Monday, November 8, 2010
If there’s one thing I’m unwilling to skimp on in my efforts to become more frugal, it’s bath supplies.
Throughout high school, my skin cooperated as much as my cat cooperates with his bath, so for some time, I was convinced I had to spend loads of money to keep it under control (my skin, not the fur ball).
Admittedly, I still don’t buy generic facial or body cleansers and I often spend the extra dollar it takes to buy vegan, cruelty-free laundry and dish detergents than standard brands. Surprisingly, I’ve still been able to save money, overall. The secret is to make sure that what I do buy lasts long enough to justify its cost.
In the Bathroom
For simple hand washing, use a bar soap. There’s a lot of talk of viruses and bacteria and how only antimicrobial (alcohol-based) soaps will do, but the FDA says that too much of that has been known to lower our immune system’s tolerance for weaker bacteria and even make us prey to stronger strains of “super bugs.” Do your body and your wallet a favor and go for vegan and earth-friendly bar soaps that contain no harsh chemicals, and invest in a bamboo bar soap container or dish to keep it dry so it lasts longer.
When you’ve got those little pieces of hand soap that you don’t know what to do with, put them in a liquid soap dispenser and add water. Shake them around and let the concoction sit for a few days, and you’ve got liquid hand soap.
When kids are in the house, however, bar soaps tend to become toys, be drowned in a dish full of water, or disappear altogether. Rather than dropping twenty dollars on four exotically scented (read: chemical-infused) soap pumps from Bath & Body Works, just buy one. Once the soap runs out, go get a animal- and earth-friendly liquid hand soap and pour it in the soap pump, diluting it with water at about a 1:1 or up to 3:1 (water to soap) ratio. People have a tendency to use too much liquid soap, anyway, and this makes the foaming process quicker and easier. To save even more, tie a rubber band around the bottom of the pump so that when you push down, it dispenses less soap.
In the Shower
The same principle works for facial cleansers. Although I buy a pricy liquid soap, it’s so concentrated that I find I can dilute it with water and have it come out foaming from a soap pump with no adverse effects. My skin is as happy as can be, and so is my wallet.
Bar soap in a shower can collect scum and stay moist, making the soap last a shorter period of time. Stick to liquid soaps in the bathtub.
Rather than spending up to $100 a month on hair-care supplies (yes, I was guilty of this myself, once), think on this: there’s absolutely no need for you to wash your hair every day or even every other day, especially if your hair is curly and/or dry. Some people advocate using conditioner every day without ever using shampoo, since the conditioner cleans your scalp and hair without over-drying, and you still have your natural oils (which do as good a job as most mousses, gels, and waxes and are better for your body and the environment). This eliminates the need to apply silicone-based (read: drying) products that you’ll just wash out later, anyway. If this is too radical for you, try using shampoo only once or twice a week and condition every day or every other day.
In the Laundry Room
Rather than buying dryer sheets, try this trick: buy one container of liquid fabric softener and pour enough in a container to soak a small, clean rag. Wring the rag out and hang it to dry, returning the remaining softener back to its original container. You can use the softener-soaked rag now as a dryer sheet. Not only does this create less waste, that one rag will last upwards of three months! Repeat the process when you suspect it’s lost its softening touch.
Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education performing research surrounding online universities and their various program offerings. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.