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Send in your bathroom and laundry saving tips.

Bathroom & laundry

Breath freshener

  • I find chewing parsley is a great breath freshener - no need to buy any more mouthwash. - P.M.


  • When you think your mascara has run out or dried out just stand it (the container) in a cup of hot tap water for a few minutes I get 1-2 more months use from the mascara. – Susie, Hawkes Bay.

  • Store your roll-on deodorant upside down.  It will last for weeks longer. - JD,  Havelock North

  • If you drop your powder eye shadow or blusher and it breaks into pieces, don't throw them away.  Close carefully and you can use it all. - JD,  Havelock North.

  • Always cut "empty" tubes of face creams etc in half.  You will be surprised how much there is left.  My record is 4 weeks of daily use from an "empty" tube.  Re-close by inserting one half into the other. - JD,  Havelock North

Dental floss

  • Dental Floss. Buy a ball of string (coated) from your hardware store. Cut to required length.  Split to thickness you want. - C.M from Kawerau 


  • Graeme as a bathroom question. "I have false teeth and am looking for an alternative to paying $7 at the supermarket for denture cleaning tablets." If you can help Graeme, please contact us and we will pass on your tips. 

J.M.L. from Whangarei writes, "To clean dentures use a teaspoon each of citric acid and baking soda. I found if I mixed these together in a container they hardened, so I keep them in separate containers. Put dentures in cup, add citric acid and baking soda, then cover with hot water. It will fizz when water is added. Rinse with clean water. Occasionally you will need to give dentures a clean with a toothbrush and just baking soda."

Cheryl from Timaru says, "Plain baking soda works better than commercial expensive cleaners. Just put it straight onto a toothbrush and use the same as you would use toothpaste. It works a treat."

Mozzy from Auckland writes, "Instead of expensive denture cleaner, buy a bottle of extra strength bleach from Pak 'N Save for 2 to 3 dollars and add a tiny dash (not too much) to a glass of water and soak dentures overnight. Rinse thoroughly before using. Much cheaper, lasts forever and does a better job."

Ronnie from Gisborne uses Clor-o-Gene from his local supermarket (not the lemon one). He soaks his dentures in it overnight then gives them a quick brush with detergent. It produces "a brilliant smile every time"!

Annette from New Plymouth says her "dentist recommends dish washing liquid and a weekly over night soak in Janola". (Heavily diluted of course.)

Beetle from Whangarei recommends Steradent Active Plus which comes as a powder in a 200g bottle. He says it works really well and is economical (he buys it from Pak 'N Save).

Shar from Wellington says, "I use 1/4 cup of white vinegar topped up with warm water in a container (equivalent to a cup). Soak dentures overnight and brush with a little baking soda the next morning." Shar signed the message with a happy face flavicon with a very white smile.

Ron  from Rotorua writes, "With regard to your question for an alternative to expensive denture cleaning tablets you may like to try what I have been doing for about 55 years. The chap who made my first dentures gave this advice and I've found it great. Once a fortnight or less if needed, I put enough Janola in an old margarine container to cover the dentures(about 20 to 25 m) and leave the dentures overnight. In the morning I give them a good rinsing and usually a quick brush with toothpaste just to take away the Janola taste. The teeth are as good as new. During the evening days just brash with ordinary toothpaste until they get a little discoloured. This has worked pretty well for me for 55 years or so."

Anonymous says, "Our dentist suggested cleaning our dentures and plates with a denture brush and soap. Works well."

LW from Kerikeri writes, "Put warm water in a container and add 2 drops of sunlight soap liquid into it. Once a month clean dentures with a natural bristle brush, but I usuallu use just a soft toothbrush and the water and sunlight soap added and it makes just as good a job of it. Always take dentures out at night and soak in the water with sunlight soap."


  • The best and cheapest exfoliate you can buy is a ladies frilly nylon bath sponge available at $2 shops or the big red shed for about $3 (at the time of writing). I just use water with the sponge on my face and my favourite body wash for the rest of me then moisturise. Simple. - Thrifty, Hamilton

Fabric softener

  • I use vinegar in the rinse cycle of the washing machine. It certainly removes the lint off of the clothes. This site comes up with some great ideas. Keep it up! - Doug Featherston

  • To make fabric softener and freshener I use one teaspoon of washing powder (fragrance powder) tablespoon of baking soda 1 cup of water fragrance hair conditioner if you don't have a fragrance in your conditioner add a 15 drops of an oil of your choice, mix then put in finial rinse. - LM, Paraparaumu 

Face cleaner

  • The best face cleaner you can get is ground almonds - from the bulk foods section at Pak 'N Save. Make a thick paste with milk, and just before using add a quarter teaspoon of salt.  Rub fairly gently onto your skin at first as it is abrasive. Wash off with warm water.  Makes you face feel like Cleopatra and her bath of milk! - Marie, Rotorua.


