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Homemade cleaners and lotions with essential oils

By DIY44 Comments

Ladies, I’ve cracked the code!  My experiments with homemade cleaners and lotions have finally yielded something to brag about.  Here’s everything you need to know to make some of your own, including a giveaway of essential oils to help you get started.

Homemade Cleaners and Lotions

My journey with homemade cleaners started with simple vinegar and water mixtures.

This one gallon jug of distilled white vinegar only cost me $2.50.   And can you make out the green circle?  It says, “Ideal for food.”  That means no need for a Mr Yuck sticker.

Homemade Cleaners - vinegar

My only issue with homemade vinegar cleaners is that they, well, smell like vinegar.  Not exactly the fresh and clean smell that I’m going for when I clean my house.

Well, my friends, I found a solution: Wyndmere Naturals Essential Oils!

What the heck are essential oils, you ask?

Essential oils are totally natural, highly concentrated extracts from the aromatic parts of plants.  They’re diluted in oils, lotions, water, added to baths, diffused in the air, and used many more ways to clean, disinfect, and improve your mind and body through aromatherapy.

Whether or not you buy into the whole field of aromatherapy is up to you.

Personally, I like the idea of using essential oils because they smell good and they’re all-natural.  If they truly have added bacteria-killing and mind and body enhancing properties, all the better.

Wyndmere Naturals Essential Oils

Wyndmere Naturals is a Minnesota-based company that sells fresh and high quality essential oils .  Whenever possible, Wyndmere Naturals essentials oils are extracted from plants that are indigenous and either grown “organically, ethically wildcrafted or pesticide free.”

Wyndmere Naturals sells essential oils from individual plants and also combines complementary oils into their own signature blends – perfect for essential oil newbies like me!

The stars aligned and Wyndmere Naturals offered to send me six samples to try out.

Homemade Cleaners and Lotions with essential oils

From left to right:

  • Mold Fighter – helps get rid of mold and mildew – a blend of tea tree, orange, cinnamon, niaouli, and patchouli essential oils.
  • Lavender – use to calm, soothe, restore, and balance. Can help heal superficial wounds.
  • Bacteria Fighter – helps disinfect bathroom and kitchen counters – a blend of lemon, lavender, cinnamon, rosemary, tea tree essential oils, and more.
  • Tea tree – a popular essential oil that can improve cleaners, first aid kits, and fingernails.
  • Household Purifier – use for household chores and to purify air – a blend of lemon, grapefruit, pine, cinnamon, and thyme essential oils.
  • Citrus Delight – promotes a “cheerful disposition” – a blend of orange, lemon, lime, cardamom essential oils, and more.

Each sample vial contained 1/4 teaspoon of essential oil.

Wyndmere Naturals recommends a “1% dilution” of essential oil in a carrier oil, lotion, or cleaning solution for pregnant women and children, so I took that into account when I was using my oils.

Here’s how I used them…

Homemade Cleaners and Lotions with Essential Oils

All-Purpose Spray Cleaner

Homemade Cleaners and Lotions - All Purpose Spray

2 cups water + 2 cups vinegar + 1/4 tsp bacteria fighter essential oil = awesomeness.

Since I had a total of 4 cups of liquid, a 1% dilution would have actually required 2 teaspoons of essential oil.  But even the 1/4 teaspoon from the sample vial made the spray smell great.   I put my nose right up to the counter and I couldn’t smell a bit of vinegar.

(Note: When I was doing research on cleaning with vinegar I found that it isn’t recommended for use on porous surfaces, like marble.)

Hardwood and Tile Floor Cleaner

Homemade Cleaners and Lotions - hardwood floors

1 gallon warm water + 1/2 cup vinegar + 1/4 tsp household purifier essential oil = shiny, streak-free floors.

While 1/4 teaspoon is very little essential oil for this much homemade cleaning solution, it still worked perfectly, dried quickly, and smelled great.

