Dirty Dishes Cause Debt!

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Dirty Dishes Cause Debt!

Dirty Dishes Cause Debt!

The other day I was asked one of the most common questions that people ask me: “Where do I start if I want to get out of debt?” After telling me of her huge credit card debt and how they eat out almost every night, the lady took a deep breath and said, “How do I save on laundry detergent and cleaning supplies?” Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.

Even though saving money on cleaning supplies does help and should be part of your plan, that usually isn’t where the biggest problem with the debt lies. This woman never once thought to ask me how to stop eating out so much. Most people don’t want to face the real causes of their debt because their biggest problems are the things they like the most. Going out to eat is one of the top five causes of debt.

Get those dirty dishes out of the sink!!

We go out to eat because we can’t face a dirty kitchen. Keeping your kitchen empty of dirty dishes is the key to saving money. This is probably the #1 way to start getting out of debt. Most people are so overwhelmed with piled counter tops and dirty dishes that they would rather go out to eat than face a dirty kitchen.

Do the dishes after every meal and keep hot soapy water in the sink while you are baking or cooking. Clean as you go. If your sink is empty and the dishes are washed, your kitchen always looks good. This helps you save money because you have the time and space to cook.

To get in and out of the kitchen quickly, try these easy steps:

  1. Put all dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Fill the sink with hot soapy water and put the hand washables in it to soak.
  2. Wipe off counter tops and tables with hot soapy water. (This way, if you have unexpected company, at least your table and counters will be clean.)
  3. Sweep the floor and shake throw rugs if needed.
  4. Wash the dishes that have been soaking.
  5. Wipe down the faucets and dry with a towel. (Be sure to wipe any sticky appliances, too.)
  6. Put out a clean dish rag and towel.
  7. Take out the trash.

These simple steps can help you start climbing your way out of debt. You will be amazed how much better you will feel just having the kitchen clean.


For more easy tips and tricks to help you get in and out of the kitchen faster, check out Groceries On A Dime.


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  1. Jessica says

    I am more likely to cook a hot breakfast for my kiddos, which they love, if the kitchen is clean from the night before. If the counter and sink are dirty, it is probably a cereal morning. Cereal is easier on me but not the budget, even with coupons! I like showing that little bit of extra love by cooking for them since they like it so much, too.

  2. Linda says

    My mother used to tell me that the key to good homemaking is a clean kitchen and beds made. What is more inviting to cook something creative and yummy than a fresh, clean kitchen. At night an unwrinkled bed is a luxurious treat for the body. I think she had it right!

    • says

      I totally agree Linda. I learned the same thing. I was watching a show the other day where they were saying you should spend a bunch of money and buy some very expensive linens for your bed so it will be relaxing for you at night. I love nice bed linens myself but having a nice and neatly made bed can do almost the same thing even if you don’t have an expensive comforter or bedspread.

    • crystal says

      Several months ago I started making our bed every morning not super fancy but straightening out the comfoters (we each use one) and aligning the pillows. I started because we have a dog and cats that will not stay out of our bed so I was always going to bed in a hair/mystery stuff filled bed (yuck). I thought by making it I could just shake the top layer and away we go. The side effect is yes the bed is more relaxing and I really enjoy going to bed but better yet I dont have to wash the bedding as often because I shake them nightly and little to no hair/mystery stuff actually gets to the sheets so win win.

      • says

        This is definitely one of those cases Crystal where taking a couple of minutes of time to do something will save you 10 times the amount of thing in the long run or later. It is like taking the 10 seconds to hang your keys on a hook compared to the 10 minutes plus you can spend looking for them because you didn’t. :) It does make a difference. I always got tickled when my grandkids would come over. They always loved my bed because it was so smooth with no wrinkles in it. Their big enough now that the girls do make their beds most of the time – the boys how ever well they are teenage boys need I say more. :)

        • mildred lane says

          While a Scout Leader I was taught before u get out of bed to pull the cover up, take both legs and stretch to the outside of the bed-then the covers will be in place.

      • sherry says

        With 3 cats that lounge all day on the bed, I fold my comforter in morning and put it on a side table. Then I spread a sheet over bed and tuck around pillows like a bedspread. No hair on pillows or bottom fitted sheet at night. Their sheet gets pulled off and on floor at night.

  3. Lana says

    I have a couple of laundry tips that I would like to share that saves my family money and alleviates some of the procrastination of cleaning. I make my own liquid laundry soap [(shave a bar of Fels Naptha soap and melt it in a sauce pan of appx 4 cups water; in a 5-gal bucket 1/2 full of hot water add the sauce pan of melted soap, 1 cup of Borax, and 1 cup of washing soda; stir; fill up the bucket with hot water; let it sit overnight; stir and funnel into liquid laundry containers (1/2 soap, 1/2 warm water). Use 1 cup per load and remember it will not have suds like the store bought kind.] I use to spend about $25/mo on laundry detergent and now I spend less than a dollar per month!! When I do laundry I make a conscious effort to put away each load as they come out of the dryer so I don’t end up with an overwhelming pile. Also, I leave the towels til the end…after they are added to the washer I use a rag to wipe down the washer and dryer, so that I can just throw the rag in with the towel load.