  • To get the last out of a container, instead of cutting the top off a hand or body cream container put it in the microwave for about ten seconds, then pour the contents into a new container. Works well for makeup and other products too. - J, Paraparaumu

  • I bought a spray bottle from a dollar store and put in just a little bit of cream cleanser – with a good shake it is ideal for the shower and bath. - LM, Paraparaumu Beach

  • By using hand towels and small sized bath towels when you have children you are still able to change them often but don't have as many loads to do because you can fit more of them into the machine. After a shower or bath you can hang all the wet towels (not dirty ones!) on the line in the sun and save yourself washing when you don't really need to. I use about 1 teaspoon of eco laundry liquid (much less than recommended on bottle) per load (and cold water) and washing always comes out clean.  For really stubborn stains or icky things that need to be sanitized use Sard wonder soap (one bar has lasted me about 4 years) rubbed directly onto stain and soak in a bucket of warm/hot water for a couple of hours before tipping into machine for a normal cold wash. Sunlight has an amazing sanitizing effect on towels and bedding and is much cheaper than using the dryer or hot water for the whole wash. Wait until machine is full to do a load (unless you have half a load and know it is about to rain for a week!) - Pip, Nelson.

  • Shampoo, conditioner, skin lotion, toothpaste and may household products come in heavy plastic containers. When these appear to be empty cut across the centre and scoop out lots more form the sides and around the neck. Use a heavy kitchen knife. Store in labelled pill bottles. - Dorothy, Whangarei.

  • We all shower often and wash lots of shampoo and soap down the drain. The shampoo is perfectly fine to wash the body with and we shouldn't use much (for the sake of our skin, environment and wallet)...so I wash with the shampoo suds from my hair before they are washed away. - J.F., Kawerau

Hair care

  • "Shampoo is expensive - we tend to use twice as much as we need to. Because we apply it to one spot on the crown of the head, the hair there can become damaged and break. I now spread a surprisingly small amount of shampoo between the palms of my hands, then apply to the sides of the head first, then to the back and top. Of course it depends on the type and length of your hair, but I use less that a 10c coin size. I also find that by not leaving it on for a prolonged period I seldom need to apply conditioner, and my hair has never looked better, so it's a win-win." - - Karen, Palmerston North. 

  • I cut plastic hand cream bottles in half and it is amazing how much is still left in the container that a 'pump' will not let you have (I always get a couple of weeks worth from the cut open bottle). Likewise with plastic make up foundation/concealer creams etc - it always keeps me going for a few more weeks. - C, Auckland

  • When I have used about a third of my bottles of shampoo and conditioner, I top them up with water, shaking to mix them well. You will notice very little difference in the consistency of the liquid, and it lasts heaps longer! I have been doing this for more than thirty years now. And it works for a lot of other liquids too. - Vicki, Waihi

  • Hair conditioner. Apple cider vinegar, water, 8 oz bottle. - Pauline, Tauranga

  • Hair shampoo. 1 tablespoon baking soda, Water, 8 oz bottle. - Pauline, Tauranga

  • This is a trick I learnt when I was tired of paying for haircutting.  I have long hair (just above my waist) and when I want to trim it, I just get a hair tie and scissors.   I lean forward and brush all hair forward and put it in a ponytail.  I then pull the hair tie down as far as I want to trim and then cut.  It gives a great layered look without the cost.  I have only done this with wet hair. – SandyA, Auckland

  • I wash my hair with Sunlight soap. Where it was becoming very coarse and straight with commercial shampoo, it now gleams and is soft to the touch. I no longer need to use conditioner either. So cheap and good! – Reader, Masterton.

  • Throw away your shampoo and conditioner!  All your hair needs is a daily sluice with warm water while you have your shower.  Before you do this give your hair a good "head down" brushing.  It is almost a year since my hair was shampooed, and it is softer and silkier than it ever was.  Also, my scalp is way healthier.  If you have any doubts, just read the list of chemicals on any bottle of shampoo! - Jean B, Nelson.

  • I am 60 and my red hair is loosing its colour with some grey coming through.  I buy cheap Henna powder at the Trade Aid shop and make a paste with a heaped table spoon. I wash my hair normally and use the paste as a conditioner. I leave it in for a few minutes and rinse out. My red hair restored! Looks natural, and is good for the hair and the environment. A NZ$6 bag lasts a whole year. I usually do this after a hair cut so every 6 weeks. There is also black Henna for those with a different colour at some Chinese markets. - Alice, Christchurch.