When I was mopping the floors, my 3 year old asked, “Mom, what is that smell?”  I replied, “What does it smell like?”  And she said, “Clean.”  Enough said.

Shower Cleaner

Homemade Cleaners and Lotions - shower cleaner

1/4 cup vinegar + 1/8 tsp mold fighter essential oil = one squeaky clean tub.

I mixed the liquids in this little scrubber thing and got to work.  It was the perfect amount to clean the bathtub and shower tile.

For this amount of liquid, 1/8 tsp of essential oil is exactly a 1% dilution.  I used the other half of the sample vial from Wyndmere Naturals the following week.

While this smell was definitely better than bleach or other harsh cleaning products, I have to say it was my least favorite of the samples from Wyndmere Naturals.  My husband remarked that it smelled like “hippies.” (No offense to my free spirited friends – this just isn’t the smell I’m going for when cleaning my house.)

Air Freshener

Homemade Cleaners and Lotions - room spray

1 cup of water + 1/4 tsp citrus delight essential oil = sunny smelling rooms.

I never buy air fresheners, but I’ve gotten kind of obsessed with this stuff.  I keep it in our hall bathroom and spray it in our bedrooms and upstairs playroom every morning.

Homemade “Lotions”

Homemade Cleaners and Lotions - Coconut Oil Lotions

1/2 cup coconut oil + 1/4 tsp essential oil = heaven in a jelly jar.

I made two homemade “lotions” – one with lavender essential oil and one with tea tree essential oil – and labeled them with leftover tags from my DIY fabric jar cover project.

I bought Trader Joe’s coconut oil (sold on here) and mixed it with essential oils in glass jelly jars. (I either buy the jars at my local grocery store or on here.)

I’ve completely fallen in love with this stuff.  I’ve been using it on my legs, feet, nails, preggo belly…even my face!  My daughters love it too, so I’ve been rubbing it on their bellies and backs after their bath at night.

What I Learned

You don’t realize how bad chemical cleaners smell until you start using all-natural ones.  The same goes for store-bought vs. homemade lotions.

The only tricky part was figuring out how much essential oil to use.  To make your life a little bit easier, here’s a free printable that you can hang on your refrigerator.

Homemade Cleaners and Lotions with Essential Oils - FREE PRINTABLE


You can certainly use less than a 1% dilution (or more – some people prefer 2-3%), but at least this chart is a reference point.

After trying all of the samples from Wyndmere Naturals, I went ahead and bought two bottles of bacteria fighter essential oil, one bottle of certified organic lavender essential oil, and one bottle of certified organic geranium essential oil (recommended to me by a friend).  I stocked up on extra spray bottles and coconut oil and I can’t wait to start gifting homemade all-purpose spray cleaners and coconut oil “lotions” to friends!

Giveaway! (CLOSED)

Wyndmere Naturals generously agreed to send me a second sample pack of oils for one lucky reader.  (If you don’t want to wait, you can go ahead a purchase essential oils through Wyndmere Naturals’ website.)

This giveaway ends Sunday, September 8th at 9pm EST.

Open to U.S. residents only.

To enter (mandatory):

  • Leave a comment below saying which essential oil you’re most excied to try.

Extra entry (optional):

  • Follow Wyndmere Naturals on Facebook or Pinterest (and leave an additional comment below saying that you did).

The winner – determined by a random number generator – was Stephanie.  Congrats, Stephanie!


Fabric jar covers DIY

By DIY14 Comments

Create your own fabric jar covers for less than $5…in less than an hour! This may be my favorite DIY yet!

(I’ve only done two other DIY projects this year, so being my “favorite” isn’t that big of a feat.  Although my DIY Framed Chalkboard Dinner Menu and DIY Framed Speech Bubbles are pretty cute.)

I’ve been canning up a storm this summer.  (You can find my canning tips for beginners in a previous blog post.)

