The Coupon Lady: Make gentle cleansers at home

On New Year’s Eve, my ailing father joined my household. Since my father is a veteran, his care providers are conveniently close. His condition has stabilized, but his treatment leaves him with very fragile, sensitive skin that gets irritated and splits open very easily.


To ease his suffering as much as possible, I have started making our house cleaners and some personal items. As most couponers know, couponing for nonfood items continues to provide some of the best deals this year. Shampoos, conditioners and laundry detergents can be bought for 70 percent to 80 percent off with sales and coupons. But fragrances, chemicals and even some natural ingredients can irritate fragile skin, so I would like to share a few cleaners you can make at home for little money.

HOMEMADE GROUT CLEANER: Ingredients needed are two tablespoons baking soda, two tablespoons household ammonia, one tablespoon white vinegar, and 12/3 cups of warm water. In a empty spray bottle, add the warm water first then other ingredients. Close the bottle and shake well. Makes approximately two cups of cleaner. Spray on grout and lightly scrub with a brush.

HEAVY-DUTY CLEANER FOR TILE FLOORS: You need one cup of white vinegar, one tablespoon of liquid dish soap, one cup of washing soda (you can usually find it in the laundry aisle) and two gallons of warm tap water. Mix ingredients into water. This is great for deep-cleaning floors. I use a steam mop for in-between touch ups.

ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER (NONPOROUS SURFACES): Mix equal parts vinegar and water into a spray bottle and add a few drops of essential oils. I like to use lavender and lemon. This is great for getting gunk off the kitchen table and stove top.

SHOWERHEAD CLEANER: You need 1/3 cup of baking soda, one cup of white vinegar, one plastic baggie and a twist tie. Mix baking soda and vinegar in plastic bag. Secure onto shower head with tie. Let sit for at least an hour or two if showerhead is stopped up. Rinse outside well to protect finish. After, I like to use a cotton pad soaked in coconut oil to bring out the shine in the showerhead and other fixtures.

NATURAL DEODORANT: You need two or three tablespoons of coconut oil, 1/8 cup of baking soda and 1/8 cup of arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Mix baking soda and cornstarch and slowly start to add coconut oil. Mix to the consistency of a thick paste. You can put into the fridge to harden, but it will soften again if temperatures rise over 76 degrees.

NATURAL SHAMPOO: You need 1/8 cup of coconut milk (you can use canned, but boxed or homemade seems to work better), 1/3 cup of liquid Castille soap, 1/2 teaspoon of vitamin E oil, and 20 drops of essential oil of your choice (peppermint, lavender, orange, etc), or leave out for unscented. Mix ingredients together into a empty foaming pump dispenser to make it kid-friendly. It keeps for one month. Shampoo can also be mixed with water for shaving.

HIGH-EFFICIENCY (HE) SAFE LAUNDRY DETERGENT: You will need a 4-ounce bar of natural soap (such as Castille), one cup of washing soda, ½ cup of citric acid, and ½ cup of baking soda. Grate the bar of soap with a cheese grater and mix in other ingredients. Use two tablespoons per load of laundry.