Posted on June 01 2018
The other day, I ran out of foaming hand soap, but instead of reordering some on Amazon like usual, I glanced at the bottle of castile soap on the floor and said, “Why haven’t I ever thought of that before?”
I mixed a quick solution of castile soap, water, olive oil, and essential oils, and boom: saved an average of $3 per bottle.
This got me thinking: I use the same ingredients/products for almost EVERYTHING, and it’s made my life so much easier. Instead of having a separate specialty, chemical-filled product for every little purpose, I have staple ingredients that can be used across all avenues, which saves me time, money, and the headache.
Not only are these products multi-purpose, but they are cheap, toxin-free, chemical-free, and all-natural. This is especially important when trying to live a more conscious and holistic lifestyle. Here are the products I recommend keeping on deck at all times and some of their many uses:
1. CASTILE SOAP
An oil based soap, castile soap is free of synthetic detergents and animal fat. This makes it a gentle yet effective cleanser; and its simple and natural ingredients are easy on the environment.
Use as you would normal body wash, except you don’t have to use nearly as much. It’s super concentrated so a little goes a long way!
Because of the oil and glycerin content, castile soap makes a great shaving cream. Just lather it on before gliding your razor over your legs!
Foaming Hand Soap
Fill an 8 oz foaming soap bottle about ¾ full of water, then add:
- 2 tbsp Castile soap
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 5 drops tea tree for an optional antibacterial benefit
Replace the top, swish the ingredients to mix, and you’re ready to rock!
Makeup Brush Cleanser
Ladies, don’t neglect your makeup brushes. Those things harbor bacteria, dead skin, and oils that were on your face in the past. If you’re a regular makeup user, make a habit of washing your makeup brushes at least every week!
- Make sure your hands are clean to start.
- Run the brush under the sink to wet it, then squeeze a drop of castile soap on the bristles.
- Work the soap through the brush with your fingers, rinsing and reapplying soap as needed until the water runs clear.
- Shake out excess water and lay on a clean, dry towel to air-dry. Repeat with each of your brushes.
Yoga Mat Spray
Another thing you should make a habit of cleaning with heavy use. Not only do you not want it smelling like feet 24/sev, but you don’t want to regret the moment when your forehead kisses the mat during a child’s pose.
In a 8 oz dark glass spray bottle, add:
- 7 oz water
- 1 oz Castile soap
- 5 drops of tea tree oil
- 5 drops of another oil of your choice. I enjoy lemon or lavender.
Mix and spray down your mat; wipe clean and let air dry.
All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
In a spray bottle, add:
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp Castile soap
- Option to add 10-15 drops of lemon or tea tree essential oil for antibacterial properties
Spray and wipe any surface you would normally.
An age old remedy for a number of ailments, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been my holy grail since I started using it consistently 2 years ago. It has many claimed health benefits, including aiding in weight loss, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, and improving symptoms of diabetes. It also includes a variety of vitamins and minerals, making it a great ingredient to incorporate regularly.
Acid Reflux, Bloating, and Congestion Relief
I used to suffer from chronic nasalitis, and consistent ACV shots has proven the only thing that has made a difference. When I don’t take my morning ACV for a few consecutive days, I notice in increase in the inflammation in my nasal passages as well as in increase in mucus. ACV also aids in the production of stomach acid which can help to alleviate heartburn and acid reflux.
Simply mix 1-2 tsp ACV with an ounce of warm water and take on an empty stomach first things in the morning. Start with 1 tsp and work up to 2 tsp as you get more comfortable with the taste.
For bloating relief, add 1-2 tsp ACV to a full cup of warm water and sip.
Cleaning and Sanitizing Produce
Fresh fruits and veggies come complete with a little bit of their growing environment, including soil, pesticides, and even insects. It’s always a good idea to soak/wash your produce when you bring it home from the store to ensure you're removing as much of that as possible.
To soak your produce, fill a big bowl (or a clean sink) with water, add ¼-½ cup ACV (depending on how much you have to soak) and mix together. Add your produce and let soak for 10 minutes, then rinse with cold water and let dry on a clean dish towel.
