Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Frugal kitchen tricks

Part of saving money in the kitchen has to do with kitchen maintenance, as well--it's not just about the food. Here are some of the ways I save money--oh, and p.s., save the earth as well.

1. Quit using paper towels. I keep a roll around for the gross stuff, like cleaning up bacon grease and cat puke, but otherwise I don't touch them. I have a stash of cloth towels, dishrags, and cloth napkins. These clean up spills and dirt just as well as paper towels, and they can be washed and reused. I might go through a roll of paper towels every two or three months.

2. Use a dishrag instead of a sponge when possible. I love those little green-backed scrubby sponges, but dishrags last forever (see above). I keep a sponge around for the tough scrubbing jobs--but you can throw the sponge in the dishwasher when it starts to get gross. Kills the germs AND cleans the sponge, extending the life of the sponge for at least another few weeks.

3. Quit buying cleaning supplies. I hate using harsh chemicals to clean things--they smell weird, they're expensive, and plus my cats are always drinking out of the toilet, so I don't want any chemical residues in there. Baking soda and vinegar will clean pretty much everything. "No way!" you cry. "How will baking soda and vinegar clean better than 409, or Soft Scrub with Bleach, or Tide Daily Shower Cleaner with New Fresh Lavendar Smell?"

One of my favorite blogs is The Simple Dollar--see this post for some of the many household uses for plain old boring white vinegar. You can use vinegar instead of fabric softener, or instead of Jet-Dry and fancy glass cleaners in the dishwasher, or instead of Windex (bonus: you can use newspaper and vinegar to clean your windows, works just as well as Windex and a paper towel and see? You just saved a paper towel!). Got a clogged drain? Pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain, cap it tightly, and wait a little while. A paste made of baking soda and a little water will clean just about anything, including grody toilets, mildew, and rust stains. Put baking soda on the carpet instead of carpet cleaner, put it in the litter box to cut pet odors, put it in shoes to cut shoe odors. More uses for baking soda here.

I've tried making my own dishwasher detergent, but turns out I have hard water, so I had to go back to the storebought kind. But if you don't have hard water, it should work for you.

4. Use less. You can use about half what the manufacturer recommends, on all cleaning supplies. I fill the dishwasher cap up halfway, I use about 1/8 cup of laundry detergent per load, I cut dryer sheets into quarters and use 1/4 dryer sheet per load. My dishes and clothes are just as clean as if I'd used more, and it saves money (and chemical backwash into the water supply). Speaking of laundry detergent, I buy the five-gallon bucket of generic at Sam's Club. It gets my clothes just as clean and fresh-smelling as Tide. Cost: $14 for five gallons. At 1/8 cup per load, even at 4-5 loads of laundry per week, it'll last me a year.

No comments:

Post a Comment