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So maybe you’ve heard (or perhaps you’re tired of hearing) … we’re getting out of debt. Not just kinda sorta getting out of debt. Oh no, we are all-in trying to be completely debt free.
To that end, I have picked up a few borderline hippie habits to save money, that I would not otherwise have been inclined to try. If you know us, we’re not that hippie-ish. We like red meat, we don’t grow our own vegetables, I don’t think twice about tossing poopy diapers in the trash. I slather Desitin and non-organic sunscreen on my babies’ skin, and I shop at Walmart.
Sorry, hippie friends. We can still get along. [I’m also not critical of anyone who prefers vegan, gluten free, non gmo sunscreen or whatever. I have a lot of friends in that category. I don’t really care, honestly.. To each her own.] 🙂
BUT, in the spirit of saving money at home, I have tried a few “natural mom” things that I’ve grown to tolerate and even enjoy. So, I figured, I’d share the love, for my hippie and non-hippie friends alike.
#1 Cloth Diapering
This is something I tolerate. I don’t love cloth diapering. I don’t think everyone and their grandma should exclusively cloth-diaper. Quite frankly, I don’t care about it that much. But, keeping Emma in cloth most of the time keeps our diaper budget under $15 a month. (I wrote this post about how we cloth diaper, what my favorites are, and how much money it saves… if you’re into that kind of thing.)
*Bonus: ridiculously cute cloth-diaper-clad-buns
#2 Sustainable Cleaning
I use to be the queen of chemical cleaners. Then I discovered vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and Norwex! LOL
NEVER DID I EVER think I would make my own cleaning products or care about reducing chemicals. No way. I LOVED that lemony fresh cleaning product aisle.
But then I read some stuff, and realized maybe my chemical cleaners were doing more harm than good. Slowly, over the course of a few years, I took one step at a time towards my hippie friends who, as it turns out, were on to something with the whole stop-breathing-in-chemicals-all-the-time.
VINEGAR DOES A LOT
I guess I’m behind, but I had no idea that you could clean with vinegar. Vinegar is amazing. Apparently people have been using it to clean for decades, but when I “discovered” vinegar a year ago, I was amazed at how much it could be used for. #latetotheparty
The “discovery” happened when we lived in Boston and I ran out of cleaner. I was pregnant and without a car, and got a crazy urge to deep clean our kitchen. I searched “DIY cleaner,” and of course, vinegar + water was repeatedly suggested.
Technically, it’s not a disinfectant, so I stick to a hydrogen peroxide spray in the bathroom. (HP will discolor stuff… so don’t use it on wood!)
Vinegar has a strong smell, but only for 30 minutes or less. Then it’s gone and everything smells and feels fresh. (Clean has no smell, my friends!! I am officially over the lemony lavendar fresh clean scent.)
Cleaning with vinegar is easier for me too. I usually shop at Aldi which doesn’t have great cleaning product choices. So, I just keep a giant container of vinegar around and add it to water when I need more cleaner. Plus it simplifies my under-the-sink cabinet.
YOUR SINK IS DISGUSTING – CLEAN IT WITH BAKING SODA
The other trick I picked up that crazy-nesting-deep-clean-night was baking soda on a stainless steel sink. You probably already knew this too. Amaze-balls. If you don’t believe me, try it.
Just sprinkle some all over your sink and then scrub away. You can use a wet cloth or a soft scrubber. Rinse with water and voila. Sparkling clean. When I’m feeling really crazy, I use an old tooth brush to scrub the grime around all the edges. I’m actually freakishly weird about a clean sink. It’s one of the only things I deep clean regularly.
I read once that people’s sinks often have more bacteria than their toilets and that was that. (because everything you read on the internet is true and they obviously had a lot of sound data to back up that claim…)
So, now I clean my sink a lot.
I don’t exclusively use vinegar and baking soda to clean my house. Vinegar is not a disinfectant, after all! And the vinegar + baking soda combo doesn’t quite get everything…
I wanted a sustainable option for the hard stuff! Like shower scum, old hard water stains, laundry, and all the sticky messes that kids bring to the table.
After hours of internet research and trying several different “natural” products, I landed on trying Norwex.
It was a bit of an up front investment, but oh my goodness, a game changer!! (So much so that I became an independent sales consultant. But, this post is old, and I was using Norwex stuff before I started selling it. I’m just required to tell you that now!)
Amazing Alternatives to Chemical Cleaners
Lysol wipes as a disinfectant – useless.
