I grew up with something bugging me that I could never quite understand. I was anxious and compulsive and it turned out that I had a mild form of “hypochondriasis,” which is just a big word that means “germ phobia”. Yes, I am one of those people who sometimes cannot help but worry constantly about the next winter disease, who grows anxious over media reports of the avian flu or West Nile or SARs taking over the world, and who washes their hands a little more than recommended.
So this topic is dear to my heart. The good news though is that I am much more relaxed about things right now (yeah, except when talk of the next plague hits the news), but I’d like to share some thoughts about the use of personal hygiene products to keep ourselves healthy, fresh and clean, especially during the upcoming cold and flu season.
What happens when young kids and a bucket of paint cross paths?
Photo by factum.blogspot.com
Frugal Tips To Keep Yourself Clean and Healthy
I went around the web and found some fantastic frugal ideas on how to keep clean.
#1 Use the simpler products.
There are regular soaps and washes, and there are maximum strength antibacterial agents made out of alcohol, gel and possibly other chemicals that will wipe out germs while you’re on the go. The soap industry has claimed that antimicrobial washes are much more effective than any other soap or wash out there. But according to the FDA, that is false. Still, they’re convenient because you can apply them without water. The hype has made these products more expensive, and as some have claimed, more dangerous. Why? Because the indiscriminate use of antimicrobial (or alcohol-based) cleaners by the public can encourage the growth of highly resistant “super bugs.” Not only that, their overuse may actually spread disease. When I learned this very important fact about microbes, it helped relax my views about cleanliness — the fact that you may actually be more immune to germs when you are “less clean”. Ah, the irony! The strong recommendation here is to skip on the antibacterial cleaners and stay with the regular soaps.
#2 Buy the right kind of product for your situation.
If you have kids, liquid soap may work better than the bars since soap bars are tempting to play with and can disappear faster in the hands of kids. They may not be as easy to use for younger hands as well. Bars may also result in higher water usage.
#3 Buy the cheaper soap.
There are so many types of body and hand soaps and sanitizers out there that it boggles the mind. But it’s been said that the foamier kind is more economical than the other kinds available. Considering cost-per-use, the foams are the best kind since you get more use out of each application.
#4 Buy ahead, buy in bulk.
Soap is one of those items you can easily get discounts for when you buy in larger quantities. There are sales where you can purchase 20 bottles for a cost of $1.74 per bottle. Or $3.00 per pound of bulk soap. Stores like Bath and Body Works have yearly sales so you can stock up or you can just visit your local Costco for the savings. Having a lot of soap bars in store also lends itself to a great way to make sure soap lasts longer for you. The idea is to unwrap several bars at a time and allow them to dry out for several weeks (e.g. a month or two). Place them in an attractive container. When you finally use them, they won’t melt out as fast as they would if they weren’t dried out in the first place.
#5 Dilute with care!
You’ll get even more mileage out of your liquid lotions, soaps and cleansers if you dilute them. Dilution formulas range from 1 to 3 parts water to 1 part soap, or 1 to 2 parts shampoo to 1 part water. Water it down and you can make have them last longer. But be careful about diluting antibacterial soaps because misapplication of such solutions can be dangerous to our health — these chemical based cleaners will not be as effective against the microbes, enabling them to develop resistant strains. So how much is marketing and “scare tactics” and how much is accurate?
There are many trades you can make here, such as using shampoo instead of liquid soap, or well-priced bubble bath instead of hand soaps. Liquid soaps, body wash, bubble bath and even shampoo (without conditioner) can have very similar ingredients. Check out the more inexpensive alternatives and make some substitutions especially when you find options that are on clearance! You can round-robin across different products depending on what goes on clearance on which week. You can also be serious about saving money by washing your hair without shampoo — NOT this way(!) perhaps, but this way!
Instead of buying brand new liquid soaps with fancy containers each time, you can purchase a soap pump which you then refill with cheaper cleaners when necessary. By diluting the refilled liquids, you get much more bang for the buck. A popular source for soap pumps is “Pampered Chef”. For foaming hand soap, Pampered Chef makes a dispenser called the “Suds Pump”.
#8 Tweak those soap containers.
I read this from a message board:
Use less hand soap from a pump bottle!
Soap pumps usually dispenses more material than is necessary, especially for children. If your pump dispenses too much soap in one go, secure a cable tie round the stem part that plunges into the bottle, thereby stopping it part way and giving out less soap each time. I put a rubber band, looped until tight, around the base of the pump. the pump then goes down only half way, but still gives an adequate amount of soap. This makes the soap last twice as long.
And here’s a photo of what it looks like! [Image from atime4everythingblog.blogspot.com]
#9 Pick up free soap.
While traveling and staying at hotels, you’ll be privy to those tiny traveler’s soap, shampoo and wash packages made available to paid guests. If so, you’ve paid for these goodies and you can “collect” them for use at home.
What do you do with those tiny pieces of leftover bar soap that you just toss away when they get so annoyingly small? They still have a useful life: just break them up and place them in a liquid hand soap dispenser and add some water, and you’ve got soapy water to work with!
#11 Think of the stink.
There’s this small issue of the smell. Many use the quick trick of masking odors by using perfumes or cologne. But this stuff can be pretty expensive and unnecessary if your goal is to smell nice. In fact, since perfumes just cover up an odor and do not remove it, they aren’t really solving the problem. Also, perfumes can actually end up being offensive to the olfactory nerves of chemically sensitive individuals. Instead, go back to the basics: I’d suggest some old-fashioned water and soap to get rid of any odors that may concern you.
#12 Make your own liquid soap.
1 bar (3.5 oz.) soap with moisturizing cream
3 cups water
Makes 3 cups
Shred bar of soap. Place in large bowl. Add water. Microwave at high 5 to 6 minutes, or until soap is dissolved, stirring every 2 minutes. Let stand until cool. Fill soap dispensers.
#13 Clean your hands the right way.
What’s essential is the thoroughness and duration of the hand wash. Cheap soaps, detergents or shampoos are effective. Everything else is a marketing ploy, including fancy soap products of different shapes, sizes or perceived strengths. Some argue that 20 seconds is not enough for a complete wash, suggesting that two full minutes is necessary to kill all germs. Another trick is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice while hand washing.
#14 Consider using baking soda and vinegar.
I was surprised to learn that baking soda and vinegar can be used to clean practically everything, including your own body. Unfortunately for me, I am ‘allergic’ to vinegar so the baking soda and vinegar hair rinse may be out of the question for me, but yeah, people use baking soda to get rid of dandruff, for skin exfoliation, face scrubbing, teeth whitening, mouth rinsing, bathing, hand washing and as a deodorant.
#15 Use liquid soap in the shower instead of bar soap.
Bar soap causes soap scum build up in the shower. If you use liquid soap instead, you can get away with buying less of those bath cleansers and scum removers.
A last word: note that too much “clean” may not be all that healthy either, so like all else, let’s have everything in moderation to keep our immune system balanced.
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