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.
Cut your sponges in half to immediately double the number of sponges and cut the price per sponge in half. Using 1/2 of a sponge is as easy and efficient as using a whole one.
Mix your nice hand soap with water and dispense from a foam handwash bottle. The bottle’s mechanism will create the foam and your nice liquid handsoap will last three to four times longer.
Use an olive oil bottle for your dishwashing liquid—or another similar bottle that has a narrow spout that allows for very slow and guarded dispensing. Only a few drops will come out at once, which will keep you from wasting product. Just make sure it’s clearly labeled so no one accidentally starts cooking or dressing a salad with it!
Placing a paper towel in with your salad greens and or lettuce will keep them fresh all week long. The paper towel will absorb the moisture, which is the culprit for wilting lettuce.
Spread a thin layer of butter to the cut ends of a block of cheese to keep it from drying out and to stave off the green mold.
Buy organic milk. It lasts a lot longer, and it’s better for you anyway.
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 recycled glass decanter for more than 10 years now. It has no lid, cap, or cork 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.
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 perhaps, even the person creating this sense of scarcity will naturally be more careful. Out of sight, out of mind. It works like a charm.
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.
Once you cut a tube of toothpaste or lotion to retrieve the last bit before throwing it in the trash, 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.
Do this to sharpen your razor on a pair of jeans. Run the razor (away from you), along the length of a pair of old jeans, about 10-20 times. Now turn the razor and push the razor toward you another 10-20 times.
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.
Liquid 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.
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. EXAMPLE: I use 1 tablespoon liquid laundry detergent plus borax per load in my front-loading washer.
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.
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.
Clean it. Often! It will last longer and you’ll be much happier when that lovely appliance works well and doesn’t stink!
The metal part of the garbage disposal in a kitchen sink produces ions that can help kill germs, but they love to grow on the crevices in and around the slimy rubber splash guard. Your disposal can become a real breeding ground for bacteria, contaminating your hands, and everything you touch, like your dishes and utensils. All that rotting gunk and grime can cause quite a stink, too!
Here is everything you need to know and the steps you need to take once every month. Yes, it is a minor chore, but oh the payoff!
Expanded & Updated 5-27-22
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