effectiveness. Carrier and essential oils vary widely in price, depending on how difficult it is to extract the oils from the plant part, so it may not be entirely cost effective to make your own. But when you do, you are able to use all-natural ingredients that you know are safe, and you’ll be able to choose ingredients designed specifically to help balance your skin.


I hope all those calculations and comparisons were easy to follow. I just really wanted to show you that making your own products, using plant-based ingredients can be both cost-effective and more effective overall. Being able to create your own recipes (or follow someone else’s) gives you more control over your body and your living space.

DIY is scary and can be time-consuming. But give these recipes a try. They take less than 5 minutes to put together once every couple weeks, with ingredients you more than likely have at home anyway. When you do, come back and let me know how it goes. Did you notice a difference? Do you like your DIY version better? I can’t wait to hear about it.


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