10 multipurpose ingredients for a homemade household

Written by contributor Emily McClements of Live Renewed.

Over the past few years as our family has been going green around our home and moving toward a more simple and natural lifestyle, I have discovered something about myself, I love to find ways to make things at home that I previously would buy at the store. I especially love it when making things at home is safer for my family, and saves me money at the same time!

When I first started trying to replace many of our cleaning and personal care products with homemade alternatives, I’d have to write out a list of all the ingredients I would need and then make a trip to the store, or place an online order, to buy everything before I was ready to make it.

It was sometimes discouraging, because when I get the urge to try making something homemade, I want to make it right away, not wait til I can run to the store, or even worse, wait for the UPS man to bring me a package.

Now, when I come across ideas and recipes for making things at home, I can often try them out right away because I have so many multipurpose ingredients on hand that I don’t have to make a special trip to the store first.

If you are interested in making more of your own products at home, here is a great list of multipurpose ingredients to help get you started.

castile soap
Photo by Emily @ Live Renewed

Castile Soap

This is one of the most used ingredients for making homemade products at our house. It is great for everything from cleaning to personal care, including (but not limited to) multipurpose cleaner, disinfecting wipes, soft scrub, foaming hand soap, and for soap and shaving in the shower. Here’s a great list to get you started with ways to use castile soap around your house.

Essential Oils

Lots of homemade cleaning recipes, personal care recipes, and even homemade remedies include essential oils in them, so it’s a good idea to go ahead and stock up on several all at one time. You can search recipes you are interested in trying to see which ones you might need, but some of the most common ones that I recommend keeping on hand are Tea Tree, Citrus (choose your favorite scents), Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Peppermint Essential Oils. Also, Simple Homemade contributor Krissa shared a great post on 25 ways to use essential oils to help you get started.

Vinegar (White & Apple Cider)

White vinegar is one of the most multifunctional cleaning products you can use around your house. It’s a powerful, disinfecting multipurpose cleaner when mixed 50:50 with water in a spray bottle, and can also be used to make other homemade cleaning products. The different uses for vinegar are almost too many to mention, so here’s a list of great ideas.

Apple cider vinegar is most useful in homemade personal care products, such as a hair rinse for the no ‘poo method, and in homemade face toner, but also has household uses like an all-natural fruit fly trap.

Baking Soda

Along with vinegar, baking soda is a basic non-toxic cleaner that has many uses all around the house. It’s great as a scouring scrub, and also for making dishwasher detergent and laundry soap. I also use it to make homemade deodorant, and if you’re brave, you can even try using it to wash your hair!

coconut oil and beeswax
Photo by HealthyHomeHappy.com

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is not just to use for cooking and baking, it’s also great for lots of different homemade beauty products. It’s a wonderful moisturizer on it’s own, and is a main ingredient for luxurious homemade products, like body butter, sugar scrubs, and solid perfumes.

Raw Honey

Honey is another ingredient that has many uses outside of the kitchen. Krissa recently shared a great post with lots of ways to use honey all around your home!


Beeswax is one ingredient that you may not use quite as often, but it’s still a good ingredient to keep on hand because it’s not as easy to just run out to the grocery store and buy good quality beeswax when you need it for a recipe. You can find beeswax at your local health food store, or order it online from Amazon or Mountain Rose Herbs. I use beeswax to make homemade deodorant, and healing salve from Herbal Nuturing.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a natural disinfectant to use for cleaning around your home, and is also great for getting out certain types of laundry stains, such as blood and berries. For even more ideas, check out this list of ways to use hydrogen peroxide all around your home.


Recently I have found that cornstarch is awesome to have on hand for making homemade art supplies for my kids, like homemade finger paint, sidewalk paint, and face paint (all found on Pinterest). It’s also great for making homemade spray starch and is a basic ingredient in many homemade deodorant recipes.

Washing Soda

Washing Soda is a natural laundry booster and is also an important ingredient to have on hand to make homemade dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent, laundry stain remover.

With these ten basic and multipurpose ingredients on hand, you can begin making all different types of homemade products to use all around your home. I hope you’ll find, like me, the thrill in making things yourself, that you used to buy at the store, while also saving money, and keeping your family safe and healthy!

What is your favorite product to make at home? Do you have a favorite ingredient to add to this list?

top photo source

Encouragement for living simpler, right in your inbox.

We share our stories as we simplify our lives - no guilt-trips, just love.

(no spam, promise. we hate it, too.)


  1. I’m in love with the powdered laundry detergent. It cleans well and lasts for three months. Can’t beat that!

  2. I also make homemade laundry detergent and love it. Baking soda, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are cleaning staples around here. I haven’t delved into essential oils yet but I would love to.

  3. Great list! I love making my homemade wipe solution, you can find that recipe here http://www.townsend-house.com/2012/02/cloth-wipes-and-wipe-solution-recipe.html I also make my own laundry soap and all purpose spray cleaner. There is something amazing about dr. bronner’s 🙂

    • I use Dr. Bronner’s too, but only for cleaning – for some reason, whenever I wash my hands/body with castile soap, it aggravates my eczema and gives me the weirdest all-over rashes. Not sure what the deal is. But, I do grate a bar of the scented castile in my powder laundry detergent, and that doesn’t seem to bother me at all. The citrus bar is my favorite!

  4. Love this post!!! I use a lot of these but there are some new ones! Thanks!

  5. What a great resource! Thanks for simplifying the process and breaking it down into baby steps. 🙂 I’ll be coming back to this post.

  6. Great post…and great minds think alike! I was actually in the middle of writing a similar post of my own! So far my list included essential oils, honey, coconut oil and vinegar. 🙂

  7. One crazy use for baking soda that I’ve never seen anyone else note: mouse-tracker. If you have a rodent problem in house or garage (it only works in dry areas with flat flooring) and want to know where they’re coming from, you can use baking soda shaken through a fine-mesh sieve to make a big grid in the suspected location. Next morning: see where the tracks cross the grid, and you’ve found your mouse’s nightly meanderings and can focus trapping and gap-plugging efforts more effectively. Non-toxic, not tasty to mice or bugs, reusable (just sweep up and re-sift to repeat the test until you’ve gotten rid of all the mice and there aren’t any more footprints for several nights running), and pretty cheap.

  8. Emanuel H. Bronner was the maker of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, a concentrated liquid notable for the vast amount of lather produced from a few drops and the vast amount of tiny text on its packaging. Bronner, whose parents were killed in the Holocaust, promoted a belief in the goodness and unity of humanity. All Dr. Bronner’s classic liquid & bar soaps are not only certified under the USDA National Organic Program, but also certified Fair Trade! In addition, they offer a range of high-quality organic and fair trade personal care products, from lotions to shaving gels – all certified under the same USDA program that certifies organic foods.

  9. There are def a few new ones that I did not know on here!

  10. Love this post! You have provided good resources for making homemade household cleaner.

Add Your Thoughts