Do It Yourself Crafts
Do it yourself crafts are affordable, effective, and fun ways of solving your problems and improving your life. In this guide, we’re going to highlight some of the projects you can do with little or no investment.
The Grades Of DIY
DIY is great for keeping costs low, but the truth is that most projects are pretty hard to do without buying something at some point. When deciding how much to invest, keep the following grades in mind:
- Totally DIY: These do it yourself crafts either require nothing except your body or involve repurposing something you bought in the past. These are the most affordable projects, but also the most limited.
- Tools Required: As the name suggests, these projects require one or more tools (like a hammer or shovel). Most homes already have these, but if you don’t, you can try borrowing them from a friend or neighbor. Most totally DIY projects can use tools and will go faster if you do.
- Supplies Required: These projects require some sort of supply, like wood or paint. In these cases, you’ll be doing the work yourself, but there’s really no way around the fact that you need supplies. Note that supplies aren’t always costly – you can often find good wood, in particular, at little or no cost. In most cases, supplies also require tools.
The Best DIY Projects You Can Do Without Buying Much
Here are our top do it yourself crafts suggestions.
#1: Learn To Repurpose Things
Most of the stuff you put in the trash can isn’t necessarily trash. Sure, you probably don’t need to keep greasy pizza boxes, but it’s easy to start reusing things once you look at them with a creative eye. Start by writing down a list of problems you’ve had – big or small, doesn’t matter – then ask if something you’re throwing away could be used to solve any of them.
Here are some examples:
- Plastic Bags: Tie them around your knees when you’re gardening, use them to wrap gifts, donate them to charitable causes that need them, or use them as disposable gloves.
- Dryer Lint: Total waste, right? Nope! Make firestarters (fill toilet paper rolls with lint then wrap it all in a newspaper), use it as bedding for pets, use it as stuffing for animals, mop up spills, or turn it into compost. Remember to clean the main dryer vent every six months.
- Toilet Paper Rolls: Put them around seeds toward some insects away, make them into bird feeders, use them to store hair elastics, or donate them to an animal shelter (since many pets enjoy biting them).
The key with these – and with most do it yourself crafts – is to catch things between the end of their primary use and when you’d normally throw them in the trash. That said, remember that some things aren’t useful until you have a lot of them, so you may need to collect for weeks or even months before they become useful.
If you’d like to act sooner, try starting a neighborhood collection. Many houses, for example, may be willing to collect and give you their dryer lint if they understand what it’s for. (Donations to charities and children’s groups are among the most reliable strategies.)
#2: Be Smarter About Gardening
Many of the best Do It Yourself crafts involve gardening – and that’s great news for most families. Here are some of our favorite projects.
#2a: Shredded Leaves
Leaves are easy to shred – just use a lawnmower or similar tool, then scoop them together. If you have a big yard and a lot of trees, consider investing in an electric leaf shredder. Once you have enough shreds, you can use them in the following ways:
- Protecting Plants: Shredded leaves make excellent insulation. A six-inch layer is enough to protect most delicate plants from the cold of winter.
- Composting: Shredded leaves are heavy in carbon, making them an ideal balance for green (i.e., nitrogen-heavy) plants that get tossed into most compost bins. For more information on creating compost at home (and getting the leaves to break down), check out this guide.
- Mulching: Shredded leaves are a great alternative to traditional mulches. They retain moisture well – limiting the amount of watering you need to do – and they control weeds, so you won’t need to garden as often. Of course, you’ll need a lot of leaves if you have a garden of any significant size, so plan ahead and don’t be afraid to consider other sources.
#2b: The Soil Test
Maintaining proper pH balance is critical for raising plants – but you don’t need expensive tests! Instead, get two small cups, some white vinegar, some baking soda, and a bit of water.
Start by scooping soil into your first container, then adding about half a cup of white vinegar. Look for any bubbling – if you see some, that means the soil is too alkaline. If nothing happens, use your clean container, add a new scoop of soil, and mix it with half a cup of water. Afterward, add half a cup of baking soda. If the baking soda fizzles, the soil is too acidic.
If nothing happens, the soil is currently neutral and in good shape. Repeat the test once a year and amending the soil as needed.
Note: Having highly alkaline or acidic soil isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some plants prefer this type of soil.
#2c: The Herb Garden
Sometimes, Do it yourself crafts lean towards the tasty… and rarely more so than planting an herb garden. Fresh herbs are a healthy and flavorful way to spruce up your meals, and you can often make pots by repurposing old containers.
That said, many herbs are somewhat invasive, and they can run wild in a garden if left unattended. Try to limit their growth to something you can manage more effectively. Good herbs to raise at home include:
For more help raising an herb garden indoors, see this guide. Be sure to label the plants so you can remember what they are – and make sure you don’t grow anything that could make any pets sick.
#3: Home Improvements
The best do it yourself crafts involve home improvements. Whether they make the place look nicer or save you money – or both – these projects are always worth doing. Here are the best choices.
#3a: Convert Toilets To Low-Flow Units
You don’t have to buy a new toilet to convert it to a low-flow unit. Instead, convert it by adding a tank bag or similar product to reduce the amount of water needed to refill the tank. Don’t use bricks for this – they can dissolve and clog pipes.
Also, check with your utility company before heading out to buy a product. Many utilities offer tank bags for free as part of water-saving initiatives, so you can quickly start to reap the savings.
(Water may cost less than a penny per gallon in most of the country, but when it takes several gallons per flush, it adds up fast.)
#3b: Clean Your Washing Machine
With a name like that, you’d think the machine would clean itself – but no, washing machines need to be maintained on a regular basis. Fortunately, this is easy to do. You’ll need some vinegar, an all-purpose cleaner, a rag, and a spray bottle. (Do not use a bottle that’s held any other chemicals.)
Start by spraying vinegar over the outside of the machine and wiping it down with your cloth. Get every part you can reach, including any knobs and buttons. Next, add two cups of vinegar to the machine and run it through its longest cycle on the hottest setting. This will remove most stains and lingering buildups from the detergent.
After that cycle, spray and clean the inside of the door. You may need a small brush to get everywhere. After that’s all done, leave the door open and let the machine air dry. Continue to leave it open between loads (unless you have kids or pets) – this stops mold from growing.
Finally, last but far from least, check the hoses and replace them if they look like they’re getting old. It’s an expense, but less of one than having a hose break and spew water everywhere.
This is just a small sampling of the many DIY projects you can do in and around your home. Remember, you don’t need expensive products or services for most tasks around your house. A little knowledge and creativity can go a long way towards helping you have a cleaner, healthier, and more attractive home.