I am approaching week five of my two month No Spend goal. So far, I have only had a few planned exceptions and desperate need for new walking shoes. When I go on the weekly grocery haul, I make a list of all beauty, house, and food related purchases I need to make. Hands down my most expensive trip are when I need to buy non-food items like cleaners and shampoos. Don’t get me started if I have to buy toilet paper or paper towels.
So in the spirit of saving money. I searched around Pinterest, websites, and my trusty historic newspaper database Genealogy Bank to find some multipurpose items that won’t break the piggy bank. I chose nine of my top versatile products.
My earliest memory of vinegar, is using it to dye Easter eggs. Its strong scent always sparks a childhood memory of the pastel eggs coming out of plastic cups. As an adult, I rarely use vinegar with a few exceptions. I have always used vinegar to descale my Keurig and other coffee pots. Vinegar also cleans makeup brushes well with warm water by pulling the oil right out of the bristles. I have also used it to make easier to peel boiled eggs. (Here I go with the eggs again!)
However, I have also been told vinegar makes great fabric softener, stain remover, odor reducer, glass cleaner, and so on. This small list does not even touch the beauty and cooking possibilities of plain vinegar. The best part? Standard white vinegar averages less than $3.50 a gallon according to Walmart’s online store.
Dawn (or comparative store brand) is a great option to scrub dishes without destroying your hands. We have all seen the ads where the cute little animals are rescued from oil spills and bathed with Dawn. Those commercials get me every time! I also recently discovered thanks to my best friend @muddymeraid that it is one of the few options that can pull grease stains out of clothes. If the stain is too old it does not work. However, it is possible to dab and massage the stain with a little Dawn, let sit for a bit, and wash. It has worked on a few items I thought were goners for sure.
One of my favorite YouTuber’s, Kristen, with The Gold Project mentioned taking a spray bottle and filling it with Dawn and our old friend vinegar for tough soap scum in bathtubs. I have not tried it yet, but have commandeered an empty spray bottle to give it a try when the expensive bathroom cleaner foam runs out. The average price for Dawn brand dish soap is 12 cents a fluid ounce for the unscented at Walmart.
Keep the odors away with a box of baking soda open in the refrigerator. Sometimes, back in the college days, the only thing in my refrigerator was a few bottles of water, a sad yogurt, and a box of open baking soda. Baking soda has many medical uses for minor ailments and tooth whitening. (I am not a doctor, so please consult one before trying any of these!)
One recent hack I tried with baking soda that worked wonders is to clean a grungy microwave. The first, load some into a microwave safe cup and cover it with water. Run it in your microwave and wipe away the residue left afterwards. Just this alone makes baking soda worth 50 cents a box!
I like that castile soap is made from plant based oils instead of animal fat. It can be purchased with or without scent. Castile has more options uses that just lathering up and rinsing off! Castile soap can be made into other products such as laundry detergent, shampoo, ant spray, and even to wash pets with sensitive skin. Since it has all natural and biodegradable is a great option for those with sensitive skin. It comes in so many scent and can easily be purchased at the grocery store on Amazon.
My top 5 scents for castile soap are…
1. Lavender for relaxing.
2. Peppermint for decongestion and to wake me up.
3. Almond to smell like wedding cake.
4. Rose to feel fancy.
5. Tea tree is one that I have not tried, but would like too!
This topical ointment was all the rage back in the 1990s. I remember having a version of this around the house at my grandmother’s. I was reintroduced when I lived in Vietnam. My friends were using it for bug bite relief since our flats were plague with mosquitoes sneaking in through the drains. Since I bought my first jar back in Ho Chi Minh City for 80 cents, I have kept one on hand. They can be purchased in multi-packs as well.
There is a red version (with cinnamon) and a white version. Both the white and the red are amazing. However, the red stains everything! It is camphor and menthol based with mint included. It helps relieve muscles, decongest sinuses, stop headaches, and deodorizer. I use it most mornings on my desk while I teach classes. The fresh scent wakes me up and signals for me to start the day.
Confession, I rarely actually rarely use laundry sheets for what they are intended. They only enter the dryer on cold nights when I need my Netflix and snuggle blanket fresh. Dryer sheets actually make excellent baseboard cleaners. They pull out a lot of the dust and do not leave streaks like when a liquid cleaner is employed.
They also freshen drawers, suitcases, and cars. I like to buy the small boxes for a few dollars since they can also be torn in half. This way each sheet gets two uses.
Witch hazel has replaced all toners in my life. Back in my acne prone and oily skin days it was not enough. I had to use something with salicylic acid in it to have a hope of taming my skin. Now my skin is still break out prone, and kind of oily. However, it is a lot less intense and more prone to dryness than before. Witch hazel is a natural and gentle astringent.
It is also plant based, and can be used to relive other minor skin irritations. Hint: The store brand witch hazel works just as well as the fancier brands in the skin care aisle. Try to check the medical and pharmacy section first for cheaper options.
Coconut oil is the miracle product of the millennials. It is said to cure everything and be everything. I am not sure about all of this. Recent articles are now claiming ingesting coconut oils is worse than vegetable oils for your arteries. It has high content of saturated fat that is not good for cardiac health. So I am going to focus on the topical benefits of coconut oil.
It is literally the best moisturizer for everything. Skin, scalp, and cuticles. My favorite scrubs are coconut oil based because they offer a fresh feeling after taking off dead skin. With prizes for lotions and creams what they are. Why not buy a jar of coconut oil and make it yourself?
Who still uses it to lighten their hair in the summer? I remember I did during pool days in the 90s.
It is very apparent by now that I like things that are kind of natural. Lemon juice is to lighten nails. I like to use this after wearing dark polish for too long. It can polish silver and remove other stains. It is also useful to refresh and deodorize garbage disposals as well as wooden cutting boards. This article has several great uses to try with a bag of lemons!
This list does not highlight other awesome products like essential oils, apple cider vinegar, or Epson salt. It is just my starting point as I begin to alleviate the ‘extras’ from our cabinets. I hope to use combinations of these great projects to expand into more uses.