Skincare routines are very much sacred rituals, and they are different for EVERYONE. Though this method isn’t for everyone, an ACV-based toner has proven to be effective for many, especially those with oily and acne-prone skin.
- Simply mix 1 part ACV and 4 parts distilled water.
- Spray directly on face or saturate a cotton round with toner and wipe face after cleansing.
- Let air-dry before applying serum or moisturizer.
If your skin is more oily, increase ACV ratio to 1:3 and eventually 1:2, depending on how your skin responds. Always spot test on your skin before applying all over your face!
Hair Rinse for Dry/Itchy Scalp and Dandruff
ACV is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and can act as an anti-inflammatory, which can help to soothe dry, itchy scalps. It gently exfoliates dead skin from the scalp and hair, aiding in conditions like dandruff. It can also improve the appearance of hair, increasing shine and smoothness.
- In a bottle, mix 2-4 tbsp ACV (start with 2, work up to 4 as you see how your hair/scalp reacts) and 16 oz of cool water.
- Shampoo and rinse as normal.
- After shampooing, lean your head back and pour the cool ACV water over your hair and scalp, while carefully avoiding your eyes. Let sit for 1-2 minutes before rinsing out.
This can be applied as often as twice per week, but if you have dry or thin hair, you may want to start with twice per month.
Mix with Clay for Face Mask
ACV makes the perfect addition to natural clay to create a face mask with anti-bacterial properties that helps to reduce age spots, gently exfoliate, and fight acne and blemishes.
- Mix 1 tsp clay of choice (bentonite benefits explained in #7!) with 3 tsp ACV. Add more liquid as needed to create a smooth, spreadable mixture.
- Apply mask and rinse off after 10-20 minutes using a warm washcloth.
For more sensitive skin, try 1 part ACV and 2 parts water to every 1 part clay.
The benefits of baths are endless, but adding ingredients like ACV can soothe skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and even sunburn, as well as rid your skin of pesky bacteria which can help with body and feet odor. Also, by dunking your hair in the vinegar water, you get a two-for-one special :)
- Fill a bath with as hot of water as you can stand.
- Add 1 ½-2 cups of ACV.
- Soak for 30 mins and rinse with cool water when done.
3. WHITE VINEGAR
While still a vinegar, white vinegar has its own myriad of uses in addition to those used for Apple Cider Vinegar.
All-Purpose Cleaning Spray
I prefer this to the castile soap version mentioned earlier, only because I enjoy the “clean” smell of vinegar.
- In a spray bottle, mix: 1 part water with 1 part vinegar.
- Spray and wipe any surface as you normally would.
Streak-Free Window Spray
Same mixture as above, different use.
- Mix 1 part water with 1 part vinegar.
- Spray window with mixture. Wipe down with a clean, lint-free cloth until dry (try paper towels, newspaper, or a microfiber cloth).
Clean & Decalcify Coffee Machine
They sell decalcifying solution, but I wouldn’t recommend wasting your money if you have white vinegar on hand. If you’re like me, your coffee machine gets regular use, and due to all the hot water running through it and sitting in the pipes, it can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. Ideally, it should be cleaned once a month. To do so:
- Fill the water reservoir with equal parts water and white vinegar. If your coffee maker uses a paper filter, add a clean filter.
- Brew the vinegar-water mixture until reservoir is half empty.
- Turn off machine and let stand for 30 mins while the vinegar works to decalcify all the inner workings of the machine, then resume brewing until reservoir is empty.
- Pour out vinegar mixture, add clean water to reservoir as well as a new filter if applicable, then brew a full cycle.
- Repeat once more with fresh water or until vinegar smell is no longer present.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
This might just be me, but I prefer white vinegar to any other cleaning agent I can buy; including the 100 options available for your toilet bowl. I just pour a splash of vinegar in the toilet and brush the sides as normal with the toilet bowl brush. Flush and good to go!
Not just for 5th grade volcano eruptions, baking soda and vinegar makes a bubbling mixture that is perfect for scrubbing away soap scum and sanitizing the walls of your tub.
- Give the tub a good rinse, sprinkle baking soda over the surface, then spray with vinegar until bubbling and fizzing.
