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DIY Bathroom Basics

Photo by Robyn Rosenfeldt

It’s not uncommon for bathroom benches and shower recesses to be filled with plastic bottles: bottles for shampoos and conditioners, hair treatments, face washes, toners, moisturisers, deodorants … and that’s just the basic products! Then there are all the other lotions and potions that promise great things and claim to have unique properties that will keep your face looking younger, your skin supple and your hair shiny.

The amount of waste produced by these products is becoming an increasing problem as they end up in landfill and, sometimes, in our oceans. With recycling systems falling apart, even our attempts to do the right thing by recycling are falling short.

Store-bought products are also full of all sorts of ingredients that may have damaging effects on our health and wellbeing. By making your own products, you know exactly what is in them and you don’t need Google to decipher what you’re putting on your body.

By making your own you also save a lot of money. With a few simple ingredients that you can find in your kitchen and garden, you can take care of all your bathroom needs.


This beautiful-smelling coffee scrub is great for the face and body, exfoliating and moisturising the skin. After washing with this, your skin feels clean and moisturised. For this coffee scrub try to use freshly ground coffee and Rapadura sugar. Fresh coffee contains antioxidants, but you can substitute used grounds for fresh grounds if you like.

You will need:

  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup of freshly ground coffee
  • 1 cup of sugar or salt

To make:

  1. Mix together coffee and sugar.
  2. Melt coconut oil until it is liquid.
  3. Blend the oil with the coffee–sugar blend.
  4. Place in a jar and seal. This can be kept in the shower ready to use. Be careful if using a glass jar as it may break.


The dental-care industry is one of the worst producers of plastics, from toothpaste tubes to toothbrushes to dental floss and of those disposable plastic tooth cleaners that dentists are starting to recommend. It is possible, though, to keep your teeth clean and healthy without all these products. Using bamboo brushes or a small cloth can replace plastic toothbrushes and this recipe for toothpaste will save you from the endless tubes of toothpaste that come through our bathrooms. This recipe is very quick and easy to make, and leaves your teeth feeling clean and your mouth feeling fresh.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp of bicarb soda
  • 10 drops of peppermint or other oil of your choice.

To make:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a small glass container and mix together.
  2. Dip your toothbrush in the mix and brush your teeth.


Deodorant regularly comes in single-use, non-recyclable, hard plastic bottles or roll-ons. The element that causes body odour is bacteria, so using antibacterial ingredients is helpful in preventing odour. Here are a couple of recipes that work well for us, using simple ingredients known to have antibacterial qualities.

Deodorant Spray

This recipe is handy if you prefer a lighter deodorant spray, or for less active days.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 100 ml warm water
  • 10–20 drops essential oil – lemongrass, tea-tree, thyme, rosemary, lavender or geranium
  • spray bottle

Bicarb-free Deodorant Spray

  • spray bottle
  • 1 part apple cider vinegar
  • 1 part water

To make:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a spray bottle. We use and refill an old deodorant bottle.
  2. Shake well until combined
  3. Use a few squirts each day.

Deodorant Paste

This is actually very similar to the toothpaste recipe, which makes for compact travelling. This recipe works well for day-to-day use and more active days.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 heaped tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1 tsp of bicarb soda
  • 10–20 drops of essential oil – we love rosemary, lemongrass, lavender, thyme, tea-tree or geranium
  • some people like to add other ingredients, such as clay or arrowroot powder. Try experimenting with a blend that works for you
  • 1 clean jar

To make:

  1. Place all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Mix with a fork until well combined.
  3. Place in a clean jar for use.
  4. To use, spread evenly on fingers or palm and apply.

Photos by Robyn Rosenfeldt


Making your own natural moisturiser is a great way to avoid plastic and save money. So many companies out there claim their products have near-magical properties and will have you looking younger and healthier. This is a lovely gentle moisturiser that you can use for your body, hands or face. Look into which herbs and essential oils are best for your skin type; lots of these herbs can be grown in your garden. This moisturiser should last up to six months in your fridge.

What you’ll need:

• herbs from the garden – calendula, lavender, mint, chamomile, rosemary, yarrow and thyme are all wonderful

• 125 ml boiling water

• 20 g beeswax

• 50 g cocoa butter or shea butter

• 100 ml olive oil or sweet almond oil

• 25 drops essential oil – geranium, lavender, orange and rose are all lovely. If you use cocoa butter you might want to use an oil that complements the chocolatey fragrance.

To make:

1. Crush the herbs in your hand and place them in a small jar, cup or coffee plunger.

2. Pour the boiling water over the herbs to make an infusion. Let this steep for a few hours, then strain.

3. Place the beeswax, cocoa or shea butter, and oil in a saucepan and melt together over a low heat. Stir gently while the wax melts.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool until just warm.

5. Using a stick blender (or whisk), slowly pour in the herbal infusion while blending.

6. Add your favourite essential oils and mix thoroughly.

7. Using a spatula, place the moisturiser into clean jars.

The deodorant and moisturiser recipes were taken from A Family Guide to Waste-Free Living, by Lauren and Oberon Carter (Pan Macmillan Australia, 2019).


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