Last time I covered many ways to save money when it came to food. Only I forgot to mention another way you can save! So, I’ll share that now and then get into other ways to save money on non-food related items. I lump this in with couponing because, again, I don’t have many instances where I can redeem what I’ve purchased but almost every week I can get 25 cents or more for what I do buy. And it only takes a couple minutes and adds up after time. I’m willing to spend that little bit of time to eventually get free money. There are several of these cash back apps. My favorite is Ibotta. I’ve earned the most on this app. Every so often they offer $0.25 just for submitting a receipt. Another is Checkout 51. In my experience, it’s harder to earn the minimum cash back. In fact, in the three years I’ve been using it I’ve yet to reach the minimum to redeem the cash back. Not so the case with Ibotta. There is one other that I’m aware of and have conveniently forgotten the name but I never was able to use it because what I buy is not processed foods and name brands.
I’m hoping that you’ve figured out by the title what I’ll be covering today. Yes, all related to cleanliness. The first step I took to help reduce our costs was to begin to make my own cleaners after using up what I had on hand. I know some people say I should have tossed those chemically laden bottles of death but I couldn’t willingly throw them away knowing I spent my hard-earned money on them. And isn’t a homesteading creed to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without?
The first cleaner I started with was an all-purpose cleaner. It’ so simple to make and the ingredients list is short: castile soap, super washing soda, borax (minimal amount so I’m not concerned with the controversy surrounding this), and essential oils like lemon and/or orange. Any citrus essential oil is a good choice for this type of cleaner.
The next item I made was toilet bowl tablets. I quickly learned I didn’t like them and I don’t feel they were effectively cleaning my toilet bowl (and yes, I was scrubbing the bowl it just seemed that the “clean” didn’t last as long as it did when I was purchasing the brand name one I used to use). Sometimes it’s a matter of trying something and if that doesn’t work try something else. And that’s exactly what I did. I came up with my own “cleaner” which is essentially a squeeze bottle that I fill roughly 1/3 full with castile soap and 2/3 water. I then squeeze the mixture around the rim of the bowl and clean with the toilet scrub brush. Works like a charm and so much less expensive.
And then I tried dishwasher tablets. And I’ll be honest, the recipe I found didn’t contain any “soap” at all and I just couldn’t wrap my head around that. So, I followed the recipe with the exception of the addition of castile soap. And I’ve been using it ever since without problem! My dishes come out clean!
Lastly is the big one that a lot of people seem to focus on: laundry. I replaced dryer sheets with wool dryer balls and started making laundry soap. I’ve tried a powdered recipe and a laundry sauce. Both had the same basic ingredients: Fels Naptha bar soap, borax, and super washing soda. I despised the powder. It left a white powder residue on my dark clothes. The laundry sauce though worked well enough. But what I found was that the elastic in undergarments were deteriorating (meaning they weren’t as elastic as they should have been) so I did some research into borax because at that point I’d been reading more about how it might not be safe for us. And what I found is that borax breaks down the elastic. Well, that is no good at all! I decided then to just use the Fels Naptha and super washing soda. Here’s what I do now:
* cut into pea-size chunks (or grate) the Fels Naptha bar of soap, add to a blender.
* Add about 2 ½ cups super washing soda to the blender.
* Blend together to mix together. The blender isn’t necessary, I just find that it incorporates everything together really nicely.
* Store in a quart jar
I use this in powder form. Because it doesn’t have the borax, which doesn’t dissolve easily, there is no powder residue on my clothes. I use 1–2 tablespoons per load depending on the size and amount of soiling. I haven’t had a problem with my clothes not getting clean nor have I had a problem with my clothes smelling….and we sweat a lot in the summer! It may not work for everyone but it works for us. At the very least give it a try. It doesn’t cost much. The Fels Naptha is $1 and the super washing soda box is $4. You only use 36% of the box at a time (cost per recipe for the super washing soda is $1.44). Total cost per jar is $2.44. For me, a family of three washing 5–7 loads a week this lasts roughly 2 months. Pretty economical if you ask me.
What else? Oh, the glass cleaner. It’s as simple as 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water together in a spray bottle. Use two rags; one to wash with and one lint free rag to dry. You’re glass and mirrors will look great! And trust me, the vinegar smell doesn’t last long.
Other areas items I’ve made at home are a foaming hand soap, dish soap, and liquid hand soap, and tooth cleaner. The foaming hand soap works great although it does require a slight shake to mix everything together before use. The dish soap I’m still perfecting as I’ve not been happy with the recipe that I found. The liquid hand soap is the most recent addition to my arsenal and so far, we have no complaints.
The tooth cleaner though has gone thru several different iterations. The first couple years we used recipes that use coconut oil. However, we decided to not do that because we have concerns about the coconut oil clogging the pipes. So recently I’ve moved to a tooth powder. The last recipe used calcium and magnesium powder for remineralization but the flavor was a bit odd so I’ll continue to tweak it until I come up with something that works for us. For the record, my dentist has never seen any evidence that our dental health has declined since we started using homemade tooth paste/powder.
The last area I want to cover is using fabric napkins and rags instead of paper napkins and paper towel. Now, I’m not saying to never use them but in our daily lives that is what we use. We’ll break out the paper napkins when we have company and paper towel when it’s a particularly yucky (think cat vomit) mess, something greasy, or to remove the poop from the freshly gathered chicken eggs. By reducing your use of paper products, you will save some money in the long run. Every little penny, nickel, and dime adds up.
Next time I’ll cover the behaviors and habits that affect how effective we are with keeping money in our coffers.