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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 02, 2012 at 10:56 pm

Anybody have a good way to use small bath bars once they are too small to use in the bath? Can you compact them back together to get a larger bar? How do you do it if it is possible?

November 02, 2012 at 10:11 pm

does any one have any good tips for getting crayon and felt pen off the walls?
Great ideas will try them...
any other ideas for thinning hair,losing o lot of mine,know stress can caquse some but what other causes are there and what can i do to thicken my hair and get growing again?

Mary Ann
November 02, 2012 at 7:49 pm

CLOROX anywhere hard surface daily sanitizing spray. I make this at home.
FORMULA I use: 1&1/2 teaspoons of bleach
22 oz. water
22 oz. Spray bottle: (I use empty hard
surface spray bottle for
or safety ID and easy mix but
any inexpensive spray bottle
that holds 24 oz will work)
Mix bleach & water in bottle
Shake to mix
Let sit for 2 min then wipe with dry towel
No need to rinse.
Hope this helps.

November 02, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Same tip as Lori's but for Dawn Direct. Buy the pump, but instead of buying refills, buy regular Dawn and fill the bottom of the empty bottle with about 1 inch of soap then fill to the fill line with water and gently swirl it around to mix them together. If you shake the bottle it won't mix as well.
I like this better than the hand soap because the scent of the hand soap is weakened a lot.

November 02, 2012 at 7:43 pm

If you use wrinkle relaxer spray for your clothes.I have a way to make it at home for Pennys.Get a 32oz. spray bottle put 3 to 4 fabric dryer sheets in the bottle then fill it with hot water so the fabric relaxer that's in the dryer sheets will desolve in the water.Do not take the sheets out leave them in until the bottle is empty. Shake the bottle before every use.You will see it works just like the $6.00 dollar brand name wrinkle relaxer you find in stores.Absolutely love this, I use this every day on all my clothes and, kids clothes it saves so much time then haveing to iron.

November 02, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Girls,she meant to say 'any'. The t and the y are right next to each other on the keyboard.

November 02, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Good Tips.

November 02, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Maybe it means anti-bacterial

November 02, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Lori, for making foaming hand soap, what is "ant liquid hand soap"?

November 02, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Foaming hand soap. I bought one container at the store to get the actual pump. But to make your own foaming hand soap, fill up the container with water, leaving room for about 2 tablespoons of ant liquid hand soap of your choice. Ta-dah...foaming hand soap at a significantly reduced price.