In this report
Bills & saving
Helpful hints
Household items
Also in This Issue
This article was featured in the June 2009 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

How to squeeze a nickel

Here's hoping you find new ideas among these staff and reader tips

Last reviewed: June 2009
Illustration of a shampoo bottle crying as a woman washes her hair
Lather, rinse, but skip the repeat. Shampoo will last twice as long.
Illustration by Phil Marden

This article is the archived version of a report that appeared in June 2009 Consumer Reports magazine.

Household items

  • I occasionally wash my sponges in my dishwasher's utensil holder when I do a load of dishes. They last a lot longer and don't get that "off" smell.
  • Measure laundry detergent using the manufacturer's enclosed cap or cup. It's very easy to add more detergent than you need pouring freehand. This is especially important for the new concentrated detergents.
  • Cut your fabric softener sheets in half.
  • Clothes with the label "dry clean recommended" can typically be machine washed. (But don't launder a garment if the label says "dry clean only.")
  • Buy only machine-washable clothes.
  • Store wool sweaters in old cotton pillowcases instead of expensive and environmentally unfriendly plastic bins. The cotton lets the wool breathe, which helps sweaters last longer but still keeps moths out.
  • Can't stand ironing? Buy no-iron shirts instead of taking them to the cleaners.
  • We no longer buy tub and toilet cleaners, counter cleansers, and the like. We use white vinegar and baking soda for a lot of cleaning.
  • Make your lipstick go further by scooping out the last bit with a lip brush.
  • Flatten the toilet paper roll a bit. It doesn't spin around as much and waste paper.