USP 530 – Session 11

DIY Handbook

By Heather Samuels with Raquel Pinderhughes

Table of Contents

Household DIY.. 3

Household Cleaners. 3

Household Air Filter. 4

Unpaper Towel 4

Draft Snake (Window or Door). 6

Food and Gardening DIY.. 8

Buying Food in Bulk. 8

Preparing Immune System Boosting Foods and Remedies. 8

Growing Herbs Indoors. 8

Growing Herbs and Food Outdoors. 8

Composting and Vermiculture. 9

Beekeeping (needs more). 9

Master Gardener Certification Programs. 9

DIY Beauty, Hair, Cosmetics, and Hygiene. 10

Cosmetics. 10

Skin Care. 10

Self-Care Products. 10

Hair. 10

Hygiene. 11


Plarn and Plarn Projects. 12

Beeswax Wraps. 12

Beeswax Candles. 14

Homemade Paper. 14

Produce and Grocery Bag. 14

Disaster Preparation and Survival DIY.. 16

To-go Bag Kit. 16

Household Earthquake Prep. 17

Fire Starter. 18

Water Filter. 19

Neighborhood Phone Tree. 20

Basic First Aid and CPR. 21


Household DIY


Household Cleaners

Window Cleaner

  • ¼ cup of white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch
  • 2 cups of warm water


Toilet Cleaner

  • ¾ cup baking soda
  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • 10 drops of tea tree oil
  • 10 drops of lavender essential oils


Multi-Purpose Cleaner

  • ¼ cup of white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1 litre of hot water
  • ½ a lemon


Citrus All Purpose Cleanser

  • Ingredients
    • Peels from lemons, limes, grapefruits and/or oranges (use organic for an organic cleanser)
    • White vinegar (organic for an organic cleanser)
    • Mason jars with lids, or any airtight container
    • Spray bottle
    • Mesh strainer
    • Distilled water


  1. Before peeling your citrus, be sure you have cleaned it with warm soapy water and have removed any stickers. You can use any variety or combination of citrus that you like. I prefer to do the peeling by hand to eliminate the possibility of any fruit getting into your cleanser base (sugar = mold).
  2. Fill a clean mason jar, or airtight container, with the peels and pack as tightly as possible. Jars with a tapered opening work best, so that you can place a larger peel at the top to block the smaller pieces from floating above the vinegar, which in my experience can lead to mold.
  3. Once you jar is packed, fill with vinegar until all of the peels are completely submerged.
  4. Screw the lid on tightly and store the jar in a cool, dark place for two weeks. I like to check it every few days to be sure that the peels are still submerged, and no mold has grown on any exposed pieces.
  5. After two weeks your cleanser base is ready. Pour the mixture through a mesh strainer into a bowl or another jar. Discard the peels
  6. The base can be stored in a tightly sealed jar or airtight container until ready to use. When you are ready to make the cleanser, combine it with distilled water in a 1:1 ratio and, using a funnel, pour into a spray bottle.


All Purpose Cleaner Video


Household Air Filter


Unpaper Towel


  • 2 yards of cotton terrycloth fabric
  • 2 yards of cotton flannel
  • straight pins
  • sewing machine or sewing needles
  • plastic mesh canvas sheet
  • snaps and snap setter
  • rotary cutter (or scissors), cutting mat (optional if using scissors), and ruler



  1. Wash your fabric pieces in hot water so that any shrinking will occur before you sew and dry them.
  2. Place your two fabrics on top of each other on top of your cutting mat and smooth out both layers so there are no wrinkles.
  3. You are going to cut 12″ x 12″ squares and it’s really helpful if you have a template that you can use to cut each one so you don’t have to measure out each square every time (like a cardboard template or other stiff material).
  4. Use your template and ruler to cut through both layers of fabric with your rotary cutter. If you are using scissors, lay the pieces of fabric flat and pin them so when you cut, they stay in place.
  5. Repeat until you have 12 squares of two-layered fabric.
  6. Use your straight pins to pin each set of squares together if you haven’t done so already.


