5 Home Products You Can Save Money With

DebtGuru’s Top 5 Frugal Household Products

By Mike Peterson
In July 7, 2016

Frugal living isn’t just about canceling cable or brown-bagging it to work (although those are great strategies if you’re trying to cut living expenses). Frugal living is also about shopping smarter and looking for ways to stretch your hard-earned dollars farther. One way to do that is to buy inexpensive household items that can be used for more than one task.

To help you get started, I chose five of my favorite household multi-taskers. They’re affordable, easy to get, and all of them have many, many more uses than I could possibly list in a single blog post.

  1. Lemons

There’s more to lemons than making lemonade. There are plenty of other ways to use these sunny yellow citrus fruits around the kitchen:

  • Neutralize garlic and onion. Lemon is a powerful odor neutralizer and is especially good at getting rid of harsh smells. Remove garlic or onion smells from a cutting board by rubbing it with a quartered lemon (this also works on your hands: rub freshly cut lemon on your hands after you cut garlic!).
  • Throw ‘em in the trash (or the garbage disposal). Trust me. I’m not being wasteful. One of the great things about lemons is that you can use every part of them. Once you’ve squeezed all the juice and pulp out of a lemon, you can throw the peel in the bottom of a trash can to help prevent garbage odors. You can also drop leftover lemon pulp and peels down the garbage disposal to keep strong food smells at bay.
  • Remove stains. Who needs to spend money on specialized stain remover or bottles of bleach? Simply mix a little bit of lemon juice with water and you can take stains out of cloth, carpet, or wooden cutting boards. A splash of lemon juice in the washing machine can also help get white laundry items just a little whiter.
  • Restore copper cookware and fine china. A mixture of salt and lemon juice will keep your copper pots and kettles shiny – without the need for harsh chemicals. A lemon-and-salt mixture will also breathe new life into stained teacups or fancy dinnerware.
  • Soothe a sore throat. A concoction of hot water, lemon juice, and a little bit of honey is a tried-and-true (and frugal!) way to make a sore throat feel better.
  • Make your own budget-friendly furniture polish. A mixture of lemon juice and a little olive oil will shine and remove scratches from wood furniture.
  1. Dryer sheets

Sure, they smell great and remove pesky static from your clothes – but if you’re only using dryer sheets for laundry, you’re missing out on how truly versatile they are. Here are just a few of the reasons that dryer sheets are such a great purchase:

  • Stick one in your sock drawer, suitcase, or gym bag. Back in the day, folks used to buy little bundles of potpourri and stick them in drawers to keep their clothes from getting musty. Today, you can accomplish the same thing with a single dryer sheet. Just one sheet in a drawer or in the bottom of your gym bag will make your clothes smell nice – without taking up any room.
  • Get rid of “old book smell.” Buying used books is a great, wallet-friendly way to indulge your love of reading without blowing your budget. But if you’re not a fan of that distinctive, musty smell that sometimes accompanies old books, you can stick your used books in a box or a bag with a dryer sheet or two. Leave them overnight and the smell will be gone.
  • Sub for shoe deodorizer. Stick a dryer sheet or two in stinky sneakers instead of spending money on specialty odor-eating products.
  • Pick up pet hair. Rub a dryer sheet over your couch, rug, or clothing to get rid of unwanted hair and lint.
  • Dust your blinds. A quick swipe with a dryer sheet will freshen up your mini-blinds and remove lint and dust.
  1. Kitty Litter

Even if you don’t have a cat at home, it’s a good idea to have a tub of multi-purpose, budget-friendly kitty litter around the house (just make sure you choose a less-expensive option such as a no-frills store brand – fancier varieties with scents or ultra-light granules can cost quite a bit!). Just a scoop or two of litter can work wonders around the house and garage:

  • Sprinkle it on icy sidewalks. If you live in a part of the world where winter means snow and freezing temperatures, you also know that icy sidewalks can pose quite a hazard. The traditional no-slip solution is rock salt, but a healthy dusting of kitty litter will do in a pinch. But that’s not the only way a bag of kitty litter can help you fight the elements, which brings me to the next use . . .
  • Keep a bag in your trunk or backseat. Car stuck in the snow or mud? Pouring a healthy amount of litter around the tire can be your ticket out of a sticky (or snowy) situation – and can spare you the time and expense of calling a tow truck. The litter can help your tire gain just enough traction to get your car out of the muck and back on the road.
  • Absorb oil and grease. Use kitty litter to tackle oil stains in the garage or driveway (just pour it on and let it soak) or sprinkle it on backyard barbecue pit to prevent grease fires.
  • Keep seasonal gear from getting musty in storage. Store seasonal clothing and items – think winter clothes, camping gear, raincoats, holiday decorations, etc. – with a sock filled with kitty litter to keep them smelling fresh until next year.
  1. Vinegar

You can get a jug of store-brand white vinegar at any grocery store for dirt cheap, and its uses are near-endless, which make it a winner in the money-saving department. Use vinegar as a frugal stand-in for a variety of pricier products, including:

  • Bathroom cleaner. A mix of vinegar and water can clean and disinfect your bathroom, from your toilet seat to your tub to your shower door.
  • Hard water deposit remover. Vinegar can also help dissolve tough-to-treat buildup from hard water. Light buildup can be removed by scrubbing with a sponge soaked with a mix of vinegar and water. For tougher buildup, soak the area for a few hours before scrubbing. If the affected area is hard to soak (like a kitchen faucet or shower head) you can wrap it with a vinegar-soaked paper towel instead.
  • Stain remover. Vinegar is a natural, affordable alternative to bottled stain remover – and it’s especially good for treating pet stains. Mix vinegar and water, pour over the stain. Blot up the excess liquid, let dry, and vacuum.
  • Drain un-clogger. A super-affordable combination of baking soda (another cheap and awesome multi-purpose product!) and vinegar can stand in for traditional drain cleaner.
  1. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another inexpensive and indispensable household product. It’s cheap, a little goes a long way, and it’s even more amazing and versatile when paired with other products. Here are just a few things you can do with one little box of baking soda:

  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer smelling fresh. Baking soda absorbs odors, so an open box at the back of the fridge can help neutralize food odors in your fridge.
  • Remove mildew around the tub and shower. A paste made of vinegar and baking soda is a frugal, natural way to keep the bathroom free of musty mildew. You can also use baking soda on its own as a substitute for store-bought toilet bowl cleaner.
  • Scrub baked-on gunk from pots and pans. No need to spend money on special sponges or abrasive cleaners. Instead, sprinkle your pots and pans with a healthy amount of baking soda, add hot water, and let them soak.
  • Deodorize carpet. Sprinkle it on. Let it sit. Vacuum it up. Repeat as needed. Why spend money on specialized carpet cleaner?
  • Soothe burns and bites. A paste made of water and baking soda will take the sting out of sunburn and bug bites. Just spread a little directly on the affected area.
  • Soothe your stomach. Mix ½ teaspoon baking soda with ½ cup water for a quick, easy, and inexpensive home remedy for stomach ailments.

Another great way to kick-start a frugal lifestyle is getting your finances under control, starting with your high-interest credit card debt. To learn more about paying off credit card debt or responsible credit card use, you can contact the Debt Guru team today for a free debt relief consultation.

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.

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