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.

bottle of blue dawn on counter with a glass decanter showing how to dilute it to stretch farther


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.


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.

Question: What clever ways do you make your stuff last longer? Please share in the comments below.

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  1. Annie Walker says:

    With toilet paper…just step on the roll to flatten it (flatten the curve works in other situations too) and this makes it really hard for a child to just let the roll spin. It might be annoying, but it works. We also have an “invert bowl” (which is pretty and decorative and matches our bathroom) where we place our “last of the bottle” situations. We use a corner of the bathroom tub to hold the bottle while it sits in the pretty bowl. Once the item is used up…the bowl looks like decor again.

    You are the best Mary!


  2. Jo says:

    We save all those little shards of hand soap, then slice them up, pop them in the blender with a cup of water, blend thoroughly and put them in a liquid dispense (old shampoo bottle work well) and voila, liquid hand soap!

  3. Leslie says:

    Consider adding an inexpensive bidet attachment to your toilet. Mine cost about $30 on Amazon; it’s cold water only, but it’s really, really just fine and then you can easily install it yourself without having to worry about a hot water line. We use virtually no toilet paper at all anymore; we have towels on labeled hooks near the throne. We keep TP for guests. Cheaper in the long run, and way better for our septic system. And when everybody else is hoarding TP, you’re good to go. Oh, oddly enough, it actually uses less water overall than TP because it takes a ton of water to make TP.

  4. Pat C says:

    I had read that detergent manufacturers didn’t make it easy to put in the right amount, so that we would use too much and they would sell more detergent. So that i don’t overuse the liquid laundry detergent, I transfer it from the giant 150 oz container to an Ivory dish soap bottle. I counted how long I had to squeeze it to get the correct amount. In my case, it’s 4 seconds for 1/4 cup. So I just start squirting it in the washer while counting, 1, 1000, 2, 1000, 3, 1000 4, 1000. Or you can measure into a PLASTIC measuring cup and then throw the measuring cup into the washing machine. It won’t hurt the machine or measuring cup. Whatever you do, don’t try to use the measuring cap that comes with the 150 oz container. It’s too inaccurate. See reason above.

  5. Mike Schwietzer says:

    How to stop coffee filters from sagging and having grounds in your coffee.
    I just found a simple way to stop cheap coffee filters from falling down. All you have to do is remove the filter carrier, place the filter in and put in a little tap water. Slosh the water around so the filter is thoroughly wet, including up to the edges. It should easily stick to the side of the carrier.
    Just add coffee and shake slightly to level it and you are ready for coffee minus the grounds. Obviously this is not for the Keurig folks.

  6. John K says:

    How do you convert regular liquid soap to the kind that works with foaming dispensers?

    I assume dilute with water, but how much water to how much soap, and how do you mix it so it’s not all bubbly?

    • Anne says:

      This is my foam soap recipe – no measuring, just eye it. Distilled water, 60% of the container, liquid soap, 20% and leave 20% air in order to create the foam.

      • Anne says:

        Oh, and just shake the dispenser to mix it, the bubbles will settle down. This is such an inexpensive way to make foam handsoap.

  7. Kay Seiler says:

    I strongly disagree that foaming hand soap dispensers can’t be refilled and reused. I’ve been doing that with two for years. The only requirements are 1) Refill 50/50 with soap and water, mix. 2) Do NOT use creamy soaps, only clear. They’re simply too thick.

  8. Anne says:

    To save toilet paper, gently squeeze the roll until the cardboard center is creased. This slows down the unrolling of the paper off of the dispenser when you pull it, so it doesn’t just fly off the roll.

  9. Jackie says:

    Someone gave this tip to me a long time ago and it really works. If you smash the toilet paper before you add it to your toilet paper dispenser then you will use MUCH less. It will only unroll so many sheets and kids especially will get tired of trying to unroll more than they need. I also use old wash rags for wiping my self. I have a lot of health problems and when I tend to have too loose movements it is easier to use the old wash rag than the TP. I have a special bucket that I put a couple drops of laundry detergent in and let them soak for a couple days until I am ready to wash them. I drain the water into the toilet and was the toilet bowl and just wash the washrags in the washer. My husbands Grandmother who was in her 70’s when I married my husband told me this. only she said t make sure that the rags were not poured down the outhouse hole or you would loose them. (she used a out house for over 60 years until her youngest daughter bought a single wide trailer for her parents and put it on her property). It took Ma almost a year to get used to what she called a inside outhouse.

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