Since canned goods stay fresh for at least a year, I have grand plans of giving every friend and family member a homemade jar for Christmas this year.  I’ll probably be giving them out for birthdays, housewarming parties, and new babies too.

I wanted to come up with a cute, easy way to cover and label my canning jars.

My super-crafty Mom told me that she made fabric covers for all of my Grandma’s homemade canned goods in the 80’s and 90’s.  Genius!

DIY fabric jar covers - before and after

I may not have inherited my Mom’s crafts skills and attention to detail, but this is a DIY even I can pull off.  (Let’s be real.  Most days I’d rather be running or cooking than crafting.)

I went to my local craft store and spent a whopping $4.00 on fabric, ribbon, and tags.  Cute AND cheap?!  Wahoo!

Here’s everything you need to make fabric jar covers for one batch of homemade peach slow cooker jam.  (These covers would also look great on the Slow Cooker Strawberry Jam and Slow Cooker Applesauce in my newest cookbook.)

DIY fabric jar covers from @kellymcnelis

DIY Fabric Jar Covers


  • Glass jars that are full of love and yummy, homemade canned goods
  • One fabric “fat quarter” – You’ll find these in the quilting section of the craft store.  Each one measures about 18″x22″ and there are 4 fat quarters per yard of fabric.  (You can also use scrap fabric or fabric by-the-yard.)  One fat quarter is enough fabric to cover 9, 8oz jelly jars – or 12, 4oz jelly jars or 4 quart-sized jars.
  • One 10-yard spool of elastic ribbon that is 1/8″ wide or thinner – This is enough ribbon for 16, 8oz or 4oz jelly jars or 15 quart-sized jars.
  • Tags to label your jars (I used simple white circles that were 2″ in diameter.)
  • Fabric pinking shears
  • A pencil (to trace circles on your fabric)
  • A pen or marker (to write on your tags)
  • Something round that you can trace onto your fabric that is 2″ wider than the lids of your jars (like a coffee can or tupperware lid)
  • One hair tie or rubber band that fits securely around the top of your jars


1. Iron your fabric to get rid of any lines and creases.

You’ll need to iron your fat quarter because they come rolled up like this.  I bought four because I have a lot of jars to cover.

(Don’t you just love the patterns that I picked?!)

DIY fabric jar covers - fat quarters

2. Place your round household item on the backside of your fabric and trace your circles with a pencil.

(It’s important that your item is 2″ wider than your jar lids because you want about an inch of extra fabric to hang down on each side of your jar.)

For 8oz jelly jars, you’ll want to draw circles that are about 5.5″ wide.  (For 4oz jelly jars, you’ll want circles about 4.75″ wide and for quart-sized jars, you’ll want your circles to be about 8″ wide.)

I ended up using a part of my food processor.  (Random, I know.)

DIY fabric jar covers - trace circles

3. Cut out the circles with your pinking shears.

DIY fabric jar covers - cut fabric

(I’m a sucker for modern, geometric prints.)

DIY fabric jar covers - cut circles 4

4. Cut your ribbon into strips that are 22.5″ long.

This is for 8oz or 4oz jelly jars.  (You’ll need 24″ strips for quart-sized jars.)

DIY fabric jar covers - cut ribbon

5. Write on your tags.

Here are the ones that I bought.

DIY fabric jar covers - tags

I so wish my handwriting was neater and cooler than this.  (Is there such a thing as handwriting school for adults?!)

DIY fabric jar covers - tags labeled

6. Pick up your first jar and center a fabric circle on the top.  Secure with a hair tie below the screw band.

DIY fabric jar covers - fabric on jar

7. Loop a piece of ribbon around the top of your jar and tie into a tight knot.  Add a tag and tie into a bow.

This was the most time-consuming task for me because I didn’t use elastic ribbon.  Please make your life easy and buy the elastic ribbon, ladies!

DIY fabric jar covers - tie and tag

8. Cut excess ribbon.


DIY fabric jar covers - finished jar

9. Repeat steps 6-8 for remaining jars.

Now is the time to Instagram pics showing off your craftiness! (Please tag me @kellymcnelis so I can see!!)

