Hi, I'm Hannah, and I'm a frugal gal who is always looking for ways to save money. And if you clicked on this article, I'm guessing you are, too.
Reddit can be a treasure trove for tips, and recently, I can across this thread from user canadave_nyc that asked, "What are some cheap products that you can use to do the same thing as an expensive product, but aren't specifically designed/intended to do so?" The answers were kind of mind-blowing, so I decided to round them up! Here are 39 things you can use instead of the more expensive alternatives.
1.Use baby shampoo to clean your paintbrushes, makeup brushes, and glasses, instead of specific cleaners meant for those tasks.
2.Dr. Bronner’s soap (under $5 at Thrive market) also works super well for all the above needs, as well as body and hand wash. It's an especially good substitute for solid makeup cleaners (like the Blendercleanser). Not only is it cheaper, but there's WAY more of it.
3.Hemorrhoid cream is great not only for dry and cracked hands, but also for under-eye circles (and also apparently, fire ant bites?). Just be careful — if it contains hydrocortisone, it can make your skin thinner or resistant to hydrocortisone with overuse.
"Hemorrhoid cream is fantastic to heal wounds on your hands. During the pandemic, we washed our hands 10000x a day. They were cracked and sore. Voila!! Hemorrhoid cream! Reduces swelling, heals wounds, and is moisturizing! Also worked behind the ear when the masks rubbed behind your ear."
"My home country has a cream for hemorrhoids that costs less than $1 and deals with dark under-eye circles better than eye creams that cost more than $100."
4.Instead of buying some kind of "bump eraser" to prevent/get rid of razor bumps, just use deodorant.
"If you shave your nether bits, applying anti perspirant after will prevent itchy bumps. Don’t apply to the interior of vag/labia, ladies, just the bikini line. This tip changed my life!"
5.You can use anti-chafing gel in place of primer, and it's much cheaper.
Suggested by u/No_Sprinkles418
6.Instead of buying dry shampoo, just use cornstarch. It's way cheaper and contains less harmful ingredients.
Suggested by u/Alwayswithyoumypet
7.Get yourself a "medical baseball" (or softball or tennis ball) to help you with stretching (essentially in place of a roller). Golf balls specifically are perfect for rolling under your feet.
"I have a 'medical baseball.' If the name isn't obvious, it's just a baseball, but I use it for medical reasons. Specifically to wedge between my chair and my lower back when I get a sciatica flare-up, or numerous other back or leg issues.
Works 1000x better for me than any general back pain or sciatica-specific products like a roller, stretcher, patch, or anything else."
"I have a tennis ball the size of a softball for this same reason. The tennis ball texture is a little easier on my muscles, and the larger size covers more area. I got it at a pet store."
"Rolling a golf ball under your feet is amazing for foot pain."
8.Tennis balls also have another use — use them in place of dryer sheets in the dryer to fluff up comforters, reduce static, and prevent wrinkles.
"When you're washing anything down-filled, such as a comforter or bed pillows, adding a few new, clean tennis balls to the dryer will help fluff them up. If you've ever pulled a freshly-washed pillow out of the dryer to find it's become lumpy and misshapen, the tennis ball trick can prevent that.
If you hate ironing, here's some good news: Adding tennis balls to the dryer will keep sheets, jeans, and t-shirts circulating so there's never a chance for wrinkles to set in. Just be sure to remove the linens and clothing as soon as the cycle is done since wrinkles will develop as the fabric cools down. Bonus: The tennis balls will also reduce static in the dryer, so your newly-cleaned shirt won't be so clingy. And it speeds up drying time."
9.Speaking of static — instead of buying static guard, just mix one part fabric softener and two parts water in a spray bottle.
Suggested by u/Disastrous_Phrase_85
10.Use vinegar as a fabric softener in a pinch — just not too often, because it might break down your clothes a bit too much. And NEVER MIX VINEGAR AND BLEACH. The combination is deadly. (Side note: so is ammonia — which, BTW is in urine — and bleach. Don't use bleach on anything with pee involved.)