  • Found out from a book written by a beautician that the best thing to wash your hair with is soap! She said the reason most of us need to  use conditioners is because of the  shampoo we use - they strip hair of their natural oils. Her recommendation was to put soap scraps  (or grated soap) in a mug to about quarter full, then  add boiling water and  stir to dissolve.  This will produce a gooey soap which is great for washing hair, plus  very economical too! I've used this for ages and find it works really  well. - frugalite from Hamilton.

  • Who needs shampoo? Not me. I'm a 68 year old male with thinning white hair so when I shower all I use is a refill bottle of Palmolive Liquid Hand Wash for everything including my hair. It does a great job. I use Dove "Beauty Bar" when just washing my hands and face in the sink and find it also makes an excellent shaving cream. I devised a mesh covered box to hold the soap, which allows it to dry out after use and one block lasts me for months. - Peter Cox, North Shore City.

  • I found this on a frugal living website and have been using it for some months now. My hair didn't need to "Adjust" and I just mix the baking soda in a little warm water  and add the White vinegar neat after rinsing the baking soda off with water- seems to work very well and saves heaps on shampoos and conditioners!!! "My daughter turned me on to a real gem! We use one to two tablespoons of baking soda in some warm water to shampoo our hair. We use it almost as a paste. Just massage it gently through your hair and scalp and then rinse with apple cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar or lemon juice. It may take a couple of days for your hair to adjust, but when it does adjust, your hair will look, feel and behave better than ever! I have thick, curly hair that is shoulder length and it works great on me! My daughter has long straight hair and she loves it too! - Janis M. in East Providence, RI" - Margs, North Taieri.

Hand cream

  • To get the last out of a container, instead of cutting the top off a hand or body cream container put it in the microwave for about ten seconds, then pour the contents into a new container. Works well for makeup and other products too. - J, Paraparaumu

  • When you can't squeeze any more out of your tube of hand cream or makeup, sit it on its lid for a while, then cut the tube about 1/3 of the way up. You can then get to scoop out all the extra cream that will be sitting on the lid. The other end will fit over the tube to keep it from drying out. This has given me a good two weeks worth of hand cream. - P.L., Hamilton

Hand wash

  • Try using clothes washing powder for cleaning your oily/greasey hands. Works a treat and is very cost effective. – Dennis, Tokoroa.

  • I now buy basic handwash, and dilute it 50/50. Just as good Mouthwash can also be diluted 50/50. - Janice, Oamaru.


  • RJ from Auckland assked if anyone had any tips to clean the soleplate of their clothes iron. They say, "I have tried baking soda, and ceramic cleaner (the iron is ceramic after all) but nothing will get it off as yet."
  • Nowadays I use a detachable teflon sole plate, not cheap but they last a long time and nothing will stick to them! Before that, I used to do the old 'salt trick'. Spread a layer of table salt on a sheet of newspaper. Move warm iron back and forth until clean. Discard salt and repeat with clean salt if necessary. Wipe iron on clean, damp cloth, tapping on ironing board to dislodge any salt in the steam holes. Finish by rubbing a candle stub over the plate and iron over clean newspaper until all traces of dirt and grease are gone. Never, ever, use abrasives (like sandpaper) to clean! - Emma, Auckland.

  • My mother would place salt (the fine pouring kitchen salt) onto a piece of brown paper and run the hot iron surface over the salt - work the iron back and forth until it comes clean. This was for metal iron but imagine it might also work on ceramic. – Jayasri, Christchurch. 

  • I remember cleaning the base of the iron by turning it on and then ironing salt on brown paper. Worked a treat! - Summer Day, Auckland.
  • This is a tip that was given to me years ago and it really works. Use wet and dry sandpaper to clean the soleplate.  Use the sandpaper wet, then wipe off.  Take care not to get the steam holes gunked up with the resulting black goo and do a test iron on an old piece of cloth before you start ironing. – LM, Whangarei.


  • I have had more than one washing machine repairman tell me that commercial fabric softener is their 'dream product' as it stuffs your machine and pipes! I now mix half water with half white vinegar in a 1 litre bottle, add 1 teaspoon of eucalyptus oil and few drops of your favourite essential oil. Shake up, and use in the fabric softener compartment. So cheap and clothes smell lovely. The bonus is the white vinegar solution also cleans your machine and pipes! - Tam and Soph's Mum, Taupo

  • Chris from Tirau asks, “What can I do to make my washing smell nice without spending a fortune on conditioner.” Click here >>> to help Chris.

When my son came back from flatting he asked me what washing powder I used to get my washing to smell nice. I discovered that he had been overloading the washing machine and drying the clothes in a poorly ventilated room so they ended up smelling musty. I do a cold water wash with unperfumed washing powder. I hang it to dry in the wind and sun or inside in the sun on an airer and if necessary put a fan heater going to speed up the drying time. I hope this is helpful to Chris. - Rosemary, Christchurch.

