Keeping clean on a budget 

                       

Hello Dear Reader,

Not knowing how to do something does not make someone stupid. People grow up unable to cook, budget, make do and mend, thrift and so on. They are not stupid. There are some experiences that people don’t have until they need to and then they have to learn. No one should ever be condemned, shamed or blamed but some people haven’t had the experience of keeping clean on a minuscule budget. Currently, in the U.K. Families are having to cut back on hygiene as they can’t afford to keep clean. Now, we can add hygiene poverty to, heating poverty, food poverty, water poverty and period poverty.

I’m not referring to issues such as buying cheaper shower gel but not being able to afford to heat water or pay the water bill! People of my age remember the Rayburn, parkray or emmersion heater being cranked up on a Sunday night, pushing the financial boat out to fill and turn on the paraffin heater in the bathroom and that was the weekly bath! The rest of the week was a ‘strip wash’. Younger people, may never have learned these skills.

Hair was washed in the bathroom sink with two ‘fill ups’ for a couple of rinses and that was that. Now, I’m not suggesting anyone relives the 70s and 80s with me as I think people are genuinely cleaner now for a daily shower. However, people are living in desperate times where  food and living costs means they have very little money for personal hygiene.

Here, for what it’s worth are my tips and feel free to ignore them.

Basics – I don’t buy a lot of toiletries and happily use soap bars, shampoo, talc and anti perspirant and I buy those in Poundland. Even cheaper versions would be a litre of bath gel which is no different from shower gel for 50p. I used it for years and topped up shower gel bottles and hand wash pumps. I currently use Vosene shampoo from Poundland but I used to use Tesco everyday basics shampoo that’s 50p a litre. I buy anti perspirant for a Pound and get through a can a week. Lidl and Aldi have really large cans for 79p, that I pick up when I’m there. The only other product I use is Aldi’s moisturiser for £1.69 and that can last me almost a month.

Water costs – I live in the South West Water area and we have the most expensive water in the UK so I’m used to saving water. I have a gas boiler which heats water on demand and have previously owned an electric shower which also heated water on demand. I have the cheapest tariff for gas and electric and I pay by direct debit. I never leave a tap running, I’m used to jumping in a cold shower and not wasting water whilst it warms up and washing head to toe, including my hair in under five minutes and jumping out. Here in France, we have a tiny hot water tank and we still have to have very quick showers so we can get two showers out of one small tanks. 

Short of water and means of heating it. If you have a prepayment meter and you have the lowest of incomes then a shower is not an affordable daily option. Growing up, many of us didn’t have showers and managed to keep clean.


Above, is my bathroom sink (from our previous home, before we downsized) and I kept a bowl in the sink as I used the water to flush the loo. I used to keep a kettle on the landing and use a kettle full of boiling water to warm up a bowl of cold water. 

First, I’d wash my hair and then in the second rinse water, wash myself from top to bottom with a flannel and bar of soap.  I used to put the loo lid down, place the bowl on the floor to finish by washing my feet. Again, the water went down the loo. Three bowlfuls would be the most I’d need, that’s about seven litres of water. I went to work fresh and clean and I used to shower twice a week. 

Now, I shower daily, have enough hot water, enough toiletries but I’m mindful that people are going through tough times. Local foodbanks are grateful for donations of any: toiletries, sanitary protection, laundry products, loo rolls and cleaning products. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

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25 thoughts on “Keeping clean on a budget 

  1. I have just starting buying bar soap for everything again, for financial and environmental reasons.I am amazed at all the plastic bottles we have in the house for cleaning and personal hygiene, so I have bought a shampoo bar as well as bar soap, it was a little over £3 but I hope it will last, cutting it in half might help.When all my cleaners for kitchen, bathroom etc are empty I shall try home made gloop for everywhere, I have already gone back to powdered detergent and dissolve a little in a dosing ball and chuck it in the drum, no more gunky drawers!! it seems to work fine ( I mean dispensing drawers, not mine! ). Raining here in Liskeard! Enjoy your time in France and hope little dog is better, Chrissie.

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  2. As ever, you make some very sound points here, FQ. While I am in the USA, the land of plenty, I am mindful of resources more so than most. I am also a product of the 70’s inflation and energy crisis. I am now in a modest, forever home that is on a well and septic. I upgraded my appliances, including a HE front loader that only uses 11.1 gallons for a full load. With a family of 3, this takes 3 days to accumulate. I also installed a propane gas, on demand water heater, even though the preexisting electric water heater was only a few years old. Electrical rates are the second only to Hawaii here. As this ties in to personal care: we take 5 minute showers. Wet down, shut off water, shampoo/soap up, turn water on to rinse. Our shampoo/conditioner, body lotion,shave gel,dental floss and picks, electric toothbrushes (2 of us have significant OT issues and can’t use manual ones very well), toothpaste is typically bought and stocked up by combining a sale plus coupon. I am not brand loyal. Additionally, I shop the dollar store which will take coupons, for toothpaste, deodorant, fancier soap bars, shampoo/conditioner, swabs, make up cotton circles and cotton balls, etc. Agree that one doesn’t have to spend much to maintain personal hygiene. I use off brand generic daily face moisturizer, discount store powder and blush, pharmacy counter lip balm and mascara. I keep a simple beauty routine. I also keep pump soap at the kitchen and 2 of the 3 bathroom sinks (I use a bar at mine as that is what I use to wash my face nightly). I don’t usually buy new bottles nor do I usually buy pump soap refills. Instead, I buy shower gel-either a huge bottle at the dollar store or a free/almost free one by combining sales with doubled coupons at the grocers. The US economy is not great, despite whatever the media is reporting. Unemployment is not really improving as many have dropped off of the official tallies, unable to find work. Many are frightened of the current political climate and are leary.