11.Instead of buying Windex, just mix vinegar, water, and a tiny bit of liquid soap. Or you can mix a tablespoon of baby shampoo and a quart of water, then apply it with a spray bottle.
12.If you have cats, use pellet horse bedding or compressed sawdust pellets instead of cat litter to save a ton of money.
"Pellet horse bedding instead of cat litter. 40lbs for ~$7, breaks up into sawdust and absorbs smells super well, especially with a little sprinkle of baking soda! No nasty litter box smell here, even with two cats! (Learned this trick years ago from a rescue shelter!)"
"The compressed sawdust pellets for wood fires are exactly the same as the pellets for cat/dog litter — at half the price."
13.Another litter tip — using baking soda at the bottom of a litter tray will help with the smell, instead of buying a specific odor-remover.
Suggested by u/Lunavixen15
14.Baking soda can actually be used for a TON of stuff, including in place of Alka Seltzer.
"Alka Seltzer is basically just compressed baking soda with a little aspirin thrown in. When you have an upset stomach or acid indigestion just dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in water and drink it. Works the same and much cheaper."
15.Baking soda can also be used for cleaning, specifically with aluminum foil to clean burnt pots, as well as silver jewelry.
16.Dishwasher tablets are also great for cleaning burnt pans.
"Dishwasher tablets are amazing for cleaning things outside the dishwasher. If you have a pan or whatever with burnt-on food that you literally can't scrub off, then fill it with warm water and chuck a dishwasher tablet in for a few hours. It'll work much better than soap designed for hand washing."
17.You can roll tinfoil up into a ball and use it to remove rust, like on a bike chain, or to clean grates on the grill.
18.Use binder clips or clothespins to close food bags rather than buying clips specifically for closing bags in your pantry.
19.Instead of shaving cream, use super-cheap hair conditioner or "invest" in solid shaving soap (around $5 at Target), which can last you for months or even years.
20.Or try coconut oil to shave your body, or overall moisturize your skin.
"I use the teeniest amount of coconut oil to shave my body. It's amazing. Pretty much eliminates any razor bumps and irritation. I would not recommend this for the face because of how comedogenic it is."
"Do be careful about coconut oil in your pipes though. It builds up pretty quickly."
"The most beautiful, soft-skinned woman I've ever met used Epson salts and coconut oil in her baths, and there was an audible 'Oooohhhhhh...' when I rubbed her arm."
21.Coconut oil is also a great lube (though not with condoms or toys).
22.Oven cleaner can be used to clean a ton of car parts for super cheap.
Suggested by u/Ajinho
"That stuff cleans grease and oil in an engine compartment down to the shine on the paint. Spray it on, let it soak, and hit it with the pressure washer. I keep it off the alternator, carb, distributor, etc but soak the trans, and engine block."
"So long as your mindful of any aluminum or magnesium since Sodium Hydroxide can react pretty dramatically with those metals."
23.Actually, it turns out oven cleaner can be used for a lot of stuff, like kitchen blinds.
"I used to live in an apartment with mini blinds in the kitchen that got that dust and grease build up on them. I took em down, put em in the shower, and sprayed it down with oven cleaner. Ran the shower and it washed it clean like new."
24.Magic Erasers are essentially just melamine foam — you can just buy pieces of the foam for much cheaper than the brand name.
Suggested by u/theFooMart
25.Similarly, don't bother with Scrub daddies. Just buy a scourer.
"Scrub daddies — it's just a freakin scourer cut into a face, ffs."
26.You can play "specialty" card games — like UNO —with regular cards.
Suggested by u/Separate-Ad-9916
"We played crazy eights before UNO. I've been showing my kids card games and they went to get cards to play a memory game after we got done playing go fish and it blew their minds when I showed them that you can just do it with regular cards. My wife has introduced me to the board game sequence and one of the first things I noticed is that you could play that game with nothing but four decks of cards and poker chips. Theres a lot that you can play with just cards."
27.Get rid of sticker residue with oil, or even lighter fluid, rather than buying a specific sticker-removal tool or fluid.
