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Use less to save money and avoid waste

By on September 1, 2010

It’s easy to waste products by using too much. This is especially true with products that are pourable or in squeezable containers. No one wants to feel like there’s a daily audit on product usage, but if at least one person in the household measures only the amount that is needed or makes an effort to use less of a product, it can amount to a decent amount of annual savings without any loss in product performance.
What products do you find yourself using more than you actually need?



Place shampoo in a dispenser or a pump bottle (pump bottles are great for dish liquid, hand soap and condiments, too). Measure a quarter-sized dollop into your hand instead of filling your palm. Do your own test at home. Have a family member or friend place various-priced shampoos into newly marked bottles (labeled A, B, C so you can tell them apart). See which shampoo you like best. You might be surprised to discover you prefer a cheaper shampoo than you’ve been using. And most people don’t need to lather, rinse and repeat.


Accurate measuring is the key to using less. You might simply eyeball it and pour the product directly into your washing machine, or maybe you fill the measuring cup. This causes product build up in your washer and on your clothes, and can make your laundry smell terrible. The measurement lines are on the inside of the cap and are often hard to see, and instructions for amounts are on the container. Measure and mark the cap with a permanent marker or simply use your own measuring cup. Many people use far less than is recommended with favorable results, too. Visit! for a tutorial on how to cut an upside down “V” under the base of the spout to pour out every remaining bit of product that gets trapped. Or add some water to the container and shake and pour to use it all. One reader, Karen from Kansas, shares: “Back when I used liquid detergent, I turned the bottle upside down to get out the last bit. I now purchase Charlie’s Soap ( in a 5-gallon bucket (1,280 loads). You can buy it in liquid form, too, which is enough to last us three to four years.”


Use less by pouring slowly into your bowl, add a lid, and shake the dressing to disperse it evenly.


You don’t have to spray the entire surface with cleaning product. The product gets absorbed by your paper towel or cloth. Moisten the surface with water to loosen dirt or dried spills, and use a microfiber cloth to clean the surface first and then decide whether or not you need a spray cleaner. Many of your cleaning products can be replaced with vinegar, salt, dish liquid, essential oils, lemon juice, castile soap and baking soda.


Don’t use a full sheet for small spills. Place a stack of cheap white washcloths on your counter top. Use them for cleaning and drying hands. Another reader, Patty A, from Utah, shares: “I buy dollar-store brand coffee filters (200 count) to drain grease on. They don’t leave the little bits of paper stuck to things. I also use washrags instead of paper towels. The older ones become dishrags and the old dish rags become cleaning rags. Old cloth diapers are the best for cleaning rags, and can many times be picked up at yard sales or thrift stores.”

photo by jonseidman1998


  1. Linda Franklin

    9/6/2010 at 6:52 pm

    Many years ago in beauty college, our cosmetology instructor told us that any more than a quarter’s worth of shampoo was too much! Also-rinsing the hair in cold water betters releases soap residue from the hair follicle, and makes the strands very shiny. With pump soaps, in our home, one squirt is all that you need to get the job done- as long as you are dampening the hands under running water first.

  2. Jessica

    9/12/2010 at 4:13 am

    I don’t know about the shampoo. My hair is super oily and not using enough shampoo will leave my hair greasy looking still. I really think it depends on your hair type.

    • Meegan

      9/21/2010 at 8:59 am

      Try focusing the shampoo on your roots & scalp, squeeze and press the suds down to the tips – this may help with oily hair and reducing usage.

  3. Mary

    9/23/2010 at 11:24 am

    i learned as a young girl, to rinse my hair once, in vinegar water, and then plain water really helps with shampoo buildup, which I have a problem with, tho I shampoo in the shower and get a good good rinse.

  4. Saule

    10/17/2010 at 2:09 pm

    Try this to revitalize your hair and get rid of build-up – mix 2 tbl of shampoo with 1 tbl of baking soda. Work into your hair and shampoo as usual. Rinse very thoroughly with cool water. Condition, if you like. It will work wonders for your hair.

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