After the post http://sistertipstersthriving.blogspot.com/2009/08/ways-to-leave-your-debts-behind.html I am thinking about other rooms that are money suckers from my budget. The bathroom is another room in our home without some tight controls and ideas could be an expensive adventure each week to replenish and care for.
1. Take an inventory of EVERYTHING stored in the bathroom. Look at it all from the medicine cabinet, toiletries, towels/washcloths, cleaning supplies~make up~anything and everything in that room. What's the condition of the shower curtain? Make notes in your Budget Boosting notebook!
2. Weed out what has expired or is worn out. Right now, I am not saying to throw away old worn towels and cloths, but separate them from the rest of the good ones, and be sure you have at least two per family member. You may even want to color code to family members if this would work for you. Some like to do this, and when my kids were little, I did it this way to teach them about caring for their own towel wash cloth, and they even had their very own PLACE to hang it so it was less in the wash and used several times with good drying time in between. I love those over-the-door drying racks for this with multiple levels you can hang. This is good storage space to use, and it can be attractive, that might not be utilized~AND it will dry those towels well! Many homes don't have enough drying space in the bath with wall hanging towel bars. If you don't have this option, then teach the kids to hang towels on hangers behind their own bedroom doors or even OVER the door. The idea is to air dry them so that they are less likely thrown down and heading into the wash with just one use. Towels can be used several times before laundering them is necessary. I want to note too, that money saving in this area extends to washing practices. Towels are heavy and require long automatic dryer drying time. I like to hang them to air dry almost totally, then toss in for a softening and sterilization with the heat of the dryer and freshening with my dryer sheets. I confess that good quality dryer sheets are used in my home. We own a historic home that will have static cling because of the dryness, and while there are all kinds of ideas from fabric softner on a wash cloth tossed into the dryer, to cutting into 1/2s or 1/3s, to buying discount types, I have never found any that performed as nicely as the good quality that I purchase. I just make sure that I don't waste them by not taking care that they go into the dryer and are used properly. (LOOKS like my next post should be Laundry room, huh?) OK~back to the bathroom!
2. Set aside those worn our towels and cloths. YOU decide what level of wear this is. For me, it has to have holes and be almost unusable. My motto: use it up! But you decide. This is a personal choice, but if you don't like frayed edges or thin, then maybe it's time in your home. Since I don't advocate throwing them out, there are other uses for them that make your choice IF we can afford new towels at this time and have the actual time to shop for them. (Another post idea, huh?)
3. The medicine cabinet usually stored in most bathrooms is a story in and unto itself. HOW OLD is that stuff? Is it stored in a way that is safe for your children (up and away) and usable? Bandage supplies handy? Cleansing supplies for wounds? Inventory this area, discard outdated items. List essentials to your family. In ours, we needed when our kids were little, band aids by the box. So I kept many out and available for easy reach along with peroxide and triple antibiotic cream. I actually had a place that the children as they got into elementary school could access the materials themselves: after a quick "check" from mom, they went and washed and bandaged themselves. This way with the check, there were no limbs falling off that they did not show me for more extensive care than what they could do on their own. But getting rid of the expired and restocking if you are out of items your family uses. We are huge peroxide users. Each person has their own bottle. We use it for oral care, wound care, ear care. . . If you have allergies, obviously this is not a choice for your family, but it's inexpensive, versatile and does the trick for many things! We each have our own shelf in the cabinet (just four of us) but also the vanity is divided too. I definitely recommend color coding in the towel area if you can, if not, then you could mark names or just GIVE each person their own towels to keep up with each week. TALK about a laundry saver! (I am back in that laundry room again! Gotta do a post...) If you have medications, they should not be stored in the bath where humidity can deteriorate them. I like a locking small tool box for these. When my children were small, we actually had a lock on it. Today, it's not locked nor for the most part are the meds in this box. But with this storage way, I never worried if they were eating the meds ;-)) I knew they couldn't get into them!
4. Assess the cleaning supplies. I am so totally frugal that I don't purchase all the bells and whistle cleaners for my bathrooms. I basically use a couple of things that I already have on hand to cleanse with. I use bleach to sanitize. As a former nurse, bleach has been used to clean and kill loads of bacteria for as long as I have known it, and if it kills what floats in public pools, then it should be good for my bath. It whitens grout well too. Now I have a trick for mold. Bleach will not kill it. I know this sounds silly, but it only takes the color out. WHAT kills it is household ammonia. CAUTION: Do not mix these in any way~so this is what I do: Use a scrub brush on the grout. Clean off as much soap scum, molds or whatever as you can with hot water first. Then either spray or pour on the ammonia and allow it to set. Over several hours, repeat this process a couple of times. If you can, open a window and shut the bath door. If not, use an exhaust fan and shut the door, and if these are not available, just shut the door. Let it work for at least an hour for two separate applications. When timed, go rinse, and RINSE WELL! Rinse and rinse and rinse and rinse some more...rinse until you are fully satisfied all the ammonia is gone. If you are in doubt, rinse again. Then after you have rinsed the tub area, to remove it ALL apply the grout whitening bleach full strength to the area. I like to pour, but if doing the walls, you can put into a sprayer and spritz down the walls. This is a fantastic whitening agent, and while bleach doesn't kill it, the ammonia does. You just can't mix them, but you can use both very carefully! AND this is inexpensive to use verses those products that claim to kill and remove. I already use bleach in my laundry room so I own it, and ammonia is inexpensive. I like to use a few products for a lot of purposes. I use one of those stiff bristled kitchen scrubber brushes to scrup the tub up~I STORE ALL BATH CLEANING ITEMS such as this brush, toilet bowl brush (separate kind) and cleaning rags for the bath in the bathroom in a small cleaning bucket. I like either an icecream bucket or a cookie bucket that keeps stuff together and useful. Now obviously if your children are small, be sure these items, especially the chemicals such as the bleach and ammonia are out of reach. But stored together makes putting a quick shine in the bath pretty quick! I purchase small headed inexpensive dollar store mops for my baths. These mops are small and can fit easily behind toillete next to the wall for easy cleaning. I use one seperately from the kitchen/household mop for sanitary purposes. I also have upstairs and down stairs bath mops/brooms. My time and effort is worth something!
