Thursday, July 10, 2008

Homemade Wipes & More Poor LivingTips

Yay! You all liked the poor people post, so I have some stuff to add to it. However, I don't know what updates do to you lazy asses that don't actually come to the site (aka you Reader users) so I'll just do a new post as a continuation, instead of doing it the way that I would prefer.

Many of you are impressed with the effort I must put forth to make my own baby wipes. Effort? I thought you all knew me better than that. Here is the effort involved:

-Grab roll of paper towels.
-Cut roll of paper towels in half with an electric carving knife, or a serrated knife. (This is the bulk of the effort. If you do it with a serrated knife, you'll "feel the burn" for about two seconds and could call it a work out if you really like to stretch the truth. If you use the carving knife, it's just plain fun. You're sawing shit in half in your kitchen.)
-Mix one coffee cup full of water, one small squirt of baby wash and supposedly a squirt of baby oil, but I haven't had any so I just skipped it. Slosh it all together.
-Place paper towel half roll in plastic shoe box, pour solution over it, put top on and give it a little shake.
-Pull cardboard tube out of the middle, in theory the towel in the middle follows you out and makes it easy to pull the rest of the towels apart.

It's really ridiculously easy. I use the Costco-cheap paper towels too, although others swear by Viva. We're too poor for the velvety richness and thickness of Viva.

Both little half rolls will fit in the shoebox together. However, and I did not mention this to you yesterday because I do still struggle with the shame of it all, we like to stick the other half roll up in the pantry and then when we DO use paper towels (which we try not to do), we use those, and a lot less paper towels as a result. I was filling another container with the other half roll and making a vinegar and water solution for cleaning wipes, but last night I saw they molded a little. Maybe a bleach solution would work better. Or maybe I need to clean more and use them up faster. I'm onto something there though, it was very cheap for being convenient.

I'm also really loving Costco these days. Now that I've managed not to buy all of the cute/fancy/fun stuff that they tempt me with, it really is a bargain. I get their generic dishwasher detergent (I think it might be $7 for two ginormous bottles) and it used to last me two months. Because I'm a dork, I'm going to start writing the date I opened it on the bottle and see how long I can make it last now that I use the BARE MINIMUM of it. I bet a long time. The organic washing machine detergent I got from there is lasting me forever because I probably only fill the cup a less of a quarter of the way and then fill the rest with the water filling up the washer and pour it all in.

We also buy the industrial sized cans of fruit cocktail and peaches for $4 a piece. Once we open one, we pour it into two tall tupperware containers we have and just ladle it out of there for the month. No more individually packaged fruit for us. We'll package it ourselves, thanks.

Speaking of extra packaging, we're also eliminating juice boxes from the house. We have one case that we got on sale that I put up at the top of the pantry for beach trips and other outings. Other than that, you get a cup of juice, or these days, water with a juice flavoring, we're all about dilution. I also dilute the dish soap with great. Before school starts, I'm buying Big Kid a small stainless steel thermos to pack in his lunch. Once again, environmentally friendly, colder beverages AND cheaper. Seriously, it's not that inconvenient to pour juice in a cup and then wash the cup at the end of each day.

I don't have a Swiffer Wet Jet, and I don't clean, but my girl Gretchen has figured out how to refill hers. I DO have a microfiber cloth and can attest to their amazingness, if you use them. I think I'm going to start using a vinegar solution if and when I do clean but I hate that it smells like ass. I was wondering if you could add essential oils to the solution so that it would smell better? Is that wishful thinking? I like my citrus-y goodness smells.

I've also been stalking Craigslist. I haven't got anything yet because I don't have any money, but people are getting rid of some GOOD stuff. I eventually want bunk beds for the boys (I plan on moving them into one room and making the other room a playroom...stay tuned for that) and I figure if I just keep my eyes open long enough, the perfect set will fall into my lap for super cheap. I love used stuff. It's almost always better than new stuff and it's always different. My house is FILLED with used stuff, I love things with character. These things haven't always been less expensive than their new counterparts, because I love antiques, but they are always better.

