From the category archives:

DIY Ideas

Looking for Crafty DIY’ers!

by Jess on November 3, 2011

Homemade Christmas Gift IdeasAre you crafty when it comes to homemade holiday gifts? Do you know how to rock a Michael’s 40% off coupon to whip up something spectacular?

If you are crafty and would like to share a detailed tutorial on how to make a fabulous DIY holiday gift on a budget, I’d love to feature your project in an upcoming series here on the blog!

I’m specifically looking for projects that:

  • Would make for a fun/awesome/totally rad holiday gift
  • Require materials or tools people most likely have on hand or can acquire inexpensively and easily.

To submit your guest post, please e-mail me at Include:

  • Your Name
  • Email Address
  • Blog URL (if applicable)
  • Detailed tutorial on your homemade gift idea (please keep it in a step-by-step format and no more than 500 words please)
  • Attach any images you want included.
  • Small bio (50 words or less) about yourself. Feel free to include your website if you have one!

Please note, submitting your post idea does not guarantee that you will be featured, however every submission will be considered. Submitted posts must be of original content (meaning, if you have previously posted a tutorial on another blog you can not copy & paste it here). This Frugal Life does not offer compensation for guest posts.

If your idea is chosen for publication I will let you know via e-mail a few days before it is posted :)  Thanks for participating!


3 Homemade Liquid Fabric Softener Recipes

by Jess on October 12, 2011

Homemade Fabric SoftenerLast week I shared with you my recipe for making your own powdered laundry detergent and a few of you asked about homemade fabric softener.

There are a number of different recipes floating around, but my favorite is straight old vinegar. I know what you’re thinking…vinegar? Gross! Won’t that make my clothes stink? Nope, the vinegar completely washes out & leaves your clothes smelling clean. You’ll never go back to traditional fabric softener after you try it – plus vinegar is cheap! A gallon at my local Smart & Final runs about $2 bucks.

Vinegar is excellent for removing soap residue from your clothes and is also a natural softener & whitener. It will make your towels more absorbent, eliminates static cling and is a great alternative for people with skin allergies.

Recipe #1: Vinegar Fabric Softener

I’ve been using this recipe for several months & have had excellent results.


  • 1 Gallon White Distilled Vinegar
  • Optional: 25 -30 drops of Essential Oil for fragrance


Fill a Downy Ball as you regularly would or add 1/4 cup to the rinse cycle. If you like your clothes to have a lingering fragrance like traditional fabric softener, add essential oil to the gallon of vinegar. Be sure to mark your jug so you don’t accidentally grab it for another purpose.

Recipe #2: Vinegar & Baking Soda Fabric Softener

Technically the ingredients below chemically neutralize each other but folks with hard water seem to swear by this recipe so it might be worth a shot if you are in a similar situation.


  • 1 cup White Distilled Vinegar
  • 1 cup Baking Soda
  • 2 cups Hot Water
  • Optional: Essential Oil for fragrance


In a bucket, stir together the hot water and baking soda until mixed (it won’t completely dissolve). Slowly begin to add the vinegar (it will bubble up like a science volcano project) until well mixed. Pour into a storage container & shake before each use. Fill a Downy Ball with the mixture as normal or use 1/4 cup in the rinse cycle.

Recipe #3: Vinegar & Hair Conditioner Fabric Softener

The conditioner in this recipe will leave a slight fragrance after you take your clothes out of the dryer. Save your expensive conditioner for your hair, cheap-o brands like Suave will work just fine.


  • 3 cups White Distilled Vinegar
  • 2 cups Hair Conditioner (this works out to about the size of a full bottle of Suave)
  • 6 cups Hot Water

Mix ingredients together and pour into a storage container. Use about 1/4 cup per load in the rinse cycle or in a Downy Ball.

Heads up…

  • Do NOT substitute Apple Cider Vinegar for any of these recipes. You’ll end up with dingy clothes.
  • Do NOT use your homemade fabric softener on loads using bleach. Mixing bleach with vinegar can produce toxic fumes. Vinegar is a natural whitener so you really don’t need bleach anyway!

Do you use homemade fabric softener? I’d love to hear about your experience with it in the comments below!

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Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent Recipe

Now that I’m living with my boyfriend and his 2 little boys, we are running through my measly laundry detergent stockpile like nobody’s business.  Even with a coupon and store sale, finding deals on laundry detergent these days are far from what they were a year ago.