"You can remove sticker and tape residue by rubbing it with oil, as long as it’s on a surface that won’t be damaged by the oil. I originally read about it as a use for WD-40, but over the years I’ve used all kinds of oils. I usually use food oils like canola or olive oil, because they’re sitting right on the kitchen counter. I’ve even used olive oil to remove Bandaid residue from my skin."
"I have to take off thousands of stickers a year for work. Many of them are 30+ years old. Some of them are 30+ years old and security stickers. So sometimes it is a horrible and annoying task. After using dozens of products and tactics, the best thing that I have found is plain old lighter fluid. I prefer Ronsonol or Zippo brand just because of the smell, but any decent brand will work. I get 341ml, or 12 fl oz, bottles of Ronsonol for $5.99CAD/$4.45USD, each. Goo Gone for example is $11.99CAD, $8.92USD, for 237ml, or 8 fl oz, and does a considerably worse job. So you pay double for 31% less fluid, that does a shittier job and leaves a greasy oily residue behind. It also is considerably worse at removing paint, permanent marker, paint transfer, wax, ink and other things where lighter fluid just zips right through it.
Lighter fluid also penetrates stickers better and just doesn't sit on top and do nothing. Also it evaporates quicker. So when you are done you can just blow on it and it will evaporate away like it was never there in the first place. No smearing or streaking oily residue around.I would say it easily works three times faster and is ten times easier to clean up and deal with at the end of the day."
28.You can use Tide powdered laundry soap to clean your bathroom — specifically tubs and showers.
Suggested by u/One_Impression_5649
"Tide, water, bleach, baby!!! One teaspoon powdered tide, 1 gallon hot water, 1/3 cup of bleach and it cleans everything! You can buy one of those tiny boxes of Tide at a laundry mat or gas station and it lasts forever for cleaning purposes."
29.Instead of keeping gauze around for emergencies, just have some extra diapers or pads on-hand.
"EMT teaching my CPR course told us to keep a few baby diapers on hand to use in case you need to need to bandage up a large wound. Way cheaper than a gauze of that size."
"I grew up in rural Pennsylvania. It is (or at least, was) extremely common for hunters to carry a number of feminine pads with them in case of injury. It was always funny seeing newer hunters and/or those from less rural areas discovering 'the pad.'"
30.You can use tea bags — Earl Gray, specifically — as car air fresheners.
"Not a huge difference in price, but fits the bill."
31.Head and Shoulders shampoo (or a cheaper generic option) actually works as an anti-acne face wash — it can also be used as a body wash as a treatment for ringworm.
32.Similarly, Vick's VapoRub apparently works on fungal nails — and it's much cheaper than Locycral.
Suggested by u/carolethechiropodist
33.Apparently, the best and cheapest way to clean your microwave is with water. Try steaming the microwave by microwaving water.
"Water works better than any commercial product for cleaning your microwave. Fill a microwave-safe coffee mug 2/3 full and turn on the microwave for 6 minutes. When it stops, don't open the door. Leave it shut for about five minutes. Then use an oven glove to remove the very hot cup. You can now wipe off the interior with nothing but a paper towel. Steam is king."
34.Instead of makeup remover, you can use food oils to remove waterproof mascara or lipstick.
Suggested by u/_Sam_Sam__
35.Instead of buying a garbage disposal cleaner, cut up a lemon/citrus fruit (even better if it's frozen!) and run it through instead.
36.If you have to waterproof something small, try using a condom. It's apparently what's used around mics in theater to stop them from getting covered in sweat from the actors.
37.Toilet pumice stones are cheaper than beauty ones, and usually last longer and have handles.
Suggested by u/Eternium_or_bust
38.Instead of buying butcher block oil (for things like wooden cutting boards), just buy mineral oil at a pharmacy or online — it's much cheaper.
39.And finally, an oldie but a goodie — use frozen veggie bags (especially peas or lima beans) as ice packs (they're more flexible for wounds anyway!). Or, if you want a super flexible, cheap ice pack, mix together rubbing alcohol and water and put it in the freezer. It won't completely freeze, and you can customize the mixture to get the perfect consistency.
Got any more money-saving products for us? Let us know in the comments!
Submissions have been edited for length/clarity.