What Does Penny Really Use For Health and Hygiene Products-- Real Life in Penny's Household

I thought this post might be a little fun. I've written a lot about various frugal and healthy alternatives to various household goods. However, the thing is- in practicality, I don't always do them all, or if I actually start off doing them, I often chance what I do but don't necessarily write an update on the blog.

So I figured- why not do a "real life" post, and share what I actually use for various household needs. Since this list is pretty extensive, I'm going to start off with health and hygiene products, and get to cleaning products, etc... in another post.

So, in no particular order, here's what my family and I do for health and hygiene products:

I have a big stash of cloth diapers. I don't always cloth diaper. If the weather is good, and my energy levels are up, and I'm not behind on laundry, and I'm not leaving the house every day, I probably cloth diaper 90-95% of the time. In my cloth diaper stash, I have a mix of mostly prefolds and covers, though I have some pockets and all in one diapers as well. Mainly mine are Econobum brand.
When I am more busy, or have less energy, or the weather is bad and I'm not caught up on laundry, I use disposable diapers 90-100% of the time. The disposables I buy are some of the cheaper brand name stuff sold in my country- they work well, and I generally find them on sale.

Menstrual Products-
I've written about this extensively, in many many posts, but I absolutely 100% don't use disposable menstrual products. After birth I use my cloth pads, and all other times alternating between my sea sponge tampon and my Moon Cup menstrual cup. You couldn't pay me to use disposable menstrual products...

Nursing Pads-
I made my own nursing pads, but honestly, I found them unnecessary now that I found out a trick- I found I leaked most when I had let down, which I could tell was about to happen because of pressure. When I know let down is about to happen, I press on my chest for a few seconds, or until the feeling subsides, and that works so well for me that I haven't had any leaks (that I can remember) since I learned that trick- and that was without nursing pads. So I don't use disposable ones for sure, but I rarely use the cloth ones as well.

Toilet Paper-
I am a big, big, big fan of what is known as family cloth, which, essentially, is cloth toilet paper. Now before you get totally and thoroughly grossed out, I suggest you read this blog post of mine that elaborates on the topic. However, as much as I like family cloth, little cloths end up getting everywhere when they come out of the wash, and not always making it back to the bathroom, and my husband ends up tossing ones that get everywhere... so my supply slowly slowly is dwindling, so I don't use it all the time now. We use toilet paper...
We also use a bidet and disposable baby wipes, depending on the family members and their preferences. (I was never able to convince Mike to try family cloth...)

Soap (hand soap and body soap)-
I make my own bar soap, which I use for my hands and my body. This is also cheaper than even the cheap body wash and hand soap, it is also better for you than the store bought stuff, since it is hypoallergenic and without synthetic irritants and other things like parabens, etc... that can cause long term health effects.
However, as much as soap making is great, it also takes some time and requires no kids to be around, so I can only do it when Mike is home and ready and willing to watch the kids for me to make soap. I'm currently all out of homemade soap and waiting for the right time to be able to make more soap.
Mike tends to buy homemade cheap body wash and hand soap, so he and the kids tend to use this (he bathes them most of the time), and until I make more soap this is what I'm using as well.

Though I've written before about "going no poo", meaning using baking soda and vinegar to clean your hair instead of shampoo... it didn't work for me. I started off with my hair feeling greasy, eventually my hair "adjusted" and wasn't so greasy anymore, etc... but by a certain point my hair just felt "wrong" and unclean and that it wasn't being like it should be. Greasy wouldn't be the right word- it felt waxy almost.
So then I started using Doctor Bronner's castille soap for my hair, and it dried it out too much and then got very greasy to compensate for the dryness. I started using my homemade soap bars... and it worked the same as the castille soap. I am still trying to figure out a good recipe for shampoo bars, still trying to figure out what will work for my hair, especially since most of the shampoo bar recipes boast "works well, moisturizing dry hair!" when my issue is my hair gets greasy, not that it's too dry.
Therefore, at the moment, I'm back to using regular shampoo. I tend to just use whatever cheap stuff Mike buys on sale, but only usually wash my hair once a week and it stays good and non greasy between those washes.
I would like to start buying healthier shampoos from the health food store or iherb... One day.

I've written about homemade deodorant before- two types- one made with baking soda and potato starch, and one made with the addition of coconut oil to that mixture. It works well, but to be honest... I'm just lazy. I don't feel like making more...
I've read that the more toxins you have in your system, the more toxins you release via sweat, and hence, your sweat ends up smellier. Since going on a healthier diet, I've noticed it myself- my sweat doesn't stink nearly as much as it used to, so many days I just go without deodorant, and if I notice that I'm starting to stink, I'll just wash out my pits or use a baby wipe to clean up and remove smell. Here and there when I decide to wear deodorant I just use store bought stuff...

Hand Cream-
I happen to really dislike hand cream. I don't enjoy putting on lotion or the feel of it, so this is a moot point. On the rare occasion that I do want to put on cream... well, I've gotten so many bottles as gifts that I just use that.