  1. Sew around your squares with a 1/2″ seam allowance (or edge), leaving a 3″ opening so you can turn your fabric inside out through the hole when you are done. Clip the corners of your square with scissors and then turn your fabric through the hole. You can press your seams flat by ironing each square if you like
  2. Once they are all turned right sides out, make sure your 3″ openings are folded in and even with the rest of the towel edge and sew all the way around each square again with a 1/4″ seam allowance this time. (This will close your opening for you and help keep the towels lying flat.)
  3. Get out your snaps and snap setter. Snaps have a stud side and a socket side (the stud part sticks out and the socket part goes in), so you’ll want to arrange all your towels with the flannel side up and set two socket side snaps facing downwards on the right side of the square and two stud snaps facing up on the left side of the square (Maybe practice on a piece of scrap fabric to ensure you know how the snap setter functions). I cut a piece of mesh canvas the height of my towel and marked two squares (the same height and depth from the edge) with a marker so I could just line that up with the edges and mark where to place the two snaps so I didn’t have to measure every time. Repeat by setting four snaps in this same manner on each towel.
  4. Cut a piece of canvas 6 1/2″ wide and as tall as your towels (should be about 11″ tall). Attach stud and socket snaps (three on each side) with one set facing down and the others facing up so that your grid will overlap about 3/4″ on each end when you snap it into a roll. It can be helpful to use clips of some sort to help keep your roll rolled up while you are marking the spots for your snap locations. Once your end snaps are attached, you’ll want to attach two stud snaps that face outward when the roll is snapped together in the middle of your canvas the same distance apart as the snaps on your towels.
  5. Once your snaps are all set, you can snap your roll together and start assembling your unpaper towel roll until all your towels are added!


New Sew Un-Paper Towel Video


Draft Snake (Window or Door)


  • Medium-weight fabric (how many yards you’ll need depends on how big your windows and doors are) (If you have an old pair of pants you no longer wish to wear, that should provide an adequate amount of fabric)
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Sewing machine, threaded
  • Straight pins
  • Insulating material



  1. Measure your window or door
  2. Measuring the width of the window or door you are working with will ensure your DIY project actually works and keep you from wasting supplies.
  3. Cut your fabric
  4. To know how wide to cut, add four inches to the width of your window or door. No matter how wide the item is, cut the fabric 8 inches tall (this will help make sure your heater can run efficientlyby blocking out cold air). Now you have a long rectangle of fabric.
  5. Fold your fabric in half
  6. Fold your piece of fabric in half lengthwise so that the long edges are touching each other Then, pin these edges together using a few straight pins.
  7. Sew seams
  8. Using your sewing machine, sew the long edge where the pins are as well as one of the short ends. Sew several backward stitches so the ends are firmly sewn shut. You could also handle the sewing by hand. Leave a 2-3 inch gap in the seam so you can turn the fabric inside out.
  9. Turn the fabric tube inside out
  10. This will help to hide the stitching and create a seamless look.
  11. Next, you’ll want to fill your fabric tube with insulating materials. You do want it to be dense and have some weight to it, so using many materials to provide weight and fluff would be good.
    1. There are several things you could use here, such as beans, sand, rice, old fabric scrap, plarn, etc.






Food and Gardening DIY



Buying Food in Bulk

Tips for Buying in Bulk


Where to Buy in Bulk in California



Preparing Immune System Boosting Foods and Remedies

– basic vegetarian or non-vegetarian soup with fresh herbs

-fire ciders, elderberry syrups, and echinacea tinctures


Add Raquel’s Elderberry Syrup Video




Thyme Tinctures



Growing Herbs Indoors





Growing Herbs and Food Outdoors



Vertical Gardening



Composting and Vermiculture

Apartment/Indoor Composting


Apartment Vermiculture


Outdoor Vermiculture



Beekeeping (needs more)



Master Gardener Certification Programs

How to:


UC Master Gardener Youtube Channel:




DIY Beauty, Hair, Cosmetics, and Hygiene



Videos with Various Makeup Products

  • This video contains recipes for: brow pomade, powdered blush, eyeliner/mascara, lip tint/cream blush, and setting spray





Skin Care

This video contains recipes for: lip scrub, toothpaste, dry shampoo, face toner, and makeup remover

  • This video contains a recipe for: face moisturizer and cream

  • This video contain recipes for: cleanser, toner, and moisturizer



Self-Care Products

  • This video contains recipes for: face mask/scrub, facial serum, green tea rose toner, coffee scrub, vanilla cinnamon lip scrub, rose and lavender bath salts




For Black or textured hair:


General hair DIYs




  • This video contains recipes for: deodorant, shampoo, and shave cream

  • Toothpaste and Mouthwash








Plarn and Plarn Projects

Plarn is Yarn made from upcycling plastic bags.


