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 PocketYourDollars.com 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.