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  3. I find Dove and Sure roll-on antiperspirants extremely economical. They may not look it for the price but one small roll-on lasts me for a good month to month and a half at least.

    Also worth investigating what facilities your place of work has. My last three companies have all had a shower or two hidden away in the basement – generally for staff who cycle in and need a quick wash before work. Free hot water!

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  4. Hello

    I wash my hair with baking soda. I keep a small container of baking soda in the shower. I tip about a teaspoon full into the palm of my hand, add a dash of water, rub it through my hair then rinse. My hair is squeaky clean and silky like I have used conditioner. Magic!

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  5. I use solid, stick antiperspirant/deodorant. One container can last me for perhaps 4-5 weeks. I use bar soap from Aldi. I also use the facial cleanser from Aldi. I tried the Aldi moisturizer, but I had a bad reaction. I take short showers. I usually shower at night. My short hair does not look good in the morning, so I simply wet it down using a cup (I wash it at night). I use the next up from the cheapest shampoo/conditioner (in one), as my scalp reacts badly to the cheapest stuff. I use generic, store brand versions of body cream and facial moisturizer, as well as toilet paper (what Americans call loo rolls), and laundry detergent. I used to use the Clinique yellow moisturizer, but I found a version at Walmart for $9 a container, which is something like more than half the cost of the Clinique version.

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  6. I get Mitcham (powder dry for preference ) …….Stock up when it’s reduced, naturally! …… and it lasts for at least 3 months, even though I shower twice a day sometimes, after an allotment workout. “Simple” bar soap, half price recently , lasts ages.(Quick in, quick out for me!) Toothpaste: even though my dentist recommended it as I have sensitivity issues and use Sensodyne, I only get it on offer and it lasts 3 months by using a pea-sized smudge (twice a day). As a penniless ( I mean it!) student in a cold -water flat it was still possible to keep healthily clean by being determined. Keeping clean is an attitude of mind as much as anything. The main concern for women on a basic level must be sanitary needs…….please include these in your Foodbank donations. I use a laundry ball in the washing machine for certain loads, which uses no detergent…..over 7 years, it has saved a lot of pollution. Thoughtful post, as always….thanks, Froogs!

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  7. I make my own toiletries. I use them myself and give them as gifts and to barter for things like eggs. There’s nothing fancy about them and a little bit goes a long way. Used to spend a lot on moisturisers. but. now l just use oilve oil. deodorant is made with a base of bicarb of soda.

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  8. Hygiene and cleaning items are only bought on sale – and I know my prices. I stock up and currently have at least a six month (or more) supply of everything. I’m lucky that our hot water is included in the rent here however, I do try to be conscientious when it comes to use and not waste water. If there is water left in the kettle after boiling then it goes into the kitchen sink – water gets turned off while brushing my teeth and I’ve gone from daily shampooing to every other day – with no difference in how my hair looks. I haven’t used a spray deodorant in years (not even sure if they are still actually sold here) and a stick deodorant lasts at least a month.
    I shop at “No Frills” a basic supermarket and generally buy my cleaning supplies there but I’m not store loyal – I check the flyers weekly and hit up the store with the best price for an item and it does pay to check first as prices can vary by quite a few dollars from store to store for the exact same item!

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  9. I live in the subtropics and have skin and allergy issues. We are indulgent in this area as who wants to itch and have weepy skin? My wash lasts my daughter and I about six months and I try to buy it on sale with some sort of offer. We also have a medicated soap. I have found that baby rash powders work well in place of the deodorants that rip off my skin and a small bottle lasts a long time. I can manage a shower every second day but it isn’t ideal in our humid climate.

    We installed some solar panels and a reverse cycle hot water system. Yesterday our power bill arrived and it was less than 60 pound for the autumn/early winter quarter. But like you costs are rising and wages have not risen in line with the cost of living. I love hearing how others cope.

