Finding out after expensive doctors' visits that both children were co' />

Bargain Betty's wallet is allergic to anything expensive. Highly allergic.

Finding out after expensive doctors' visits that both children were coming out in spots thanks to soaps and shampoos posed a problem. Any other parent would have made a bee-line for any of the huge range of "organic" toiletries available everywhere from supermarket shelves to health food shops. But at $10 to $20 for a few hundred millilitres I balked.

There had to be a better way. True, some people simply don't use soaps. But we're not quite that homespun, or unwashed.

I turned to the DIY approach and started by boiling up some solid blocks of Sunlight soap. Surely Grandma had done something like that? Believe you me, don't try that one at home, it's very messy indeed.

Another bottle of expensive shampoo (and conditioner) down the track and I took to Google one night in frustration.

Eureka. Good old Google provided everything from YouTube how-to videos to recipes. Plenty cited pure liquid Castile soap as the basis for all home-made soaps. But I'm yet to find a bulk supplier in New Zealand.

Then finally, about ready to go to bed, I chanced on, which wholesales the ingredients for organic soaps, shampoos, and even pet washes. It is based less than one kilometre from my home, so I don't even need to pay for postage.

Armed with bottles of various ingredients and a recipe it took just five minutes to make a two litre bottle of organic shampoo, costing $30 in total which doubles as body and hand wash and lasts us most of the year.

Shampoo isn't my only homemade cleaning product. I've experimented with a cocktail of chemicals and visitors could be forgiven for thinking my cupboards look something like a P-lab - although I've never seen one first hand.

My conclusion after months of test-runs is virtually any expensive cleaning product can be home-made with a concoction of washing soda, meths, bleach, ammonia, and eucalyptus oil. The oil isn't essential but it adds a nice smell and even doubles as a fabric softener.

The moral of the organic shampoo tale is there is always a cheaper way to do things.