    For stuck-on food in a frying pan, I fill it 1/2 full of water and then heat it on the stove til boiling. While it is boiling I use a rubber or wooden utensil to scrape the pan…be careful not to slop the hot, greasy water on you! This makes cleaning the pans quicker, easier, and you use less soap.

    • Suzanne says

      Hi Lana, I started making this laundry soap in January and at 40 cents a gallon I think its the best I have ever used. I get everything I need at Walmart or BiLo Grocery if you have them. You can also find it on the web at Lehmans.com (they have the recipe, kit, ingredients and bucket.) Its cheaper to find it on your own. My family loves this soap and many of my friends and family members are now making it too. BTW – it works WONDERS in the dishwasher too. For Energy Efficient front loading washing machines – use 1/3 to 1/2 cup.

  4. Jenniffer says

    You can find Arm & Hammer Washing soda at select grocery stores. I went to 5 different stores looking for it before I finally started calling local stores. Interesting enough, the store that was less than a minute away from me carried it. It is a big yellow box called Arm & Hammer Washing soda (not to be confused with baking soda). You can usually find Fels Naptha in the Hygiene aisle of the grocery store where you find Washing soda… but I have found fels naptha at Walmart too! Good luck!

  5. meripng says

    I don’t have a dishwasher and I have two little kids that are home all day, so this is a constant thing for me. I have had to learn to pace myself and enjoy the dishes. I have to enjoy things like soaking my hands in nice warm, soapy water, and being able to look out my kitchen window while I do the dishes. If I don’t have this attitude I will go crazy because my dishes are constant. Someday I hope I will have a dishwasher, but for now, I have to make do with what I have. Also, I am trying to cut down on dishes by having everyone have their own special cup, spoon and bowl, and teaching my kids and hubby to use them all day. It is helping. :)

  6. Donna Friend says

    We figured it out, even if we ate off the $ menu for every meal, it is still more cost effective to prepare your own meals at home.We pack a snack bag when we go out for the day, with drinks & crackers, etc., it really saves the $$$.

  7. Lucy says

    The health cost of fast food, no matter how cheap, is very high. Price out having your aorta and femoral arteries replaced due to placque blockage and you’ll see even more savings for healthy home cooked meals!

  8. Tonia says

    You can also use any other bar soap for the homemade laundry soap, ivory and dial work well too. Did not know you could use it in the dishwasher too, I make it for my mother-in-laws personal care home. Works great for stains and smells of all kinds.

  9. Christi says

    If you don’t like the smell of the soap, you can add essential oils to the laundry detergent after you have everything mixed together. It doesn’t take much – 1/2 – 1 oz. per 5 gal. bucket, depending on how strong you like the scent. You can also just choose a soap that you enjoy the scent. I personally don’t like the scent of Ivory, but do like the naturalness of the soap. Last week I found Ivory with Aloe so tried it in my laundry detergent. The smell is delightful. I think I have found a new favorite. :) Thanks for the tip about the dishwasher. I’ll be trying that tomorrow.

  10. Robin says

    how much of the soap would you use in the dishwasher? what about water spots? should I add bleach to the dishwasher soap?

    • says

      Use the same amount as you do regular dish soap and treat it like regular dish soap. I don’t add bleach with my regular dish soap so I wouldn’t with this. I do use a spot remover with my regular dish soap so I would when I used this. You don’t want to start added too many things because then it would not be worth using the homemade because you would not be saving time or money. You may as well then just go buy detergent.

  11. Alex says

    Wow…this post really hit the nail on the head for me. For the last few months I’ve been trying to come up with ways to save money. I started testing out cleaning products from the dollar store, buying the bare minimum in things like paper towels, using dollar store toothpaste/shower soaps etc. If I need something for the kitchen I take the time to garage sale hunt for it.

    But all of these things weren’t working in the fantastic money saving ways that I thought they would and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why…

    …Until I read this post…

    I am the one who perpetuates eating out. I honestly enjoy going out to restaurants, especially little local breakfast places. If I can get my husband to go along with it, we might go out 2-3 times a week. It wasn’t occurring to me that at 20-30$ a pop (at the inexpensive places)that this was costing me any money I was trying to save! My eyes have been opened and things are about to change around here…

    Thank you ladies for this wonderful resource!

