5 Itty Bitty Housework Hacks to Save Time and Money

DIY GeekMom
Image: Wikimedia Commons.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.

I don’t care for housework. I understand it’s a fact of life and I do get a feeling of accomplishment when everything is clean.

Thirty seconds later, my sons come home from the park and undo it all. Oh well, at least I tried, right?

Over the years of keeping my own home, I’ve come to rely on numerous “life hacks” that buy me a few minutes of time savings (and sanity) from housework.

Instead of doing housework right now, I’m going to share with you some of the smaller, more subtle housework hacks that I have come to rely on. I’m sure these tips exist already, and many of you will say, “Well, DUH! Who doesn’t do that?”, but for me, I found some of them genius! And if you try some of the ones that seem new to you, you might ask yourself in a few weeks, “Why did I not do that all along?”

1. Store your kitchen trash bags at the bottom of your kitchen trash can.

I learned this one from my days in the military. When we had “GI Parties,” in which we would stop everything and pitch in to clean our workspaces thoroughly and quickly, we were told to stuff 5-6 extra trash bags at the bottom of a trash can and then open up a bag and stretch it over the edge on top of the spares. I do this now at home, and if I buy small enough boxes of kitchen trash bags, I can toss the entire box into the bottom and just stretch a bag on top of it all.

2. Do you have more than one bathroom in your house? Stock up on cleaning supplies and store a set in each of the bathrooms.

Obviously this doesn’t work if you have young children. Be sure to keep such chemicals out of their reach. But if the kids are old enough to help out, this will make things much easier. I store toilet bowl cleaner, sponges, Clorox wipes, and a small bucket under each bathroom’s sink. Because cleaning supplies don’t expire quickly, I feel that you aren’t really spending more money over the long run.

If you are a member of a warehouse club, such as Sam’s Club or Costco, you can do this easily by purchasing multi-packs of supplies.

3. Cut your dryer fabric softener sheets in half.

If you don’t use dryer sheets, you can skip this tip. If you do, consider this a way to make dryer sheet last twice as long. I do this as soon as I buy a box of sheets. Cut them all in half. With scissors. I personally don’t see a reduction in softness or static electricity by using only half a sheet. Do you have a particularly large load of laundry? Or you want to go for “extra softness” with that load of towels? Simply use two halves.

Note: If you can find Seventh Generation-brand fabric softener sheets, they come perforated already. You can easily rip them in half. Then compost the remnants when you’re finished.

4. Cut that recommended amount of laundry detergent in half.

Yep, I’m all about half in this post. I had learned back when I was cloth diapering my youngest son that laundry detergent build-up can really mess up cloth diapers’ effectiveness. Then I would have had to strip them to make them more effective again. Numerous cloth diapering forums recommended using just enough detergent to break the surface tension of your wash water, thus helping unwanted dirt lift away.

I first started practicing this ten years ago and I haven’t looked back. To this day I still use a minimum of laundry detergent, only increasing the dose if (a) there’s a yucky odor I’m trying to conquer and/or (b) I have a visibly dirty load of laundry, which in recent years has only been after my sons play an especially grimy baseball game.

While I personally use closer to a quarter of the recommended amount of laundry detergent, I will formally say that even by cutting down to half the amount, you can stretch your laundry detergent budget 200%.

I’m not the only one who thinks so. The author of this article goes so far as to suggest that detergent manufacturers are purposefully having us use more than we need so we go through this product a little faster. I also used to think this when shampoo bottle instructions would read, “Lather, rinse, repeat.” I didn’t understand the “repeat” part.

5. Dirty microwave? Start your cleaning process by boiling a mug of water for 5 minutes.

Did your pre-teen geekling decide to heat up leftover red beans and rice in a bowl without a cover? Did red beans spray all over the inside if your microwave? Did your geekling do nothing about it, thus allowing the beans to dry into a stucco-like crust?

Fret no more! My mother taught me to partially fill a Pyrex or microwave-safe mug with 6-8 ounces of water and let the microwave boil it for several minutes. The steam throughout the microwave cavity will loosen the dried food, enabling it to clean up much faster and more easily.

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7 thoughts on “5 Itty Bitty Housework Hacks to Save Time and Money

  1. Those all sound great other than the boiling water one. Superheated water is a possibility and would definitely make cleaning a much more dangerous experience. Not a science experiment you want to try at home! Even with vinegar in the water you either want to make sure that your dish has a lot of scratches in it or put a dowel or bamboo rod or something in the bowl to break the surface tension.

    1. Thanks for reading Lupine! Interesting about the superheated water. I have had that happen before in past homes’ microwaves (remember, I move around a lot), but for what it’s worth, I use a VERY old Pyrex to heat water, once that’s very scratched up. I typically can get a cup of water in the Pyrex to boil between 100-120 seconds.

  2. Love the tips! We use a front loader washing machine, so it might be different, but last time we had to call a repairman he actually advised the same thing about detergent. He said most people (following the instructions on the container) use WAY too much laundry detergent. He also said it was one of the major reasons washing machines stop working well. So it is a win-win to use less detergent, you save money and keep your washing machine in better shape!

  3. Very good tips! I knew about some of them, but some were new. And what do you do if you don’t have money but you need them for example for some emergency needs? I think the best way in such situation is to make loan application. There are many services which can help!

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