Advice From Mom: Reuse Those Containers!
by Rae Osenbaugh
If you make your own cleanser, baking mixes, play-dough, or carpet powder, undoubtedly you need something to put the mixture in....a simple answer is to keep the containers you already get with your groceries, etc, or find interesting and useable containers (try the garage sales) that you can purchase inexpensively.
I know it is extra work to remove and wash labels and find storage space for jars, boxes, plastic tubs, and fancy tins, but the end result is worth your time. And, it is fun to save interesting containers for an unusual item that is exactly the right size for and unusual item or a homemade gift for a friend. In fact I sometimes buy unusual jars, baskets, and tins when I see them. Finding storage space for a collection of containers could be a challenge, but it sure is fun!
One large item to save is plastic jugs. Due to the size of these items, they are best kept out of the house. One good idea is to keep them in a large plastic bag hung on a hook in the garage. (clean the jugs thoroughly with soap and water, drain completely, and store with the lids kept separate rather than on the jug itself). Another good idea is to fill with water (after cleaning them) and store in your freezer. This way you're getting a double use: you have spare fresh water on hand if you should ever need it, the jug is sitting there just waiting to be used and if there is a power outage, the frozen water keeps the rest of the frozen items colder longer. I my freezer gets too full, I can remove a jug and water my plants. When you have filled the jug with something you've made (a big batch of cleaning solution), be sure to label it with a permanent marker or a paper label that is covered with clear nail polish so the information won't run if the jug gets wet. Label the contents as to ingredients, the use, and the date made in case it has a "use by" date.
Plastic spray and pump containers are great for your own versions of sprays, lotions, and condiments. When you buy items packaged in these types of containers and have used the original contents, you should take the container apart and soak the spray or pump mechanism in warm soapy water, dry thoroughly, and store the tops and containers separately.
The spray-type container used for window cleaner or some hair sprays can take the place of aerosol containers for your own cleaners, room fresheners, and hair spray. The pump-type used for hand lotion and liquid soap can hold your own homemade versions of these products.
A supply of glass and plastic jars (save from pickles, spaghetti sauce, relish, mayonnaise, and peanut butter) are always useable. Save only jars that are sturdy and lids that are clean and not rusty. Clean the jars and lids with hot soapy water (or in the dishwasher), and as with other items, store jars and lids separately. One of my favorite uses for my old peanut butter jars is as a freezer container for left- overs. Or, I put a few chopped carrots and celery in a peanut butter jar in the freezer: when I make a stew, these vegetables are already chopped and ready to go! The clear plastic makes it easy to see what I have stored.
One other item I've started saving is the styrofoam trays that come with many things (other than meats) like baked goods. Wash the tray and store them stacked together. I use mine for taking my own brownies to a friend, or to a pot-luck dinner (I don't have to remember to retrieve my serving dishes!). My children have also discovered those trays are great craft items--they can think of a million things to do with them. I do not usually save the ones meat comes on because I worry that there might be some remaining residue from the meat--you have to be especially careful with that!
An area set up specifically for your unusual containers will prove invaluable when you find you need packaging for something. I keep mine on a shelf in the garage. Keep it organized so you can find the right thing quickly!
I will write about some of my favorite home-made mixes and cleaning mixtures in future issues. In the meantime, save those containers so we can fill them up!
Have a good day----Rae
Rae is the mother of nine (and grandmother of two) in central Nebraska. She says her house runs smoothly due to "organized chaos, and lots of lists! Anyone wishing to drop her a line is welcome to at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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