Making your own basic supplies, like laundry detergent, oatmeal packets, and toothpaste can help save you money and teach you skills.
"What kind of weirdo makes their own toothpaste?"
Yes, that quote in the title came from a reader who apparently stumbled upon the site in the last week for the first time and felt the desire to write to me expressing his feelings that no one in their right mind would do some of the things I’ve suggested on here over the years, from making your own oatmeal packets to making your own laundry detergent.
On the other hand, I find a ton of value in attempting to make my own versions of basic supplies like laundry detergent and oatmeal packets and, well, toothpaste. Here are some reasons why.
Dollars and cents In almost every case, homemade from-scratch versions of products are substantially less expensive than those you buy in the store. My homemade laundry detergent is about 10% as expensive as Tide. Not 10% less expensive – 90% less expensive. Almost everything else I try as a homemade product variation is simply less expensive than what you find in the store.
Health Many store-purchased products are loaded with ingredients that are placed in there largely to increase the profit margin of the business. Often, some of the items are trade secrets, meaning you have no idea what exactly is in the product; even when you do know, sometimes you’d rather not.
If I make the product myself, I have much more control over every item that goes into the mix. I don’t add weird preservatives (which are there to increase shelf life, which increases profit margins while putting things that really shouldn’t be consumed into your diet) or other unnecessary ingredients to the things I make at home.
Skills By doing such things myself, I’m building my confidence for doing such things, plus improving my own skill set for future projects I might take on. Cooking my own meal over the stove and planting a tree leads to projects like building a fire pit in the back yard.
These factors together encourage me to try to make as many things as I can myself. I save money, I build skills, and I have more control over what’s in the item.
So What About That Toothpaste?
With a subject like that, this is probably the perfect time to mention what I’ve found with regards to actually making my own toothpaste.
Over the years, I’ve tried various mixes to some degree of success. The trick for me has always been to find an easily repeatable way to make and then dispense the toothpaste.
The best recipe I’ve found is mixing 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, a packet of stevia (a natural sweetener that also is good for your teeth), and either a dash of cinnamon or a drop or two of peppermint oil (for flavor). Mix these together until they form a paste. If you need a bit more liquid, add a tiny bit more peroxide. If you need more solid for a thicker paste, add a bit more baking soda.
This stuff tastes quite good and leaves my mouth feeling really clean when I’m done with it.
For dispensing it, just head to the travel toiletries section of your local department store and pick out a small empty travel squirt container. If you have one of these, you can actually make the toothpaste right in the container, stirring it with a small stick (I use a chopstick), then putting the cap on and using it as a squeeze tube. Works like a charm.
As soon as we’re done going through our backlog of toothpaste (purchased in bulk), I intend to use this as my only toothpaste.
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