For years I searched (and paid more for) natural shampoos and rinses that were not tested on animals. There are some great brands like Toms of Maine and Garden Gate, even St Ives doesn't test on animals, or used to not.
But about a year ago I started using basically just baking soda for shampoo and brown vinegar for rinse and my hair is in better condition now than it was when I started. I have to add that I do not color my hair or use any other products in it, except for a homemade natural hot oil treatment once a year (it's been over a year actually).
I keep a bottle of brown vinegar and a jar of baking soda in the bathroom just for that purpose. I've tried several different herbs in the vinegar and settled on Rosemary. I have fairly long and very thick hair and use 2 to 3 Tablespoons of baking soda to about 16 ounces of water. And about a 1/4 to 1/3 cup vinegar to about 16 ounces of water.
When I want to wash my hair I just prepare the baking soda and vinegar along with getting towels ready and all. I'm using two empty 16 ounce water bottles for the moment (haven't found anything better yet). I put the allotted amount of baking soda in it's bottle and the vinegar in the other and set them near where I'm washing my hair (shower/bath or wash basin). I wet my hair then add warm water to the baking soda bottle, shake well then pour gently over my hair. Scrub in, let set a few seconds then rinse well with clean water. Then I fill the vinegar bottle with warm water and do the same. Towel dry and go.
I have tried scenting the baking soda, which works well but the scent is washed away by the vinegar.
I also make my own soaps (mainly cold press). I use whole oats in my personal soaps (sell some as well) and people often ask about the oats down the drain. I use a screen in the drain because I have a lot of hair but it catches the oats or lemon grass or whatever, as well. The other things I use is a muslin bag, the same type my teas come in. Just pop in a bar or small block of soap and whatever solids there are will be trapped in the bag.
And my own tooth powder (just flavored baking soda). Nik uses regular toothpaste, mainly Toms of Maine. Tooth powder is very easy and there are several simple recipes online. What I do is, have a small jar with an opening large enough for a toothbrush head. Fill with baking soda and a few drops of pure extract (I prefer wintergreen but am currently using peppermint). Mix well and keep covered. When it's time to brush just dampen the brush and dip into the toothpowder. If Nik used toothpowder I would make us seperate jars.
I have two sizes of wash basins I use when I don't shower or take a bath. I have a smaller enamelware one for simple cloth bathing and a larger stoneware basin and pitcher for washing my hair. I have a few of the enamelware size and I use them often for several different things.
I use baking soda and vinegar (white or brown) to clean almost everything. I keep what I use for cleaning separate from what i use for other things. I'll post more about cleaning another time.
I also make my own vinegar .....
There are many ways and directions available online but this is how I make homemade vinegar. When I first started making it a few years ago i used wine yeast but I learned that it makes a much better vinegar to use the natural yeast in the air and what's already in the fruit. It's also a lot easier!
I make it in a very big crock, you can use anything but it should be glass or stoneware, not metal or plastic. And the wider the mouth the better for collecting the yeast from the air.
We used to get windfall apples every year and I would use the bruised and battered ones for vinegar. But a storm knocked down the neighbors apple trees and now I have to buy them.
I cut up as many apples as I have to spare and grate several to start. Throw in seeds, peels and all. Put them in the container and cover with well water (if you have city type water then you'll probably need distilled water because the chemicals will kill or retard the growth of the Mother). Cover the mouth of the container with a couple of layers of cheesecloth (to keep out bugs and stuff) and secure with a string or a rubber band. You can continue adding fruit the whole time. Peels, cores, juice (as long as it's not processed. processed juice or anything can kill the Mother). Allow to set for a few weeks and then start testing. If it's really hot I start testing at 2 weeks, in the winter it can take 2 months. To test just dip out a tiny amount and taste it.
If you want straight apple vinegar then just add apples otherwise you can any fruit bits you want and make a fruit vinegar. Or you can make different vinegars for different things.
You can save the Mother by keeping it in a jar of vinegar if you're going to use it to make more soon. We use a lot of vinegar ... for the animal waters, hair rinse, cleaning, cooking, laundry rinse, windshield wiper fluid, window cleaner, general cleaner and more.