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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 03, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I make my own laundry detergent with Boraxo, Fels Naptha soap and Washing soda. 1 cup graated Fels Naptha, 1/2 cup Boraxo and 1/2 cup washing soda. Biodegradable and really cheap. Takes a little time to grate the Fels Naptha, but is worth it for what you save in the wash.

November 03, 2012 at 11:58 am

Really, people can't think of these things on their own? Well! use old towels to dry floors after they are washed to remove even more dirt and cleaner residue! Use two and skate! White socks keep the corners clean!

November 03, 2012 at 11:57 am

cleaner for sink I use baking soda and vinegar and hot water it unclogs the sink you put it a dry sink....
Baking soda in the drain area then get a cup of vineger and same amt boiling water add them(same time onto the baking soda.). and it clears the sink then run hot water thu drain..

November 03, 2012 at 11:53 am

I have been making swiffer cleaners from old rags and towels and I cut them to size and run those on my swiffer I just dampen the rag and it picks up a lot of stuff.. sometimes I was them and I use again.. works great

November 03, 2012 at 11:32 am

i like to have more tips on that thank you and put me on your list

November 03, 2012 at 11:31 am

please put me on your list that is super that we could save pennys and it would add up in time put them in a piggy Bank and save yeaaaaa thank you this is the first time i made a coment here

November 03, 2012 at 11:30 am

please put me on your list that is super that we could save pennys and it would add up in time put them in a piggy Bank and save yeaaaaa thank you

joan spencer
November 03, 2012 at 11:04 am

need to save on household items, thank you

November 03, 2012 at 10:24 am

I am kind of person that try save $$$$$$ in everything i can. I am a craft person. and I would love have more ideas about saving little pennies here litter pennies there . I save all my old t-shirts and I cut it in two pcs front & back and . I put it in the broom wet & sweep my hard wood floor . picks up all dust. + clean shoes with dog paws ect ect. tones of thinks

November 03, 2012 at 9:55 am

Please add me to your email list great tips