From performing daily chores like washing the dishes to hygiene habits like brushing your teeth, you might be wasting your money unwittingly. In fact, household overuse or wastage is more common than you might think, especially if you simply follow instructions off the label or from commercials you’ve seen.

Plus, wastage also contributes to environmental damage. Many cleaning detergents and personal hygiene products have been shown to pollute our waterways and give rise to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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5 Habits That Will Help You Save Money Better

Curb these five bad household habits to save more money and the environment too:

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1. Adding Too Much Laundry Detergent

If your washing machine is less than 10 years old, chances are it’s a high-efficiency (HE) model. HE washing machines are designed to launder clothes using far less water and energy. That’s good news for both your wallet and the environment.

It’s just too bad that you’re using too much laundry detergent.

Instructions tell us to measure the correct amount of detergent by pouring to the “fill line” in the provided cap. However, some brands have caps with design flaws that make it hard to see where the fill line is, causing consumers to overpour.

Even diligently following the fill line is problematic, because the fill line measures twice the amount of detergent you actually need.

One more way that overdosing causes you money: Excess detergent builds up in your washing machine, causing bacteria and mould to grow, which imparts a musty odour to your machine and your clothes. If you’ve ever had to throw out clothes or your washing machine because of this problem, too much detergent is the culprit.

READ MORE: 10 Genius Washing And Drying Tips To Make Doing Laundry A Breeze

How to Save Money

The next time you wash your clothes, cut down your detergent by half. Watch out for soap suds in your washing machine; that’s a sure sign that you’re using too much detergent.

If you’re concerned about your clothes not getting clean enough with the reduced detergent, add bleach or white vinegar to your wash.

Reducing your detergent dosage not only shaves down your household budget, it will also ensure a longer lifespan for your clothes and washing machine.

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2. Using Too Much Dishwashing Liquid

We can only blame our love of bubbles for this next one. Hands up if you judge the efficiency of your detergent by the amount of suds you see!

The actual cleaning power of detergents, such as dishwashing liquid, has nothing to do with how much foam or suds is produced during use. But because we have built up such a strong association between bubbles and cleanliness, manufacturers started thickening their liquid detergents to capture consumer interest.

When we squeeze or pump dishwashing liquid onto the sponge, the thickness of the liquid causes us to use too much force, which in turn causes too much soap to be dispensed.

We merrily get on with washing the dishes, delighted by the suds flying around. Never mind how much soap is left over in the sponge, look at how clean the dishes are!

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How to Save Money

Once more, being aware of how much soap you’re dispensing will help you reduce wastage and control your cost. But it can be annoying trying to control the amount of liquid detergent.

One trick is to dilute your liquid detergent with water (try a 50:50 ratio, and adjust as you go along) and putting the resulting solution in a spray bottle. Then when it comes time to tackle the dirty dishes, using the spray bottle will let you squeeze away to your heart’s’ content, clean your dishes and save money at the same time.

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3. Drying Clothes In The Dryer For Too Long

Clothes dryers are a convenient way to ensure clean, fresh laundry for busy households, so it’s not surprising that they are becoming more popular with Singaporeans.

However, energy efficiency in clothes dryers has yet to catch up with other modern appliances, so be aware that operating a clothes dryer could increase your electricity bill significantly. Conversely, running the dryer for shorter periods will result in less energy used.

We know that dryers work by tumbling your damp clothes as heated air circulates. Now, as our primary school science lessons have taught us, the larger the surface area, the greater the rate of evaporation.

Therefore, if we could expose more of our clothes to heated air, the faster our clothes would dry. And the faster our clothes dry, the less electricity we use.

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How to Save Money

You can dry your clothes faster by throwing in a clean, dry towel along with your damp clothes, then running the dryer as per normal.

However, you’ll have to remove the clean towel 15 to 20 minutes in, before it gets damp enough to become yet another item to be dried.

If you prefer not to keep an eye on the clock, you can use dryer balls, which are basically wool balls that you load inside the dryer together with your damp clothes.

As the drum rotates, the wool balls will lift and separate your clothes, which reduces not only drying time but also the wrinkles in your clothes. Wool balls also claim to reduce static and soften your clothes. And best of all, you can make your own.

Finally, if you have multiple loads to dry, get the next one started as soon as the first one finishes to take advantage of the residual heat.

 8 common household cleaning myths toothpaste

4. Squeezing Too Much Toothpaste

When you brush your teeth tonight, take a look at how much toothpaste you squeeze on your toothbrush. If you’re like most people, you likely cover the entire brush head with toothpaste.

We do this out of habit, but not for any health reasons. Rather, this is a habit instilled over countless exposures to toothpaste commercials, which show us a full toothbrush every time.

Loading up your toothbrush doesn’t actually do anything – except washing your money down the drain. Also, using too much toothpaste is a concern for young children, who tend to swallow toothpaste.

In the long run, using too much toothpaste can result in dental problems such as enamel erosion and teeth sensitivity.

READ MORE: Foods To Eat For Naturally Whiter Teeth

How to Save Money

Basically, we all need to unlearn the habit of filling up the entire brush head. Instead, use a gentler squeeze to deposit less toothpaste. You should be aiming for a pea-sized portion, but even reducing your dosage by half will make your tube of toothpaste last longer.

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5. Pouring Too Much Mouthwash

Setting aside the conflicting reports in regards to the actual efficiency of mouthwash, there is another more common problem that affects users – we’re using way more of it than necessary.

How much more? By about 25%.

Most mouthwash manufacturers recommend using 20 ml per dose. They even provide you with a handy fill line in the bottle’s cap so you can pour out the correct amount to gargle with.

But as with laundry detergents, you’re wasting money by following manufacturer guidelines here. Researchers have found that the optimal amount of mouthwash to use is 15 ml per dose. A difference of 5 ml may not sound like much, 5 ml out of 20 represents an overdosage of 25%. That’s one quarter of the bottle you’re spitting into the sink, one gargle at a time.

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How to Save Money

When using mouthwash, the length of time you swish it around in your mouth is more important than the dosage. As long as you’re not spitting it out after less than 30 seconds, you’re good.

Practice pouring under the fill line when you next gargle. If you want to be super precise, measure out 15 ml of mouthwash using a dosing spoon or syringe.

You could even get by with using less; the only criteria here is using enough mouthwash to adequately rinse out your entire mouth.

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Text: Alevin Chan / Additional Reporting: Elizabeth Liew
Photos: Pixabay

This article first appeared on Singsaver, Singapore’s #1 personal finance comparison platform by transaction volume, provides consumers with timely money insights and aggregates the latest credit card offers and up-to-date personal loan deals.