Simple Tricks to Make Your Stuff Last Longer

Being wasteful is easy especially when everything seems to be so plentiful and simple to replenish. Just order more. Or run to the store, right?

Sure, we love to buy things on sale but that’s not the only way—nor the best way—to cut costs. Discovering simple ways to make things last longer is the surefire way to save time and money.

A close up of a bottle on the counter


Blue Dawn

Our favorite degreaser and all-around amazing product, Blue Dawn, typically comes super concentrated. Read the label. It says it right there … “concentrated.” Here’s a great tip: Don’t use Blue Dawn straight out of its container. Dilute it. I’ve used the same sturdy glass decanter for more than 10 years now. It has no lid or cap which makes it super easy to dispense. I keep the jug of Blue Dawn on a shelf in my laundry room. It’s out of sight, and not that easy to grab mindlessly. When the decanter needs a refill, I eyeball 5 parts water to 1 part Blue Dawn.

Shampoo and conditioner

Store bottles upside down to prevent the shampoo or conditioner from getting stuck at the bottom of the bottle. When you can’t get any more out, add a few capfuls of water, and shake.

Toilet paper

It’s human nature to be super wasteful when it appears that we have things like toilet paper, paper towels, and other paper goods in abundance. But discover you have what’s left on the roll to last until you can get to the store and watch how clever you and the family can be to make it last.

The way to be that careful all the time it to create an appearance of scarcity. On purpose. Don’t fill the bathroom cabinet with 5 rolls of extra toilet paper. Make it one. Then store the rest in a place that’s not exactly convenient. Perhaps in the basement or under a bed. Even the kids will get a sense that they need to go easy when it appears you’re about to run out. Repeat this trick with other things that seem to disappear overnight. Surprisingly, even the person creating this sense of scarcity will naturally be more careful. Out of sight, out of mind. It works like a charm.

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Once you’ve squeezed out as much toothpaste as you can, don’t throw that tube in the trash. Instead, carefully cut the tube open with a pair of scissors, and you’ll have enough for several more brushings. Tip: Store the cut tube in a plastic bag between uses to prevent it from drying out


Carefully dry the razor blade off after each use (use a towel or better, hit it with a blast or two from a hairdryer), and it will remain sharp twice as long.

Shower gel

Apply shower gel to a washcloth or loofah, instead of directly to your skin, and it will last many times longer! Just a small squirt will produce endless lather. That’s all it takes. But if you pump it directly, you’ll end up using way more than necessary.


When you get to the bottom of a tube, use a lip brush or a cotton swab to get at the remaining lipstick. You won’t believe how much product remains even when you think you’ve reached the end.

Pro-tip: Scoop your lipstick leftovers into an empty lip gloss pot for easy on-the-go use.

Hand soap

Purchase a foaming hand soap dispenser, and turn any regular hand soap into foaming hand soap. You’ll be amazed at how far you and the family can stretch one bottle of soap.


Recyling the container of a foaming hand soap product you purchase by prying off the top and refilling with liquid soap, more than likely is not going to work. That’s because it, like the sprayer on a bottle of window cleaner, is meant to be disposable. It’s one and done.

Laundry detergent

If you use the “dump” method of adding laundry detergent to the washing machine, I can nearly guarantee you’re using too much! Get out the owner manual to see what is recommended. Measure carefully. Every. Time. Unless you have super hard water, chances are good you can use even less and still get great results, especially if you have a front-loader, which by its very nature uses very little water.

Spray dispensers

Set the spray nozzle to the lowest mist setting. Less coming out means you’ll use less which means—that product will last longer!


As a general rule, turn clothing inside out before laundering. It’s a simple way to prevent pilling. And zip those zippers! The teeth on a zipper can act as a tiny chainsaw through the agitation and tumbling activity, boring holes in t-shirts and gnawing the heck out of fabric. You might not notice it the first or second laundering but over time open zippers will shorten the life of everything you launder with them.


Clean dirt, and salt stains off your shoes as soon as you notice them to avoid any permanent damage.


Food spoilage is often the result of improper storage. Learn more about how to store the foods that you eat regularly to keep things fresh longer.


Put candles in the freezer for a couple of hours before you use them. Surprisingly, perhaps, this causes the wax to burn slower and more evenly without affecting the scent if any.


If you are at all interested in making your refrigerator last longer (repair bills are horrible, the early death of an appliance even worse), vacuum the condenser coil in your refrigerator every three months (once a month if you have pets). Check the owner manual to discover where that coil is and how to reach it.

