Friday, 10 February 2012

Frugal Friday

We're in the bathroom this week for Frugal Friday!
Now I should add that in England where we live, the "bathroom" is the name we give to the room where our bath is - where we wash! So don't worry, I shan't be writing anything too indelicate!

That being said, perhaps I should start by saying that one particular area where I think it does NOT pay to spend less, is on your bathroom tissue! It is definitely a false economy, to buy the cheaper brands of this as they are so thin you end up using twice as much as you would of a thicker product. It is also not worth buying the most expensive, however, as these are really over priced and you are paying for the brand name as much as for the product. Settle for a middle priced brand, and then, to make it go further, do as I have discovered, and before you place the new roll on the dispenser, squish it as flat as you can get. This flattens the cardboard tube in the centre, and makes it harder to pull the paper off, therefore meaning you use less! I know none of us really like thinking about such things, but this money saving tip is worth passing on, especially if you have younger children who can often take more than they need without realising it! Just remember those Andrex puppy adverts ...

And when it comes to washing - both us, and the bath itself, there are several ways to make some useful savings.

My first suggestion is one that many people seem to overlook. If you go to the supermarket, you can't fail to notice the wonderful array of cleaning products on sale. Packaged attractively, with scents that are often more like perfume than sanitisers, and often at a premium price as a result, they are advertised heavily to encourage us to feel obliged to buy them or else feel that somehow, our homes aren't properly clean. I've spoken before about how I personally do prefer to use a bit of cheap bleach to get my bathroom (and kitchen) really clean. But anything more than this is really quite unecessary. You really don't need many different cleaning products to do all the different jobs you have to get done, around the home. Bleach is fine for cleaning plugholes and toilets, and diluted in water, it can also be used to clean sinks and floors. For baths, tiles and other non-porous areas in the home, though, I prefer to use a basic sanitising spray, and my personal favourite is Dettox, apple scented. This is actually marketed as a kitchen cleaner, but there is absolutely no reason why it can't be used everywhere else (on suitable surfaces, obviously). So I use it in the bathroom too and save myself the expense of buying a separate cleaner.

For watermarks, limescale (a real problem in the hard water area where we live) and for getting a real shine on your taps, I recommend using white vinegar. You can soak a cleaning cloth with a solution of vinegar and water and leave the cloth wrapped around your taps overnight. When your remove it, the taps will be sparkling! Another tap transforming tip is to use scrunched up tin foil. This works wonders on any stainless steel appliances (but do test it first in an area that doesn't show, and certainly don't use it on polished surfaces, only dull ones). I love how it transforms my sink and taps from dull to shiny in just a few minutes! Sometimes I follow this with a buff using a drop of baby oil - it really does work, and smells lovely too.

I also do think that the best cleaning product of all, bathroom-wise (and elsewhere come to that) is ... "elbow grease"! I'd add that "little and often" is a much more effective way of cleaning than doing a big all-out deep clean on a weekly or monthly basis. In truth, I actually clean our bathroom twice a day. We only have one bathroom and toilet for 4 people, so it quickly gets a "used" look, and I find it much more efficient, to give it a quick twice daily clean than to leave it for a few days and then have to spend a great deal longer giving it a more thorough clean. It does get a more thorough clean on a less frequent schedule, but the twice daily clean keeps it looking "guest ready" at all times.

Do you love using body lotion to keep your skin delicious, after your bath or shower, but hate the way the cheaper lotions seem to stick to your skin and never soak in? Don't waste your money on a more expensive lotion (why not wait and see if a certain someone in your life buys some for you as a treat or gift on a special day instead) but do what I do ... buy a cheap and cheerful lotion, and then rub in a good palmfull of it, directly after you've bathed, and before you are completely dry. It sinks in much more quickly, and you'll find your skin feels just as beautiful as if you'd put it onto dry skin instead. I like the aloe vera one that we buy at the supermarket - it isn't too strongly scented, so forms a nice base for other scents, but feels luxurious all the same, and costs less than £1 for a big bottle. Remember that body lotion can double up as a moisturiser for your hands too but go carefully if you plan to use it on your face - it might be a bit too harsh for the delicate skin there.

Don't waste money on special baby products just for your tinies, and separate bath cremes and shower gels for yourself. Just buy the supermarket own brand baby products, and use them for the whole family. They actually smell much less "scented" than adult products, meaning that the men in your life will probably appreciate them more than some of the more luxurious grown up products, and although they froth less than grown up bubbles do, they get you just as clean (the frothing agent is merely a gimmick to make you think it works well, and the same can be said for washing up liquids - it makes no difference to cleaning effectiveness, hard though this is to accept - I LOVE my bubbles!). If you really want to save money, bar soap is even more economical, but you do need to remember to give the bath a really good scrub after every use if you go the soap route!

If you use liquid hand wash like we do, you can economise on this too - though in our home, Dove is the winner every time because we all adore its scent. But once the bottle is half empty, it can be topped up with water with no reduction in effectiveness, making every bottle go twice as far!

We don't have a shower - we don't own our apartment and are forbidden from making improvements or changes to it like the addition of a shower, useful though this would be for all of us. Baths however are a LOT more expensive than showers and that in itself is worth remembering. But if like us you don't have a choice, bear in mind that you can get nicely clean in quite a small amount of hot water. Don't fill the tub right up to the brim. Have a shallow bath for your daily wash, and then at weekends, perhaps, allow yourself the indulgence of a more luxurious, deep bath to soak in when you've got more time! It saves quite a lot of money to do this, and during wartime, people were so conscious of the need to economise and save water, that they actually drew a line around the inside of the bath to show how far the water could come up. I wouldn't go so far as to do that but you could probably easily reduce the amount by a third and still have a nice relaxing bath, but save a few pennies.

If you have a small bathroom like we do it is also worth considering turning off your heating (if you have the sort that can be adjusted room by room). Warm steam from a bath will heat the room on its own, and the hot water you bathe in warms you up so much that by the time your bath is done, you'll barely notice the temperature outside, and if you dry yourself standing in the bath rather than outside it, you'll feel warmer still. It isn't really necessary to heat a bathroom, or a toilet if this is a separate room in your home, unless there is a risk of outside pipes freezing. We're lucky in that living in an upstairs apartment, we have no outside pipes to worry about!

Don't forget to cut open all your bottles and tubes to get to every last drop of all your toiletry products! The only product I would advise against doing this with is toothpaste. We always use to cut the toothpaste tube in half when you could no longer squeeze anything out of it, and I was always pleased at how we got at least an extra day's worth of toothpaste by doing this. But a couple of years ago, we had a bad bout of the norovirus in our home (a very unpleasant stomach virus) which made us all extremely ill. After that, I decided that it was not hygenic, for us to be sharing toothpaste tubes in this way. When the tube is full and you squeeze a little onto your brush that's fine, but when you have to put the brush right into the tube and move it about to get to the toothpaste you could be risking the exchange of germs that might spread illness through your family so we no longer do this. I'd rather waste that last day's worth of toothpaste than be that ill again!

One final tip which I must pass on to you although it isn't so much frugal as useful, is this one ... it really works, too, because we tried it not long ago! If you have a stuck zip, try spraying a little hair spray onto the zipper. It will run really smoothly then! Truly, I was so surprised when we tried this on a zipper on one of Little Bear's skirts! It was so stuck I thought we'd have to cut the zip out and replace it but a squirt of hairspray and it worked perfectly. We just need to work out how to fix the zipper pull now, which snapped off when she was trying to fasten it!