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How to Save Money on 10 Common Household Items

I like to tackle home projects myself and write about tips for other enthusiastic DIYers.

How to reduce usage and save money on household items.

How to reduce usage and save money on household items.

I Rarely Buy These Household Items

Many common household items are more expensive than ever. Thankfully, over the years, I've found cheap substitutes for these items, or nearly eliminated them altogether.

Here are ten items to replace or avoid buying to save money at the market!

1. Paper Towels

I may buy a few rolls of paper towels a year. Paper towels are useful in certain circumstances. For instance, they’re great at draining the oil from food. You could ruin a cloth with all that grease! Also, what do you use to pick up the occasional hairball from the cat? Something you can throw away, right? So you grab a paper towel. I also use them for doing windows, but that doesn’t happen very often in my house. What I do NOT use paper towels for is wiping up spills (unless they’re really gross!) on counters or floors…or as napkins, which leads me to the second item.

2. Paper Napkins

Use cloth. A one-time investment in some inexpensive napkins will save you hundreds of dollars over time. Throw dirty ones in the washer. Buy enough for several meals if you have a large family. I’ve bought them for almost nothing at yard sales. If you can sew a little bit, you might consider making them. The only time I ever buy paper napkins is for a large gathering. Then, to get rid of what’s left in the package, I use them for the things I would use paper towels for, so I’m really not out that much extra money for my purchase.

3. Cleaning Cloths

Tear up old T-shirts, towels, and even old socks. (These are great to stick your hand in to wash the car with!) You need plenty of cloths since you’ll be grabbing them to clean up spills throughout your house. If you have enough of these cloths, you can even use one to clean up something gross. If you have to throw it away, you haven’t lost much. You’ll have more old T-shirts coming your way to use before you know it!

4. Trash Bags

I use plastic shopping bags from various stores in all my trash cans. If they’re too small for a can you empty frequently—such as your kitchen trash—save the larger bags for just this trash can. Or use paper grocery bags, which are much larger. I keep a few larger bags (32-gallon bags) on hand for larger items I need to throw away, but I rarely use them.

5. Storage/Freezer Bags

These can be reused many times. Just stick them in the dishwasher! Or wash by hand and let them dry. You can get a lot of use out of these before they simply wear out.

6. Typing/Copy Paper

Unless I’m printing something I need to send out (i.e. resume, letter), I use the unused side of copy paper from other projects. Also, junk mail is a resource. You can use the backs of letters that are blank.

7. Small Notepads

I keep a spot for envelopes from mail with solid white backs. These work great for grocery and “to-do” lists, the latter of which I make almost daily!

8. Air Freshener

Put cinnamon, cloves, or orange peels in water. Boil on the stove to get a great-smelling house. This is much cheaper and better for the environment than the chemicals in those sprays.

9. Pens

Freebies, freebies, freebies. I pick up free pens every chance I get—at seminars I go to, at promotional events—wherever they are offered.

10. Bottled Water

I NEVER buy this unless I’m on a trip and get thirsty, and it’s water that I want more than any other drink. Some say that bottled water isn’t necessarily healthier, anyway. If you’re sold on bottled water, see if using a filtered pitcher or faucet satisfies you.

Try some of these methods of saving. I find it challenging to see how long I can make things last, and it’s exciting to think about how much you can save!

Remember the old saying “A penny saved is a penny earned.” See how tight you can pinch those pennies on common household items so that you can use your hard-earned money on things that you really want. Stretch that dollar!

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© 2011 Victoria Lynn


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on May 22, 2013:

suziecat--Dadgummit, not again. I filed 60 some complaints a few months ago. Thank you so much for pointing this out. I guess I'll be filing another one. I'd better look for some more on there. Thanks again! Good luck with yours!

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on May 22, 2013:

Victoria - this Hub has been copied here

Thought you might want to know. He has copied some of mine as well.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on January 08, 2013:

Mitch--You're right about the pasta and rice. Great tip for saving money AND eating healthy! Thanks for the input!

Mitch Turnure from South Jersey on January 08, 2013:

Grocery bags as bathroom and bedroom trashcan inserts are perfect and I always use envelopes and junkmail for scrap paper and shopping lists.

Another savings hint is to purchase pasta and rice and season it yourself rather than purchasing things like rice-a-roni and hamburger helper. This is more economical and healthier.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on September 24, 2012:

Thanks, Carter! Those are really nice comments. I love finding new ways to save money--and sharing them!

Mary from Cronulla NSW on September 24, 2012:

Just found this Vic and I have to say I enjoy the way you write about money saving doubt you encourage and help many with your ideas not only in this hub but many of your others as well...great job...cheers

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 12, 2012:

Sharkye--Good idea on the plastic sacks. I do that on dog walks but don't think to do that indoors with hairballs. Good idea!