- Let stand for 5 minutes and then using a brush or scrubbing pad, scrub down the sides of the tub.
- Rinse and repeat if necessary.
4. ESSENTIAL OILS
The potential benefits of essential oils are endless. They are concentrated plant oils extracted by distillation: essentially, they are bottled plant magic. While each essential oil has its own properties, uses, and benefits, the three I use most often are Tea Tree, Lavender, and Peppermint. Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin and usually require a carrier oil (a light, neutral oil that doesn’t interfere with the EO properties) in order to be used on the skin.
Spot Treatment (Tea Tree)
Tea tree EO has anti-bacterial properties and has proven to be effective in the treatment of acne. This is the only spot treatment I use when a blemish pops up on my skin. My skin is on the oily side so I don’t find that I need a dilution method, but I recommend diluting the tea tree oil with witch hazel toner or even water before applying to your skin.
- After cleansing and applying toner, put 1-2 drops of tea tree oil on a q-tip, then gently dab onto blemish. If diluting, moisten q-tip first with water/toner, then add drop of tea tree oil.
- After 5 minutes, apply moisturizer as normal.
Remove Sticker Residue (Tea Tree)
This just about changed my life. Ever bring home something from the store and there’s an extremely sticky, unattractive sticker that just will not come off? Just saturate it with tea tree oil using a paper towel or cloth, then scrape away the sticker and its residue.
I’ve also used this method to remove a bumper sticker from my car without ruining the paint!
Cure Athlete’s Foot and Toenail Infection (Tea Tree)
Being that tea tree is an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, it can be very effective in the treatment of bacteria/fungal conditions of the feet. For a toenail infection, tea tree oil can be applied directly to the nail opening twice a day. Consistency is key here!
For athlete’s foot, pre-mix a solution of 1 part tea tree and 1 part carrier oil (try jojoba or almond oil) in a dark glass bottle. The dark glass is imperative in preserving the potency of the essential oil. Twice a day, apply some of the oil mixture to a cotton ball and wipe affected area down, then put on clean, dry socks.
Sleep and Relaxation (Lavender)
Lavender has an immediate calming effect on the body and is used primarily to promote sleep and relaxation. Try 5-10 drops in an oil diffuser 1-2 hours before bed to relax before it’s time to go to sleep. You can also mix a few drops into your lotion or body oil and massage it into your skin.
Muscle Soreness (Lavender)
Lavender contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties which help to relieve muscle pain and soreness. Try adding a few drops to your lotion or body oil and massaging into your sore muscles. Alternatively, add 10-15 drops to a warm bath to relieve soreness and relax!
Headache Relief (Peppermint)
I swear, no pill can relieve my headache like some deep inhales of peppermint oil. For the most immediate and easiest relief, I just open the bottle and take some deep breaths with it right under my nose. I also mix a few drops with a carrier oil like jojoba and rub it into my temples, neck, and shoulders. It can also be diffused into the air or added to a bath!
Mood Enhancer (Peppermint)
By using the same method described above, peppermint oil can be used as a pick-me-up!
5. COCONUT OIL
Coconut oil has been all the rage the past few years. Though I don’t think it’s the best oil to use for everything and anything, it does have a variety of topical uses and benefits. It is extremely high in healthy fats in the form of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which provide a steady stream of energy when consumed.
My favorite use. Don’t waste money on makeup removers; try this first!
- Take a small amount of coconut oil, rub between your fingers to melt, then rub over your eyes/face to break up makeup.
- Wash away with a light cleanser and a facecloth.
Though not for everyone, coconut oil can be a great skin moisturizer as it quickly absorbs into the skin. I lather my body up with a good amount after showering and let it absorb for a few minutes before getting dressed.
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that make it effective in relieving the itch, dryness, and redness of eczema. I personally suffer from eczema on my elbows, and coconut oil is the only thing that has effectively treated it! Just rub some on the affected area twice a day.
A small amount can go a long way in damp hair. After moisturizing my arms and legs, I use the remainder on my hands to work through my hair, which leaves it silky smooth when it dries!
Use coconut oil in the same way you would normally use shaving cream for a clean, close shave.