    • says

      You are welcome Alex. Even though I teach all the time that one of the biggest expenses that people have is going out to eat I myself use to love going out so much. Recently I have noticed something that I had not realized before – as much as I loved going out it has gradually lost it’s appeal. I can’t believe I am even saying those words. I still love going out but I don’t crave it like I use to. I am not sure why maybe it is because I am enjoying having the money to spend on other things that literally don’t get flushed down the toilet (sorry for being indelicate but didn’t know how else to put it) or maybe going out to eat was just a habit and now that I have changed it I don’t miss it near as much.

      I say all this to just encourage you a little. At first when you change any habit it might be a little hard but keep at it and I think you will do great. It sounds like you are on fire to save so you may not have trouble stopping going out to eat. If you do though you could try cutting back slowly to just going out twice a week for a couple of weeks and then once a week etc. Remember if you even stop yourself from going out once you have saved $20-30 so you have done good.

      When they get an urge to go out but don’t, some people like to put the money they would have spent in a jar and like to watch it fill up to inspire them. I have told people too just to put what they would spend on tips alone in a jar and that shocks many how much that is.

      • donnab says

        Hi Jill:
        I’ve gradually come to realize that I don’t enjoy going out so much anymore either. My daughter has become such a great cook that I seem to be disappointed when we do go. — she has gotten to be really good at duplicating recipes and soups, especially.

        during the week my DIL and I alternate, she cooks weekends and I take Tues, Wed, and Thursdays when she works late. It works because neither of us is forced to cook 7 nights a week, and we really worked hard to tame that “take-out” monster, and we did!

      • Martha says

        I find that eating out isn’t as good as it used to be since I started cooking with real, less processed, food. The restaurants, especially the national chains just taste like salt and fat. My home cooking actually tastes like food.
        We go out and I am almost always “let’s not go back there, again” to my boyfriend and he usually agrees.

  12. Sarah Godwin says

    I have making my own laundry soap for a long time and recently began making dishwasher detergent. I use 1 cup each Borax and washing soda, and 1/2 cup each kosher salt and citric acid–simple, inexpensive, and effective. The citric acid takes care of the water spots and cloudiness that some people have with homemade dishwasher detergent. I use a rounded tablespoon for each load and have good results. (I found the citric acid at a home-brew supply store. It was about $6 for a pound, which lasts a lot longer than $6 worth of store-bought dishwasher detergent.)

  13. says

    AMEN! This is THE thing for me and why I end up “stress-spending”! It makes me feel better to know I’m not alone. Thanks for this article and making me believe that I CAN overcome this problem!

  14. Maggie says

    I am reading this nearly a year after originally posted but wanted to add a comment to eating out. My husband and I have significantly decreased our salt in food we cook at home. We rarely eat out anymore because we find that even foods labeled low sodium at restaurants are way too salty for our taste. I was recently in the hospital and even their menu options were very difficult to eat. Occasionally, I will get a burger (small) at a fast food restaurant but you can count those times on one hand in a year. We can make at least 2 nice meals at home for the cost of one restaurant dinner.

  15. Wen says

    Being a member of the recently unemployed (I’ve been a SAHM since my kids were born and we had a comfortable income) with 4 kids (2 teenagers) and yes the first thing I cut out was eating out. I cut the grocery bill in half. (and yes this is where my kids complain – they want pizza night, they want to eat out while shopping, they want to drink more than water, they want want want, but they will get used to it…) Of course I cut out entertainment – for now that is just our bill for internet and tv. I cut transport costs. Christmas this year will be all about family spending time together. And then I got to the now what. I’m sure I’m not unique in this. Most people can cut the big expenses themselves. It is when it comes down to the pennies that it becomes difficult. Which pennies make a difference and which are just going too far. So yes the question I would ask too is how to cut the pennies out. I’ve already cut out the rest or am in the process of trying to do so. Figuring out slowly how to cut the pennies, nice article about the dishes side of things. I tend to be naughty about dishes at night and yes I tend to be half awake cleaning a pan to make breakfast. We have always had a warm breakfast because my DH is diabetic. He needs his protein and full grain carbs in the morning. We used to do mostly eggs, but now we alternate with oatmeal.. a lot cheaper and just as good for him. I never counted the pennies before but it is really amazing how for less than 2 dollars you can feed a family of 6 breakfast – healthy warm breakfast. And if you skip adding the fruit it really costs less than 1 dollar… One small step at a time though is how I see this journey into frugal living. We are lucky enough that we have savings and basically have everything we need – eventually we will have to buy shoes and clothes for the kids, but we are good on most other things for a year or two.

    • Brenda says

      Please read “The Tightwad Gazette” (all three copies) for ideas on saving pennies. I once was a spendthrift, but turned completely around when I read these and “Your Money or Your Life” by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. You will never look at spending the same way once you’ve seen these gems!