Not only is it nearly impossible to use lysol wipes correctly (read the label on the back), but they just spread the germs around, as this video demonstrates.
Now I use this envirocloth embedded with anti microbial silver. It removes 99% of bacteria from the surface (instead of trying to kill the bacteria), and then the cloth releases everything when rinsed under hot water.
Replace Pledge for dusting with…
It uses static electricity to get EVERYTHING off the surface, plus it doesn’t leave a residue behind like dusting spray does. (The dusting spray residue actually attracts more dust to the surface… which means you have to dust more often.)
This dusting mitt doesn’t spread dust around either. Once it fills with dust, you just shake it outside and keep dusting. I wash it once a month and it’s guaranteed for 500 washes. SO… it should last at least 10 years, saving me, let’s just say, at least $500 on dusting products?!? #nobrainer
Ditch soft scrub for toilets
I now use the envirocloth for the outside of the toilet and this non-toxic highly concentrated bathroom cleaner for the inside of the toilet with this self-cleaning toilet scrub brush. (So much less gross than the $2.00 white ones from Walmart.)
Non toxic Alternative to Weiman glass cooktop cleaner
The Weiman glass cooktop cleaner works well. But, if you’re dealing with old food stains, or a ceramic cooktop, it gets a lot harder! Plus it’s a specialty cleaner that’s only good for one thing.
Now, I use this Norwex cleaning paste for ANYTHING that needs extra scrubbing… it has gotten old food off my stove, hard water off my shower, and sharpie off my walls.
Paste isn’t really the right word… It’s more of a chalky powder. You rub any sort of cloth or scrubber on the product and scrub. It will fix anything! And the container will last you YEARS.
#3 – Paper towels
I can’t believe I’m saying this but I hardly ever buy paper towels anymore. I think a Costco size package lasts me over a year!
Am I anti-paper towel? Nope.
Are they easier? Yep.
But can you do without? Yes. For almost everything.
Cleaning glass/ windows/ mirrors without paper towels
I use this 2-cloth package to clean everything “shiny” – glass, windows, mirrors, stainless steel, car, etc… it works WAY better than paper towels + Windex.
Wiping kids off without paper towels or baby wipes
My first solution to kid messes was old t-shirts! I cut up old t-shirts and put them in a bucket under the sink. We never sprayed anything on them and we didn’t mix them with the cleaning rags.
I only ever wet them under hot water, wipe kids off, and put it in the laundry. I wouldn’t really re-use them throughout the day or let them sit around. It is actually easier to wipe them off with a cloth than a paper towel too – more leverage & friction.
Because when they look like this, you need leverage and friction. 😉
My newer longer-lasting solution to replacing paper towels is these kitchen cloths. Not only do they remove 99% of bacteria from a surface (or a child – lol) with just water, but they rinse it all out too!
AND they’re embedded with antimicrobial silver, which inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria within the cloth as it dries.
SO I can use one of these cloths for days in my kitchen to clean everything. I rotate through a 3 pack and wash them all once a week.
I do use paper towels for…
Bacon: there is no substitute. That I can think of. I usually have a roll of paper towels around for soaking up grease on the plate if I’m cooking bacon. Although now that I think about it… maybe just never soak up the grease. Yum.
Lettuce: I usually wrap washed lettuce in paper towels & store in a container to help it keep longer in the fridge. If I don’t have any paper towels, I use a towel, but it doesn’t seem to work as well for some reason.
So I like to have paper towels around for lettuce too. Usually we don’t need more than 1 roll a month. AT THE MOST.
Next up: composting and DIY-toilet paper.
These 3 simple hippie-inspired changes add up in savings!
$45 monthly savings in diapers= $540/ year
$10 monthly savings in cleaning products = $120/ year
$15 monthly savings in paper towels = $180/ year
TOTAL= $840/ year.
What money-saving tips and tricks do you have to share?
UPDATE 2019: We’re debt free. We scrimped and saved and worked and put EVERY EXTRA DOLLAR towards our student loan debt, paying off 6 figures in 2.5 years… with 2 little kids, and then 3. And then we had our 4th shortly after we were debt free. If you’re working towards being debt free (or thinking about starting a journey to pay off debt aggressively, go for it!! You can do it!! And it will feel awesome when you’re not giving someone else all your money.
I’ve recorded a handful of money-saving and budgeting tips on this blog because every extra dollar helps your momentum. Even not buying paper towels.