Pro-Tip! Plarn can be used for more than just weaving or crochet! Use it for packing material, insulation material, crafting material, and much more!




Plarn Bags (If you don’t know how to crochet, go to Crafts section)

  • 30 – 40 plastic grocery bags (preferably bags you already have or naturally accumulate)
  • Scissors
  • Crochet Hook – size J to N – the bigger the hook the looser the weave
  • Safety Pins to use as markers
  • Optional – ruler and pen if you want to pen if you want the plarn strips the same width


  1. Make your plarn and roll into a ball.
  2. Make the bottom rectangle. Decide on the size you want (Example – 10 inches x 4 inches) and chain about 20 stitches.  Remember to keep the loops loose.
  3. To make the “body” of the bag, single crochet all around the rectangle and continue in the round until you reach the desired height. The pictured bag is about ten inches.
  4. To make the handle, start by placing four safety pins to mark where the handle will go.
  5. Single crochet up to the first pin, crochet 20 and join the row with the single crochet at the fourth pin. Continue to single crochet around the top edge increasing the width of the handles until they are about 1 – 1 ½ inches wide.
  6. Finish


Video Playlist of Plarn Projects:


Beeswax Wraps

What You’ll Need


LAB TIP: Some tutorials call for jojoba oil or powdered pine resin, but we found that these more expensive ingredients didn’t add any major benefits in our tests.


  1. Cut the fabric.

Preheat the oven to 200°F or the lowest setting. Cut the fabric into sizes that will fit on your baking sheet. For a snack bag, use a 7″ by 14″ piece of fabric. A 14″ by 14″ square will cover most sandwiches. Pinking shears will help prevent your swatches from fraying, but scissors will also get the job done.


  1. Place on a baking tray.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the fabric on top. If your fabric is one-sided, place the patterned side facedown. Use a fresh piece of parchment paper each time you make another wrap.


  1. Sprinkle the pellets.

Evenly distribute a liberal amount of beeswax pellets all over the fabric. Make sure you get pellets near the edges too.


  1. Melt and spread the beeswax.

Place the sheet in the oven for about 4-8 minutes. When the pellets melt completely, take the tray out and use a paintbrush to spread the wax evenly over the entire fabric.

NOTE: The beeswax will stick to the brush, so use one you’re okay discarding or saving to make future beeswax wraps.


  1. Let dry.

Using tongs, remove the fabric from the baking sheet. It should feel cool to the touch after waving it for a few seconds in the air. Hang the fabric up to dry or set it on the back of a chair with the beeswax side facing up.


  1. Customize your wraps.

Once the beeswax has set and is not very tacky, you can add buttons or hand-sew them into small pouches.


Snack Bags: Use a 7″ x 14″ piece of fabric. Once dry, fold the fabric in half with the non-treated sides facing inward. Hand sew the two sides together, leaving the top open. Turn the bag inside out, and add a button as a closure or stitch Velcro to both sides.


Sandwich Wraps: Use a 14″ x 14″ piece of fabric. On the patterned side, sew a button in two adjacent corners. To close, put the side with the buttons face down. Fold the fabric into thirds around the sandwich. Flip and fold the ends of the fabric up so the buttons are on top. Wrap twine around them in a figure-eight pattern for a secure closure.


How to Care for Your Beeswax Wraps

Wash your wraps by hand in cool water with a mild dish soap. Place them on a drying rack or clothesline to dry. Avoid any heat such as hot water, microwaves, or ovens that will cause the beeswax can melt, ruining your wraps.






Beeswax Candles



Homemade Paper


Produce and Grocery Bag



Use fabric scraps from old clothes you’d like to repurpose!

This can be hand sewn, does not necessarily have to be machine sewn.



Upcycled Sewing and Weaving Projects


Hand Sewing Video:


Machine Sewing Video:


Upcycling Clothes:


Mending Clothes:


Basic Crochet: (This is great for plarn projects!)