Use left-over perfume or aftershave that no one likes as fabric freshener. - Ann, Matamata.

If you add a few drops of essential oils to your load they will come out smelling nice. Also if you use a dryer try adding a couple of drops to a clean rag or face cloth and add to the dryer with your load. That way the smell lasts longer. - Kla, Stratford

A few drops of tea tree oil in your wash will make it smell fresh and lovely and have the added benefit of being antibacterial. - LAJ, Sydney.

Buy baking soda from Bin Inn and add to wash with laundry powder. You can also reduce the amount of laundry powder by about 1/5 as baking soda is also a cleaner. I use equal amount of baking soda and laundry powder. - Motel Owner, Whakatane.

For a cheap fabric conditioner I use a few drops of either tee tree, lavender or eucalyptus oil to the final rinse. - Jacks Nan, Christchurch.

  • J Fairhall from Nelson uses shampoo when she runs out of laundry powder and says it works just as well.

  • I buy big bag of Laundry powder and it lasts for ages and use tablespoon which makes it last even longer. - L.M., Waikanae.

  • Liquid Laundry Detergent. You need: Hot water, 1 bar Sunlight Soap (grated), 1 cup washing soda. In a large saucepan add grated soap and enough hot water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until soap is melted. Fill a large bucket with 9.5L of hot water, add hot soap mixture. Stir until well mixed. Then add the washing soda, again stirring until well mixed. Set aside to cool. Use 1/2 cup per full load, stirring well before each use (will gel). - B.W., Auckland

  • A good and economical laundry powder recipe I found out about is: 1 bar sunlight soap (grated), 1 kg washing soda. Grind it all up in a blender or food processor, in batches if you need to. If do in batches, pour each batch in a large bowl then, when finished, mix well before putting into container/s. Use 1 tablespoon each average load. - frugalite from Hamilton.

  • If I run out of wool wash when doing my woollies I use some shampoo. Also use it to wash combs & hair brushes, once a week I give them a good soak. - J.H., Edgecumbe.

  • I have a large family and am a single parent.. I am forever running out of washing powder. i came across this liquid laundry detergent recipe. Mix 1/2 cup soap flakes, 1/4 cup of very cheap shampoo, 2 t of bicarb, and 2 t of white wine vinegar in a clean bottle. add 2 litres of water and shake. its ready to use.. add fragrance such as 2 t of lavender oil.. it said it was for delicates, soft woollens and anything fine but I have been using it in all my washing. - VJC, Wanganui.

  • After facing yet another pile of wet towels to wash and dry, I sat down and did a radical rethink of the situation. I remembered two things that have now made my towel washing and drying a breeze. My family were drying their hand on a bath size towel. I remembered that my mother used roller towels when I was a child, so I cut three spa pool size towels lengthwise and joined the ends in a loop. I bought a hook type towel hanger from Bunnings and we now have a hand towel that lasts several washes by rotating the towels round the hanger. - Rebecca F, Brooklyn.

  • When I run out of washing powder I grate sunlight soap into the washing machine, to wash clothes. It gets them clean, and lemon fresh scented. Saves on petrol as well, and also on other things that you usually grab at the supermarket when you go in for one thing, and come out with 5 6 things. -T Roberts, Otorohanga.

  • My husband built a clothes line on a pulley system which holds three loads of clothes. We have an extension on our house and there is a space behind our house, under cover, but gets the breeze and I hang my washing out at night and retrieve it in the morning.  I have a dryer but very rarely use it. - Jenny; Paremata, Porirua.

  • My laundry is in the garage so I have installed a ceiling mounted pully for drying the clothes. It is convenient being right next to the washing machine and it is very efficient as our garage faces north and gets very warm. I do not own a tumble drier and don't have to rush to retrieve the clothes when it rains. Tumble driers cause a lot of fires as well as using a lot of power. In Summer my clothes are dry in less than an hour, in Winter I leave them overnight. Pulleys are made in the North Island I bought mine new on Trade me. - Canny Scot, Christchurch


  • Its amazing how much lipstick is left in a tube once you have worn it down to the tube. With the help of a lipstick brush, I can get another 2 months out of my lipstick! - A recycler from way back, New Plymouth.


  • Forget expensive baby oils full of petrochemicals. Olive oil works the best as a moisteriser on children from birth. Last for AGES as well. - J.M. Christchurch.

Mouth wash

  • I now buy basic handwash, and dilute it 50/50. Just as good Mouthwash can also be diluted 50/50. - Janice, Oamaru.