I’d heard about making your homemade laundry detergent but the recipes usually included boiling down soap and pouring the mixture in a huge 5-gallon bucket to let it “slime up”. I didn’t have the space or the desire to make any kind of mess like that in my tiny apartment.

After reading through comments on several different blog posts on the subject, I stumbled upon a powdered recipe, and friends, I’m now SOLD. It’s so easy to do and costs far less per load than what you would spend on store bought detergent.

Let’s get to it!



  1. Grate ONE bar of Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap using a cheese grater. This took me a few minutes – it’s hard work grating soap! Fels-Naptha has been around for over 100 years and is used as a laundry stain remover and pre-treater. It works especially well on oil-based stains.
    I found found Fels-Naptha at CVS in the laundry aisle for $1.39 (free after using one of my ECB’s), but you can also use Zote (found at Walmart, Big Lots, dollar stores, etc) or even a bar of regular old Ivory will do just fine. Look up high on the shelf or near the bottom. It’s not a well known product so it likely will not be at eye level.
  2. Add ONE cup of Borax to your grated soap. Borax helps to remove tough stains, is a natural alternative to colorsafe bleach & is going to give a boost of cleaning power to the Fels-Naptha soap.
    Many grocery stores and big box retailers like Walmart & Target sell Borax. I picked up 20 Mule Team Borax at Target a few months ago for $2.99. For recipes like this, a box lasts a super long time.
  3. Add ONE cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. Don’t confuse this with baking soda, they are two different compounds. Washing soda has a higher alkaline level which helps to act as a solvent to remove a range of stains. Unlike bleach, washing soda will not stain.
    This product may be tricky to find. I discovered that at least in my area, the only retailer carrying washing soda was Ace Hardware. Check out their website for additional store locations near you or pick up a box on Amazon.
  4. Pour ingredients into a food processor (or in my case, blender) and pulse/grind for about 20-25 seconds, or until everything has blended into a fine powder. Although this step is not necessary, I find it keeps the powder from separating from the ground soap and also helps the soap chunks fully dissolve in the washer.
  5. There you have it! Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent in no time at all. I keep mine in an old food storage container with a tight fitting lid. Easy peazy.
    Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

How To Use:

Small Load – 1 Tablespoon
Normal Load – 2 Tablespoons
Heavy Load – 3 Tablespoons

Homemade laundry detergent does not contain sulfates so it will not suds up like ordinary detergent but don’t worry, your clothes are getting clean. Plus, because this formula is low-sudsing, this is safe for you folks with front loading HE washers.

Do you make your own homemade laundry detergent? How do you like it? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below!

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Frugal Beauty: Hydrating Pumpkin Face Mask

by Jess on October 13, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited that it’s Fall. Nothing makes me happier than splurging on a Pumpkin Latte over at Starbucks and breathing in the crisp cool autumn air. This time of year is also really drying to the skin, so what better way to remedy that by taking advantage of the soon to be deals on canned pumpkin and mixing up your own at-home frugal pumpkin facial!

The ingredients in the facial below are almost identical to those found in a very high end luxury organic mask you would pay a fortune for at a Salon. Save yourself a hundred dollars and pick up a can of pumpkin, or better yet, puree your Halloween pumpkin :)


Hydrating Pumpkin Face Mask

This mask is incredibly hydrating, but without being oily so it’s great for all skin types. In addition to being naturally hydrating, pumpkins are also filled with powerful enzymes and antioxidants which work as a natural exfoliator to leave your skin looking radiant and incredibly soft.


  • 3 tsp. Pumpkin Puree (the canned stuff works great, just don’t use pumpkin pie filling with sugar!)
  • ½ tsp. Honey
  • ¼ tsp. Milk (if your skin is extra dry, buttermilk or whipping cream will work better for you)


  1. Combine ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

  3. Starting with a clean face, splash warm water to open the pores.

  5. Apply the mask with your fingers, or a fan brush (you can get these at a craft store like Michael’s inexpensively) for a smoother, more even application.

  7. Leave on for 10-15 minutes and wash with warm water.

Why does this work?

The enzymes in the pumpkin eat away at dead skin cells leaving your skin exfoliated, smooth and beautifully radiant. Pumpkin, as well as honey, are naturally hydrating, without leaving an oily residue so it’s safe for even oily skins to use (it seems counter intuitive, but hydrating masks like these help to balance the oil production out.) Pumpkins are also rich in Zinc, which helps to soothe irritated skin as well as Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.

How often should I do this?
The enzymes in pumpkins are pretty powerful, so once a week, or on an as needed basis is fine.


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