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  10. Frugal Queen , you always have thought provoking and posts.
    I remember Saturday night bath and hair wash with us three girls aged 12 to 6 in the bath together….and yes it was bad when the hot water system played up which it tended to do often….but we were all clean…thank you mum and dad.
    Yes, home brand generic works well for personal care items.
    Our present shower gel is actually a cheap children’s gentle chamomile bubble bath which I decant into a pump bottle. Works for us and the small grandies love it in their bath when they visit…3 boys in a tub 🙂

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  11. We never had a shower when I was growing up in Cumbria, no central heating just a coal fire. Times were hard in the 70,s but we kept clean. My parents insisted on it. So strip washes by a small sink and baths but only after the coal fire went to heat the water, which was usually 5 pm in the freezing winter. We use shower and body wash gel from Lidl at .33 pence. I also use lidl deodorant. It’s great. I use Pears soap to cleanse my face at . 70 pence and it lasted ages. My John who is Welsh, remembers his mum washing her hair in washing up liquid. I would us anything to keep my standards up. But,I do appreciate the choices people have to make.

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  12. I read recently that dermatologists now recommend only two showers per week. The rest of the time a strip wash is sufficient and the best for many skins. After a strip wash I feel as clean as after a shower, I was really surprised.

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    • I am not surprised to read that we only need two showers a week. All that detergent we use on our bodies is stripping our skin of its natural biota as well as protective oils. We have upset the balance of our skin and are suffering for it with countless skin conditions.

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  13. Frugal queen you are a real trouper getting into a cold shower. Maybe be kinder to yourself and put a bucket under the shower head until it warms up. Use the bucket for flushing the toilet or in the garden.

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  14. I make my own bar soap to help with my families skin conditions. We are using up our stock of shampoo and after that I’ll use my own soap for hair washing. My husband uses a salt stick and I mainly wash the boys with just water.

    I clean the house with vinegar, a bit of bleach and essential oils (a lovely extravagance).

    We are visiting friends at the moment and they have so many ‘Eco-friendly’ cleaning products which are tremendously expensive. I fear that they are probably not that Eco-friendly and are no more effective than vinegar (in my opinion).

    Thank you for continuing to post whilst you are on holiday. As I said we are visiting some fairly wealthy friends at the minute and it’s very easy to get caught up in the spending but your posts keep me motivated. Although my husband has rolled his eyes, I am continuing to pack lunches and make home made evening meals as cheaply as possible.

    Thank you again.
    Nx

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  15. Thanks for raising this Froogs its not often a topic of conversation. Home and state boarding school UK we were never allowed more than 3 inches of bath water and freezing bathrooms.
    Someone in the beauty manufacturing trade told me we are all sold that we need all these products, why seel me one when you can sell me a range of three or four or a cleaner for every room or item. Kids grow up believing some of this rubbish. And the heavy makeup, brows false lashes stencilled brows that people are wearing or trying too was originally theatrical makeup designs for professional photos and filming not for day wear at all and what are the people we role model from doing when we see them…being photographed or filmed… but it sells more product (the selfies might look better) on better profit margins and market research shows a lot of potential boyfriends or girlfriends prefer a natural look but its not cool to say although of course we can wear this stuff for ourselves but teenage hormones being what they are 🙂

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  16. A tip for Aussie readers. I was buying expensive organic shampoo soap for my teenage son in a bid to stop using products in plastic bottles. After 2 weeks in the bush camping with his dad he requested I just get him Sunlight household soap – he washed hair and body with it and loved it! Currently it is $3.74 for a box of 6 (cardboard packaging and made in Australia). I have switched to using it for washing the dishes – cheap as chips, and stainless steel comes up shiny. I also use it in the laundry.

    If you don’t perspire a lot or live somewhere cold, bi carb really does work as a deodorant. Again it’s cheap and many would already have it in the cupboard for cleaning the bathroom and kitchen sink. A spray of white vinegar kills almost 100% of germs too – we really don’t NEED all of those products we are sold, and most of them are not healthy to breathe in.

    Madeleine.x

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  17. OH is the one who wants to swim in a full bath, full of products, and I’m his counter. I only wash my hair once a week, use soap instead of gels, and even use soap on my face half the time (the rest of the time, Aldi cleanser, toner and moisturiser). I do have eczema/dry skin, but not on my face, and that helps the products stretch.

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  18. Its wonderful that so many of your readers are ditching commercial personal care and cleaning products. We hardly use anything purchased, preferring to use alternatives that we make or buy. Much cheaper and so much better for us and the environment.

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  19. Some great tips here today ladies. I lived in India for a long time and liquid shampoos and soaps have only taken off in the last few years over there. My husband used to just use the same soap bar for a top to toe wash. They also have tiny sachets of shampoo for 1 rupee.
    A bucket bath is normal in India (buckets are larger than 10 litres). You have a heating rod to heat the water and a jug to fling it over yourself.
    I had 2 weeks with no boiler recently, so reverted back to kettle and bucket. I have been doing a quick daily strip wash for a while, with a shower once a week to wash my hair properly.

    I found the eco laundry balls on eBay for £2.79 coming from china. Definitely going to give that a go. A handmade shampoo soap is less than £4 but should be worth it if it lasts a while.
    I shop at lidl for most toilets and aldi for the caviar face products (I still have a one week pack of vials that have last me more than 6 months).

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