30 Clever Hacks to Make Your Stuff Last Longer

close up detail of a woman Applying facial moisturizer
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Frugality is more than just getting a good deal. True frugal living means that you don't let much go to waste; you take care of your belongings so you get the most possible use out of them. Knowing how to make your stuff last -- and how to fix it when it breaks -- means you spend less money replacing things.

It also makes you feel a little bit like MacGyver, especially when you're using some of the lesser-known tricks on this list. And that's pretty cool. Here are 30 clever and useful hacks to make your clothes, food and furniture last longer.

Keeping Food Fresher
  • Place a dry paper towel on top of a bowl of lettuce, and cover it with plastic wrap. This absorbs natural moisture content, keeping the lettuce fresher. Store dressing separately.
  • Prevent your baked goods from getting stale by placing a slice of bread in your cookie tin or cookie jar.
  • Dab butter to the sliced end of a block of cheese to keep it soft and edible (to prevent hardening).
  • Stick a celery stalk inside a bread bag for longer freshness.
  • Break your bananas apart; they'll ripen more slowly than they would in the bunch. Alternately, you can speed up ripening by storing other fruits, such as avocados, in an enclosed space alongside a banana.
  • Store marinara and sauce jars upside down to prevent mold from forming. Store ice cream containers upside down to prevent freezer burn.
  • Squeeze lemon juice on pre-cut fruits (like sliced banana, apples, pear or avocado) to prevent browning and oxidation. If you don't have lemons, other citrus fruits like orange, pineapple or lime will work in a pinch.
Getting the Most Wear From Your Clothes
  • Don't wash your clothes as often. Unless they're heavily soiled, most pieces can be worn more than once. Use stain stick pens, lint rollers and fabric refreshers to keep them looking fresh.
  • Wash clothes in cold water. This makes them last longer, and saves you on utility costs.
  • Place delicates (undergarments, sweaters, etc.) in a delicates bag to keep them safe. A mesh tote bag is ideal.
  • Always zip up jeans and hoodies before washing so they won't catch on other clothes and create rips and tears.
  • Air-dry your items whenever possible. This keeps them in good condition longer and saves you on heating costs.
  • Turn screen-printed T-shirts or sweatshirts inside out before you wash them to prevent the print from fading or cracking.
  • Remove sweater pilling with a disposable razor-preferably one with a safety guard like a woman's razor. You'll need to tread lightly here so you don't tear the sweater itself, but it's more effective than using a lint roller or a hand covered in duct tape.
  • Put your pantyhose in the freezer to prevent runs (it strengthens the fibers). You can also mend a run on the go with clear nail polish or hairspray.
  • Clean and polish your shoes regularly to keep them looking their best for the longest. Out of polish? A banana peel can do the trick in a pinch.
  • Keep dark wash jeans from fading by washing them before you wear them the first time in cold water with a cup of white vinegar added. Turn the jeans inside out when you wash them and use cold water. If possible, repeat this two or three times before wearing them. This process will help seal in the dye.
Extending the Life of Your Furniture
  • Remove scratches in wooden furniture by rubbing walnuts into them to fill in the gaps.
  • Remove water stains on wooden furniture by spreading a couple tablespoons of mayonnaise on a paper towel, then pressing the paper towel to the water stain and letting it sit for 15 minutes.
  • To remove spots and stains from upholstery, try the pet stain remover Nature's Miracle, which works on almost any type of mess (not just pet-related ones). Dip a wet cloth in the solution, dab it on the stain and gently rub it until it disappears.
  • Got worse problems with your furniture than a few spots? Add slipcovers to old sofas, chairs and pillows to give them new life.
  • What about scratched up leather furniture (darn cat!)? Rub olive oil into the scratch in a circular motion with a cotton cloth. If this doesn't do the trick, try placing a damp cloth over the scratch and warming it up by placing an iron over it. Last-ditch attempt before you call in the pros for repair: fill in the scratches with matching shoe polish.
Making Beauty Supplies Last Longer
  • Dab your skincare (like moisturizer) on in small dots rather than squeezing a big glop onto your hands and then rubbing it in. You'll find you've been using much more than you really need.
  • Squeeze a few drops of saline solution into mascara to keep it from drying out.
  • Revive old, thickening nail polish with a few drops of nail polish remover.
  • Store your foundation in the fridge. It'll slow down the chemical reactions that cause the liquid to separate over time.
  • Sharpen a dull razor by running it away from you on an old pair of jeans a dozen or so times, then running it towards again you for the same amount.
Make Cleaning Supplies Last Longer
  • Disinfect your sponges so you can reuse them by microwaving them for two minutes on high.
  • Make liquid hand soap last longer by mixing it with water and dispensing it from a foam hand soap bottle. This also makes it look fancier.
  • Put dish soap in an olive oil bottle so it only dispenses a few drops at a time (you use too much most of the time).
Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 32 countries, runs a popular finance blog and is a successful real estate investor. Her blog, Afford Anything, is the groundswell of a rebellion against stodgy, uninspired financial advice. Afford Anything shows you how to crush limits, create wealth and maximize life.
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