Modify to Meet Your Needs

If your goal is to reuse, recycle and redo, you’re in for some creative ideas in today’s column. I never would have thought to modify my paper towel roll, but I’m going to try it after reading Claude’s tip.

Some rights reserved by thousandshipz

PERFECTLY-SIZED PAPER TOWELS. We are committed to using the most eco-friendly paper products, and also reducing the waste and expense of brown paper towels. We cut the roll in two uneven rolls, 3 inches and 8 inches. We then thread them onto our vertical holder, with the smaller roll on top. When we need only a bit of towel, the 3-inch piece suffices. My friend who has a wall-mounted holder cuts the roll carefully without damaging the cardboard center, and gets the same cost-saving results. Claude, Massachusetts

FREEZER JARS, NOT FREEZER BAGS. Better than zip-type freezer bags, I put onions, peppers and other strong-smelling items in glass jars for freezer storage. The jars protect the food better than plastic and you can wash and reuse the jars, too. Yvonne, EC Blog 

ADDRESSING PRICES. I have kept a price book for many years now and it definitely helps me purchase with confidence. I like to use a small address book and a pencil. I list items under the corresponding letter tab (for example: Rice in the “R” section). I note the item and then leave room to note a few variations. I include the brand, package size, price, date and store. I use pencil so that I can update when prices or package sizes change. The tabbed letters of the address book make it quick to look things up on the fly. I also keep a small calculator in my purse so that I can easily calculate per ounce/piece/etc to compare items. I’ve even had friends call me when they’ve seen a sale or special to find out if it really is a good deal. Kristine, Colorado

FABRIC SOFTENER SAVINGS. Many people these days are making their own laundry detergent for the cost savings. Did you know you can make your own dryer sheets for pennies a year? All you need is a new washcloth (the thicker the better) and a small bottle of liquid fabric softener, which will last you for months. Place the washcloth in a bowl or large measuring cup, cover it with fabric softener, and let it sit a few minutes to get thoroughly saturated. Take the cloth out carefully and squeeze the liquid out until it’s just damp. Pour the excess softener back into the bottle. Hang the cloth or lay flat to dry completely.

Toss the cloth into the dryer exactly as you would a fabric softener sheet. One treatment should last you 10-12 dryer loads. Then just repeat the process (no need to wash the cloth in between). Be sure to buy a washcloth that’s a different color from the ones you use in the shower so that you’ll know which one is the dryer sheet when you unload. Maribeth, EC Blog

Question: Do you modify household products to meet your needs? If so, tell us here.


We need your help!

If you see a broken link, or a product no longer available please contact us so we can get it updated accordingly.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Gloria, New Iberia, LA

    On the “fabric softener savings, if using same color washcloth, zig zag one end .with a different color thread or put a safety pin on one end of washcloth

  • Beck

    I cut dryer sheets in half or use the same sheet over and over until I start getting static again. Once they are “used” up they can be used to put in a pan that has hard cooked on food fill with water and toss in a dryer sheet to soften the food then use it as a scrubber. Also, from one of your columns, I take dryer lint and used up dryer sheets stuff them in empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls to use as fire starters in the outside fire pit and outside burn barrel for trash.

    After mopping the floor I take a used and clean car shammy to dry the floor to a nice shine. Wash it after each use.

    I store earrings in two old ice cube trays it is so easy not to have to hunt for a match. I love to read about things use for other purposes!!

    Clean your fiberglass tub with Dawn dishsoap and a Mr. Clean scrubber sponge it gets the bottom of the tub so clean where grime tends to build up and other cleaners are not as good plus no toxic smell.

  • ewb

    After quickly using up several packages of eye makeup-remover sheets, I realized I could tear off a narrow strip for each use, and put the remainder of the sheet into a zip-top sandwich bag. This makes the package last 3-4 times as long.

  • Arlene

    Instead of paper towels (for must uses) I made myself some kitchen towels (I saw the idea on the internet). They are roughly the size of a paper towel, terry cloth on one side and flannel on the other. We use them to mop up spills, squeeze the moisture out of home made hash browns, etc. Basically, we use them for everything that is not greasy. After use, the soiled towel is thrown into the laundry. They wash and dry fabulously and then they are ready to go again. I have had them for months! We only use a roll of paper towel every 4 months or so. It’s GREAT!

  • govthorses

    For all those toothpaste tubes with just a little paste left, I roll up the end of the tube as near to the top as I can get it and secure it in place with a rubber band(usually one of the thick ones I have saved from produce) around the rolled up end and the top. I always use up my toothpaste until it is completely gone. Did you know that you can use old dryer sheets for printing photos on? In my sewing group there was a woman who irons them flat, tapes them to a sheet of paper, securely, runs it through a photo printer and the photo comes out on the dryer sheet. You can also do aluminum cans this way, too, if you cut them down one side, open them flat, tape again to the paper and a photo printer will print on them. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. A quote from the “Greatest Generation” who weathered the Depression.

  • scubalady

    I use the foam hand soap dispenser to make my own. I have used the thicker hand soap and diluted with water, shampoo that I may not like anymore, and I have used Dawn at times when completely out. I truly love cutting the paper towel roll into a smaller tube. Genius!

  • kaetra

    I always use a black permanent marker to make a dark and clear “fill-to-here” line on my liquid laundry detergent and fabric softener measuring caps. The lines that come on the caps from the manufacturer are intentionally made so they’re difficult to see, which encourages many people to use a lot more of the product than they really need. Not only does it help me, but it also helps my husband remember to not add too much. This saves money on laundry products and reduces fading.

  • Fannygirl

    I don’t use glass jars in the freezer as I’ve had them break. I put items to freeze in large (32 ounce) yogurt containers and label and date them. They stack well and can be washed and reused several times.

  • jaye

    I didn’t think glass jars could be used in the freezer. How does the poster in the email keep the jars from cracking in the freezer?

    • Martha

      You need to leave about An inch of air space. It cracks when it expands and there’s no where to expand to. I freeze jars of soup all the time. I learned the hard way. 🙂

    • jojo

      Hi, Jaye! It has been my experience that, when using glass for freezer storage, one must be constantly aware of the contents of the container. If the contents are liquid, one would allow a space between the top of the contents and the flat lid on the top. Typically, 1/2″ to 1″ is adequate to allow for the expansion of contents as it freezes. If storing something more solid, say, shelled nuts, the extra open space is not necessary.

  • kt

    Back in the ’80s one of the towel companies came out with a “half-roll” and offered a free holder to mount on a cabinet door…(it is still there!) they discontinued that half-roll but I’d like to know what you use to cut through without shredding ??

  • Yvy

    The little cubicle boxes of tissues are fairly expensive compared to the large boxes, so we have devised a way to fit a role of soft toilet paper in the small box. Carefully take the cardboard role out of the center of the toilet paper and it will fit perfectly in the cubicle tissue box. The paper will pull out perfectly from the center of the role. We keep one on our kitchen table where we sit to watch TV, read the newspaper, check the mail and visit over coffee. Tissues are always handy (and cheap) when needed.

    • kjkoukla

      I’ve been doing that for years and I’m glad you posted it here. I’ve also seen where someone has invented a toilet paper holder in a box just for this purpose!

  • vicki

    The washcloth in the dryer is a great, but mine kept getting into other laundry and used. I took my husbands old golf towel which has a clip and grommet (I cut the golf towel down smaller) and hooked this through the metals holes at the back of my dryer to hold my fabric softener towel. That way it just stays in the dryer all the time. When it needs replacing, I just unhook it, resoak it, and reclip it.