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Life Hacks

Microwaving Your Sponge Can Save You Money, and 4 Other Cost-Cutting Tips From Experts

You don't have to spend so much on staples.


The cost of everyday necessities (from the gas in your car to kitchen sponges) can be overwhelming — the more often you use them, the more you spend on replacing them. And because you rely on these things daily, it’s hard to rationalize cutting back. Thankfully, you don’t need to break the bank, since our hacks will let you stretch these staples — and cut your costs in half. Keep reading to learn the clever ways to save money on the things you use every day.

Save on sponges with a quick ‘zap.’

Because you use sponges so often, they wear out quickly, meaning they constantly need replacing. The first step to getting twice the life out of your kitchen sponge is to cut it in half when you buy it — the smaller size is more than enough to get the typical dishwashing job done. Another trick? Microwave a damp sponge for 30 seconds every few days, says home and family expert Brenda Kosciuk of “This kills mildew, making your sponges last longer.”

Boost gas mileage with a slow pump.

Filling up your gas tank likely isn’t your favorite chore, but rushing through it may cost you. While squeezing the gas pump tightly can speed the filling process, the pressure leads to some gas turning into vapor, leaving you with less than you paid for. Instead, insert the nozzle into your tank and set the handle to the auto-pump groove, a slower speed designed to prevent vapor. Also, try filling up in the morning, when it’s cooler out — gas gets denser in colder temperatures, so you’ll get more bang for your buck.

Help candles burn longer with a snip.

Candles add so much ambiance and fragrance to your home, but when you burn them often, they melt away quick — and end up costing you more. To add 30% more burn time to candles, just trim the wicks, say Kosciuk. “Cut them to be about ¼-inch long. This will allow them to burn more slowly and evenly, prolonging the life of the candles.”

Extend the life of printer ink with this setting.

Ugh! You go to print out a document, only to discover you’re low on ink. The fix: Cue up “draft mode,” says organizer Jeniffer Smith of On some models, this is labeled “fast/quick,” “green” or “economical.” “It uses half the ink of normal mode,” says Smith. “The font won’t be as crisp, but unless you’re printing a photo, you won’t notice the difference.”

Make laundry detergent go further with baking soda.

Laundry detergent isn’t cheap, but you’ve got to have clean clothes. The solution? Stretch your soap further. The easy key to doubling your detergent, says Kay Escobia of laundry service Liox Clean: “Simply reduce the recommended amount by half, then add ½ cup of baking soda,” she says. “Not only does this stretch my supply of detergent but my clothes also come out fresher because baking soda is a natural deodorizer.”

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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