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  1. Susan M says:

    When making my liquid laundry detergent, it’s almost impossible to get the borax to dissolve.. I discovered that if I use my salad spinner… gently….. cold water, and rub the smaller lumps in between my fingers it disolves SO much quicker! Of course you always have to give your container a gentle shake before measuring it out but still.. no more lumps!

    • Jeannie says:

      Susan…I, too, have found borax difficult to dissolve completely. That is a good tip. But…I have just in the last week given up on this homemade laundry soap recipe because I continually find bleach streaks in my towels where the color is removed. And several days ago, I washed a very nice coat and found a small bleached spot on the arm. I cannot figure out why this happens, but I’m done ruining good towels and clothing! I bought a huge jug of Arm and Hammer, sadly. Anyone have thoughts?

    • Marion says:

      I have made this laundry detergent for years. I start my hot water running and add the borax, arm a hammer and Dawn to my gallon container then put in about three cups really hot water. I swirl it around until the powder is dissolved. Then I fill the gallon container with the rest of the water. My kids made fun of me until they need to use my machine and detergent too. Now they make their own too.

  2. amanda richards says:

    I have 3 daughters and we all have very long hair. I buy a good quality conditioner for us, but before I put in the shower, I pour off 1/4 of the bottle into another bottle for later and top the first bottle off with water. Since the conditioner is so thick, the water is easily absorbed and it lasts a lot longer.

  3. Gina Stevens says:

    When I bought my Speed Queen washer, the sales person warned against using liquid fabric softener straight. He said cut it in half with water. It’s better for the washer and still offers the same benefits. Thanks, Mary.

    • Bookworm says:

      Try 1/2 cup white vinegar instead of commercial fabric softener. I compared towels washed without any softener and those washed with vinegar, and I was amazed at how much the vinegar softens. Of course it sanitizes also.

    • Linda says:

      I understand that using liquid fabric softener cuts down the absorbency of towels etc
      I myself don’t use fabric softener.

  4. Ruth says:

    To use less toilet paper Spread Your „Cheeks „ when sitting on the toilet. That way you need less paper to clean yourself.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      OK … this is funny! Not saying that it doesn’t work, just that you gave me a good laugh. We have to remember that … laughter is like good medicine and who doesn’t need a good dose of that 🙂

      • Bonnie Alcorn says:

        A meme I saw earlier suggested that if you spray your bottom with “Pam” or a similar product it will conserve on toilet paper because nothing sticks to it!

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Fixed! So sorry about that, everyone. I’m moving at the speed of light out here, trying to keep all the plates spinning. So grateful for your eyes to find errors like this. Never hesitate to let me know!

  5. Belle Mieloch says:

    When I was a child.I told to use 3 sheets of TP for liquid and 5 for solid. This worked well and I still do this. Sometimes you need more for a second wipe with solid but you will be amazed at how much TP you save.
    I use French milled soap and when it get down to a small piece I put it in A mason jar when it is half full I add hot water to make liquid soap. This can be done with any bar soap.I love to save money, Belle

  6. Rosalie says:

    Used toothbrushes are wonderful for cleaning crevices in shower doors, sliding doors, and jewelry, etc. All small, narrow spaces may benefit.
    Also use children’s (water color) paint brushes to brush dead, outdoor “critters” from our post lamp sockets before changing the light pulbs. Keeps them out of the bottom of the socket.

  7. Christina Copeland says:

    When your antiperspirant/deodorant is down to the plastic dispenser, carefully scrape out remainder into small glass bowl, pop into the microwave for a few seconds and pour on top of another deodorant that has been retracted to accommodate the extra. You will most likely have another month of use out of something that would have been thrown out.

    • Pam says:

      I am trying that one. I just threw away a bunch of deodorant scrapings cause I didn’t know how to make it work. Thks

  8. Yehudit R says:

    When the tube of hand lotion or body cream is empty, cut it in half crosswise. You’ll be aurprised at how much is still in there. To close tube use one half to cover the cut end of the other half.

    • Rosalie says:

      When face washcloths become “old” their tag is marked with an “x” (black sharpie) and used for cleaning, polishing cloths. Kitchen tea towels, too.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      GREAT tip, Mark! How about this: You go to and enter this in our Monthly Tips Contest! Every month, 3 winners: $100, $50 and $25 … CASH PRIZES people! Either by Paypal or Amazon eCard.
      Everyone: You’re all invited. It’s FREE, so much fun and well, CASH PRIZES. We’re gearing up now to announce this new Everyday Cheapskate Feature, EC2, to the public. That means your chances of winning are really good now before the masses pour in. They will 🙂

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