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How to Use Less and Save on 5 Common Household Products

By Heather Levin

Save on Household CleanersHave you ever read the directions on the back of your laundry detergent? You know, where it says “Use 2/3 cup for heavy loads, 1/2 cup for lighter loads,” and so on.

The problem with these directions, and with a lot of the products we use daily, is that when we follow the “recommended use” directions, we end up using way more than necessary. Of course companies are going to tell us to use more than we need to! After all, the more product we use, the faster we run out, which means the more we buy.

The good news is that we can get by with less. Often, a lot less. I’ve been doing it for years. Here are some tips to help you save money with 5 common household products:

1. Laundry Detergent

Did you know that your laundry detergent has chemicals and artificial fragrances that have been linked to cancer?

Many big brand laundry detergents are full of toxic chemicals and carcinogens we should not be using at all, much less on clothing we wear against our skin all day. These chemicals are not only harmful to us, but they’re also harmful for the environment. Using less detergent will not only save you money, but will also reduce your exposure to these harmful chemicals. And, it will lesson the impact on the environment as well.

How much should you be using?

Well, this is going to vary depending on if you’re using powder or liquid. For powder, you can easily get by with half the recommended amount for a light load. Yes, even if you have heavily soiled clothes. Try it, you’ll see. For liquid, I use an eco-friendly liquid detergent, and I use 3 Tablespoons for my biggest loads. My clothes get just as clean with this amount and it has saved me quite a bit of money. For instance, I bought a Costco-sized container of Kirkland’s eco-friendly detergent. It lasted me 3 years; I only just ran out!

And even outside of laundry detergent, using less is a great general strategy to save on household cleaners and home cleaning products. Better yet, avoid 100% of chemicals and save a ton of money with these homemade laundry detergent recipes.

2. Shampoo and Conditioner

Americans are pretty obsessed with washing hair. Most of us wash it daily. But according to NPR, that’s twice as much as Italians and Spaniards.

Daily washing isn’t really that good for our hair anyway because it strips it of our natural oil, called sebum. Even dermatologists recommend washing our hair only 2-3 times per week.

Not only are we washing too frequently, but we’re also using too much shampoo. Most people squirt out a fair-sized blob onto their palm. But, this is way too much. Try using a dime sized amount and go up from there if you need to. You might need more if your hair is really long or thick, but I’ve found that slightly larger than a dime-sized amount works great for me.

You can also try diluting your shampoo with water to help spread it a bit further and save money. For example, let’s say you spend $4 on a bottle of shampoo. Use a quarter of it, and then fill that extra space with water and mix it up before using the rest. You’re essentially saving $1.00 for every bottle you use.

For some other money-saving tips, be sure to check out these natural homemade organic shampoo recipes and these 5 great tips to save money on cosmetics, makeup, and toiletries.

3. Liquid Hand Soap

Hand soap is another product of whichwe often use too much. We press the pump down all the way and out the soap comes!

We can use less by pressing down the pump only halfway. If you have kids or you will forget yourself, you can wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the pump; this will prevent it from getting pushed down all the way.

Liquid hand soap is also another product that can be stretched further with a bit of water. I do this all the time at my house. I’ve gotten down to a 50/50 blend of soap and water and found it still lathers well. This dramatically extends the life of my soap!

4. Toothpaste

I’m a classic toothpaste overuser. I spread that toothpaste across my brush in one long, gleaming white line. But if you read the back of most toothpaste tubes, they recommend only using a dot.

A few days ago, I started using the dot. And, my teeth felt just as clean as they normally do.

So far this has been a hard habit to break. I start spreading it without thinking and once it’s out, you can’t get it back in. But, I’m working on it!

5. Fruit Juice

Fruit juices, especially strong juices like black cherry and grape, are extremely high in calories. You can use less fruit juice, and cut your calorie consumption, simply by diluting it with water. You might also find you like the taste considerably more too!

This is tricky, however! When I first started doing this, I’d dilute too much and the juice would be too weak. You’ll have to play around with amounts to see what works best for you. For me, I’ve found that diluting around 20%-25% tastes best.

More Tips

What else can you easily dilute with water to save money?

  • Honey
  • Cleaning Products
  • Shower Gel

Last Word

Do any of you have some crafty ways to use less product? If so, I’d love to hear them!

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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  • Juri Alien

    Thank you for taking your time and write all your tips down. Some of them are very useful like the one with the laundry detergent. I still consider other option to save money. For example trading for stuff you want instead of paying for it. Sites like http://www.BarterQuest.com make it a lot easier to find a trading partner.

    • Heather Levin

      Juri, thanks so much for reading!

  • Kevin Vesga

    I too have a habit of using too much toothpaste. I do try to put less on though. Also after using a dot amount, I then make sure to spread it onto the brush with my fingers. It helps keep it on the brush.

    • Heather Levin

      Kevin, great tip; thanks!

  • http://www.great-little-stories.com Jen

    Re: hand soap – A couple of years ago I wanted to reduce our consumption, the plastic waste, AND cut down expenses, so we switched to bar soap, in both the bathroom and kitchen. I like getting the smaller/sample sizes of handmade soaps – cute, organic, and inexpensive.

  • Leolalee

    Add an extra can of water to any frozen juice concentrates.

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