6 Product Swaps That Help Me Avoid Trips to the Store

a woman prepares a meal at home
Photo by Olesia Bilkei / Shutterstock.com

“Reduce, reuse, recycle” has been an Earth-friendly motto for years, but it’s perhaps never been more pertinent.

With stay-at-home orders prevalent and shopping trips limited due to the coronavirus pandemic, using less and reusing what we have is good for the planet and for our health.

Even if you can find products such as paper towels in your local store, there’s likely a purchase limit. Just heading out to a physical store these days is a challenge.

Following are some single-use products that I have replaced with a reusable option that will last through the lockdown days and beyond.

Plastic wrap

Replace with: Bowl covers

Like many people, I’m baking a lot of homemade bread thanks to the shutdown.

Many recipes instruct the baker to cover dough left to rise with plastic wrap. But plastic wrap is a single-use product, it rips unevenly and doesn’t hold tight to my bowl or loaf pan.

I’m delighted to have found reusable bowl covers, which also keep leftovers fresh if your storage bowl didn’t come with a lid. They come in plastic or cloth, both washable, with an elastic rim that holds them tightly to the bowl.

Don’t want to spend money? You can use a plastic shower cap and just hand-wash it to use again.

Dryer sheets

Replace with: Wool dryer balls

Do you use dryer sheets or fabric softener as part of your laundry routine? If so, you know they must be replaced frequently. Switch to reusable wool dryer balls to save yourself the restocking hassle and cost.

Simply toss these soft wool balls, each about the size of a tennis ball, into your dryer with a load of wet clothes and let them do their work. They can be used hundreds of times.

There are online instructions for making your own, but I’m not that crafty and dryer balls are inexpensive, so I bought mine. They’re for sale in numerous online stores, including Amazon. And, if static cling is your main reason for using purchased dryer sheets, aluminum foil balls are a DIY solution to static in the dryer.

Paper towels

Replace with: Rags or “unpaper” towels

I’ve probably used way more paper towels than I’ve needed to in the past. With a child who spills things and pets who sometimes have accidents, it’s only natural to grab for a sheet or two when needed.

Paper towels were sold out in my local stores for weeks as folks stocked up during the lockdown, and although they’re back now, I’m trying to really limit my use. My top choice is the simplest and cheapest: white cloth rags that I use for general cleaning and store in an old laundry hamper for easy access.

But there’s also something called unpaper towels — washable, reusable cloth towels. They often have neat, bold prints. And some sellers offer them connected together in a roll that fits your regular paper-towel holder.

Scouring pads

Replace with: Chainmail scrubber

I love my cast-iron skillet. Nothing’s better for buttermilk biscuits, jalapeno cornbread or pan-seared pork chops. But cleaning it can be work. It needs hand-washing and occasional seasoning with oil.

Rather than buy disposable scouring pads, my new favorite tool is something that looks and sounds like it should be in the castle of a medieval knight.

A chainmail scrubber is a simple piece of stainless steel formed into interlinking rings–some have an ergonomic silicone core, others are all chainmail. Use a chainmail scrubber to lift hardened food residue right off.

Plastic bread bags

Replace with: Linen bread bags

With my bread-making in full gear, I need to store extra loaves on the rare occasion when my family doesn’t devour them hot from the oven.

Plastic bags are what many stores use. But I love the look and feel of linen bread bags. They seem to keep the bread fresh as long or longer than plastic, and they are reusable. There are plenty of online options, or if you’re handy with a sewing machine, many websites show how to make your own.

Single-use plastic straws

Replace with: Silicone, metal or other reusable straws

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, single-use plastic straws were in the doghouse with many shoppers.

At home, we’ve tried silicone, metal and washable plastic straws. We investigated paper options, but they seemed to dissolve too quickly in a drink. Our favorite so far is a bendy, reusable, dishwasher-safe silicone option, like these. We get a variety of colors, so each family member can claim a favorite.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
5 Reasons You Should Retire Sooner, Not Later
5 Reasons You Should Retire Sooner, Not Later

Waiting until age 70 to retire isn’t for everyone. Could you be waiting too long?

How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases
How to Save Up to 70% on 7 Everyday Purchases

Stop getting sucked into paying a premium when good alternatives are available at huge savings.

5 States Where Drivers Pay the Most for Car Insurance
5 States Where Drivers Pay the Most for Car Insurance

Auto insurance will cost you more than three times as much in one state compared with another. Here’s how to lower your rates no matter where you live.

17 Unusual Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher
17 Unusual Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher

Many everyday items do not require meticulous hand washing.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on these familiar purchases. Yes, even pregnancy tests.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price
9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price

If you’re willing to pay a little more for these products, you may never have to shop for another again.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

Is a Second Stimulus Check Still Coming?
Is a Second Stimulus Check Still Coming?

The status of another round of direct payments to taxpayers is a mix of good and bad news.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.