Secret Tricks For Making Things Last Longer

1 September 2011

Making things last longer 1There's nothing wrong in cutting back on waste. It is good for your wallet, and for the environment too. So you can feel doubly virtuous.

I swirl out the last bits of the washing up liquid, and use the surprisingly large amount of toothpaste left in the tube by cutting it open with a pair of scissors. I went on the hunt to ferret out the secrets of other people. How and what do they do to make things last that little bit longer?


By far and away the most tips I got from our PlayPennies parents concerned food. I've picked out the ones that I had never heard of before. I was impressed with how tricky parents can be.

"This was a tip from my grandmother," says Karen, a busy working mum with four children."If you've green vegetables that are looking a bit wilted but are otherwise good, you can make them look fresh and green again by popping a teaspoon of baking soda in the water when you cook them."

Now that's an impressive tip and one I'd not heard before. OK, so it doesn't put the vitamins  lost back in there, but if all you've got is a yellowing broccoli, you can make it a lot more palatable by restoring that green colour.

BroccoliLeaving the green tops on strawberries makes them ripen more quickly. Did you know that? I didn't but it is true according to dad Kieren, a chap who loves his strawberries. "Wash the strawberries, cut the tops off, and then let them air dry. Shouldn't take more than ten minutes. Put them in a sealed bag in the fridge. I find that they will last up to a week, rather than just a couple of days."

Mum of two Ellie has this tip for storing apples. She has two apple trees in the garden, and both produce a lot of apples. "You need to have a cool, dark place that's dry, to store them. Make sure that all the apples are wrapped individually in newspaper, so they're not touching, and store in a box. They'll keep throughout the winter."

Did you know that storing cheese in special cheese paper, or wax paper, makes it last longer? I had no idea. Mum of one Rachel loves her cheese, and was happy to enlighten me. It seems that storing cheese in any material such as plastic wrap or foil is bad for it, as the cheese can't 'breathe' through these.

This means it actually gets slimy and mouldy much faster. And here I've been carefully putting open blocks of cheese in plastic bags. "You can get special cheese paper, or you can use wax paper. Of course if you do get some mould or hard rind on cheese you can just slice it off. Anything underneath is just fine." says Rachel.

Dad Lewis gave me this tip, and I actually cannot wait to try it out. Peel cloves of garlic, pop them in a container and cover with olive oil, then put in the freezer. You can then just defrost as many cloves as you need, and they're already peeled. Plus, you get garlic infused olive oil to use in your recipes. "Don't worry that the cloves of garlic will look a bit translucent - you'll find there's no difference in taste" says Lewis.

CandlesCandles, Clothes, Razors

Pop them in the fridge or freezer! This is apparantly what the candle companies do. Cold wax burns more slowly. I've splurged out on some expensive scented candles for Christmas, so I'm going to be trying this one out. Cherie, the mum who gave me this tip, pops hers in the freezer for more than 24 hours before hand but even just a few hours in the fridge will make a difference.

Want to make your clothes last longer? Don't wash or dry them. OK so that's not exactly practical! But having hunted down everything I could find on the internet on this subject, everyone agrees on three things. Use a cold wash. If you don't have eczema and your skin isn't irritated by it, then a bio detergent works best in cold water. And avoid using a dryer. This is better for the environment anyway, but line drying makes for less wear and tear on your clothes. You can brighten up line dried whites by popping some lemon juice in the wash, and keep colours from fading by drying inside out.

Several people told me how you can really make disposable razors last a lot longer if you simply try them out. "Give them a dry on a towel, and pop them on a shelf not in the shower or bath. I haven't had to change my razor this summer yet, it is still just as sharp" mum Ginnie told us.

Mobile phonesMobile Phones

And finally, dads Greg and Paul gave me a whole pile of tips on keeping your mobile phone going for longer. As Greg pointed out, the longer a contract you take on, the better the discount you get on a handset. But keeping the phone going that long can sometimes be tricky.

"Right, first up," says Greg "If your phone starts to cut out, pop the battery out and give it a clean. This is often the first thing that starts to go wrong, and from my time working in a mobile phone shop I know it fixes most of the problems people have."

Dropping your phone in water is the biggest phone 'killer'. Paul advises using rice to dry it out. Get a bag of dry rice, pour it into a bowl and pop your phone in there, and leave it for at least 24 hours. "I recovered my phone from a toilet and used this method, and I'm still using the handset a year later," says Paul.

So what secret and tricky ways have you to make your things last longer?

TOPICS:   Money

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