Money-saving tip: Use cloth products instead of disposables! It’s budget-friendly, especially for frugal homeschooling families like mine.
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I do so many little things on a day to day basis, to try to save every little penny that I can, or to earn any little penny that I can. I have to, or else we run out of money by month’s end. Some people don’t have to, but they’d like to be able to give more to needy people (this is what we plan to do when we’re finally financially free). But until then, here’s one simple way that I save money, and you can do it too!
Use Cloth Instead of Disposables
One simple concept: Use less paper towels, paper napkins, paper tissues, baby wipes, disposable diapers, etc. Anytime you can, use a cloth version instead. I don’t do this religiously, but I do use cloth versions most of the time.
Stop reaching for the paper towels to clean your kitchen. For the most part of the day, I use a soapy dishcloth to wipe down the counter, sink, stove-top, high chair, and kitchen table.
After meals, I simply fill the sink up with hot soapy water, wipe things down, rinse, repeat. I even use the same cloth to wipe my toddler’s face and hands after meals (and her bib and clothes too). I rinse it well and leave it hanging to dry in between uses.
Then, at the end of the day, I spray all surfaces down with a disinfectant cleaner, use the same dishcloth to wipe/dry it, and then throw the cloth in the dirty laundry.
I can’t vouch for the official sanitary effectiveness of this, except that I’ve been doing it since my oldest was two (five years now), and no one in the family has ever gotten sick from any kind of food poisoning from bacteria. (It’s important for me to admit that any time I cook with raw meat, eggs, or other foods that may harbor bacteria, I DO use a disposable anti-bacterial wipe or a spray anti-bacterial cleaner with a paper towel immediately to clean the surface it was prepared on, and throw away the disposable cloth. I don’t use the soapy dishcloth on that stuff, of course.)
You don’t need paper towels for cleaning the bathrooms either. I use old bath towels cut into rags to clean my bathroom sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and bathroom floors. I have tons of these cleaning towels I’ve made.
I spray everything down with a sanitizing spray. Then I use one cleaning towel to wipe and dry the sinks, one for the shower/bathtub, one (or two!) for the toilet seat and lid, and one for the floor around the bottom of the toilet, etc. I don’t reuse them from surface to surface – I wipe an object down, then throw the nasty towel into a laundry basket beside where I’m working.
At the end of cleaning all three bathrooms, I take the dirty towels to the laundry room ready for washing. I wash them with other cleaning rags from around the house (mostly dust rags).
I have a special laundry hamper in the laundry room in which cleaning towels are stored until wash day. One extra load of laundry per week or every other week (depending on how often I clean, LOL) is usually what it amounts to. I actually prefer using the towels as compared to paper towels or cleaning wipes – they cover a much larger area, don’t rip or roll, and I feel like it’s actually easier and quicker to clean with them.
If there’s a spill, say, from an independent two year-old trying to drink from a big-girl cup, I use a cleaning towel to mop it up. If the cat barfs on the floor, I get the gross majority of it up with a disposable paper towel, then clean the spot on the floor with the necessary cleaners, and yep, my trusty stack of cleaning towels.
I’ve never added up the savings, but I do know that I only buy paper towels or disinfectant cleaning wipes *maybe* three-four times per year. That’s definitely cheaper than buying them every week or two.
Use cloth napkins instead of disposable ones. About four years ago, I bought a huge pack of cheesecloth towels, cut them into fourths, and had my mom sew edges on them. We use them instead of paper napkins for meals. My mom also handed me down a bunch of real “fancy” cloth napkins, which we also use occasionally. I never buy paper napkins, and we don’t use paper towels as napkins at meals. These little white towels are awesome, and although they get stained, I don’t care. I bleach them every once in a while and they’re good as new.
If you’ve never looked into using cloth diapers, I would highly suggest it. It’s not as terrifying as you would think – believe me. There are many blogs out there that can teach you the basics, Facebook support/buy/sell/trade groups to help you get started, and I betcha these days, at least one of your friends does it and would teach you how. If you live near me, I’d be glad to teach you too. It has saved me soooooo much money. I very rarely buy a pack of diapers – we only use disposables at night/naptime and when we go out. I can’t tell you what a relief it has been to avoid buying disposable diapers on weeks we just didn’t have the money and were able to use that money for groceries instead.
Some cloth diapering mamas are very picky about how to wash them, which special detergents to use, how many wash rinses to do, which brand of diapers are best, etc. And if you are like that, then it can get kinda expensive and not worth the effort for the cost involved. But I’m not picky – I use whatever diapers I have been able to find cheap or free (used diapers are just fine – I don’t care). I wash them in regular generic laundry detergent, and I didn’t buy any special accessories like pail liners or diaper sprayer attachments for the toilet, etc. Maybe one day I’ll post how I do it – that would probably be a great future post. My methods are a little unconventional compared to most “fluffy” moms, but they have worked fine for me. I’d be glad to share with you privately how I do it, just message me on the facebook page.
And a plus side to using cloth diapers – they’re super cute on baby’s bum! Not only that, but they’re good for the environment ya know: disposable diapers take 250 – 500 years to biodegrade.
What are some things that you can use cloth for instead of disposables? How do you use cloth napkins, diapers, and cleaning supplies? Please share!