Dear Sara:

Do you have a recipe for making shampoo? -- Rita M., email

Dear Rita:

I don't have a recipe for store-bought shampoo. However, I do have a natural recipe that many of my readers enjoy using as a substitute for store-bought shampoo. Many people have tried "no-poo," meaning they use baking soda and water (some use a paste) to wash their hair and apple cider vinegar to rinse.
One member of my Frugal Village forums, G.G. from New Mexico, shares: "I keep a bottle of baking soda and one of vinegar in the shower (15 ounces water, 1 ounce vinegar in a spray bottle). You wet your hair as usual and "shampoo" with the baking soda, then rinse with the vinegar. My hair is the healthiest it has been in my whole life. You do have to go through a weaning process from the shampoo. Shampoo strips your scalp of oil, leaving it damaged. The scalp then overproduces oil to try and heal it, leaving you with oilier hair, which then becomes stinky. If you are in the habit of shampooing your hair daily, you need to start alternating shampoo days with baking soda days. After a few days, you will notice a difference in the way your scalp reacts. That's when you add in another baking soda day. Keep the process up until you are shampoo-free. After a while, you will not even need the baking soda every day." You can read more about trying this on my forums at

Dear Sara:

I have a dog that has peed in the same spot several times. The smell is driving me crazy. Ripping up the carpet is not an option. I have shampooed the carpet several times, tried vinegar, water, etc. Do you have any other suggestions for me? -- Sheri, Indiana

Dear Sheri:

It's difficult to remove urine smells from carpet if it's soaked into the padding. Try Kids 'N' Pets stain and odor remover. Visit for a product locator, or you can purchase it online at, or I have two large dogs, a cat and a rabbit, and while I've used vinegar and baking soda and a host of other homemade remedies, I'm quite fond of and prefer the Kids 'N' Pets product. It's not expensive, and it gets the job done. Other products that readers have shared that worked well for them are: Nature's Miracle, X-O Odor Neutralizer and Zorbx.

Keep in mind that you need to find a solution for your pet to prevent indoor accidents. Even if you can't smell urine anymore, that doesn't mean your dog won't pick up on the scent and continue to urinate in the house. Some dogs simply can't have full run of the house and need close supervision or temporary confinement when you're unable to be right there (not necessarily crating, but room confinement such as the kitchen). If your dog isn't spayed or neutered, please consider that. Be sure to have a vet examine your dog, too.

Dear Sara:

Help. My central air conditioner is smelling up my whole house. What can I do? -- Jenna H., email

Dear Jenna:

I suggest you allow a professional to take a look at it. The odor could be originating from the coil or condensation tray. It could be from mold, mildew or simply an interior smell (smoke, dead rodent in your ductwork, etc.) blowing through the vents in your house. It might be a clog in the drainage, or even a dirty filter. If you are comfortable checking and cleaning these areas, great (the filter and drainage hose would be pretty simple), but if not, have a professional come and clean your unit and your ductwork for you. Make it a part of your regular home maintenance.


photo by mellicious