Saving on Everyday Items

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2012
Saving on Everyday Items
Sun, 10-07-2012 - 11:00am

In order to pay down debt and increase my savings, I'm looking at ways to make things myself. I'm interested in a lot of things, like no-poo (using baking soda and vinegar to wash and rinse your hair), making my own deoderant, etc. But, I think the first thing I'll start with is making my own detergent for the dishwasher. Have any of you tried this? According to this article, it costs about a penny a load to make. I'm going to give it a go and will let you all know how it works. I can picture myself saving a ton of money this way, if it works!

Here's a link to the article:

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-31-2010
Sun, 10-07-2012 - 11:48am
I think some folks have made their own detergent, but for me I can do more by using my time to work.
Tide costs me $5.99 for a month's use. Even at a penny a load, if it takes 1 hour to make, it means I would have to make less than $5.99 an hour, and even minimum wage is more than that.
We do a garden as well as many herb pots so we can have fresh veggies and herbs. I guess we do it more for taste than money savings. Today I am putting up a 5 pints of hot peppers in oil, not much, but we don't use much all year.
One thing I find that saves more money than anything else is menu planning for the week. If we can eat at home, with ingredients here, and I can keep quantity down, eliminating leftovers, it saves our budget about $100 a week!! For us that is a bigger everyday savings. I find if I can have an alternative to going out, and keep quantities lower now that we have no kids at home, it really saves a ton.
For hair shampoo, I have to get shampoo and conditioner that does not frizz my hair, and that is an art in and of itself. I do color myself, saving about $360 a year (one $70 hair color - cost for package of color = $60 every other month.) The results are good and my gray is covered. Once a year I do get them to color it, see it fade the same way, and go back to my own coloring at home. But the pampering is nice once a year.
I am kind of tired of being on a budget, but that is for another post.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-08-2006
Sun, 10-07-2012 - 1:09pm
I have never tried to make,y own soap. I agree with Marie that meal planning is a great cost saver. I also think careful shopping is a great way to save...not extreme where you have ten years worth of toilet paper, but planning must use cash for this..if you charge to do it, you lose the savings and more to credit card charges. There are probably 30 -40 things you buy regularly that do not have a short shelf life...toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex, laundry and dish detergent, shampoo, canned vegetables, pasta sauce, peanut butter...and some things that you keep in the freezer - mine are chicken breasts, hamburg, frozen vegetables. Make a list of those items, and write down the price the next time you buy them. Then start to check the store flyers each week...not every store, just stores it is convenient for you to go to. Invest say $10 of your grocery money in items you don't need that week that are a good price...if you cut coupons, you can often match things on sale with coupons that week and get things nearly free...I find that our drug store chain is excellent for this...over time, you should be able to free up more money to shop like this and less for buying what you need that week. I do not advocate having huge stockpiles, but I usually have an open bottle of detergent and one or two in reserve. When I open the next to last or last one, I start to look for a sale. For fresh fruit and vegetables, I buy whatever is on sale. I also buy sale meat and freeze it. I am fortunate to have a side by side refrigerator freezer, so I can buy ahead and it organizes easily...if you have only a small freezer, it is harder to do this. Anyway, my new slogan is...forget putting money in the bank, invest in canned corn...I don't truly mean it, money s a needed cushion, but with interest rates so low, and the price of things rising, it is worth a small weekly investment in food and other household goods.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2012
Tue, 10-09-2012 - 6:58am

Thank you for your comments.

If this turns out to not be fun, I just won't do it; but, I think it's worth a go. I used to think I didn't have time to make my own granola and now that's the only cereal we eat (saves us a lot on packaged cereal, it's much healthier, and I don't have all those bags in the garbage that can't be recycled).

Hoping to report back soon on one of these projects :smileyhappy:.


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2012
Wed, 10-10-2012 - 6:55am


That is awesome! Do you know the name of the sponge? I'm assuming you wash it in the dishwasher if you've had it so long? I usually don't throw out sponges until they get gummed up with grease or something that won't wash out; but, I've also never put them in the DW and I've read that you should many times.

Not running a lot of garbage to the dump saves me time, money, and is certainly better for the environment. It never "goes away"; it just goes somewhere else. We dropped our garbage pickup years ago and that has saved us tons of money each year. He was charging $37/month and we were trying to go Zero Waste, so it just didn't make sense. It's a real incentive to recycle and compost when you have to take your own garbage to the dump!

I just saw a recipe for pumpkin pie spice and I'm about out. That's a great idea, too. I make my own pancakes, cookies, etc. from scratch anyway. No mixes in this house :smileyhappy:.

Thanks so much for the ideas!