  • Some may have noticed recent publicity about a supermarket price war over nappies. The bottom line is they are discounting the price of disposables to lure mums down their isles so while they are buying up large on the discounted product they are also filling their shopping carts with the everyday priced goodies (the same ruse they use with discounted milk).

    A quick search of prices does indeed show there is some hot competition in the nappy department. The best price we could find for a standard line product (a basic nappy for an infant) was from one of the major supermarkets. It was on special at a unit price of 33 cents compared to 45 cents from other outlets for the same item.

    There is a remarkable range of products and pack sizes so young mums and dads could be forgiven for finding the task of a meaningful price comparison a little difficult. As a general rule we found buying in bulk was significantly cheaper. For example, in one case buying the 160 pack instead of 108 reduced the unit price by about 25%. Bulk buying does not always result in savings so one does need to have their calculator handy, but in this case the bulk buying made sense - and you never know when you will have a run on nappies(!) so having some spares may come in handy.

    We also found a remarkable range in styles and prices.  The designer nappies with high street brands (like Versace - just kidding) were typically around a dollar per unit. 

    As a general guide, we found the best value when buying nappies was bulk packets of house branded products at around 30 cents. - Oily Rag Ed'

  • To soak my cloth nappies I add about 5 drops of T.Tree oil to the soak bucket (I have a toddler and newborn in cloth naps and this is enough for both sets of nappies - could use less for just one set of naps).  This saves on more expensive nappy soakers, is natural, and a bottle that costs under $15 will last me a year.  I also have made my own nappy liners, instead of buying the chux cloth like supermarket liners.  Just buy a metre of microfleece and cut to size.  I got 16 double folded liners out of a metre piece and have used these now for over 2 years and they are still in great condition.  Waste falls off easily into toilet and anything left comes off with a quick scrub. - J Oliver, Galatea.

  • I have always used cloth nappies, and wash them in warm sometimes hot water with Lux flakes, then hang them in the sun. Also I soak them in cold water rather than Napisan. I only use Napisan if there has been a tummy bug in the house, and then I put all the nappies through Napisan for 5-7 days just to kill everything. Also my nappies are always soft from being blown around in our Wellington winds! I find this cleaning system quite economical. – M.W.

  • Even the cheapest disposable nappies cost more than using cloth. With our 6th child nearly out of nappies now, we have estimated that we have saved $15,000 by using cloth nappies for all of our children.To wash a load of nappies costs about 20cents per load and doing 3 loads per week brings it to a total of 60c. I buy washing powder on special always and use two level tablespoons per load ( front loader).The powder costs about 10c per load and the other 10c is for the heating of the water ( 30 degrees). Line dry or use drying racks in the winter and you save heaps of $$$$$.I have bought 4 dozen nappies over the years and have been given 4-5 dozen ( seconds). I use pins and plastic pants which I wash by hand- no nappy rash either. I have never bought a pull-up when toilet training. I just use trainer pants and when I go out I pop a cloth nappy on the child if I'm not feeling confident that the child will 'hold-on' or not. I agree cloth nappies do take more time, but really it's not that much work. Imagine $15,000 off your mortgage!    - reader, Hamilton


  • I brought some plaster from the supermarket 2 weeks ago, only about 30 plasters in the packet. And today I was in the famous $2 shop and they have a packet of plasters with 2 long strips, so came home and cut them up into normal size strips, and I got 85 plasters. What a good idea. Go for it. D.M.

Plastic tubes

  • Similar to the toothpaste idea, I've just about finished up a soft plastic tube of face scrub and another of foundation. I chopped the tops off the bottle with scissors to get to the rest that I couldn't squeeze out. -2nd generation Oily Ragger, Wellington.


  • The common G3 type razor blades work out around $4 each and the cheaper ones cut me to ribbons. I am getting over 6 months from a blade. Use baby oily instead of shaving foam as a lubricant, and on the blade after shaving to preserve the edge of the blade and stop it from rusting. Plus you get a really superb shave, even against the grain without any shaving rashes. Keep the blade sharp by honing. Cut the leg off an old pair of denim jeans and rub the blade the wrong way 20 times, reverse it and repeat. If the blade is really old and blunt then do it again.  - Joker

  • My husband uses dove soap to shave with, he has sensitive skin and finds that it softens his beard and gives a smooth clean shave with no rash. - Off the grid, Otorohanga

  • Don't buy those expensive shaving gels, go back to the old shaving brush and soap: You can get organic shaving soap for under $5 on-line; There's no wastage like when the propellant runs out in the tins; It's much better for the environment with no cans, plastic, propellant, strange chemicals; There's less bulk to take when travelling; There's no hassle with pressurised cans when flying. - IanO, Kawerau


  • Good liquid soap using Dove soap and tea tree oil. Buy Dove soap when it is on sale at $1 a bar. Grate it finely add three cups of boiling water, stir till dissolved. When cool put in a few drops of tea tree oil. Great anti-rash liquid soap for the shower. - Sam, Te Puke.