I was a member of Freecycle, but haven't been doing as much of that lately. There are only so many WANTED: NEW LAPTOP OR A WII messages I could handle, I was pretty sure I would get kicked out forever if I responded how I wanted to.

I do agree with what The Renee said in the comments, our family is also having more fun now that we're broke. We actually go to the free movies and sneak in popcorn, we keep an eye out for community events, and are surprised by how many are available when you actually seek them out. Oh, and if you are a Bank of America customer, you can go to museums for free the first weekend of every month. I would have to travel a decent distance to take advantage of it, and with the price of gas it isn't likely to happen, but it could work out nicely for some of you.

Okay, I think that's all of the money saving tips I have right now. I'm going to go save money by not cleaning.


StitchinByTheLake said...

Thanks for all the tips. I'm going to send your baby wipes info to my daughter-in-law. And I checked out the Red Box video stuff - amazine. Unfortunately we live too far from McDonalds where the closest one is to make it worth our while so I'll just keep watching reruns. Blessings, marlene

Jake&Kate said...

I dont know who you are but thanks for the tips. I will make sure my wife takes advantage of all your money saving tips. with all our cost saving tips we maybe able to buy a boat or a vacation home one day. thanks ashley.

Jake's Dad

Craig and Christy said...

Ahh Ashley, I see you've found the wonder that is Costco. I fucking LOVE Costco! I'm very proud to read your comments on how, in your money saving quest, you're also looking out for the enviornment! Thanks for all the giggles you give me with the trials of your life! Girlfriend, you are not alone!

Jennifer said...

Honestly you haven't ended up being poor at a bad time. With the way the economy (and the Green movement) is going now, all of us are pinching where we can. It just makes sense to not waste after seeing the decadent lifestyle go bust!

Of course I'm crossing my fingers that a wonderful job comes along.

Anonymous said...

INDUSTRIAL sized cans of fruit cocktail? Love it.

Things I May Regret Writing said...

As a Reader user, I'm grateful for the separate post. And I decided to thank you for it by actually coming to the site and posting a comment. So, thank you.

Your tips are fantastic. What is a plastic shoe box? All my shoes come in cardboard boxes. I'm also living cheaply now after getting laid off, but we're still using leftover wipes purchased when I was still working. But when they run out, I want to try those homemade wipes.


Ami said...

Yes, you can add some essential oils to a vinegar mix to make it smell better.

I bookmarked this blog post in January, and there are some good 'green' cleaning tips. Oh, as I check it out again, it may be a BHB mommy - you're on her blogroll as are some others from there. Anyway, since green also = cheap, we've been using several of the tips there.

(I wish there was a way to do a hyperlink in blogger comments.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips on wipes! :) ITA Vinegar is stank.

I had to LMAO at this:

"Because I'm a dork, I'm going to start writing the date I opened it on the bottle and see how long I can make it last"

- I'm doing the same thing trying to figure out how much of what to stock up on for when I'm on unpaid maternity leave this fall.

Renee said...

When I first looked through the Hillbilly Housewife site a while back, I read her line about how she can't afford to pay someone else to mix her juice for her, and that kinda struck me. You pay so much more for juice (from concentrate) that's already mixed with water, than you do for the frozen concentrate that you have to mix up yourself. We don't drink a lot of juice here anyway, but now I keep a can of frozen juice on hand for when we're in the mood for it. I also bought some powdered milk and have been experimenting with that for cooking and on cereal (hot and cold). So far, so good with that. I've mentioned this one before, but I'm a big fan of iced tea. The per-glass cost is so low and you can still get your caffeine fix. I'll make a big batch with regular tea and then add in one extra teabag with a flavor, like peach or raspberry, to make flavored tea. Super yummy.