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on August 11, 2012:

I never seem to wear out towels, but tee shirts are fair game. I have bags of them. Another thing I have done is use plastic sacks for picking up pet accidents. It works to get the solid part up (ew), then I can spray and scrub with any old rag scrap.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 11, 2012:

Sharkye--Great input! Even better, save old worn out towels or clothing in a bag for those occasional gross messes that you want to throw out. Just an idea. :-) I actually rewash storage bags in the dishwasher. I don't know if that's okay or not, but I do it. :-) Thanks for the input!

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on August 10, 2012:

Great ideas. Love being inspired to save money! I do pretty much all of these except re-wash the storage bags. But I only use them to freeze meat, so I am concerned about safety. I love, love, love paper towels, but I have learned to use cloths instead for most messes. I went to the dollar store and buy a big package of washcloths ( about $5, less than a big package of paper towels). They handle most messes, and if it is particularly gross, I don't mind throwing away the cheap cloth.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on July 25, 2012:

monicamelendez--The little stuff adds up to be a lot over the course of a year. Try it!

monicamelendez from Salt Lake City on July 25, 2012:

Very solid ideas! I imagine that I waste hundreds of dollars by not paying attention to the small details. I definitely need to get better!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on June 21, 2012:

Dragonfly Treasure--Glad you like the hub. I like to pinch pennies! Thanks for the vote up!

DragonflyTreasure from on the breeze......... on June 21, 2012:

Awesome hub. We forget how to pinch that penny until it squeels. Voting up!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on May 31, 2012:

Anjili--Glad it was useful. Thanks!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on May 31, 2012:

creditreportworld--I think it's the small things that many don't notice that add up over time. Thanks for the comment!

Anjili from planet earth, a humanoid on May 31, 2012:

Voted up and useful. You spoke for most of us.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on May 03, 2012:

Anjili--I love frugal living. Thanks so much for the comment and vote!

Anjili from planet earth, a humanoid on May 03, 2012:

Now, This is what we call frugal living. Nice info. Voted up

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on February 29, 2012:

You're welcome, Purple Jubilee. Cool that you do those things, too. Thanks for reading.

Purple Jubilee from Kent, UK on February 29, 2012:

Hi, thanks for this article - I've also started not buying paper towels (or kitchen roll in the UK) but using cloths - and the same with old bags for trash (rubbish) bags. Looking forward to finding out about more tips

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on February 22, 2012:

veggie-mom--I haven't tried newspaper on windows and mirrors. I will do that! Yet another savings. Thanks for the great tip!

veggie-mom on February 21, 2012:

I am on the same page with you on all of these suggestions, thanks for putting together such a great list! Have you tried using newspaper on your windows/mirrors instead of paper towels? It works beautifully.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on January 23, 2012:

That's great, Jennifer, that you're going to get real napkins! I got mine at yard sales or they were major clearance items. No need for paper towels for napkins! And I recycle old clothing or towels for most messes. Great comments--thanks!

Jennifer Essary from Idaho on January 22, 2012:

Voted up and useful! I was just thinking about my paper towel use the other day. Two labs and a toddler have me going through more than I want to. I never bought them before I got married. I'm looking forward to fewer toddler messes. Thanks for sharing. I'm officially on the lookout for cheap napkins.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on December 08, 2011:

mljdgulley--I, too, think all those you mention are luxuries, and I use handkerchiefs, too! Thanks!

kikalina--Thanks for the love!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on December 08, 2011:

Thanks, danielle andhowtojunkies--every little bit helps!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on December 08, 2011:

Lord, I'm glad this hub is already saving you 40 bucks per month. hahaha Good job! Yes, we can get freebies from the internet, too. Good to see you again!!!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on December 08, 2011:

great pun, sinea! haha I think that napkins and paper towels are some of the most overused and wasted household items. Cloth napkins can save a lot, as can cloth rags for cleaning. I even use handkerchiefs for my nose. All of those things can be washed and re-used over and over. Well, off my soapbox for now! haha. thanks for your comments!

kikalina from Europe on December 08, 2011:

Great ideas.

loved it.

mljdgulley354 on December 08, 2011:

Victoria, thank you for sharing these tips. Growing up paper products such as paper towels, napkins and kleenex were a luxury. We even had cloth handkerchiefs.

howtojunkies on December 08, 2011:

good hub!

danielleantosz from Florida on December 07, 2011:

Great ideas! I like the boiling orange peels and using junk mail as printing paper, great ideas! Thanks.

Joseph De Cross from New York on December 07, 2011:

Victoria, I'm saving at least 40 bucks a month with this hub. I came to your hub by chance. Well done! and thanks!

We can get freebies from the Internet also..right?


Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on December 07, 2011:

This hub is rich with money saving ideas (excuse the pun). I never thought of cloth napkins. What an eye-opener! Now if I can convince the fam that napkins AREN'T kleenex, I think it'll work! LOL!

My dad cleaned out his food storage bags and reused. I don't think he thought of the dishwasher, though, which would probably make it safer health-wise. Great hub! Voted up and useful.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on November 22, 2011:

One of my first hubs ever! Doesn't seem that long ago, but then seems like forever! hahaha

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on November 15, 2011:

vocalcoach--thanks! I find it a challenge to find way to save. I love being frugal. Thanks for checking out my hubs!

