An introduction to DIY sustainable living

A great way to reduce the amount of waste you produce is to try your hand at making your own DIY cleaning and beauty products.

Most shop bought cleaning and beauty products come in single use plastic packaging. If you think about your household cleaning products, you probably have several bottles on the go each month for different rooms and purposes. Are these all really necessary? The same with beauty products, do we really need 5 different moisturisers and cleansers, and do we know what they actually do?

To get a grips with DIY beauty and cleaning, I turned to Instagram for some inspiration.

I discovered @ollyollytoxinfree and found her page so informative, easy to understand and stylish to look at. I got in touch with her and she was kind enough to answer my questions.

Your insta page focus’ on DIY ways to reduce plastic, waste and toxins (with great styling may I add!) What made you get interested in the topic?

When I became aware of “zero waste” it seemed like such a noble movement but too extreme and unattainable for me. So I started my IG account as a way to share simple and more accessible ways to be sustainable. I truly believe these small steps lead to bigger ones, and over time shift our perspective and seep into other facets of our lives. I still have a long way to go myself.

I have recently been looking at DIY cleaning and I’m keen to try my own. Can you give us any tips on making a good homemade all purpose cleaning formula?

DIY cleaning was my gateway into this lifestyle. These are 4 simple and effective all-purpose spray cleaners for most areas in our home:

  • 1:3 parts white vinegar to water. For those who don’t like the scent you can infuse vinegar with citrus peels or pine needles for 3+ weeks in a cool, dark spot. I don’t recommend vinegar on natural surfaces such as stone counter tops and wood as these surfaces are porous and vinegar will erode them over time. For natural surfaces I recommend either:
  • 1:2 parts hydrogen peroxide to water. Option to add few drops of your favourite essential oil such as lemon or tea tree.
  • 1 tbsp castile soap to 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp Sal Suds to 4 cups of water

I have read a lot about white vinegar as a super hero cleaning product. Does it really work?!

Regular white vinegar (5% acetic acid) is an effective cleaner and reduces most surface bacteria, which is enough for regular home cleaning. For tougher jobs use 1:1 parts vinegar to water or full strength. For those still skeptical of its effectiveness, there is “cleaning vinegar” which is 12% acetic acid. This can be found at some refill stores (in Toronto you can get it at Alternatively, household hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration) is a fantastic cleaning agent and surface disinfectant.

An area I am struggling to reduce my plastic waste is with material cleaning. Can you recommend any non-chemical stain removers for clothes or soft furnishings?

Hydrogen peroxide is your best friend for clothing stains. Simply spray full strength on shirt collars, armpits etc. before throwing in the wash. For tougher stains make a paste with baking soda, rub onto stain and leave on for 5 minutes before laundering. Alternatively, the Sal Suds spray mentioned above works well too.

As well as homemade cleaning products you also feature DIY beauty. Can you let us know your favourite DIY beauty swap so far?

Beauty and skincare has been the toughest swap for me as there are some products I’m not willing to give up yet. The easiest beauty swap for me is shampoo/conditioner bars (I swear by Unwrapped Life). The easiest DIY beauty swap is dry shampoo. For a basic recipe, mix 1 tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch with roughly 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (adjust more/less to your hair colour). I posted a more “luxe” recipe on my IG but the no-frills one is good!

For someone looking to reduce their plastic waste as a whole and want to move onto making DIY products, where would you recommend they start?

For newbies, the best way to reduce plastic waste and overall footprint is to simply buy less. It’s tempting at first to rush out and buy eco-friendly products (I fell for this too when I started) but using what you already have – even if it’s in plastic – is always the greenest choice. Another great tip to start is never leaving the house without a reusable bag and mug/thermos, these two go a long way! For DIYs, I always recommend cleaning products first as they’re easy to make and the results are so encouraging. The tub scrub listed on my IG is a great place to start.

Can you let us know any areas you are working on and recipes or swaps you are currently experimenting with?

Hard water is the bane of my existence! I’m currently tweaking my dishwasher tab recipe to include sodium per-carbonate (granulated hydrogen peroxide) to help fight hard water. Stay tuned.


Thank you so much to Pearl for talking to me and to giving a great introduction to DIY cleaning and beauty. If you likes this post, go check out my other chats posts here, where I talk to other sustainable bloggers and businesses.

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