Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Napkin Experiment...

I've noticed that anytime someone in our family spills something, has dirty fingers, or needs to clean something we grab the closest paper towel or napkin.  Of course, we also each use a napkin at each meal time.  Over the course of a day, that adds up to a lot of paper and money in the trash.  I tried eliminating paper towels, but that just increased our napkin usage.  When I eliminated the napkins, I reached for a tissue every time I had dirty fingers or needed to wipe a face.  I realized that the key to using altenative products is to make them as convenient as the original.  That is when I decided to start making my own napkins that were the same size as the store bought ones.  I wanted them to fit in my napkin holder and I didn't want to have to fold them.  Shortly after Thanksgiving, we began using squares of flannel that I just happened to have in my fabric stash.  I have now made myself a set of 14 napkins that my family is using exclusively.  So far, I am very pleased.  We've even observed two unexpected benefits.  For one, flannel is very soft on little faces (my kids have dry, irritated skin around their mouths and noses in the winter).  I don't think anyone would describe a paper napkin as "soft".  Also, these flannel napkins are good for multiple uses between washing.   I hadn't planned that we would use the napkins this way, but we immediately noticed that it just seem necessary to wash a napkin after just using to wipe a few crumbs of our fingers.  I would never have "reused" a paper napkin.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

How I save money on laundry...

Just like your family, we do a lot of laundry in this house.  Below are things I do to save a little money:
  • Wash as much as possible in cold and never use the hot wash
  • Use Free and Clear inexpensive laundry detergent and washing soda as a boost
  • Use a combination of vinegar, water, and 3 drops of essential oil as a fabric softener (I promise your clothes won't smell like vinegar)
  • Put 3 drops of essential oil on a small piece of cotton and use as a dryer sheet
  • Dry the clothes in the dryer for 5-10 minutes and hang dry. 
I have about 20 feet of clothesline (two 10 foot lengths) in the basement and two cheap drying racks and am able to dry about 2 loads of laundry per day.  Putting them in the dryer for a few minutes keeps the clothes from drying stiff.  The clothes should be removed from the dryer while still very damp.