Make Your Own Vegan Cleaning, Makeup, and other Household Products

Author:Denise Perreault

The word "vegan" was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson, one of the founders of The Vegan Society, to distinguish them from vegetarians. Unlike vegetarians, who often eat eggs and/or dairy products, vegans avoid all animal products. Most vegans include honey on the list of foods they avoid, and some also include yeast. People decide to “go vegan” for a variety of reasons, but the most common are health, animal rights, and concern for the environment.

Those who advocate the health benefits of veganism cite the increases in obesity and heart disease related to the consumption of animal products, which are often high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Others just don't want another living thing to be exploited or killed so they can eat--not when there are so many non-animal food alternatives. When it comes to the environment, vegans note that growing plant-based foods uses fewer of the earth's resources than raising animals for human consumption.

While most people associate “vegan” with diet, most vegans avoid animal products in as many aspects of their lives as possible, which includes, for example, not buying leather clothing. Many personal care and household products either contain animal-based products or are tested on animals, which often causes the animal pain and suffering. Many mainstream beauty and household products contain chemicals and other potentially harmful ingredients, which vegans and non-vegans alike are more interested in keeping out of their homes. As people become more conscious about the chemicals in their environment, in addition to saving money, the interest in homemade cleaning and personal care products has grown. Although most of the ingredients in these products are vegan, this is a topic that interests anyone looking to live greener, buy less, and simplify their lives.

Fortunately, most of the ingredients needed to make natural cleaners for the house are already in our pantries. White vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and olive oil are primary ingredients in many recipes, and they can often be found in the kitchens of even the most occasional cook. Even on their own these items can be effective household helpers. Vinegar can be used as a cleaner, grease cutter, and stain remover. While most people know about leaving open boxes in the fridge and freezer to absorb odors, baking soda can also be used on its own as a scouring agent, fabric softener, and silver polish.

Skincare, like home care, can often be accomplished with a trip to the kitchen. Most of us have the image in our heads of the woman at the spa in a fluffy robe with cucumber slices over her eyes. The antioxidants in cucumbers may reduce inflammation, and the coldness of the slices can reduce swelling. Many people use olive oil to clean their faces, claiming it works wonders, even on oily skin. Cornstarch can be used as a talc-free powder, and baking soda has long been used as a substitute for toothpaste. While we may have a lot of the tools needed to make our own cosmetics in our homes already, many of the ingredients are unlikely to already be in the house. However, items to make vegan cosmetics are often available at natural food stores and are easily found online.

Some of the recipes linked to below may not be 100% vegan, but there are vegan substitutions for many ingredients. For example, beeswax is an ingredient in many recipes for personal care items, and candelilla wax, soy wax, carnuba wax, and bayberry wax are vegan substitutes. Agave nectar is a common substitute for honey. Making a substitution, however, may require a bit more testing and experimentation. And while using homemade cleaning supplies may take a bit more muscle, the reward is a healthier home and maybe a few extra calories burned.

Natural Housecleaning Recipe Cards

A PDF file from Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national organization seeking to eliminate chemicals that harm women’s health from the day-to-day environment.

Apartment Therapy

Helps others live more simply and healthily by connecting them to online resources.

Green Household Cleaners

By Mother Earth News, a leading resource for sustainable living.

Homemade Green Cleaning Products That Work

Recipes for four basic cleaning products from The Huffington Post.

Natural Cleaning Recipes

From Green Living Ideas, which is dedicated to helping people “green” all aspects of their lives.

Make Your Own Housecleaning Products

An extensive list from the Mother Nature Network.

Green Clean Guide

A PDF download from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

National Geographic’s Green Living

Recipes for vegan lip balm, lotion, and toothpaste.


The PETA website's Living page contains recipes for beauty and household products, as well as a list of animal and animal-derived ingredients to help with label checking.


Contains over 15,000 recipes and includes an entire section devoted to non-food items.

Natural Living

Wellness Mama's site includes a wide range of personal care and household recipes, from anti-itch cream to mouthwash.

LongLocks Hair Care Recipes

A free archive of recipes for a wide range of hair care products.

How to Make Your Own Shampoo

Two recipes from Off the Grid News.

Five Hair Conditioners You Can Make at Home

Simple recipes, using mostly kitchen ingredients, from Wise Bread.

Crockpot Castile Soap

A step-by-step guide to making your own bar soap.

How to Make Your Own Natural Cosmetics

A detailed breakdown of the ingredients one can use in making natural cosmetics, how they work, and how they interact with each other.

Make Your Cosmetics

Recipes for personal care products, house cleaning, and baby products.

DIY Cosmetics

Recipes for personal care items and cosmetics from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

DIY Makeup Remover

Part of The Learning Channel’s Green Living Tips.

Make Your Own Eyeshadow

Part of The Idiot’s Guide website. Clear, step-by-step directions.

Make Your Own Vegan Lip Balm

A clear, step-by-step recipe from The Vegan Woman, with pictures.

How to Make Your Own Lipstick

Several recipes, including ones for specific color families.

Make Your Own Makeup!

A video tutorial using food items as cosmetics.

Raw Organic Makeup Tutorial

Complete makeup routine with two ingredients and a couple of tools.

DIY Mineral Makeup

Step-by-step guide with a PDF download.