Saving Money on Common Household Items

Paper napkins and paper towels: I save money on napkins and papertowels by minimizing my use of them. They are a recurring cost, and I hate those. Dish towels, on the other hand, can last for years and years, often do a better job of cleaning up or preventing messes, and can be quite cheap if you buy them wisely. I don't use paper napkins at all, and I have a large stash of rags that I sometimes use instead of paper towels. Of course, it costs money to launder rags, and that's a hidden cost--I don't know how much it costs me to do a load of laundry. To cut my paper towel costs, I make sure to always buy them on sale. I don't buy the cheapest paper towels available, since they don't work well and I'm looking for the best value, not the cheapest thing out there. But I don't pay more than $1 per roll. I like Bounty, in case you were wondering (though if they weren't so expensive, I'd buy Viva).

Hand soap: Purchased individually, hand soap can cost anywhere from $1 for a standard 7 oz. dispenser to $20 or more for high-end soaps (a total waste of money, in my opinion). However, I purchased a 64 oz. container of Dial, which came with a full 7 oz. dispenser, for just $5 at Target. That's the equivalent of a little more than 10 bottles of soap for $5, or 50 cents per bottle. By purchasing your soap in bulk, you cut your soap costs in half, not to mention that you won't have to shop for it nearly as often. Combine coupons and/or sales with the already low cost of buying hand soap in bulk and you'll save even more. Just make sure you like the way it smells before you stock up!

Dish soap: I find that dish soap is too concentrated. Also, while I only need a drop or two to clean a dish, I end up pouring out far more. So to make my dish soap the strength I like it, I mix half a bottle of dish soap with half a bottle of water. If you don't have a spare bottle around to make the mixture right away, just wait until your current bottle is half empty then fill it up with half water. When the bottle runs out, make sure to keep it so that when you buy more dish soap you can create the half and half mixture right away. Dish soap is already inexpensive, so this tip won't make you rich, but every little bit adds up.

Cleaning supplies: Cleaning with baking soda and vinegar is very effective in some situations and very inexpensive. For example, I liberally sprinkled my very dirty cutting board with baking soda, poured vinegar over it, and let it fizz. Then I wiped up the mess with a sponge. I couldn't believe how well the solution worked! Stuff that had been stuck on the board for weeks came right off. My cutting board hasn't been this clean since I bought it. Note that I do not ever put meat or fish on this particular cutting board. If I did, a different cleaning method would be in order because the board would need to be sterilized.

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