DIY fabric jar covers - homemade blackberry jam

DIY fabric jar covers - top view

DIY fabric jar covers

Nitty-Gritty Directions (without pics)

  1. Iron your fabric to get rid of any lines and creases.
  2. Place your round household item on the backside of your fabric and trace your circles with a pencil.
  3. Cut out the circles with your pinking shears.
  4. Cut your ribbon into strips that are 22.5″ long.  (This is for 8oz and 4oz jelly jars.  You’ll need 24″ strips for quart-sized jars.)
  5. Write on your tags.
  6. Pick up your first jar and center a cut piece of fabric on the top.  Secure with a hair tie below the screw band.
  7. Loop a piece of ribbon around the top of your jar and tie into a tight knot.  Add a tag and tie into a bow.
  8. Cut excess ribbon.
  9. Repeat steps 6-8 for remaining jars.

Tell me: What are you canning this year?  Do you have any other tips for making canned goods look super cute?


PS Be sure to follow me on Pinterest @kellymcnelis for more recipes and fun DIYs!

DIY framed speech bubbles

By DIYNo Comments

It takes a special kind of project to motivate me to DIY.  This is one of them.

Earlier this year I set my sights on a DIY framed chalkboard.  My husband helped me turn my dream into a reality, and I love having it hanging in our kitchen.

When I saw this photo of framed speech bubbles on Pinterest, I knew they had to be my next project.

DIY framed speech bubbles from @kellymcnelis

Such a cute way to leave messages around the house.

I decided to make four of them so we could also capture funny quotes said by our toddlers.

DIY framed speech bubbles x4 

Here’s everything you need to make some of your own.

DIY Framed Speech Bubbles


  • Frames (I bought mine at IKEA for super cheap.)
  • Cardstock – one foreground color and one background color per frame (I bought mine at a local craft store in the scrapbooking aisle.  Buy a couple of extra pieces in case you mess up.)
  • Hole Punch
  • Scissors
  • A Pen
  • Dry Erase Markers or Chalk Markers (So you can start writing on your frames right away!)


1. Cut your cardstock to fit your frames.

2. Punch holes in your first piece of foreground cardstock.  Start by figuring out where your corners will be.  (You’ll only be able to punch so far in from each side of the paper.)

DIY framed speech bubbles corners

3. Use a pen to draw straight lines connecting the corner holes on the back side of the cardstock.  (You’ll end up with one large rectangle that is about an inch inside the border of the paper.)  These lines will be your guide when punching the rest of the holes.

(Trust me, you don’t want to skip this step.  I skipped it with a practice piece of paper and my holes weren’t straight at all.)

4. Punch holes along the lines that you drew.  Make sure to leave space where you’re going to put the bottom of the speech bubble.

5. To create the bottom of the speech bubble, punch a couple of holes down in a row.  Then punch up at an angle until you reach the height of the rest of your holes.

6. Repeat steps 2-5 for each piece of foreground cardstock.

7. Assemble each frame and start writing!

DIY framed speech bubbles finished

Easy-peasy, right?

How cute is this photo of my daughter Cameran with a framed speech bubble?

DIY framed speech bubbles cam

(The girl never smiles for photos anymore.  She must really love this DIY!)

I decided to hang our framed speech bubbles on a wall between our living room and dining room so everyone can see them, but I also think it would be super cute to make one to display on a table or bookshelf.

So there you have it, my latest easy DIY project.

Do you DIY?  Have you seen any projects lately that you want to make? 

DIY framed chalkboard dinner menu

By DIYNo Comments

I finally convinced my husband to make me a framed chalkboard for our kitchen. I’ve been dreaming about a “family dinner menu” to display our weekly meal plan, and this chalkboard is perfect. This DIY project is oh-so-cute and easy to make – here’s everything you need to make your own…

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