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6 household items you can make

By Carrie Rocha ·
Friday, November 2, 2012
Posted: 7 am ET

It's no secret: I like to save money where I can. But, I'm not a crafty person who is willing to spend hours on a do-it-yourself project aimed at saving a few bucks. Even if I had time for those sorts of projects, I wouldn't have the patience.

Fortunately, I've got six easy DIY alternatives to household items that use things you probably have around the house.

Swiffer refills. Skip the expensive refills and use a fabric softener sheet. In fact, an already used fabric softener sheet is just fine. The anti-static quality of a fabric softener sheet will pick up hair and dust that the broom won't get, just like a Swiffer.

Fabric softener. Speaking of fabric softener, add white vinegar to your wash instead of liquid softener. It helps remove the soap residue so your clothes come out soft. Add the vinegar in equal portion and at the same time you would normally add the liquid softener. (I promise you won't smell like dyed Easter eggs.)

Fire starter logs. Dryer lint, dried up orange peels or paper from your shredder are fantastic kindling alternatives. This beats the $10 or more you would spend on a package of two fire starter logs at a local superstore. Help the kindling burn longer by putting it into a cardboard egg carton, then pouring melted wax on the top. You get 12 fire starters for pennies.

Waxed paper. The bag from your box of cold cereal can double as waxed paper. Clean and dry it, then cut along the seams to open it up. Use it when you are making candy or sticky, gluey crafts. It also serves well when you need to separate layers of cookies or treats before you store them in a Tupperware container or holiday tin.

Pet fur remover. Instead of buying something like the Scotch Fur Fighter and its replacement pads, use a wet latex glove. You'll get the pet hair off your furniture when you rub your hand, which is inside a damp glove, in short strokes across the upholstery. It makes it a snap to get down into the nooks and crannies.

Cleaning rags. Use that lone mismatched sock to dust and clean. Wear it like a mitten, then dust both sides of your miniblinds with one pass of the rag. Let your kids wear one so they can help you clean glass top tables and bookshelves.

What other products do you leave on store shelves because you use a homemade alternative?

Carrie Rocha blogs at and is author of "Pocket Your Dollars: 5 Attitude Changes That Will Help You Pay Down Debt, Avoid Financial Stress, and Keep More of What You Make" (Bethany House, January 2013). She helps middle Americans live within their means so they can get out and stay out of debt. Follow her on Twitter at @CarrieRocha.

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November 15, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Please add me to receive emails about other savings tips! These are great!
Thank you.

gloria randall
November 13, 2012 at 10:58 am

please add me to your tip list.

Angie unduplicated
November 12, 2012 at 11:35 am

Check to read about three teens who developed a method for converting one liter of pee to hydrogen fuel and running a generator for six hours. This, plus a composting toilet, could cut the light and water bills down substantially.

November 10, 2012 at 1:03 am

Please add me to the list of DIY time and money saving ideas, other household saving tips.
thank you

Jo B
November 05, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I add 1/4 cup white vinegar to the bottom of my dishwasher when starting a load. It makes a great rinsing agent.

I use old white athletic socks on my Swiffer. I cut them open and the terry cloth loops on the inside of the sock makes a great dirt grabber. They wash up nice and can be re-used for years.

Equal portions hot white vinegar and the original blue Dawn dishwashing liquid mixed in a squirt bottle make a great cleaner for the bathroom: tub, sink, and stoool.

Leo M
November 03, 2012 at 6:41 pm

There was a big splash in the news ('09)about deriving hydrogen energy from renewable ammonia, and just two weeks ago, the man who developed the safe hydrogen cell, Stan Ovshinshy, died. What a breakthrough these two matching technologies might have signified for our country, but for powerbrokers who have axed this as they have done to car motors that can yield 100mi/gal. Nonetheless, gadgetry is being developed that would enable us to derive electrical energy from saved urine. Talk about economizing -- pee power!

Joseph Cabral
November 03, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Please put me on your tip list.