We’re a nation of consumers, and we’ve been consuming even more as we continue to stay vigilant about washing our hands and keeping our homes, cars, and desks cleaner. As you walk around your home, it’s easy to spot the biggest offenders to your wallet — from paper towels to cleaning supplies, storage bags to fresh herbs.
Want to save a few bucks without feeling like you’re skimping out? We hunted down the best value swaps to save you big bucks now and in the long run.
The solution for your solutions
We’re spraying and pumping through cleaning supplies now more than ever, and it can break the bank at $5 (or more!) a pop, plus there's all that non-recyclable plastic! Your routine just got a makeover and you can now mix up your own bathroom and window cleaner, even foaming hand soap with just a tablet and some tap water.
Blueland ships you a starter kit with gorgeous, hefty, color-coded bottles and after that initial cost, refills are just $2. You get 20 ounces of cleaning product that fizzes out of a tablet the size of a nickel! Efficient and affordable—love it.
Transitioning to a paperless kitchen can save you a ton of money, and an easy place to make a swap is napkins. “Three sets is the bare minimum for getting started. Basically, you want enough napkins for each member of your family, times three,” says Kathleen Henderson, natural living blogger at Roots & Boots. As you build your stash you can go even longer between washings, she adds.
Avoid shiny polyester fabrics that aren’t very absorbent and are scratchy on the skin and opt for cotton, which is soft and washes well. You’ll want to encourage your family to use the same napkin all day, and Henderson recommends crafting personalized clothespins with everyone’s name to keep napkins with their daily owners between meals.
Lastly, if you’re a big fan of marinara sauce, you may want to go for darker colors to avoid visible stains!
Switch to Swedish dishcloths
Swedish dishcloths might be a fresh concept for us, but in Europe, they are super popular. They’re basically a hybrid of a sponge and cloth created by a Swedish engineer in 1949. The blend of 70 percent cellulose and 30 percent cotton allows it to absorb 20 times its weight in liquid. It dries very quickly and doesn’t breed bacteria, so it’s more hygienic than a sponge or a towel.
Each dishcloth can withstand 200 washes in the washing machine or the top rack of your dishwasher. I just hang mine over the faucet between uses, not that it gets that much rest there with twin toddlers running around!
The ultimate grab bag
I had initially been turned off by silicone food storage bags when I saw a friend struggle to pry open a container — it was so sticky and looked like a pain to deal with — but fast forward a few years and some technological advances later and my collection of Zip Top is growing. I use it all around my house and it travels everywhere with me in my purse, and my diaper bag!
It stands up alone so you can easily dish in fruit, sweet potatoes, French toast, anything you make in bulk — it really makes life easier. The seal is thick and it keeps anything with a consistency of applesauce or thicker easily stashable in rows in the fridge and freezer.
I even microwave and eat leftovers right from an open bag since it stands upright unlike plastic storage bags. What can I say, I’m all for avoiding more dishes! After I’m done, I just pop it right into the dishwasher, I somehow feel like I’m cheating the system, but I love it.
Never run out of steam
Turns out you can take your clothing steamer to a new level and use it to clean your whole house! Steam vapor is sanitizing and deodorizing and if it outputs steam over 212 degrees Fahrenheit it can destroy bacteria, mold spores, viruses and germs without expensive disinfecting wipes — just check the manual.
You can quickly sanitize high-touch areas like countertops and bathroom sinks by gliding the steamer across the surface slowly. If you’re looking to both sterilize and tackle dirt and grease, Bailey Carson, Head of Cleaning at Handy, recommends a smart hack.
“Place a small microfiber cloth or thin towel over the steamer head and clip it on, you can also use a rubber band to keep it in place,” she explains. Fill your steamer with water and turn it on so the steam starts flowing. Once it’s ready, simply glide the steamer back and forth across your countertop, as if you’re mopping. When you’re done, take a dry, clean cloth to wipe your counter down from any dampness.
You can also forget renting a carpet cleaner to deep clean your upholstery! Just add three parts water and one-part vinegar to your steamer to blast away stains and dust mites from your sofa. Hold it six inches from stains for 30 seconds then just blot with a clean towel.
Green light your harvest
I’m not a great chef, to say the least, but my secret ingredient has always been fresh herbs. No matter what, it livens up a so-so dish, but it can be so expensive — sometimes $6 for a few sprigs!
I tried the herb garden on the windowsill deal and after that was a major fail I knew I needed a techie intervention. I was doubtful of the bounty of herbs I’d get from the AeroGarden, but wow, my entire neighborhood has been able to enjoy delicious basil pesto because each little pod knows no bounds, seriously! I’ve found myself Googling recipes and preservation techniques to figure out what to do with all of these greens.
The Harvest 360 allows you to grow six plants at a time with just water, so there’s no mess. The control panel tells you when to add water, reminds you when to add plant food and automatically turns lights on and off. The white, blue and red LED lights are tuned to the specific needs of plants to maximize photosynthesis which yields herbs, veggies and flowers like nothing you’ve ever seen.
After initial setup costs, you can pick up six more pods for $15, and you’ll make back at least triple or quadruple your money back in one harvest. This is a no-brainer for me and I’m loving experimenting with new herbs and can’t wait to try out the tea pods with chamomile and lavender soon!
Video produced by Kat Vasquez
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