You know what else I realized? I don't need a separate toilet bowl cleaning product. The fancy pointed/curved top that gets up under the rim? Not necessary if you're using a brush. Now I use the same disinfecting cleanser in my toilet that I use on other surfaces. As I use up cleaning products and don't replace them (like toilet cleaner, Clorox Wipes, kitchen cleaner, etc.), my cabinet of cleaners is looking more and more bare. It feels good to simplify and get down to the basics. I have one big jug of a Lysol cleanser and I use that either undiluted (poured into the toilet), diluted in a bucket (for mopping or cleaning counters), or in a spray bottle (I mix it myself and keep some in a spray bottle for convenience, just spray some and wipe with a cloth, not paper towel).

I'm wondering if Costco is a lot cheaper than Walmart? We haven't belonged to Costco or Sam's for a few years. We usually get our laundry soap, dishwasher detergent, etc. at Walmart. I might go check out Costco to do some comparisons. I love the idea of the bulk canned fruit.

-The Renee

Anonymous said...

That swiffer tip is awesome! I got sick of buying the refills as well, so I cut the top (not the white cap part) partway off and filled it with water and a touch of dish soap. I didn't even think of vinegar. I need to buy a syringe and a new refill so I can try this! Thanks!

John Deere Mom said...

Thanks for the details about the baby wipes. We no longer need butt wipes so much, but having wipes on hand is very convenient so I might just try it!
We also need to quit buying single serving fruit. I will get some plastic containers tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!

Slacker Mama said...

The whole "buying crap that I don't need" is why I stay the eff away from Costco (and Craigslist). But some of the stuff (like the Costco whole bean coffee that's awesome and so cheap) are I should go back with a list to stock up.

I tried that whole Google reader thing...but I basically use it to alert me of a new post since I you can't comment or see the comments. What's the point of that?

Robin said...

For the record, I prefer to be referred to as "blogstalking efficient" rather than lazy ass...unless you're referring to my inability to get out of bed early enough for the gym, my ass's affinity to our couch or a need for massive amounts of sleep. Then yes...lazy ass is very appropriate.

Just Lisa said...

Great tips! I saw a redbox at Wal-mart today and thought of you-- I don't know why I've never noticed it before. I'm definitely going to have to look into it.

I love your "I'm a dork" tip! I'm definitely going to have to start doing that with the dishwasher and laundry soap-- Hell, it would be worth it to even do it with the baby's soap!

Welcome to the poor life, Ashley! Glad you could join us!

Kayla, Nic, Paige, Ellie and Maddy said...

I also write the date on Costco would be surprised how dam long the jumbo sized mayo lasts...Yuck!

Mom Of 3 said...

Thanks for the great tips. I wish we had a costco around here, but no such luck. We have Sams though we dont have a membership. I am all about saving money though. With 6 of us here living is expensive. Thanks again.

Lipstick said...

I'm in a bit of a hurry, so I've got to make it quick. Just wanted you to feel the love for the money saving posts. It is totally inspiring! I'm shocked about the amount of money that we are spending on convenience items, etc. I am excited about trimming the fat! Thanks for the fabulousness, Ashley!

Anonymous said...

The costco dishwasher powder is rated #2 or #3 on Consumer Reports (I am a DORK). I once wrote the date on our Costco garbage bags and husband laughed and asked why there was a date on the box. I told him I wanted to see how long it lasted. Made sense to me. ??? he's the dork, right?!?!!!


Unknown said...

I swear before we had kids, we had a Sam's sized thing of kitchen garbage bags that lasted us more than a year. I remember being so shocked when it was time to buy garbage bags again.
Back then I remember wishing I had written the date on it, so I've been a dork for a long time, I guess.

Cousin Jules said...

THANKS Ashley, I read the last three 'frugal focused' entries to The FiancĂ© last night and it FINALLY connected. ‘No more paper towels’ is where we plan to start. I've been working on this one for about a year now. Woo Hoo! We, the earth and I, thank you.

Kim said...

Peppermint Extract will take away the assiness smell from the vinegar. I've used a vinegar/peppermint combo to clean my hardwoods. Works like a charm and smelled great (or as great as anything can when combined with assiness)

Tiffany said...

