tips and tricks for your home

I’m going to be honest — prior to graduating university, I definitely didn’t spend much time worrying about household items or laundry. University life certainly didn’t count as my dorm room was the size of a small closet and I didn’t have to do too much other than keep it tidy. My incredible mother always did everything for me at home — something I didn’t acknowledge or appreciate enough! Since truly living on my own, I’ve picked up a few things along the way that have helped me (particularly in terms of expenses).

Dryer Balls:

Dryer balls function as a “natural” fabric softener and are sold in nearly every chain store that you walk into. They are marketed to cut down on your drying time, hence saving you a bit of money on your energy bills. I thought I was doing the “right thing” by using a set of the blue plastic dryer balls with the little grips on them. They were less than $5 and I’m sure they function as well as any other, right? After purchasing a new dryer and continuing to use them during every drying cycle, I discovered that they literally had stained the inside ring of my dryer after prolonged use. It took me several minutes to actually realize this, as I thought the dye from my new jeans was the culprit.

I’ve since decided to switch to wool dryer balls. They will cost you more than the store-bought type, but they will last for years and years without leaving any residue in your dryer or on your clothes. You can even have them scented, too, so there’s no need for dryer sheets (which have waxy chemicals on them) or fabric softener. I purchased my dryer balls from CleanSypria (you can purchase them in really cute color combinations and different scents), but there’s several sellers available if you want to look around.

Shower cleaner:

This little concept is certainly making its way around Pinterest — and for good reason! Fill a dishwand with half vinegar and half dish soap (I use one that has bleach in it) and scrub your shower while you’re bathing. I have one in both of our bathrooms and it’s made such a big difference. No more getting on my hands and knees and scrubbing away any longer! You can purchase everything you need at a dollar store, too.

Olive oil dispenser for your dish soap:

It seems like a strange idea, but throw your dish soap into an olive oil dispenser and keep it next to your sink. You can paint it with paint that is suitable for glass or leave it plain as I have. It helps to not have those ugly dish soap containers around but, really, it’s just easier. You’re not squeezing out a big glob when you didn’t mean to any longer — you’re just pouring as much as you need. Some people worry about the color, but I currently have green, clear, and purple dish soap partying in my dispenser and it doesn’t look abnormal at all. If you have a T.J.Maxx nearby, they always have a variety of painted and clear dispensers that are high quality and normally less than $4.

Countertop spray:

My first thought when browsing over the countless Mrs. Meyer’s products: why would I spend $4 on countertop spray that isn’t antibacterial when I can buy Lysol or 409 for less than $2? Sure, it’s “better for the environment” and that’s a really good thing but, when you’re on a budget, you’re looking to save money in any shape or form. Target was advertising MM products with a $1 coupon in celebration of Earth Day this weekend and I decided I’d give the lavender spray a whirl (normally $4.09 a bottle). I’m actually ashamed I was trying to squeeze my pockets to save $2 before. I’ll always keep an antibacterial on hand, but this product smells absolutely divine and is much better than coating my counters with 409 at every chance I can (read: I deeeeespise dirty countertops).

Cleaning paste:
I was asked (okay, pressured!) into going to a Norwex party a year or so ago. Norwex is a company that sells cleaning products through Norwex consultants. It’s the Mary-Kay of cleaning. I felt obligated to purchase something (which is the problem with these parties), so I decided that our stove-top deserved the most love. This cleaning paste (cost: roughly $29) took care of our problem when all other over-the-counter products didn’t. You can learn more about its uses here.

A little goes a long way and I’ll likely have this little tub for another 5+ years. You just use it with a little dab of water and scrub away! They’ll try to tell you that it’s “better” when it’s with their microfiber cloths that are made with silver (oh, come on!) but, as someone who fell prey to such talk, I can tell you that it really doesn’t matter what cloth you use. I’ve had success with even paper towels.

Speaking of clean-freaks, here’s a few useful ideas for your inner germaphobe:

  • 150+ Household Users for Vinegar (Reader’s Digest): vinegar has become my best friend. I love to use it to clean our washer and dryer, along with dumping it down drains with baking soda to prevent any clogs and clean our garbage disposal. Throw a bunch of orange peels into a jar of vinegar if the scent of vinegar truly bothers you. You can also clean your showerhead with the same mixture.
  • Freshen up your kitchen with citrus: throw your orange or lemon rinds down your garbage disposal to get rid of any disgusting scents (further details here). Be sure to chop them up a bit first, though. We used to buy those little lemon drops that were filled with chemicals, but this is much better. You can also clean your microwave with a lemon.