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008
Wed, 10-10-2012 - 10:28am

I agree with the meal planning being a big cost saver/time saver. I don't do it by the week I do it by the day but when I shop I keep specific meals in mind and ask myself can I make a weeks worth of meals out of this at the store. Also a few times a year my family and I make a bunch of from scratch pizzas and freeze them.  Also if I am going to make lasagna I make two at a time and freeze one. I am a big believer in cooking once and eating twice. It saves on the mess too. And I LOVE being able to take things out and have a ready made meal that is home made so we don't have to eat out. Plus when I make spaghetti sauce I like to make a double batch and freeze it, or sweet and sour pork. Then I just have cook noodes or rice and heat the other up and bingo bango no fuss no muss.

I just learned how to make my own pizza dough 2 years ago and it is nice to use up cheese you need to and veges and or meat you have on hand for a surprizingly quick/cheap meal as well. I often do it when the veges are on their way out because I can cut off a bad spot and they are going to be cooked anyway. I hate throwing food out!

I have heard it is worth learning how make your own bread and I hope to do this, this winter. Cheap, smells so good in the house and the family will love it.  It has been on my list of things to do for quite some time now. Plus I think it would be great to be able to make something I run out of all the time instead of using gas money to go get it if I have the time.

I buy the huge laundry detergent containers at Costco. It is cheap to do laundry at my house. I use a little less on things that aren't super dirty too. They come out just as clean. I also use the used bounce sheets to dust a little (nothing electronic). So they get a double use. Or if they have a little fresh smell in them still, I will put them in the bottom of a garbage can to absorb bad smell. It actually works. 

Lots of good ideas, good luck!


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2008
Wed, 10-10-2012 - 4:17pm

I may try your receipe for the dishwasher detergent.  

I color & cut my own hair, except for twice a year I get it cut at a salon for less than $12.  I have my own chickens now, so all eggies are free.  Sort of....My DH is suppose be selling them at the Farmers Co-Op but he keeps giving them away.  So they're feed cost a month about what I was paying for eggs.  BUT....I get 10 eggs a day!  I share them with all the family.  

I don't purchase very many things, but I do have a new hobbie.  Finger nail polish!  I'm going to try to make my own.  A bottle of .99 cent clear polish and add an old eyeshadow color.  I'll let you know if it works!


Good luck on saving here & there....every little bit helps!



"Patience is the best remedy for every trouble"- Plautus

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2006
Wed, 10-10-2012 - 8:00pm
You can use two cans of vegetable shortening and one can of Red Devil lye to make several pounds of decent unscented soap. You can then grate up the soap and use it in your laundry. Or you can use it in the bath. I used to do this a long time ago. I could dig up the instructions if anyone wants them.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Thu, 10-11-2012 - 6:33am

As an avid soaper, I have to jump in here.  While it is true you can make a plain soap for laundry use wth lye and hydrogenated soy bean oil (a common component in shortening), there are a few safety precautions. 

1.  Red Devil drain cleaner used to be 100% lye.  Since lye is also a main ingredient in making meth, it has been pulled from the shelves in most grocery stores, and Red Devil has been reformulated.  You can still find 100% lye in some hardware stores and more often than not, science supply stores and online.  Please make absolutely sure that it is 100% lye and does not contain any metals.

2.  Each type of oil has a different "saponification" index.  The amount of oil to completely react with the amount of lye varies from oil to oil.  Therefore the amount of palm oil needed to say, react with 4 oz. of lye is different than the amount of soy bean oil and different from the amount of lard needed.  I am attaching the link of a lye calculation table.  You enter the type and amount of oil you want to use, and it will tell you how much lye is needed.  You do want to use the correct ratio of lye and oil because an excess of lye in soap will make it corrosive, and an excess of oil in soap will make it oily and does not clean well.

3.  "Cold process" soap making (the type of soap making method mentioned by the PP) can be dangerous unless you follow the safety procedures.  It is not someting you do with young kids and/or pets around.  Lye can cause nasty chemical burns.  This is a good safety video to watch.

4.  And finally, if you still want to make soap to turn into your laundry soap, there are some clear instructions (with photos) and some recipes:

I don't make my own laundry soap, but bar soap for face and body.  It is a lot more gentle on the skin than commercial soap and makes great gifts.  The process is the same, except you use mostly cheap oils such as soy bean oil or lard for laundry soap, and expensive oils such as olive oil and sweet almond oil and things like shea butter in face and body soap.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-17-2010
Thu, 10-11-2012 - 8:21am

Thanks for starting this thread, it has some great ideas!

I know I make my own chicken stock/broth a lot.  I'll roast a whole chicken and after I pull of the meat, I boil the carcass with some vegetables and spices.  Strain it through a cheese cloth and it's ready to use :smileyhappy:

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2012
Fri, 10-12-2012 - 2:35pm
Biodegradable too. Cool!