Rub some on your cuticles in the evening before bed to let your nails and cuticles soak up all of the moisturizing benefits of the coconut oil overnight!
Minor Cut, Scratch, and Bug Bite Relief
Due to the anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties, coconut oil can be useful in treating minor cuts and scratches, as well as relieving the itching of bug bites! Just rub a small amount on the affected area every day.
An extremely fine, adsorbent powder, activated charcoal works by trapping toxins and pollutants and allowing them to be carried away from the body. It is often used in hospitals as an immediate treatment for certain types of poisoning.
Activated charcoal is a natural way to whiten teeth and promote oral health. It pulls toxins and stains from the teeth with regular use, though it does make a mess in the process!
- Wet your toothbrush and either open a capsule of charcoal directly on top of the bristles, or if your charcoal is in an open container, dip toothbrush in to coat bristles.
- Scrub the surface of your teeth for 2 minutes, doing your best to keep your lips closed around the toothbrush so you don’t make a mess.
- Rinse and repeat every day! Results are reported after just one week.
Due to its adsorbent nature, chemicals and toxins bind to it when it travels through the body. Since charcoal is not absorbed by the body, this makes it a perfect substance to consume to rid the body of pollutants. Take charcoal capsules when sick with a bug or even food sickness in order to speed up the recovery process.
For the same reasons charcoal is effective at eradicating bugs, it can help prevent a hangover by removing toxins from the bloodstream and digestive system. The evidence is conflicting, but since alcohol is quickly absorbed, it may be best to take right before drinking alcohol as opposed to afterwards.
An amazing clay with a negative charge, bentonite clay acts similar to activated charcoal in the sense that it binds to toxins and heavy metals and carries them out of the body. It can be applied topically or taken orally, but any time taken orally, make sure that it is food grade bentonite clay.
When used as a mask, bentonite clay unclogs the pores and helps to shrink their appearance. It’s also effective in reducing acne scarring, as it pulls toxins out and draws blood to the surface of the skin, allowing the skin to heal.
- Mix 1 tsp bentonite clay with 3 tsp ACV (or water, or a mixture of both) and apply to face.
- Let dry for 10-20 minutes, depending on your skin’s sensitivity.
- Wash off with a warm washcloth.
This might sound a little weird at first, but it’s become an absolute staple in my life. Years of using an antiperspirant deodorant trapped toxins, chemicals, and heavy metals inside my body that otherwise would have been released through the sweat I was trying to prevent.
When I finally decided to try a natural deodorant, I noticed that I STUNK. At first I thought it was the natural deodorant itself, and that natural just wouldn't work for me, but then I learned that the antiperspirants I was using in the past were actually the cause of my issue. That’s when I learned about this method of extracting those poisons from my armpits using bentonite clay which would help to ease the transition to a natural deodorant.
I typically use the same mixture that I use for the mask and apply both at the same time. If you're doing both at the same time, just double this recipe:
- Mix 1 tsp bentonite clay with 3 tsp ACV and apply to armpits.
- Let dry for 10-20 minutes, depending on your skin’s sensitivity.
- Wash off with a warm washcloth in the shower.
This will most likely make you very tired, so I recommend doing this right before bed. When first transitioning from antiperspirants, I used this once every 5-6 days; now I use it about every 2 weeks.
If you don’t have charcoal on hand, this can be an effective detoxifier of the body as well. Mix ½-1 tsp food-grade bentonite clay in warm, filtered water and drink once a day until symptoms subside.
Just as it extracts toxins from the skin and armpits, bentonite clay can be added to a bath to pull impurities from the skin. It also has a calming effect and can make you very tired, so this is great to do right before bed!
The sad truth is that most products sold on the market, even baby products, contain harmful chemicals, perfumes, irritants, and toxins. Bentonite clay is a great alternative to baby powder that is non-toxic and significantly cheaper than the store-bought stuff. Just combine ¼ cup bentonite clay + 1 tbsp arrowroot powder (to make the consistency finer) in a jar and use as you would normally use baby powder. Note that this isn’t recommended for babies under 3 months, as they can inhale particles into their sensitive lungs.