  • If you do not want to fight scum on your shower walls, then use shower gel. We have a motor home and when using soap the smell when emptying our grey tank, (sink, Shower water,) was horrendous. Now there isn't a smell at all. - Maggie, Tauranga.

  • When moving into a newly built house, take time to rub the glass walls of the shower with "Turtle Wax."  Then polish off.  We have been living in our home now for 3 years and taking care to wipe down the walls after each shower, have scum free glass. We were advised to repeat this after 6 months. - Maggie, Tauranga.

  • Shower with a bucket. Use the water to water your household plants

Skin care

  • I would like to share ideas on making great skin care products that are a fraction of the price of bought ones and more effective too. I use Fatty Cream (about $8 for 500gms from the chemist) as a base. Spoon out enough to 2/3 fill your recycled small container. I add another 1/3  almond or safflower oil and whip it up together with an ice cream stick. This is a good general body moisturiser. You can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to add fragrance. For face cream I add some squeezed vitamin E capsules to the basic body mix. (Rosehip oil is wonderful too.) To make a vitamin A cream,  I add some squeezed cod liver oil caps instead. Great for cracked heels. - Allie, Nelson.

  • Another beauty tip. Keep a few used tea bags in the fridge. Makes a great moist compress for puffy eyes in the morning. Its the caffeine that does the trick, that being the main ingredient in the expensive eye creams. - Allie, Nelson.

  • If you trun your hand cream bottles up side down, it's amazing what is there when you think all is finished. - R.W.


  • When your soap is too small to use don’t throw it out. Save it in a dish and when you have what you think is enough, finely chop up the pieces, place into an old saucepan, add water and bring to a boil. Stir and simmer, then pour into blocks and let it cool. There you have it – more soap! - Ray, Tauranga

  • I have read many suggestions for making soap ends into liquid soap or soap cakes but didn't want to wait until I got a good quantity. I took the foot of an old pantyhose, put in the soap ends and tied a knot.  I have used this pad for cleaning my hands after gardening and find it great for scrunching fingernails in- no need for a brush!  - Muff, Birkenhead

  • Rather than wasting old pieces of soap in the bath or shower, the last one to have a bath or shower squeeze the old soap onto new cake of soap, after you soften up the new cake and leave overnight. The old soap will blend into new soap with no waste. - Diesil Den, Christchurch

  • Gather all the old pieces of hand soap and place in a jar.  Fill with water and let it dissolve. It becomes liquid and is ideal for hand washing, washing woollens etc. – Mike, Auckland.

  • When my kids were little I sewed up flannels (facecloths) to make a square pocket with velcro along the top side. All the small scraps of soap went in to these pockets the kids used these to wash. no more nagging about leaving the soap in the water etc. – Barb, Ashburton.

  • When your soap is too small to use don’t throw it out. Save it in a dish and when you have what you think is enough finely cut up the pieces. Place the prices into an old saucepan and add water. Boil it up and stir it about then pour into blocks and let it cool and there you have it – more soap. Soap varies in price from $2.50 to $4.50 for just one bar. – Ray Manicaros, Tauranga.

  • Penny-pinching. As well as unwrapping my bars of soap on arrival home from the supermarket, I cut each bar in half.  D Driver, Kerikeri.

  • Dot asks: "Does anyone know where (or if) 'Pearson's Sandsoap' is available? I have the remains of my last bar and it beats all the fancy new bottled cleaners." If you can help Dot please click here >>>

J Pearson, a relative of the inventor, has sent us this fabulous reply. “In answer to Dot- Pearson's sandsoap has not been available since about the 1950's when my great great grandfather's company went out of business after about 70 years of trading. I believe someone bought out the name and continued making soap but my understanding is that the last person who knew the secret recipe didn't divulge it! The soap was made using pumice sand found on my great great grandfather's property in Hamilton, the only remaining bars are those in museums around NZ and Australia.”

Bev from Auckland replies; "Pearson's sand soap is no longer in production but the NZ Historical Places Trust sell sand soap bars on their website for $3.00 each.  Here's the link." Link >>>

I was reading in the soap category, that someone was looking for Pearsons sand soap.  On the internet [eBay of course] I saw lots of what is called 'pumice soap' which is the same thing - much beloved by chimney sweeps, motor cycle restorers and farmers.  If one is mushing up ends of soap, why not add some pumice powder and make your own? – Penny, Balquhidder, Scotland.

