5 Quick Ways to Save Money in Your Home

By Lynn Truong on 31 May 2007 (Updated 18 August 2007) 15 comments
Photo: iStockphoto

Here are five easy ways to save money in your home without sacrificing too much luxury.

1. Reusable Towels
Our household used to go through paper towels like crazy. Especially when the size of each sheet is growing bigger and thicker these days, it just seemed like such a waste. Sometimes I just need to wipe up some spilled coffee or simply to dry my hands. But the best thing we ever did was buy a pack of cheap terry cloth towels from Costco. We found a pack of 45 in the auto/car washing supplies aisle. They were cheaper than the packs of ten hand towels. We keep a few clean towels around the kitchen for clean hands after washing and clean-up towels to wipe off small stains and crumbs. Ever so often we throw the towels with our laundry and reuse. No more wasted paper towels.

2. Dryer Balls
These Dryer Balls are amazing. I don't miss the regular dryer sheets at all. I used to be a big dryer sheet user, throwing in two sheets every time because I loved the smell and feel of soft, freshly washed clothes. But my boyfriend saw these and wanted to try them to save costs on dryer sheets. Not to mention limit our exposure to the ever increasing amount of chemicals we are constantly engulfed in. And they really work. Clothes are still soft and fluffy without all the chemicals released from dryer sheets. Plus, they cost less than $10 and last for years (ok, if you have more than a 2-person household, maybe just a year). I haven't had to replace them yet. Note: They also have anti-static dryer balls too. We don't have problems with static with our clothes, so we don't need it, but I don't think the regular dryer balls is enough if you do have a lot of clothes prone to static.

3. Dishwashing soap is not just for dishwashing
I use dishwashing soap for all the cleaning in the kitchen--countertops, sink, and stovetop. If you think about it, most of the stains you get in your kitchen comes from food anyway, which is what we use dishwashing soap to get rid of on our plates. So why not on other surfaces? Instead of getting specialized cleaners with a lot more chemicals that I wouldn't really feel safe about having so close to food, just use the gentle soap you use for all your eating utensils. Put a little on a sponge (I would recommend a different sponge for general kitchen cleanup), get some water in it and you can probably clean your whole stovetop with that amount instead of many sprays of Clorox or something similar. Take a wet reusable terry cloth towel to wipe off the soap.

4. Turn down your water heater
It took awhile before my boyfriend and I reached a happy compromise on this. I love taking hot showers. Even in the middle of summer, I like my water hot. But my boyfriend keeps turning down the water heater to save energy costs. Basically it takes a lot of energy to keep the water heated, and much of that energy is wasted because most of us don't use up ALL the hot water in any one use. The shower is probably the time when you need to use the most hot water, but if at the end of your shower, your hot water faucet isn't turned to maximum (meaning you've still got plenty of hot water available), then you can turn the water heater temperature down. But if you have a big household where people take showers at the same time or one right after another, you might have a more valid reason to keep it up. But if you don't have many people or can schedule your showers so that there is 20 minutes or more between them, nobody would notice and your next energy bill will be noticeably lower. If you want to go more extreme, my boyfriend has suggested that I turn it up 15 minutes before I shower and then turn it back down when I'm done.

5. Plastic Bags
Someone once told me that it's really unusual for me to keep all my bags from stores. I literally have a huge bag filled with plastic bags as well as a bunch of nicer paper ones from clothing stores. I always find some use for bags, whether I'm packing for a trip and need a bag for dirty, smelly clothes or simply to use for trash bags. I don't know if people are still buying trashbags, but I've never ever purchased trashbags (except the huge big black ones for parties). We use regular plastic bags for our kitchen trashcan as well as each bathroom trashcan. It might seem too small for a kitchen trashcan, but it's really good incentive to take the trash out often, which is a good idea anyway.

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Guest's picture
Love This Site!

OMG...you mean there's people who never used cloth towels? I only use paper towels for messy stuff the sponge won't be good for, and whatever is too icky for the hand towel.
I use one hand towel a day, then throw it in the laundry the next morning and replace it.

I'm also astonished at the thought that people actually use special chemicals just for cleaning up the kitchen everyday!
I use soap, water, and the sponge. And I dry it with the hand towel, hang it on the back of the chair or through the stove handle, and it's dry again soon, for the next wet hands to dry.
Sure, when someone's sick in the house, or when someone comes over who has a sickly or dirty reputation, I go over stuff with a Clorox wipe, but that's rare.

And I use the store plastic bags for ALL my trashes in the house.

I guess I didn't know how old fashioned I was, or something!
(yes....I use a *gasp* SPONGE!! (for about 2 weeks, till it looks like hell!)

Greg Go's picture
Greg Go

In some parts of the world, there's a hot water switch for each bathroom. Turn it on 15 minutes before taking a shower. It took me a couple of days to figure that one out when I was in Singapore.

Lynn Truong's picture

Greg, we also learned the hard way when we visited Hong Kong.

Will Chen's picture

People always thought I was crazy for saving bags from supermarkets.  But they do come in handy as tiny trash bags, especially if you're a bachelor who doesn't need to use a huge back every day.

Guest's picture
Eric

I use an old tissue box to keep all my plastic bags in one spot, it keeps them nice and compact, and instead of trying to untangle just one bag, they pull out one at a time, just like kleenex.

Guest's picture
Sam

The thing I use plastic bags for a *lot* is to empty the kitty litter into. Also, if you have to send something, a bunch of plastic bags make a great filler to protect what you're sending.

Guest's picture
Guest

Most dishwashing detergents are still made with phosphates ... which are terrible for the environment. They were eliminated from laundry soap years ago ... but dish continues.

Thought you'd want to know.

Lynn Truong's picture

i don't know if palmolive is more enviro-friendly than others, or if most brands have ditched the phosphates, but i looked on my palmolive bottle and it says "phosphate free"

Guest's picture
Cindy M

Hey, it's my favorite and I use it for lots of things, cleaning the bathroom for one. And it's cheaper and lasts me longer than others.

Guest's picture
Guest

Liquid dishsoaps used at the sink are phosphate free, it's the harsh dish detergents that are used in a dishwasher that still have phosphates.

Guest's picture
Guest

Another use for them:

I keep a separate pile of the ones that have become stained, and use them to damp-mop my kitchen floor. Just wet 'em down with hot water and maybe some vinegar or dish detergent, then grab the old Swifter mop to use 'em to swab the decks.

(Don't bother trying to clip the towel onto the Swifter. Just lay the towel on the floor and use the Swifter's flat pad to push it around.)

Guest's picture
Guest

Use distilled white vinegar to clean all work surfaces in the kitchen. Also for hardwood cutting boards [you can use ordinary malt vinegar for these]. Vinegar is non toxic , antibacterial and natural.

Myscha Theriault's picture

You know, I've never heard of dryer balls.

We use our plastic bags for tons of stuff, too.  And I like your idea of using the liquid soap for multiple uses. It really does work for lots of stuff.

Guest's picture
Guest

Palmolive green is also good for getting stains out in the laundry. I use it instead of buying a separate laundry stain treatment product. Apply a bit on the stain, rub it in, and toss in the laundry. (Palmolive green seems to work better than other dish soaps.)

Guest's picture
Guest

Some good suggestions. I have always reused the plastic store bags, if I am forced to get them. Reuse or compost in my household.