DIY Fabric Reusable Menstrual Pad






Disaster Preparation and Survival DIY


To-go Bag Kit

Suggested Items:

To assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)
  • Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Manual can opener (for food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)


Emergency Supplies

  • Masks (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
  • Prescription medications
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children


Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
  • Replace expired items as needed.
  • Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.


Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.

  • Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
  • Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
  • Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.






Household Earthquake Prep


  • Practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On with family and coworkers.
  • Have hard soled shoes by your bed at all times in order to deal with broken glass.
  • Make an Emergency Plan: Create a family emergency communications plan that has an out-of-state contact. Plan where to meet if you get separated. Make a supply kit that includes enough food and water for several days, a flashlight, a fire extinguisher and a whistle.
    • Include non-perishable foods, cleaning supplies, and water for several days, in case services are cut off in your area. If you are able to, set aside items like soap, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, disinfecting wipes, and general household cleaning supplies that you can use to disinfect surfaces you touch regularly. After an earthquake, you may not have access to these supplies for days or even weeks.
    • Being prepared allows you to avoid unnecessary excursions and to address minor medical issues at home, alleviating the burden on urgent care centers and hospitals.
    • Remember that not everyone can afford to respond by stocking up on necessities. For those who can afford it, making essential purchases and slowly building up supplies in advance will allow for longer time periods between shopping trips. This helps to protect those who are unable to procure essentials in advance of the pandemic and must shop more frequently. In addition, consider avoiding WIC-labeled products so that those who rely on these products can access them.
  • Protect Your Home: Secure heavy items in your home like bookcases, refrigerators, televisions and objects that hang on walls. Store heavy and breakable objects on low shelves. Consider making improvements to your building to fix structural issues that could cause your building to collapse during an earthquake. Consider obtaining an earthquake insurance policy. A standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover earthquake damage.
  • Wear a mask when in public to slow the spread of COVID-19. You may not have time to put on a mask in the event of an earthquake. Wearing one regularly will allow you to be prepared to drop, cover, and hold on safely with those who are not a part of your household. Masks should not be worn by children under two, those who have trouble breathing, and those who are unable to remove them on their own.



Car Kit Video


Preparing Your Home Video




Fire Starter

DIY Fire Starter

My Notes

  • Video advocates breaking candles into small pieces, melting them into pucks. Candle wax is flammable.
  • I think cotton swabs saturated in vaseline are much better as a firestarter and far less complicated.
  • Typically any kind of paper and cardboard work fine for starting fires.
    • An axe and hammer make it much easier to split the wood and get it to burn if its wet.

DIY Rocket Stoves

My Notes

  • The video advocates for combining a tee fitting with a downspout and cutting holes in it so that you get a small burn barrel with a fresh air intake at the bottom.
  • There are lots of similar solutions. Tire rims are much easier. I usually dig out a hole under one side and then do a log cabin fire that sucks air in through the hole.
  • Personally, my jetboil is great and I prefer that to trying to cook on a wood fire with its unpredictable temperatures.

13 Ways to Start a Fire

My Notes

  • The video goes over lots of hacky ways to start fires. These skills are things you have to practice constantly for years to be any good at. If you are in a real emergency, this is not going to work. You need matches, a lighter, etc.
  • I find it very easy to use the jetboil to light things on fire.

Firestarter Mushroom


Water Filter

DIY Water Filter

My Notes

  • The video shows how to make a filter from garbage and things you can find in the forest. This is not going to actually make the water safe to drink, as the manual points out.
  • A cheap Sawyer filter, Lifestraw, or Lifestraw bottle would be a much safer way to filter sketchy water.


*Side Note:


Filtering water does not purify it. You must boil water after the filtration process in order to kill any pathogens, bacteria, or other microorganisms. Do not boil water in order to remove nitrate, lead or some other substances. Boiling water will actually increase the concentrations of these substances, not remove them.


What are pathogens and which pathogens should we be concerned about in our water? Pathogens are disease-causing organisms which may include types of bacteria, viruses, protozoan parasites, and other organisms. United State Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) regulates the following pathogens in drinking water:

  • Cryptospridium: This is a single-celled protozoa parasite found in lakes and rivers, especially in waters with sewage or animal waste pollution. This protozoan parasite can cause gastrointestinal illness like diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps.
  • Giardia lamblia: This is a single-celled protozoan parasite that can be found in the intestines of infected humans and animals, in soil, food, or water contaminated by feces from infected humans and animals. This pathogen can cause nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches.
  • Legionella: This is a type of bacteria that is naturally found in the environment, usually in water. It grows best in warm water (hot tubs, cooling towers, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems or air-conditioning systems of large buildings are ideal places for this bacteria). Legionella bacteria in water can become a health risk if the bacteria are aerosolized (e.g., in an air conditioning system or a shower) and then breathed in. Inhaling Legionella bacteria can cause a type of pneumonia known as Legionnaires disease.





