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Handy Bathroom Savings

This week we are ducking into the little room for some quiet time to reflect upon the savings that can be made in the bathroom.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

This week we are ducking into the little room for some quiet time to reflect upon the savings that can be made in the bathroom.

Ian from Kawerau has some advice for shavers. “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 is also less bulk to take when travelling and no hassle with pressurised cans when flying.”

Allie from Nelson has a hard case idea about re-using tea bags. “Keep a few used tea bags in the fridge – they make a great moist compress for puffy eyes in the morning. It’s the caffeine that does the trick, that being the main ingredient in the expensive eye creams.” Now there’s a great clean-low-emissions money making idea – repackaging used tea bags as “Puffy Eye Pampers”!

Janice from Oamaru makes mouthwash go twice as far by diluting it 50/50.

C.W., a retired dentist from Whakatane recommends using an electric toothbrush to save money. “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!”

Margs from North Taieri has sent in this recipe to make your own toothpaste. “You need: 2 teaspoons aloe vera (a mild antiseptic), 2 teaspoons baking soda (a mild abrasive and deodorizer) and 1 teaspoon organic cinnamon powder or pure vanilla essence.  You may need to add a drop or two of water to make the consistency you require. Store in a 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? I used to use Sensodyne toothpaste but now my teeth don't seem to be very sensitive at all to hot/cold foods.”

Tony from Blenheim has another use for toothpaste. “Annoying insect bites can be calmed by covering liberally with toothpaste! Especially good if the bites are red and swollen. I found this tip after trying a lot of other remedies. It works if you persevere with it.”

Dorothy from Whangarei says, “Teenagers just love a long hot shower and time passes quickly when you’re having fun. To encourage the family to become more economical with expensive hot water conduct family experiments to agree on the number of minutes needed for a reasonable shower. Place a wind-up kitchen minute timer on the bathroom window sill. If earning teenagers crave more time they could pop 50 cents in a bathroom piggy bank for a double length shower!”

D Driver from Kerikeri makes her hand soap last longer with this penny-pinching tip. “As well as un-wrapping my bars of soap on arrival home from the supermarket, I cut each bar in half.”   

And now from the bathroom to the kitchen: KC Hastings has a handy tip about cleaning burnt pots. “Put water in pot with half cup or so of salt.  Bring to boil and let boil 5 mins or so.  Leave overnight. It should come off in the morning. Repeat as necessary. Works well!”

If you have a question or favourite tip share it with others by visiting the oily rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. The book Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available from all good bookstores or online at

* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at