Save Money Making Your Own Bargain Generics


Make your own bargain generics.

Consumables Add Up


Consumables are any products we use up on a frequent basis—anything from cleaning products to cosmetics, toothpaste to toilet paper, or soda to soup. Even when we buy the cheaper generic brands, adding up all the money we spend on these items over the course of one year is eye opening. When you live on a tight budget, every dollar counts; that makes paying less on the things we use most a high priority.   The good news is you can make your own bargain generics and save a bundle.  Below are six handy low cost or “no cost” alternatives to popular consumables.  This list is only a starting point.  Come back soon as this is one topic we plan to revisit.


Alternative To Listerine® Mouthwash


Here is an ultra-simple, inexpensive mouthwash that compares to Listerine®. It has a milder taste, but it’s all natural and effective. To make a small batch, pour 1 cup of water into an empty mouthwash bottle (filtered or purified is best). Add 8 drops of wild oregano oil, and shake well. Let stand for 15 minutes, then use as desired. Shaking is not needed again. If you prefer an alcohol-based mouthwash, replace ½ of the water with vodka. Other than alcohol, the effective microbe-killing ingredient in Listerine® is thymol, from thyme. Wild oregano contains carvacrol [link:, a close relative with even more potent anti-microbial activity. A one-ounce bottle of the oil costs about $18 at a discount health food store, but should last for up to two years. As with any mouthwash, swish but do not swallow.


Alternative To Drano® Drain Cleaner


You may never need Drano® or the Roto-Rooter® man again. A plunger works wonders on a clogged bathroom sink drain, as long as you remember to cover the “air hole” in the sink at the same time. Clearing the sink is easy.  First, soak a rag with water and hold it over the air hole with one hand, as you use the plunger with the other hand. Often the air hole is found below the front lip of the sink, just out of view. Try not to let water escape from under the plunger as you push down, or you may get wet. For a plugged kitchen sink with two drains, have someone hold a stopper firmly in the drain on the side opposite the garbage disposal.  Use a rag over the stopper to prevent it from popping back up into the sink and spraying water accidentally. Use your plunger over the garbage disposal drain. A slow, firm, and regular up/down motion will get the water in the pipes moving back and forth, and will often clear the clog. When the water starts to drain, turn on the disposal and run some hot water to help things along.


Alternative To Chlorox® Toilet Bowl Cleaner


A cheaper way to get a clean toilet.

Use a bargain brand bleach to disinfect your toilet bowl.

Buy the cheap brand of chorine bleach at the store for a great toilet bowl disinfectant.  Don a pair of rubber gloves and pour one cup of bleach all around the inside of the bowl. Try to coat all the inner surfaces. Be certain to handle bleach with care, and use extra caution to keep it away from your eyes and skin, and of course away from children and pets. Close the toilet lid, and let it set for 15 to 30 minutes with the full strength bleach coating the bowl. Then scrub with a toilet brush, and flush.  If the toilet still has stains after flushing, finish up with a little cleanser and the toilet brush. Warning: never mix bleach with any products other than soap! Read and follow all label directions.


Alternative To Neutrogena® Facial Soap


Partly fill a liquid soap dispenser with a pure liquid shampoo that contains no conditioners or harsh ingredients.  Two low-cost options are White Rain® Volumizing Shampoo or Suave® Clarifying Shampoo.  Add a small amount of water to thin the shampoo, and shake or stir to mix it in. Pure shampoos are mild and non-comedogenic, meaning they do not promote acne. As with any soap, some people may experience minor dryness.  Start with a small amount at first.


Alternative To Overnight Moisturizer


To moisturize your skin overnight, try Crisco® shortening—a surprising alternative to expensive facial creams. While it may lack the sophistication of your favorite department store formula, people who use it rave about the results.  (A Google search for “moisturizer Crisco” without the quote marks will bring up a host of mostly positive opinions.)  Though it may be too heavy for most daytime moisturizing needs, it can be used on the feet and other parts of the body to address dry skin. Users report it is non-comedogenic, although studies have yet to prove it.  As with any conventional skin product, be sure to check for sensitivity or a negative reaction. Try it on an inconspicuous area first.


Alternative To Proactiv® Acne System


Proactiv® includes many skin care ingredients, but its primary acne fighter is benzoyl peroxide. A cheaper alternative for Proactiv® is the benzoyl peroxide brand Clean & Clear Persa-gel® 10, available in most drugstores.  Many stores also offer a generic brand that contains the same ingredient list.  Avoid other formulas with different ingredients, as many are too harsh and drying to the skin. The idea is to prevent breakouts, not only heal them. This requires a daily regime of lightly treating all acne-prone areas of the face. Wash your face first (see our alternate for Neutrogena® above). Apply a thin layer of Clean and Clear to each affected area of the face, preferably in the morning only. Spot treat breakouts as needed. At night, apply a pure and non-comedogenic moisturizer, if desired. A one ounce tube of Clean & Clear costs a few dollars and will last for up to a year. Be sure to follow all label directions.


A Note of Caution: Please take care when working with cleaning products, chemicals, or tools. Use common sense, and take all necessary precautions. Keep young children away. Change into old clothes. Wear gloves and eye protection when appropriate. Work in a well-ventilated area. Have cleaning gear on hand to mop up any spillage.




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