Homemade isn’t just for food anymore. People are making their own everything!
Even a cursory look at Pinterest will show you that people are making just about everything from scratch these days. There are thousands of tutorials to show you how to make your own shampoo, toilet cleaner, face scrubs, wart remover, toothpaste, drain cleaner, lotion– you name it!
It’s like we’ve come full circle. Two hundred years ago, you didn’t have much choice but to make your own soap! As time progressed, our society became more modernized, and household products were mass produced and sold in store. Instead of making your own laundry soap, you could not only buy it, but you could choose from multiple kinds.
In order to extend shelf life and improve production (and who knows why else), manufacturers starting adding all sorts of ingredients that, in the last decade or so, we’ve decided were a bad idea. As a society, we’ve had a huge shift to wanting more natural products. Many of us are going “back to basics” and making our own.
But the big question is… Is it worth it?
That’s a question we each have to answer for ourselves. Our answers will vary depending on our preferences, priorities, and point in life. The value we find in something varies greatly from person to person.
A better question would be, “Is it worth it to me?
It’s okay if your answer is different than mine. It’s fine if your answer varies from one product or project to another. Hopefully thinking through the following ideas and considerations will help you decide if DIY-ing your cleaning and personal care products is worth it for you.
Why do I want to DIY?
Since your reason for wanting to make your own products may be different than those around you, it’s important to really decide the main reason that you want to do the project yourself. Here are a few of the most common reasons:
To save money
In many cases, making your own cleaning and personal care products is cheaper than the conventional, store-bought alternatives. That’s not always the case though. If your main reason in making homemade products is to save money, you’ll want to be sure to add up all the costs before starting. The costs of some projects may be deceiving as the upfront costs are often higher.
The cost factor is often at least a secondary factor in deciding if a DIY project is worth it or not, so I’ll talk more about weighing the cost of the project in a minute.
To choose my own ingredients
Whether it’s because you want to avoid potentially dangerous chemicals or because you have an allergy or special need, being able to choose your own ingredients in the products you consume is a major reason for wanting to do-it-yourself.
Nowadays, you can find many alternatives to mainstream products and ingredients available for sale, but sometimes the price is an inhibiting factor.
Because I can
Sometimes it’s fun to try new things. It’s empowering to know that you can make things from scratch and not have to rely on commercially made products. The “because I can” attitude is a common reason for at least giving homemade products a try.
To get creative
Sometimes you want to put our own spin on things or create products that aren’t readily available for sale. When you’re making something yourself, you can customize everything from color and size to scent and flavor. The creativity factor may be reason alone for wanting to do something yourself.
Don’t forget to consider…
Once you’ve narrowed down your main reason for wanting to make your own cleaning or personal care products, there are a couple more factors to consider when you’re deciding if a DIY project is worth it.
Even if you aren’t doing a project to save money, unless your budget is limitless, then you probably have a secondary factor involving price when it comes to deciding if it’s better to buy or DIY. For example, if your highest priority is having toxin-free ingredients, you still may want to factor the cost into your decision, even though saving money isn’t your primary objective.
You’ll most likely have to buy ingredients in bulk or at least more than you need for one batch. While the cost per batch (or serving or load) may be lower that what you would pay for the pre-made product, you’ll have a greater initial outlay to buy supplies.
Start with a small batch. If the product doesn’t work well for you or you end up not liking it, you don’t want to have invested in lots of supplies.
When you figure the cost of a DIY project, you might forget to figure in the cost of your time. If your time is limited and precious, you will want to consider how long the project will take you.
What would you otherwise do with your time? If you would be doing an hour of work, instead of spending an hour on a DIY project, it’s easy to know what the cost of your time would be. However, if you would just be giving up an hour of watching TV, you don’t need to factor in the cost of your time. You might even consider DIY projects a hobby.
Adding in the value of time can be critical when you are comparing DIY with store-bought products. At the same time, know that the first time you try a project it’s likely to take longer than if it becomes part of your routine or you are making it in bulk.
Compare your options
After you’ve decided the main reason why you are considering a DIY project, as well as the additional factors of time and money, it’s helpful to compare with your next best option. If you didn’t choose to make the product from scratch, what would be your other option?
Often, putting your two best options head-to-head will help you make a decision. Sometimes looking at two specific options can make a third, even better, choice come through.
After thinking through the reasons and factors above, the best option for you should start to become pretty clear. If not, more research into the time and cost involved in your proposed DIY project may be needed before you can make an informed decision.
Confession: I don’t always make my own products anymore.
While I still love my homemade laundry soap and dishwasher soap, my life has gotten busier and making everything from scratch isn’t always my top priority or the best use of my time. I still care about what goes into the products my family uses though. Lately I’ve been getting some products from Grove Collaborative that I love.
Grove is great for people who care both about price and what’s in your product. They carry great natural brands like Mrs. Meyer, Seventh Generation, and Method. Their prices are comparable to what you’d pay in-store (and often cheaper), but with the convenience of having it delivered to your door.
If you’re new to Grove, you can get $10 off your first order too. You need to have a minimum $20 order (after your discount), but the shipping will be free! This is a great chance to stock up on toxin-free home products.
As you can see, there are lots of factors that go into a decision on whether to buy it or DIY it. In the end, whether a DIY project is worth it or not is personal. Totally personal. What’s worth it to you might not be worth it for me and vice versa.
We all go through different seasons in life. Sometimes making our own homemade products is worth it and sometimes it’s just not. If you’ve decided that making your homemade cleaning and personal care products isn’t for you right now, don’t feel guilty. Spend your time, energy, and money where it works best for you. If you want to get started with homemade products, then get your ingredients together and set aside some time to get started!
While I focused on cleaning and personal care products, these same factors and questions can be applied to other DIY opportunities too. If you’re considering a DIY project like a craft or home improvement project, but wondering if it’s worth it, take the time to ask yourself why you want to do the project first, then consider the cost and time involved and weigh your options. You’ll avoid wasting time and money by only DIY-ing the projects that really are worth it to you.
How about you?
- Do you make any of your own cleaning or personal care products?
- What are the main factors you use to decide if you should buy or DIY?
- What DIY projects have been worth it to you? Which ones haven’t?
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