14 Money Saving Reusable Alternatives to Replace Disposables

Disposables are convenient, but if you are trying to scale back on your spending and really pinch your pennies replacing disposables with reusable alternatives can really save some big bucks over the course of a year!

Here are a few ways we’ve replaced disposables with reusable alternatives…

cloth napkins in various colors
My sweetest mother-in-law in the whole world hooked us up with the motherload of cloth napkins! She scored this bunch at Goodwill for .25 cents each!

Use cloth napkins instead of paper ones.

My kids use one cloth napkin for several meals before it is soiled enough to have to wash.

I like the idea of having napkin rings for each family member so that each person knows which napkin is theirs as they use them until they’re ready to be washed.

Be on the lookout at second hand stores for these if you don’t know how to sew your own. I prefer cotton to linen for best absorbancy.

Replace tissues with handkerchiefs

Just like grandpa’s.

Use Rags More Often

Use old rags or cut up cotton t-shirts instead of paper towels to do your cleaning. Don’t forget that newspaper is a wonderful, lint-free material for cleaning glass!

Keep your Leftovers

Store mealtime leftovers in sealable containers (preferably glass) instead of using ziploc bags or plastic wrap.

Canning jars are a great multi-functional container for such a purpose. Whenever I have something like soup or chili left over, I pour it into a canning jar and stick it in the fridge for my husband to take to work with him the next day.

I also wash and save spaghetti sauce and applesauce jars to store leftovers.

cloth diapers in various colors

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Cloth Diapers

Use cloth diapers instead of disposables.

cloth diapers
stacked 4 pairs of cloth diapers

Make Your Own Baby Wipes

Make your own baby wipes from cotton t-shirts or baby washcloths.

Cloth Wipes Instead of Toilet Paper

Living without toilet paper probably isn’t for everyone, but in case of a long-term emergency, TP is typically the first thing that flies off the shelves.

Use Wool Dryer Balls

Use wool dryer balls, or a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener sheets.

Use Washable Menstrual Pads

Washable Menstrual Pads aren’t nearly as bad as you might think. The charcoal cloth ones are my absolute favorite.

There are some really cute ones for sale online, or you can find many tutorials for making your own online.

A Diva Cup is also a great alternative to tampons. (It takes a little time getting used to fitting it right, but once you figure it you’ll forget it’s even there!)

Get Washable Baby Products

Stop buying disposable baby products! I’m talking about tossables like spoons, cups, bibs, placemats, etc. Just bring something washable with you if you’re going out, along with a wet bag to store it in until you can wash it.

If you are in the habit of buying paper plates for your family to eat off of, for heaven’s sakes use your dishes!!

Wash Plastic Cutlery

Sometimes you simply have to buy plastic cups and utensils for large gatherings like potlucks or birthday parties.

There’s nothing wrong with washing these items to save for another get-together, so don’t be ashamed to have your guests save their cups and forks!

Many of these are even dishwasher safe, so no excuses for not re-using the goods.

The same goes for ziploc bags. Sometimes they are just nice to have. Especially for freezer meals. If you just can’t live without them, at least wash them to use again!!

I’ve used the same bags for multiple items before they wear a hole in them. I’d caution against re-using bags which have stored meat in them, but other than that they’re perfectly reusable.

Instead of spreading aluminum foil over baked dishes, I simply invert a cookie sheet over any casseroles that require covering while cooking. Works like a charm.

Just think of how this stuff adds up! We are such a wasteful culture, aren’t we? If you are in the habit of buying disposable products for convenience sake, it’s time to step back and re-think how you can make better use of reusable alternatives.

I’m sure I’ve missed some things, so help me out! What are some ways that you replace disposables with permanents in your home?

13 thoughts on “14 Money Saving Reusable Alternatives to Replace Disposables”

  1. Thanks! Especially for the trick about the baking soda. We only have two rolls of paper towels left and I am determined not to buy anymore!

  2. Enjoyed your post. We are doing our best to eliminate the use of paper products at our home. We easily transitioned to cloth diapers, cloth napkins, and rags for cleaning. However, I am still struggling with what to use for food. I am used to using paper towels for bacon and to drain other greasy foods. What do you use to pat dry chicken? Also, what do you use for over-the-top gross messes, like vomit? I always find myself reaching for paper towels in these situations.

    • Rebecca,

      I just use a cloth napkin to pat my chicken dry, and toss it into the laundry right away. For stuff like vomit, I was using towels, but I JUST discovered (by accident) the absolute best trick for getting throw up out of carpet the other week when my kids were all sick. Sprinkle the spot with a generous heaping of baking soda, and leave it there for at least a day so that it can absorb all of the liquid. Cover it with a towel while it sits. Once it’s all soaked up, simply vacuum up the baking soda and the mess is 99% taken care of! Hope that helps 🙂

  3. I love the ideas and use many of them. I wanted to share an idea I read on another blog (Soulemama) regarding reusing napkins a few times before washing. She has a special napkin ring for each person in the family so they are each reusing their own napkin. That helped the icky factor for me. 🙂 On the Diva cup, I used that for about a year before I got pregnant and would recommend it. I tended to use a light liner (the ones you pictured would be great) with it when I am out and about or at night. Thanks again for the reminder on disposables. You are a great encouragement for the homestead. Oh I have propagated black berries and raspberries this year to so you could try those next.

    Thanks, Melissa

  4. I have never thought of inverting a cookie sheet over my baking dish instead of using foil. Genius. Simply genius. 🙂

  5. Great post! We do most of these already but we haven’t always…it’s always nice to know others are doing it and are helping to encourage others to do it as well!

    If you are in the habit of buying paper plates for your family to eat off of, for heaven’s sakes use your dishes!! – this made me giggle…I know to many people who do this and I think the same thing! 🙂

  6. My mother used to use an old cloth diaper to wipe her face after she used cleansing cream (or cold cream as it used to be called). She would start at the top of a clean one and work her way down over the days always using a clean portion until she reached the bottom and would then wash it and start over. This was before tissues became so sommonly used.

  7. I love your blog. I’ve never commented before, but I check it every day to see if you have a new post! It’s my absolute favorite blog. I’ve never even heard of washable feminine pads before. You have introduced me to so many things I didn’t even know existed. I too have pulled out piles of purslane from my garden, not knowing it was food. 🙂 Anyway, just thought I should tell you that you do a great job, and I love your posts. I can’t wait to try some of these ideas!

  8. If you want to really save money on table napkins, hit all the local thrift stores in your area and buy them. I ended up getting like 50 cloth napkins for less than $8 dollars. I really recommend getting any red ones you can find because they don’t show spaghetti sauce stains! The lighter color ones are great for other meals. I have learned to color coordinate the napkin to the stain!

    Also any time in a department store, cruise the clearance section of the kitchen department. I have picked up a bunch of kitchen towels for very little money! We never used paper napkins or towels anymore and if we do I compost them so they don’t end up in a landfill.

    Thanks for this great article!

  9. Love your blog!! Just thought I’d share that we are totally disposable free here at Freedom Acres Farm. In addition to the ones that you list above we also do family wipes, washable feminine napkins, and we bought glass pyrex bowls with lids so I don’t have to buy plastic wrap any more either. I sew our cloth diapers, napkins, hankies, flannel family wipes, feminie napkins, etc… so it’s a huge savings for us!! I too blog about all of this at freedomacresfarm@blogspot.com Hope to hear from you!


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