Sunday, 20 January 2013

Liquid Soap for Pioneers and Little Boys

"I haven't washed my hands, Mummy," Secundus cheerfully confided in me on his way down from the bathroom, "because I don't like that watery soap." Cue : me dashing upstairs to tip away my experimental handwash and re-fill the dispenser with Actual Hand Soap from (gasp) A Shop.

This had been an attempt to use up a) the little bits of soap that had sat mournfully in a jar under the sink for rather too long and b) our over-large collection of shower gel. But the consistency was unimpressive. Realising, as I turned out the cupboard looking for Proper Liquid Soap, that we had run out (which was what prompted the failed Soap Mix in the first place), I filled the dispenser with undiluted body wash as a short-term measure and beckoned Secundus back to the bathroom.

Some frugal experiments work surprisingly well. Others, make you realise that you do in fact, need some kind of guidance. I bow to the experts where soap-making is concerned and was very pleased to find Kirsty Howard's book of healthy, money-saving tutorials : The Cottage Mama's DIY Guide ($4.00, available here). She gives straightforward and encouraging instructions so that readers can make a veritable vat of liquid soap, using simple a bar of good quality soap, water, vitamin E oil and tea tree oil. Not owning any vitamin E oil, I am wondering if the oil from Evening Primrose capsules might do the trick, and I expect you could also use an alternative aromatherapy oil, such as lavender, if, like me, you aren't so fond of the tea tree aroma.


The Cottage Mama's DIY Guide is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to make their own cleaning products, remedies, and beauty treatments. There are so many products on our shelves at home that, once they have run out, could be easily and frugally replaced by home-made versions.

Anyone with a baby in the house will appreciate Howard's inclusion of Home-made Baby Wipes, and Teething Cookies, Healthy Baby Food Made Easy and Simple “Cradle Cap” Rinse. I also like the fact that once you've found something you want to try your hand at in this book, it's likely that you can simply make a start, as most of the ingredients can be found in your kitchen cupboards. The facial scrub for example, is something most of us could whip up at any time, requiring only a banana, oats and yoghurt. There's nothing more frustrating than deciding you want to have a go at concocting your own lip balm or something, and then finding out you have to order six ingredients from Amazon before you can even get started. That doesn't happen with The Cottage Mama's DIY Guide. Coconut oil is probably the most exotic ingredient.
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Kirsty Howard provides readers with compelling reasons to try their own hand at herbal tinctures and salves, and her "give-it-a-try" attitude is infectious, aided by the many colour photographs and easy-to-follow instructions. She also includes a number of housekeeping tips from yesteryear, and I appreciate her sharing that knowledge; not all of us have older relatives we can learn these things from.

Whatever your reason for making your own, whether it is because they keep your family healthier or save money, or simply because you like a challenge, enjoy doing things your own way, or value greatly the knowledge and wisdom of the past, The Cottage Mama's DIY Guide is a wonderful way to bring Make Do and Mend into your household cupboards.
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