How do you make sure you use the last bit of everything?

This is cross-posted to my new frugal/growing/making/cooking blog, The Really Good Life.

I’ve reached the end … of my shampoo bottle and our mayonnaise jar. And it made me wonder…

Every vaguely-frugal/green family has their own tricks for getting those last bits of gloop, sauce, oil or whatever out of jars and bottles – but what are your top tips?

Most bottles – from condiments to shampoo – are easily emptied by standing them upside down for a few hours.

Cooking sauces – jars/cans of tomatoes – are easy too: a little squish of water around to pull off the last of the sauce/juice then into the pan it goes to be reduced off.

Cooking oils bottles and jams & honey jars get left in a bowl of hot water to make the remaining contents a little runny and easier to pour out.

Metal squeezy tubes – like tomato puree and old school toothpaste – can be rolled up and squeezed, but the new plastic toothpaste tubes aren’t so rollable – cutting them open seems the only option.

What other methods do you use?

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16 Responses to “How do you make sure you use the last bit of everything?”

  1. Miranda says:

    A rubber spatula ensures I get the last bits of food in jars or containers (egg salad, mayo, peanut butter). With peanut butter, I might use food itself to scrape the sides (celery, or carrots for the dogs). A swish of water in a shampoo or body wash container gets the last bits off the edges. I keep a big knife in a drawer ready to cut containers open if it makes more sense to get the bits of food rather than keep the container.
    I cut toothpaste tubes open to get those last bits.

    My methods are basic and it doesn’t require much imagination!

    It’s always felt natural to do.

    • louisa says:

      Hi Miranda,

      Thanks for all your suggestions! I’ve noticed a lot of comments over the years have expressed surprise that not everyone, say, uses envelopes for shopping lists or the like — I think everyone’s family does lots of frugal/reusing/recycling things and we treat it as a natural law – but everyone’s family does different things so it’s good to share :)

    • you are true, Miranda, it’s so simply and basic example..
      But great idea! :)

    • Cipollina says:

      That’s exactly how I do, too – I actually thought it was a normal thing to do!

  2. Beverley says:

    What a great website!
    As you said lots of products can be left in the bottle/tube and it’s well worth getting it out. I use recycled things to make jewellery and I quite often use plastic bottles and even after you’ve left them upturned for a while once you actually cut them open there can still be quite a bit inside! Good reading – keep up the good work! x

  3. Goo says:

    I’m never sure whether it’s the ‘green’ or ‘mean’ in me that makes me cut open tubes to get the last smidge out, I’m glad to discover I’m not alone!

    Mayonnaise always has some nice mustard and vinegar added to the jar and then a vigorous shake to keep the emulsion working for a slightly richer vinaigrette.

  4. anna says:

    Water works miracles for getting the last drop out of shampoo etc.
    For toothpaste, I use scissors when I can’t squeeze anything out of it any more.
    Colored one-sided printed ads: to the printer if I like the color… the other side is still ok
    One sided prints: shopping lists or sketch paper
    Seeds: grow your own food or plants. Works at least for oranges, lemons etc, papayas, pineapples, strawberries, tomatoes etc
    T-shirts etc cotton items: carpet (making a yarn of it first, then crocheting) or e.g. cleaning tools

  5. ariestess says:

    For toothpaste tubes [and any tubes like that, really], I use one of those little doohickeys that squeezes the stuff down into the mouth of the tube and flattens the tube behind it. Then I just fold in the edges when I’m down to the end. Works great and the doohickey is reused repeatedly.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Solid deoderant-a nail file works wonders to dig it out from the plastic container. The base part is full of holes, filled with deoderant that acts to hold the main block in place. There’s a ton of it left after one can’t scrap it across the pits anymore. If nothing else, handy if you can’t run to the store right away.

    And my very thin spautla works much better than the full sized one for peanut butter, other stuff in jars.

    Drain liquid from canned veggies into a container you keep in the freezer. Good base for soup stock. Or if you steam veggies in the microwave with just a little water, save that liquid too. You can do the tiny bit of water in spagetti sauce jar bit and add that, if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to add it to what you’re cooking and let it reduce.

    I’ll have to try the mayo vinagrette bit next time-thanks.

  7. Barb Z says:

    I love the idea of using the liquid from canned vegetables for soup stocks and to steam veggies and such.

    I use water to get the last bit of shampoo, hand soap, dish soap, body wash, and even spaghetti sauce.

    Love this site! Such great ideas!

  8. Zai says:

    Wow, I do all of these. I thought it was the norm.

    Also, soap bars smooshed together into a new soap bar is a good one.
    And as for hair conditioner, a little bit of water in even an almost empty bottle just poured right onto your hair works brilliantly! I always run out at the worst times and end up having to do that.

    I’ve noticed though that for me I certainly don’t use so much conditioner if I switch to cool water as I’m conditioning…

    Boiling waste bones makes a fantastic stock for any soup, though it doesn’t freeze too well so it’s better to use it fresh if you can. Just keep the bones in the fridge for a few days if you don’t have a pressing need for stock!

  9. Linda says:

    Last of peanut butter, jam etc can be extracted easily by giving the container and a longhandled teaspoon to a hungry child!!

  10. Lizzy says:

    Put the plastic toothpaste tube on a hard flat surface and run a ruler along it, pressing very hard, to push the toothpaste to the end. a little bit of Hot water in a jam jar makes fruity sauce for ice cream or rice pudding , and the same in a marmite jar to make marmite gravy.

  11. Alice says:

    Something no one has mentioned yet but you probably all tend to do – avoid buying stuff in containers that you won’t be able to get the last drops out of when they’re nearly used up.

  12. I just can’t believe all the useful information on this blog. My mind is going crazy looking through my recycle pile.

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