  • A great way to save money and avoid Sodium Laureth Sulfate (for the health conscious!) is to make your own hand soap and dishwashing liquid. This is extremely easy! Take one bar of scented soap (or plain if you prefer), grate to a powder on your kitchen grater / lemon zester, and add 4 - 8 cups of boiling water slowly. If you have it, add a Tbsp of liquid Glycerine. Beat, blend or stir (beware, this can be FOAMY!) until well mixed. The top thick creamy foam can be skimmed and put in a jar, for use as shaving cream, the liquid can be bottled and used for hand soap, general cleaning, dishwashing liquid etc. If using for the dishes, don't expect lots of bubbles, just enjoy cleaner, shinier dishes! - SJG, Blenheim.

  • I buy a four pack of soap (only on special), then remove wrappers put in hot water cupboard. This makes them hard and last much longer. - D.M., Katikati.

  • Recycled Soap Slivers. Collect all leftover soap slivers and grate them on the grater. Any colour is fine. Put them in a bowl, added a little water, and mash them all together. Form a whole new bar with the shavings and let them dry a few days before using them again. Saves heaps. I make my own soap for allergy reasons and I always have little leftover bits - these makes the oily rag go even further! - Margs, North Taieri.


  • I wipe the toilet with water and nice rose essential oil - makes it smell good and on tube of toilet paper roll when in use. Vinegar and baking soda is another good cleaner. - LM, Kapiti coast.

  • When your children are small squash the toilet roll to stop the roll pulling as easily to reduce consumption. - B., Huntly.

  • I use my toilet cleaner to refill the Toilet Duck rather than spending a fortune on refills. - Chooki, Wanganui.

  • Many readers have written to us with this tip - to remove unwanted odours from the "bathroom" simply strike a match above the toilet bowl. No need for expensive deodorisers! - Oily Rag Ed'

  • You know one of those toilet duck refills that you clip over the rim of the toilet to keep the toilet nice and clean, don’t refill it with another toilet duck block. Just put a morning fresh tablet inside the refill, it’s those morning fresh dish washing tablet. They do dissolve quickly but you only need to use one tablet a week to keep the toilet really clean and it really does work. – D.B.

  • Use an old duck container to fill with bleach. Ideal to clean the toilet and kill any germs as well as being a cheap cleaner. - S.G.

  • While on bathroom subjects, I use tissues, which have been in my pocket all day, but not used to wipe my nose, for the toilet. I fold a little toilet paper around it and presto! – J.O. Christchurch

  • Do you get annoyed by every single toilet cleaner commercial? They pour a whole lot of chemicals down the loo and into the environment and NEVER clean the seat where you actually come into contact with it. As you can tell it's a pet hate of mine. I just use bleach to squirt around the bowl and scrub with the brush.  I then pour onto a rag and wipe down both sides of the seat and around the outside of bowl etc.  (I actually use toilet paper instead of a rag because then the rag with bleach can cause trouble with other washing in the laundry afterwards!) I would like to try the vinegar handy hint I just heard about. Also I buy sugar soap in concentrated form and water it down for all sorts of cleaning jobs all over the house from cleaning the carpet to walls to cupboards. - Bluebird, Tauranga.

Teeth & toothpaste

  • A friend trims the scraggly bristles of her toothbrush to make it last twice as long. I thought I'd try it, too. The brush looks a bit odd, now and it feels like there are more bristles on the brush! Maybe it will do a better job cleaning my teeth, too! - JO. Springfield

  • Teeth whitening formula. 1 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon water and a dab of toothpaste. Apply weekly until desired results, then reapply monthly. - Pauline, Tauranga

  • My house is always looking for mouthwash, and a cheap, easy way to make some is to simply put half a teaspoon of baking soda in with a small glass of water, gargle as normal. Also, for a set of sparkling pearly whites, brush teeth with toothpaste as normal, then brush again, this time baking soda sprinkled on your toothbrush. Over two weeks your teeth will whiten, and save you an expensive trip to the dentist! - K.O., Mahia

  • Toothpaste - some people have mentioned cutting down their use of toothpaste by not putting it along the entire length of their toothbrush.  The easier way is to put it sideways across your toothbrush - it's all you need.  Also, use only soft toothbrushes, as hard/medium toothbrushes wear away tooth enamel and in the long run will cost you more at the dentist in your old age when your enamel's gone.  Brush lightly, even with a soft brush.  - ANG, Masterton.

  • Reading BOP Times today re toothpaste. Advertising always shows full strip of paste to sell more, when you only need enough to go across the brush. - C.L., Tauranga.

  • I read the item from someone, saying not to use a full strip of toothpaste on the toothbrush, and so save fifty percent. I am a retired dentist, I always recommended my patients to use a good quality electric toothbrush, and used to point out to them that it would pay for itself in saved toothpaste, as you can only put on a "blob", onto the small circular brush, most people put a long strip, at least 3 times as much, on a normal brush, and then foam at the mouth with excess paste. - C.W., Whakatane.