Neighborhood Phone Tree

How to Build a Phone Tree


A phone tree is a prearranged, pyramid-shaped system for activating a group of people by telephone. Using the phone tree system can spread a brief message quickly and efficiently to a large number of people.



Quickly notify members and/or supporters about fruit deliveries. Spreads the work load out between members. Save printing and postage costs involved with communicating brief notices by mail.



People- A coordinator and a network of reliable people form the skeleton of the phone tree. See enclosure titled, “Example Phone Tree Layout”

Time- The coordinator will spend time organizing the tree. (This process should be done prior to serious activation of the tree.) Once it’s set up, the tree can do dozens or even hundreds of hours of work with only five to 50 minutes of involvement by each member, depending on the frequency and number of calls each member is assigned.

Money- No money is needed aside from long-distance charges, where applicable. Use home telephones and cell phones at no additional cost.



1) Make a list with current phone numbers of all the persons you want the tree to reach.

2) From that list, recruit a smaller group of people who will be responsible for calling and activating other members. This small group is referred to as the Key Group .

  1. Keep the Key Group as small as possible, since each group may be responsible for reaching people who in turn are responsible for reaching out, and so on. It is critically important that the members of the Key Group are reliable!
  2. Impress upon ALL participants the importance of completing all their assigned calls.

3) Divide the people on your list among the members of the Key Group.

  1. Consider assigning responsibilities geographically to reduce any phone charges.
  2. Try to limit calls to three to eight per participant so the phone tree won’t become too burdensome.

4) Make a chart of Key Group members and their assignments and distribute it to the Key Group. Be sure to include work, cell, office, and other numbers to locate members.

5) Ask key people to notify you when they are going out of town or will otherwise be unavailable. Have alternate Key Group folks that can fill in if someone is unavailable.

6) Hold message drills occasionally to test your phone tree for effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.



1) As coordinator, you will start the tree. Write out a brief script complete with the specific details of fruit and delivery.

2) Call the members of the Key Group using the script. Make sure that Key Group members understand what they need to do and the time frame in which they should do it.

3) Spot-check the tree’s effectiveness by calling a few people down on the list to be sure they have received an accurate and complete message. Also, you can prearrange with folks down the list to contact you once they have received the message.

4) Train the folks in your phone tree to keep trying each person on their list until they make contact. If a member of the phone tree cannot be reached, have the caller notify you as the coordinator so you can fill in or delegate the responsibility to another member.


KEY POINTS Have an organization chart for your phone tree. Be sure that your Key Group members are reliable. Have multiple ways of reaching members (home, work, and cell numbers are key).





Basic First Aid and CPR


Basic First Aid

First Aid Kit Contents
My Notes
  • The guide goes over things you should have in your first aid kit. Of course you’re not going to actually know what to do about arterial bleeds, broken bones, etc with these tools unless you get certified so you should definitely do that and also have a good first aid kit.
  • I am Red Cross certified for First Aid and CPR . Getting certified is quick and easy and probably free. Everyone should do this. This is like the one skill that no one has any excuse not to have. You owe it to yourself and others to get certified for First Aid and CPR.
To be prepared for emergencies:
  • Keep a first aid kit in your home and in your car. (And in your go-bag, hiking-bag, etc.)
  • Carry a first aid kit with you or know where you can find one.
  • Find out the location of first aid kits where you work.


First aid kits come in many shapes and sizes. Your local drug store may sell them. You can also make your own. Some kits are designed for specific activities, such as hiking, camping or boating.

Whether you buy a first aid kit or put one together, make sure it has all the items you may need:
  • Include any personal items such as medications and emergency phone numbers or other items your health-care provider may suggest.
  • Check the kit regularly.
  • Check expiration dates and replace any used or out-of-date contents.
The Red Cross recommends that all first aid kits for a family of four include the following:



Basic First Aid Video