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on November 14, 2011:

I'm glad you sent me to this hub. I love this one: Air freshener: Put cinnamon, cloves, or orange peels in water and boil. Very good information. Rated UP and now I want to click on your link for saving money on pets.

Thanks so much!


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on October 17, 2011:

Aw, Lucky Cats Kathy, I caught your "litterally." haha. I, too, use those plastic bags to dispose of my cats' used litter. Very handy. I also use them to take on my walks with my dog. The walking gets his bowels moving, I guess, so I clean up after him with a plastic sack. Thanks for your compliments on my hub!

But, it looks like Susan has to pay for the plastic bags! They are so plentiful--too much so--here. I do take cloth bags when I shop at Aldi since they don't have bags except for sale.

Great to see you both, ladies! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on October 17, 2011:

Wow great hub! I too do all the things here to save money that you do except the only one is that I buy garbage bags as unless we have our garbage in the large garbage bags they will not take it. The plastic grocery bags I use sparingly as in Ontario we have to pay 5 cents per bag. I normally take cloth or heavy duty plastic bags with me when I go shopping.

Kathy from Independence, Kansas on October 16, 2011: kidding! Why would anyone BUY plastic bags when they are, literally (litterally) EVERYWHERE and FREE! I, too, use shopping bags as garbage bags and litter bags and storage (against sweaters, etc.)..great hub..always fun to read and educational, too. UP Useful Awesome, Funny, too. Kathy

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on September 05, 2011:

I relate to what you say in the hub. I also find ways to save money, such as using filtered water instead of buying bottled water. I laughed when I read your suggestion to use shopping bags for garbage. I thought I was the only one who did that! And I'm actually surprised that people pay their hard-earned money for garbage bags when they can use free plastic shopping bags. You gave me a bunch of other ideas that I never thought of. Thanks. Voted up and useful.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 25, 2011:

That's great, Jennie, that you put the filter on your faucet. That alone can save you hundreds of dollars in bottled water. You're right. All the items mentioned are ones that people don't think anything about purchasing and do go through quickly. I just think there are so many ways to save money--if we just think about it. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Venture Boyz from Floating in the clouds on August 25, 2011:

These are all items I tend to go through quickly! Instead of purchasing bottled water I bought one of those purify water machines for my faucet. It gets the job done great. I can even use it to fill up water bottles and take them on the go.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 25, 2011:

Thanks, LittlePayday! I love your name. Sounds like you may have some tips of your own for me to check out. Thanks for stopping by!

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 25, 2011:

Thanks, kerlynb. Yeah, I don't have much fluff in my budget! There's a lot we can do without if we just think about it and sacrifice a bit. Thanks for reading!

kerlynb from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^ on August 25, 2011:

Oh, you're one smart shopper. These small items can actually add up in a big way to our yearly shopping bill! I have to agree that we can do without the paper napkins and towels.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 23, 2011:

Yes, I agree--especially if the saving ways are ongoing and consistent. Thanks for reading, mysisters!

mysisters on August 23, 2011:

Days like these it sure is helpful and sometimes it can go a long way when you just do some simple changes. Thanks for the tips.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 23, 2011:

I totally understand what you're saying, ArockDaNinja. I often feel that way when I read articles on how to save money, as I already practice most of what I read. You should be proud of yourself! I know what you mean by "sad but glad."

ArockDaNinja from Massachusetts, USA on August 23, 2011:

I'm sad but glad that I already use almost all your methods.

Ravi Singh from India on August 13, 2011:

Well I like all your tips except air freshener, it will required sometime when you expect some guest or someone special.I always keep it handy.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 09, 2011:

Thanks for the comment. I love the topic of saving money. Thanks for reading and commenting!

luvb3innatural from Coral Springs,FL on August 09, 2011:

Love the hub Victoria! I see we share a common interest.


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 08, 2011:

I love finding new ways to save money. I find it a challenge. I can thank my mom for that. She was very frugal, and, growing up, I was with her a lot and watched what she did. She taught me a lot. I think it's instilled in me to do what I can to not be wasteful and thus save money. Thanks for the comments, SangHue!

SangHue on August 08, 2011:

Surely if you want to save money, you need to do whatever it takes. It is good to look at your common household usage and substitute disposable items with reusable items when possible. This is easy for me to say, but I find it's hard for me to apply it. Although, I did raise up three children and saving money doesn't enter their minds when they were young.

Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 07, 2011:

Thanks, prasetio! I love trying to find ways to save money, and I like sharing them!

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on August 07, 2011:

Very inspiring hub. I love financial management and this topic is part of them. Nice tips and we should to know about this. Well done and you got my vote. Take care!


Jt Walters on August 04, 2011:

No problem. I enjoyed the article.


Victoria Lynn (author) from Arkansas, USA on August 04, 2011:

Thanks, JT! I've always been thrifty, as I like to save money where I can. And you're right! In this economy, it's especially important to find ways to save.

JT Walters from Florida on August 04, 2011:

Nice Hub. Very useful especially in these current economic times.


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