  • How much toothpaste do we need? TV advertisements show us to cover the whole toothbrush. Why not try and use a little less each day and find out how little we actually need! - JO, Christchurch

  • When you think you have got all the toothpaste or hand cream out of a plastic container, cut off the bottom of the container & you will be surprised how much paste or hand cream is left which can be used. - Kit Singleton, Waipu.

  • When Toothpaste tube is empty, cut open the end and sides. Wrap in Cling wrap and you have enough for a week. Also good for hand creams etc. - Jean S

  • When a toothpaste tube becomes empty, cut open one end and keep closed with two clothes pegs. There could be enough left inside for a whole week. - RJ

  • From Astar on the Good Morning Show. Natural Toothpaste

                       2 tsp aloe vera (a mild antiseptic)
                        2 tsp baking soda (a mild abrasive and deodorizer)
                        1 tsp organic cinnamon powder or pure vanilla essence

You may need to add a drop or two of water to make consistency you require. Store in plastic screw top container. I Use peppermint essential oil - 1-2 drops as I prefer the taste to either of the above. The last time I went to the Dental school they commented on how good my teeth were looking. I also have just noticed that they seem a little whiter as well (? BS content). I used to use Sensodyne toothpaste but now my teeth don't seem to be very sensitive at all to hot/cold foods. - Margs, North Taieri.


  • I have a heated towel rail, but never use it! In winter, I place my bath towels in the airing cupboard overnight, they're still warm and bone dry when I use them the next morning. Luxury! – Karen, Palmerston North

  • I was given a new yellow dress made of towelling, I decided to unpick all the seams, I got one large towel from the back, hand towels from the unpicked sleeves, two smaller bath towels from the side pieces, and two flannels from the left over pieces, I don't have a sewing machine, so I spent a day hemming the seams by hand. Into the op shops once more, to see what I can get. - Dianne.

  • I have a question. I have bought some new towels that only smear the water and not absorb it. I did hear a long time ago you could put something in the wash water to get rid of the dressing on the towels from the manufacturing, but cant remember what it was. I was wondering if anyone could help me make my towels absorbent. Thanks. Graeme, Christchurch. Click here >>> if you can help Graeme

Reconditioning your towels is as simple as running them through two hot loads. Skip the detergent on both loads, run them through once with hot water and a cup of vinegar, then again with hot water and half a cup of baking soda. My towels all have more body and absorbency, plus my white towels are cleaner and brighter. I usually do this every six months or so. - Margaret, Mt Maunganui

Soak the towel in a bowl with salt dissolved in warm water. I can't recall how much, but have an idea it was about 1-2 tablespoon. I'm sure that using more if you wish will do no harm! Then wash the towel in the usual way. – MS, Christchurch.

Soak the towels in water and add 1 tablespoon epsom salts for each towel. That's how we used to get the dressing out of new towels. - Jo G, Christchurch.

Always wash new towels first in hot soapy water. Then add half to one cup of white vinegar to the rinse. This removes the manufacturers' fabric softener they add to make their towels look soft and fluffy in the store. To keep them fluffy and absorbent, do your towel washing on a windy day and hang them out to dry. The wind will fluff them out again. Cheaper and better for your clothes and pocket than a tumble dryer. - Susan, West Auckland

Graeme could try adding white or brown vinegar to his wash rinse cycle to improve the absorbency of his towels. – Valerie


  • Here's a tip to prevent the wires coming out of your bras in the washing machine: wash them in a pillow case! Tie the top and wash on a gentle setting. I wash all our underwear on a gentle wash setting. Here's a recipe for a cheap laundry powder. Use 1 kilo of washing soda, 1 bar of sard soap, 1/2 a cup of borax. Chop up the soap and put into a kitchen whiz. Add the rest of the ingredients and whiz to a powder. Use about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup per wash. For a toilet cleaner I use baking soda and white vinegar. - Margaret, Invercargill.

  • 1/3 cup of washing soda dilete in 1  litre of boiling water. Cool then add 9 litres of cold water. Stir and leave until thick. I use 1 cup per load. Happy washing. - D.M.

Washing machine

  • For some time now I have only used the medium spin on my washing machine. This is considerably shorter than high spin and clothes dry just as quickly on a sunny/windy day. - North Island oily ragger.

  • Don’t have a washing machine? Get a wonderwash for about $50. It uses two tablespoons soap powder, and Ό of the water! – K.C.

    A Wonder Wash washing maching is ideal for single items or camping. They can be bought at camping stores and come up from time to time on Trademe.

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