  16. says

    Oh those dishes! Your so right. I know that my husband will often go out and buy a pizza because he doesn’t want to clean up. He is home at night with the kids. Right now it is even more important because he is not working. I plan on posting these instructions over the sink in the kitchen ( :

  17. grizzy bear mom says

    Dirty dishes cause eating out, aka, fat. Restaurant food is twice as expensive, twice as fattening and doesn’t taste as good. If you cook for example, a meatloaf, at home it will have five ingredients, all of which we keep in our kitchens. If you eat out that same meatloaf will have salt, fat and sugar bombs in it because restauranteurs know thye make food taste good. Also they will literally contain 27 ingredients including artificial color, flavor, preservatives, and chemicals i cant pronounce or spell. I don’t want to eat junk and do want to eat for strength. So I cook a pot of cheapskate dried beans on Saturday. On Sunday I make them into hearty soups that I freeze or scoup out for meals all week. Also on Sunday I cook 2 quarts of steel cut oats. I scoop out some oatmeal and top it with peanut butter and nuke it for breakfast daily. Little things like this put you ahead of the game. Best!

  18. Pamela Daudet says

    Credit cards I have not even one! Back in the 80’s I had one and kept it low and finally gave it up a really long time ago and do not miss it. People who have to many cards just keep on staying in trouble do not live on more than cash can buy, we have a farm and still a cash business wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Julie says

      If you handle credit responsibly, credit cards are not a bad thing. We are a one-income family making less than $50k/yr with credit score in the 800s — because we watch it. Having a good credit score means that when you DO need credit (a house or a car), your percentage rate is MUCH lower than average — saving you tens of thousands over the life purchase of a home.

      • says

        This is so true Julie. I have made less then $8,000 (yes you read that right)a year for most of my adult life and I figure if I can do it then others who make 5 times or more that amount should be able to too. No credit cards aren’t bad it is just that most people don’t have control over theirs. So many adults are like a 5 year old in a toy store. They think they need everything they see. Can you imagine what that 5 year old was given a credit card what damage he could do in very short time with it?

  19. Marcia says

    My husband and I are shocked at the way restaurant prices have skyrocketed!! We still do go out to eat occasionally. The key word is occasionally. We still slip up and go out on a whim once in awhile but it’s not as often as it used to be by far. With us it’s not usually dirty dishes but it’s the urge to treat ourselves that trips us up. Sometimes we give in but I tell hubby let’s just go out and get a dessert for example. It’s not ideal but it’s better than spending the money on a whole meal.

  20. Annie says

    Clean as you go! If you are cooking in the kitchen and use bowls, measuring cups, etc., put them in the dishwasher or wash them as soon as you use them. Wipe down any spills that you make on the counter as you make them.

    Also, for those that have kids 5 and up, they can be taught to put their dishes in the dishwasher or sink. Just make sure that you have hot soapy water to go (which you should if you have been cleaning as you prepare the meal).

    Finally, if you are a mother of teenagers (which I am), there is no reason that one cannot be given the chore of straightening up the kitchen.

    • says

      So true. I think 3 things you should do first thing is make your bed, get dressed. I roll out of my bed and immediately start pulling up the sheets and making it. Usually before I even head for the bathroom (if I can hold it : ) ).I slip my clothes on and I am ready to go. This all takes me 5 minutes. If the phone rings, someone shows up at my door, kids need my help I am ready to go.
      When my kids were young they had to have their beds made, rooms picked up and clothes on before they ate breakfast. I did this because if they did these things before breakfast it would take about 15 minutes to get done. If they did it after breakfast they could drag it out for 30 minutes or an hour. With the former they were usually hungry and it sure made them hurry. It wasn’t as bad as you think because they would pick up their rooms at night before bed so there really wasn’t much to do in that area. When you have had your shower the night before and clothes picked out it takes all of 2 minutes to slide into your clothes.
      My next rule was to always clean the kitchen after breakfast first thing and I tried never to leave home until the dishes were done. Even when I had to take the kids to school and would be coming right back home, I tried to get as much cleaned up while they were finishing up getting their books, coats etc. It is amazing how much you can clean up in the kitchen in 5-10 minutes if you are moving quickly.

  21. Marsha says

    Some people are so lazy they will NEVER wash dirty dishes, much less wipe the counters or sweep the floors. I lived with no dishwasher for years, but my kitchen was clean – when I was home, anyway. I didn’t have a choice. I was a single parent, and I had to cook meals because we couldn’t afford to eat out, at all. It’s a matter of what you are willing to put up with, and what matters as far as where your money goes. I couldn’t put up with a dirty kitchen, and I couldn’t afford to feed my kids fast food, and I wouldn’t have, even if I could. I was raised to grow and can my own veggies, and eat healthy, which doesn’t happen if you eat out all the time. This means you must clean up after yourself. My kids also learned that, and, hopefully, lessons for a lifetime that will help them make good choices for healthy eating and clean living.


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