Twenty-five simple ways to make your stuff last longer

What’s a nearly foolproof way to save money? Not spending money, of course. And one of the best ways to slow your spending down is to increase the shelf life of the things you already have, reducing the need to buy new things and spend money.

Pretty straightforward, right? Without further ado, here are 25 easy ways to get the most out of the stuff you already have.

Food stuff

Sort your fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables produce ethylene. Other fruits and vegetables are sensitive to ethylene, which causes them to ripen and spoil faster. (Here’s how you know which is which.) Keep the ethylene-producers away from the ethylene-sensitive types to keep everything nice and properly ripe. (You can also get an ethylene gas absorber for your refrigerator if you’re chronically slow to finish your fruit and veg.)

Put a piece of paper towel inside your bag of salad. The paper towel absorbs excess water, which slows the wilting process.

Break up that bunch of bananas. Bananas (a certified super food) ripen slower when they’re not in a bunch. If you hate seeing a fruit family torn apart, however, you can wrap the stem in plastic wrap to slow the ripening.

Keep your onions and garlic in a paper bags pierced with holes. They stay fresh longer that way (months longer). Apparently you can also keep your onions in pantyhose to keep them fresh, if pantyhose happens to be more plentiful than paper bags in your household.

Wash berries in vinegar. Dip your favorite berries in a mixture of one part vinegar and ten parts water to add additional shelf life (and no, your fruit won’t taste like vinegar).

Don’t touch your cheese. Unless you’re eating it, don’t touch cheese with your fingers. The bacteria from hands causes mold to form. Cheese is a terrible thing to waste.

Don’t overfill your refrigerator. Overcrowding results in reduced air flow, which means some foods don’t cool properly and spoil faster as a result. Plus, you lose track of food in a crowded fridge. Clean and re-organize regularly.

Put a piece of celery in with your bread. It’ll keep the bread from going stale (for a while, at least).

Put a sliced apple in with your cake. It’ll keep the cake moist.

Put a slice of bread in with your cookies. The circle is complete! The piece of bread will help keep cookies and other baked goods from going stale.

Store ice cream upside down to prevent freezer burn. You should also store previously opened canned goods – like tomato sauce and salsa – upside down to prevent mold from forming.

Beauty stuff

Rehydrate dried out mascara by adding a couple drops of saline solution.

Use blue jeans to sharpen disposable razor blades. Just run the blade (pushing away) along the length of a pair of jeans a few times, then turn the jeans around and repeat in the other direction.

Store your foundation in the fridge. It goes on smoother and lasts longer.

Clothing stuff

Add a pinch of salt to your laundry. It helps keep your colors brighter.

Put your pantyhose in the freezer. Pantyhose that have spent 24 hours in the freezer (immediately before use) is stronger and less likely to run.

Don’t wear the same shoes every day. Rotate between multiple pairs of shoes. This allows shoes to decompress and dry out, which helps them last longer.

Marinate your jeans in a mixture of water and distilled white vinegar for an hour before washing. It helps keep the color from fading. While you’re at it…

Turn your jeans inside out when washing. And keep your zippers zipped – open zippers rough up all the other clothing in the wash. Actually, now that I think about it…

Wash all of your clothing less often. Washing wears out your clothing. Avoid washing an article of clothing unless it’s truly necessary. And when you do wash your clothes, wash them in cold water.

Avoid using the dryer whenever possible. Air drying your clothes is a much gentler option.

Electrical stuff

Wash the lint filter in your dryer regularly. Over time dryer sheets create waxy build up on the filter that isn’t visibly obvious, but can lead to overheating and reduced efficiency.

Use a vacuum cleaner to remove debris from back vent of your hair dryer. Hair trapped in the vent causes overheating, which will eventually spell doom for your hair dryer.

Unplug devices with batteries when not in use. Leaving devices like your laptop plugged in all the time will eventually degrade the battery, reducing the amount of charge it can hold.

One for the road

Make your flowers invincible. Take a quart of warm water and add one teaspoon of sugar, one teaspoon of bleach, and two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice. Place fresh cut flowers in the mixture. Your flowers are now unstoppable. Or they’ll at least last a good deal longer. One or the other. 

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

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