Rash Cream-
If anyone in my family has a skin irritation, like a baby with a diaper rash, I usually just leave it be, and air it out as much as possible, and if that doesn't work, I use some coconut oil that I infused with plantain and lavender for their healing properties.

So- there you have it. The honest truth, what I really use, not just what my posts would lead you to think that I use...

What do you use for health and hygiene products in your home? Are there any cheap or natural stuff you would like to be using, ideally, but in actuality, you don't? What things are those?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Thanks for sharing! I think these types of posts are helpful...more realistic than all our posts about what we would like to do.

    For me, the next "green" steps are to switch from conditioner (already gave up shampoo) to vinegar and switch to Dr. Bronner's for face wash. After that I'm planning on trying out a moon cup!

    1. What do you use instead of shampoo? Does your hair tend to be dryer or oilier?

    2. I use a recipe I found on line: 1 part honey, 1 part coconut oil (melted), 2 parts castile soap (I prefer Dr. Bronner's Almond). You have to mix it gently every time before you use it, but I use it head to toe, shampoo, face wash, shave cream. I love it!

  2. Mixing vinegar and baking soda produces water and salt, as the acid neutralizes the base.

    1. Its not at the same time- first baking soda and water, rinse, and then vinegar.

    2. I use the Keeper mensrual cup for normal periods. I used up the last of my disposable pads for my previous postpartum bleeding and do have a few reusable Ecobibi pads in my collection. How many reusable pads do you feel you need in rotation for postpartum?

  3. I just got a Diva Cup about two months ago....I LOVE IT! Everyone should use it IMHO SO much easier and environmentally friendly as compared to disposable hygiene products. Also use reusable menstrual pads that I bought on eBay :)

  4. Oh and I LOVE Coconut Oil! Good for removing mascara!

  5. It's really fun to hear what you actually do! Sounds a lot like me, I do what I can, but I've realized I can't, and am often just too lazy, to do it all, but I don't beat myself up about it :)
    My hair is thin, straight, and greasy. I've also had that waxy feeling in my hair when I used baking soda and white vinegar (couldn't stand the ACV smell), almost sticky but dry too, really weird and horrible. I read a suggestion to use citric acid so I tried it out of desperation. A tbsp or slightly less mixed into a cup of water poured on after the BS is rinsed out. It works great and my hair went back to normal. I can go 4 days without washing, it's super greasy again by the 4th, but it's better and cheaper then the store bought stuff that has my hair feeling greasy by evening! I'm jealous you can go a week ;)
    Also, for deodorant I use a salt crystal deodorant, you can get them on amazon and it works awesome. It would probably last you years since you don't use it much and it's an (easy!) cheap alternative to regular stuff.

  6. I am fascinated by the "no poo" movement, but I can't bring myself to try it! My hair is really fine and tends to get very flat and greasy if I go more than two days without washing it. I don't think it would respond well. I have recently been learning about and using essential oils, so I would like to try my own lotions with coconut oil. Most of my "natural" usage is in food and cooking at the moment.

  7. Well, not exactly natural, but you can use cheap, silicone-free conditioner as an alternative to shampoo. Cheap because they have less oils/waxes, silicone-free because that will leave a film on your hair. The base of conditioner is actually a weak surfactant so it gets rid of excess oils without drying your hair. The only downside is it takes quite a bit if you wash all your hair at once or if you have very thick hair. I tend to use it on my scalp only, where my hair is generally oiliest. FWIW I have long, fine hair...my hair is always up in a bun so the oils don't tend to move down the hair shaft, and the bottom portion of my hair tends to stay pretty clean. Where I live I had real problems with finding the right hair-washing routine as our water is extremely hard, and I would end up either with mineral build-up on my hair or super-dry hair if I used enough acv or citric acid to get the minerals out.

  8. The solution to your little cloths getting scattered everywhere and thrown away by Mike is to wash them in a zippered mesh bag, which also can go through the dryer. If you line-dry, you will need to remove them from the bag and spread them out...but you could then put the dry ones back into the bag to keep them together until you can put them away.

    I wash my hair with vinegar only and it's been great for me. I think it helped to transition into it by using shampoo every other wash and vinegar in between.

    I also wash my face with honey and use a little coconut oil for under-eye moisturizing. For hand lotion after washing dishes, I use those last drops of cooking oil that linger in the bottle--what seems like not enough oil to bother with for cooking is enough to soothe my hands for many days, and using it that way is much easier than propping up the bottle to drain into the new one!

  9. Hi Penny,
    I have the same issue with "waxy" hair-- I have read it's from the minerals in hard water.

    I just use a more natural store-bought shampoo.

  10. I've been using a crystal deodorant for years. It's only about $4 here, has a holder similar to a regular deodorant, works superbly, and lasts for years. I absolutely recommend it!

  11. We did the natural thing for a while (making our deodorant, washing with olive oil soap, no creams, natural shampoo, etc) and quite honestly I felt like I was not smelling so good. And the deodorant gave me an horrible rash. So I personally went right back to the commercial stuff. I know it's horrible for our health....
    Hubby stuck with home made deodorant, washing hair with baking soda and body with castile soap. Kids are using a mix.

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