5. Assess the shower curtain. Is it coming down, worn out, molded, dirty? I have a few thoughts and suggestions for this. Years ago, I used to purchase heavy vinyl good "quality" shower curtains to end up washing them in the washer, hanging them outside and the like. My shower curtain was lasting way too long! Now this may sound silly, but hear me out. If it lasts and lasts and lasts, and requires so much to clean it~taking it down, then up. . .is the cost worth this effort when you can purchase a nicely functioning curtain for a dollar and throw the thing away once a year! Now the $30 I paid for the heavier gaged plastic~and the work of cleaning and removing/reinstalling I now can take this on for the price of ONE dollar and SAVE on the cleaning efforts!! Not only is it my personal exertion I am saving, but money as washers cost to operate! AND it's 30 YEARS to recoup that investment on that heavy gage curtain~ha! Who WANTS to live with the peach colored or floral colored or stripes or whatever for THAT long??? Can you see why it's a better deal to spend more frequently on a less expensive/quality gaged plastic curtain ~30 years is a long long time! I am likely to either not want it that long for many possible reasons, or just flat out get tired of cleaning it! THROW the thing out and use the disposable ones~this is a switch isn't it! But you can find good uses for the old curtain each year you switch out. Drop cloths are a wonderful use. Let the kids play on it with the water hose outside too~
There is an issue with these less expensive shower curtains. The holes will often tear out. Here's a trick: Do you have masking or packing or duct tape? Run a strip across the top of it on each side. If you have a hole punch, make holes; if no hole punch, cut "x" shapes inside each hole area so the hangers will go into the slots! This will reinforce for much longer wear. I actually use a cloth curtain with these as liners. They work well, and like I said, 30 years is a long time. . .
6. To prevent mirrors from fogging up, use this trick: clean with shaving cream. Now don't ask me HOW this works, but it does. Something in the residue will prevent the condensation from forming. I clean the walls and window sills with hot to touch water with a splash of bleach.
7. Conquering the toilette bowl is easy with a brush that you frequently use to scour out the bowl. I use bleach to whiten the area and it provides a clean smell that will dissipate soon after it's flushed. Use only a small amount. Let set then flush. I wipe down the outside with a bleach solution too.
8. Utilizing the worn out towels can take on a couple of options. You can either re-purpose them by using them for cleaning rags, tareing them into small rags and storing them in the bucket, or you could take out the worn hole and make new smaller or cloths for continued service or a hand towel or even a bath mat for the floor. Now you will need a sewing machine and a zig-zag stitch, but it's do~able and can be a great use for that bath towel that is still good except for the hole it developed. I generally make cleaning rags because I make them small and we use a lot of them. I also use other materials for cleaning rags, but since I refinish furniture and paint too, rags are great to have!
9. Tackling toiletries means evaluating the use of them and purchasing accordingly. If you are convinced that your particular brand is the one you can't live without, then I will ask you to think about your budget for such items. Can you use a less branded item or costly one? Can you make it go further or can you catch a seasonal sale or even use another money saving system such as a coupon or buy one get one 1/2 ESPECIALLY if you know the price during the off sales. IF you can save money on this, this is a good place. I was thinking while washing my shoulder length hair about saving money on this just yesterday morning. I use a inexpensive shampoo that I buy is a big a container as possible for my family. I also use two small amounts to shampoo my hair rinsing in between well. But I have to say that I generally only shampoo twice a week. If my hair is color treated, I can wash once a week as it tends to have less oils. But I do definitely condition well. I use a very small amount of a good conditioner, one that I use just on the ends of my hair~we are advised by hairdressers not to use it on the scalp as it can clog up the pores. This works well for my hair as I don't blow dry it either, but let it air dry. I save on a couple of fronts. First as silly as it sounds, time and money are saved without using the blow dryer. Now I have some natural curl which responds well to the "wet head" look until it dries and then I brush it out. I considered cutting my hair so it would take less products, but then realized that actually shorter styles are more costly to maintain shape and then styling is necessary. I am working at living with about 2-3 cuts a year for myself. I go from a chin length bob to something touching my shoulders before I head to my beautician. To save on cuts, you can use beauty schools which I have done in the past. They generally do a good job wanting to please the patron so it's a good deal. I've had an occasional mishap too, but the instructors want the patron satisfied too, so I have also had correction which is a wonderful learning situation for the student. My philosophy is that nothing is un-fixable~hair included. IT WILL GROW! So with all said, hair care products can be made more economical.
Soaps and skin care is another area to consider. I enjoy shower gels and find that some have a more lasting quailty with their scent, which allows me to save on perfumes. But then there are other times I don't want this benefit, so I use economical hand soap for shower gel and even still use the old fashioned bar soap. For the hand soap, I buy in volume and pour into old recepticles for easy use. The bar soap I open and store unwrapped so the bar will harden and last longer. It really does! I know there was a debate about this some time ago~but you will see if you practice this. And hey, bar soap is a good deal and our men have to bathe with something! NO flowery men for me!
Tackling the bath with Budget Boosters! What are you doing to save in the bathroom? Any making it last ideas? Share them with me for an entry into the Debt Busting Hop Contest for a $10 Walmart card!
Budget Boosting/Debt Busting Mama!