The Small Things I Do Frugally

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I haven’t purchased laundry detergent from the store in over a year. I make my own liquid detergent, and I’m still using the first batch I ever made. It cleans my clothes very well. You only need a few ingredients, and they’re not too expensive. I found all of mine in the laundry detergent aisle of Walmart. You’ll also need a 5-gallon bucket with a lid. You might be able to get one free from a bakery if you ask. I think they get some of their ingredients in them. To make the soap you’ll need:

  • 1 bar of Fels Naptha soap
  • 1 cup of powdered Mule Team Borax
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (not washing powder or baking soda, but washing soda)

You grate up the bar of Fels Naptha soap with a cheese grater, and put it in a pan with two quarts of water. Put on the stove, and gently bring the heat up. You will stir constantly until the grated up soap is completely dissolved.

Fill your 5-gallon bucket up with about 4.5 gallons of hot water. You will pour in the borax, and then the washing soda, and stir until the powders are completely dissolved. Then add the melted soap into the bucket, and mix the laundry detergent well. We use a long piece of wood to stir up the detergent. Make sure your bucket has a tight fitting cover.

We use a funnel to fill an old laundry detergent bottle, so we don’t have to store the whole bucket in the laundry room. Each load of laundry takes 1/2 to 1 cup of detergent. If you want to add some scent, then you can add a few drops of essential oils.

I don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets. I have wool dryer balls that I put lavender essential oil on to throw in with the laundry as it dries. I still experience some static, but the fewer chemicals I put onto my clothes the better.

Handmade Gifts

One of the things I like to do to try to save money, especially during Christmas is to make gifts. Every year I try to do a few homemade things.

A couple years ago I made a “Gardener’s Hand Scrub”. It was simply Dawn dishwashing liquid that had Oil of Olay in it. It was a pretty light pink color. I added regular sugar to the soap, and put it into small canning jars. I tied jute twine around the neck of the jar.

Last year I made Lavender Sea Salt Scrub. I used table salt, pink Himalayan sea salt, Epsom salt, and a couple drops of lavender essential oil. I put these in the same small-size Mason jar.

Loom knitting is something I’ve been doing at leisure for close to 10 years now. I make loom knitted hats. I’ve made them from newborn to adult size. I’m hoping to expand on my skills as time goes on. I haven’t really tried hard to do much in the past. I have some nice looms that I’d like to make flat pieces on. I’m going to start out with cotton thread washcloths/scrubbies. I may make a couple things this year for gifts if I give myself enough time.

Something that I’m making this year for gifts is homemade vanilla extract. I bought 1/4 a pound of vanilla beans online, and then purchased 1 liter of vodka. A few weeks ago, I split the vanilla beans in half, and stuck them all down in the vodka. I put it in the pantry where’s it’s nice and dark. Every few days or so I shake the bottle. When it gets close to Christmas I’ll buy some dark colored bottles, and pour the vanilla thru some cheesecloth to filter out everything but the pure liquid.

I will be posting some of my favorite homemade gift ideas to my Pinterest account.


Most of the lights in our house are LED, and the rest are CFL. We’re trying to make the switch to all LED bulbs. We got a good deal on some regular socket size LEDs, but the bulbs in the ceiling fans are a little more expensive. It is something we’re looking to buy over time. We have four sockets for fan in the living room and in the bedroom. Right now we only use two of the sockets, and have CFL bulbs in them. If we can get away with two bulbs in each room, that would be nice.

I’ll be adding more to the list of things were doing as I think of them.


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