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6 Household Staples That Are a Waste of Money

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Not all household staples are created equally. While many are tried and true additions to help with your home’s upkeep, some are just a flat-out waste of money. Others can prove to be not just a financial waste, but potentially cause damage to your home and even your health.

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Granted, with new products constantly hitting store shelves promising revolutionary ways to care for your home, it can be difficult to know exactly which ones are helpful and which ones to avoid. With that in mind, here’s a look at six common household products that are unnecessary, redundant or just a huge waste of your hard-earned cash. 

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Detergent Pods

This refined type of laundry detergent had already received an onslaught of negative press due to safety concerns — namely from people eating them — but these pods aren’t doing your wardrobe any favors, either. Putting aside they’re significantly more expensive when compared to traditional detergents, some early studies have shown that the pods don’t clean clothes as well. In fact, some even left new stains in their wake.

Though more recent studies have reformed some of the harsher judgments, it doesn’t change the elevated cost — or the fact that just about any traditional detergent will clean your clothes just as well.

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Cleaning and Dusting Wipes

Pre-moistened disinfecting wipes got a big boost in sales at the start of the pandemic in 2020, thanks largely to brands insisting their product could neutralize the coronavirus. While those claims may have been true for brands like Clorox, disinfecting wipes have also been known to spread viruses around instead.

The truth is you can get a much better result with a cloth rag and a bottle of disinfectant. A similar approach can be taken with any disposable dusting rags, such as Swiffer’s vast line of products. Like the disinfecting wipes, you can do away with unwanted dust with any variety of cloth rag, vacuum or mop you might have available — for free.

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Lint Rollers

A seemingly essential item for anyone with pets or a tendency to shed their own hair frequently, lint rollers aren’t as crucial as you may believe. While the roller itself doesn’t take up much space, as they’re even marketed for their portability, it is ultimately a wasteful product. 

The tape that pulls any lint or hair off your clothes often gets used up pretty quickly, and like disposable wipes, all ends up in a landfill eventually. There’s also the cost of refills, which definitely add up over time. The same effect can be achieved with a rubber glove — or for finer fabrics, a microbristle brush — which can be reused without having to regularly shell out for refill rolls.

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Oven Cleaners

If a product manufacturer recommends against using something, it’s worth at least understanding why. This is the case with oven cleaners, which are generally condemned by any major appliance company due to the damage they’re known to do to these appliances they’re supposed to clean. The fumes that often come from such cleaners aren’t something people want to be breathing in, either.

Instead, try mixing a paste of water and baking soda, spreading it around the inside of your oven, and let it sit overnight. The next day it should clean up without issue, and without the need to invest in a pricey staple that could potentially damage the appliance as well as your health.

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Electronic Screen Cleaners

As smartphones and tablets become an increasingly vital part of everyday life, so do the products that go along with them. This includes products marketed as “specialty” cleaners for electronic screens. Of course, these products tend to be overpriced and, unsurprisingly, unnecessary.

The same result can be had with a microfiber cloth and a little bit of water which can work on phones, tablets, as well as big-screen TVs. Though some swear by a mixture of water with a little bit of rubbing alcohol, the latter can damage the oleophobic (oil-repelling) coating that’s common on such devices.

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Paper Towels

Possibly the most common household product that’s not at all necessary to keep around, paper towels can make a big dent in your budget as well as the environment. First, they’re typically made from paper microfibers which are already at the end of their recyclable lifespan. Second, when they’re used to clean up a mess, that mess usually means it couldn’t be recycled anyway. Finally, buying roll after roll every time you make a shopping run adds up.

Like with screen cleaners, a basic kitchen rag or simple microfiber cloth can handle all the same aspects of cleaning up that a paper towel can, with the added bonus that the cloth can itself be cleaned and reused time and time again.

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