Ashley you should really check out Charlies Soap - their stuff is AWESOME. It's powder but you only use 1 little tiny scoop (1 tbsp i think) that it comes with for the whole load. I wasn't really a big powdered soap fan but you can not tell at all! Plus you don't have to use fabric softener anymore - it is also better for the earth than most detergents. I've had my 5 lb bag i ordered for probably over 6 months now and it's not even half gone!

Thanks for the tips on the wipes I will have to try it when we run out. You can put them in a normal wipes case right? We always have refilled those. Keep the tips coming!

Jaime said...

Ashley, I'm loving all your frugal/green/cheap posts! I've been blogging about being frugal for about 6 months now and it really is exciting once you get over the "but I really want to stop and get a bagel SO BAD..." issues. But I didn't make wipes, that I have to try!!

Jane Doe said...

"We're too poor for the velvety richness and thickness of Viva."

Classic. I love it!

Mom of 5 said...

I love Costco. I told hubby that spending the 50.00 on the membership was a necessity. There are some things that are still cheaper at the store, but once you factor in gas, it really isn't THAT much of a savings to go elsewhere. I use their diapers. Love them. They don't leak as bad as the name brands we were using. Hubby still can't give up his Chew, even though we're poor,but even THAT is a lot cheaper at Costco!!!!

I also like to take the kids on the weekends when they are doing samples. You can have quite filling snacks just wandering the aisles. Last week we even got full size containers of yogurt to sample! Score!

I've started using regular plates again instead of paper plates. I have been using dishtowels instead of paper towels and just get a new one daily (or sooner if I wipe something that could have germs) Yes, I have to do more laundry, but I'm already washing towels and washcloths, so it doesn't add THAT much to it.

I do the same thing as The Renee with cleaner. But I use cleaner with bleach. I just have spray bottles in each bathroom and my kitchen. (they are 97 cents a bottle at Walmart!) I spray whatever I'm cleaning, and just pour some directly into the toilet to clean the toilet. I have stinky boys, so I swear by products with bleach for deep cleaning. Especially for that right in front of the toilet pee dribble spot.

I'm going to use your industrial sized fruit trick. Can you REALLY keep it that long? I'm so weird, after 3-4 days in the fridge, I consider things inedible. But then again, with my 5 children, it won't last that long.

I have started using coupons again. I hit the stores that offer triple coupons. I stock up when stores do the 10 for 10 sales.

It sucks being poor, but it's fun to find ways to make the budget stretch, especially when you find out it's really not that bad! You can still do fun things. It just takes more effort!

Rach (Mommy Learns to Blog) said...

Glad to know we're not the only ones feeling such a crunch. I hope Mr. Ashley's job prospect works out, but it's so great that you've come up with so many ways to save money and the environment. And even more fantastic that you've shared with us. I've been trying to figure out a way to refill my Swiffer wet-jet forever! And I happen to have an array of essential oils bought during a "phase" that I've been trying to figure out what to do with!

I hate to bring up a sore subject, but the library is also a GREAT source of things other than books. Besides music and movies, ours even offers free passes to local exhibits that you can borrow for 24hours (some of these include the Children's Museum, whale watching, Audubon Society, etc.) - it's unbelieveable the other free stuff you can get!

Thanks for sharing all this great stuff!

Unknown said...

Wow, that's cool about your library!

The plastic shoebox is just a Sterilite bin with a lid that's about the size of a shoebox. You can even get them at the dollar store, we have tons of them because they are handy for everything.

Luckily, the half a paper towel rolls fit in there perfectly if you lay them down.

Robin, we only open one can at a time and then all meals from there on out are prison-esque in that they include a helping of fruit cocktail or peaches, but oh well. The pineapple doesn't last, so don't even try, but the other two are good as long as you keep the liquid in there with them (obviously).

My REAL thoughts... said...

I found some cheap/easy cleaning product ideas on

Your blog is awesome!