Expenses for common household items add up over the months.
Cleaning supplies and other items are necessities so going without them is not possible.
However, it is not necessary to pay full price for these items. In some cases, it is not even necessary to pay for them at all.
Inexpensive alternatives or reusable substitutions help keep costs low without making sacrifices. Saving money on items like these prevents other, more important bills from going unpaid.
Alternatives to Paper Products
It is important to have napkins at the dinner table to wipe food off the face. However, they do not need to be the paper version. Instead, make or purchase cloth napkins and reuse them.
Used cloth napkins can be found at thrift stores and yard sales and made good as new by thoroughly washing. If the family typically uses paper towels as napkins, this approach reduces the paper towel expenditure. Use paper towels only to clean up major spills, drain oil from food, and pick up undesirable items like dead bugs. Use sponges and dish towels to wipe up spills and clean these for reuse.
Instead of purchasing disposable cleaning cloths, rip up old towels and t-shirts and use them to clean up messy spills, dust and polish furniture, and even clean the car. Children are always growing out of their shirts and when towels get holes in them, they are ready for the cleaning cloth pile. Old towels are great for mopping up wet floors when there is not time for air-drying, cleaning windows in place of using paper towels, and even toweling off the dog after a bath.
Trash and Storage Bags
Trash bags are expensive but doing without them would create a mess in the can so reuse plastic shopping bags as household trash bags. Use large bags for kitchen trash and smaller bags for cans in the bathroom and office.
Extend the lifetime of plastic storage and freezer bags by washing them by hand or in the dishwasher, letting them dry, and reusing them. Whenever possible, store food and other items in reusable containers rather than in plastic bags. This is a both a money-saving and environmentally-friendly move. Food and beverage containers from the store can be converted to reusable versions by washing them. Examples include coffee containers, lidded plastic containers for frozen food, and plastic bakery containers.
Stretch the office supply budget by making scrap paper from the unprinted side of junk mail and plain envelopes received in the mail. This works well for creating shopping lists and personal reminders for household chores, errands, and appointments. If a mistake is made when printing something on a home printer, save the paper and reuse the other side for a different purpose. Amass a supply of pens by picking up free ones at banks, seminars, and promotional events. Pencils, rulers, and even sticky notes can also be acquired there.
Scenting the Home
Keeping the home smelling fresh is important to many people but it can also be expensive. Rather than spending money on cans of air freshener or plug-in deodorizers, make air freshener on the stove. Put some orange peels, cloves, or cinnamon into a pot of water and boil it. This creates a chemical-free alternative to air freshener sprays. If you long for exotic scents, purchase a large candle on sale and burn it in an open area so the scent can waft throughout the home.
Saving Money On Water
Water is necessary for life and is also used for cleaning purposes. Save the environment and the wallet by carrying a reusable water bottle rather than purchasing bottled water. If tap water is not suitable for drinking, use a faucet or pitcher water filtering system. The initial and ongoing expenses for this system will pay for themselves many times over by eliminating bottled water expenditures. To prevent the need to purchase a bottle of drinking water, fill a large, reusable water bottle before going on a car trip or other long journey. It makes sense to save water!
Expensive household cleaners are designed for special purposes but dish soap is an effective and less expensive alternative. Mild dish soap can be used to clean windows, remove stains from carpets, clean household surfaces, remove laundry stains, and even clean vegetables and fruit.
Mix it with water as needed and keep it on hand to remove dirt without damaging a surface. Giving the house a light cleaning daily may even eliminate the need to purchase stronger cleaners. If a spill is wiped up immediately, a cleaning product may not be needed.
When it is necessary to buy cleaning products, opt for store brands. These usually have the same ingredients so they clean just as effectively. The cost is what sets them apart because it may be 40 or even 50 percent less than the price tag on a name brand version. Read ingredient lists to find products that are comparable to name brand versions used in the household. Generic and store brand cleaners go on sale so wait until then to make a purchase.
Proper storage makes cleaning supplies last longer so keep these products from mixing or spilling. Store them in places that children and pets cannot access and avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures or lighting conditions.
Cleaners that are especially corrosive may need to be stored in glass containers to prevent damage to surrounding areas if a spill accidentally occurs. Read product labels to identify storage requirements and when in doubt, err on the side of caution because this can prevent having to replace a product before it is fully used.
Disposable mops are convenient but they are also expensive. Purchase a reusable mop and clean it after each use. Cloth and rag mop heads may be machine washable and when cared for properly, can last for several years. For tough hand-cleaning jobs that a reusable towel cannot handle, use a microfiber cloth with a scrubbing side and toss it in the washing machine to clean it.