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    Save On Cleaning Products By Buying Refills.

    By thomas | September 4, 2007

    Here’s a tip that was sitting right in front of my face for months before I figured it out: buy refills.

    Joy RefillMost cleaning products in Japan are sold in two styles: normal and refill. Not surprisingly, the refill is usually cheaper. A normal bottle of Joy dish soap, pictured at far left costs me 148 yen. The refill bottle has almost twice as much soap but only costs 248 yen. Not huge savings, but every little bit helps. I get an even better deal on my Bath Magiclean. A normal bottle sells for 312 yen. The refill, which contains almost the same amount of cleaner, costs 148 yen. That’s less than half price!

    Magiclean refillWith the plethora of single-purpose cleaners that exist here in Japan, it can cost a pretty penny to keep your house clean. Buying refills can easily save you a few 1000 yen bills a year. Refill packages also tend to be smaller, so they take up less space in your trash/recycle bin.

    The word to look for is tsumekaeyou (つめかえ用, [つめかえよう]), literally “for refill”. Most stores stock the refills right next to the normal bottles, but this isn’t always the case. If you can’t find it after a quick search, find an employee and they should be able to bring you right to it. Talking to store employees is a fun way to practice your Japanese too.

    Look for the つめかえ用 label on the packaging.Note: As the name suggests, you will have to have an empty bottle at home to pour the contents of the refill into. If it’s your first trip to the store, buy a normal bottle.

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    10 Responses to “Save On Cleaning Products By Buying Refills.”

    1. Harvey Says:
      September 6th, 2007 at 1:51 pm

      Great website idea! I thought about trying to make a website to explain how to live in Japan cheaply while I was a student last year… but never got around to it. Good work!

      Looking forward to see how this develops!

    2. thomas Says:
      September 10th, 2007 at 12:25 pm

      Harvey: Thanks for the encouragement! I hope the site will be interesting and useful to you. I have some more articles coming up later this week, but I was sorta sidetracked by the birth of my firstborn over the weekend. :) Your sites are great also! Peace.

    3. Ken Y-N Says:
      September 28th, 2007 at 12:12 am

      Hi thomas,

      Great idea of a blog, and thanks for the link in the cheese article!

      Another tip for saving on Bath Magiclean is to find an equivalent own-brand, but for that one you have to check that the — whatever the active ingredient is — is the right percentage, as the lower percentage products are pretty useless. Magiclean has 8% or 9% on the label, so get an own-brand with 8%; the 4% stuff doesn’t cut it. We buy – what do we buy? I forget, but it’s from Konan and about 85 yen a bottle. Even though we don’t have a car, we go once every two months or so to the nearest DIY/Home Centre superstore and fill up two or three big trolleys-worth of household stuff, and even with the trains and 800 yen delivery cost we save money (and time, of course!) over the local stores.

      Shampoo and body soap, etc, also comes in refills so you don’t have to keep buying the pump-action bottles.

    4. thomas Says:
      September 30th, 2007 at 10:36 pm

      Ken Y-N: Thanks for the tip! I already went to the store and checked it out. Once I can get some pictures taken I’ll post a cleaning supplies update. And thanks for the link back in your September news recap!

    5. Save On Cleaning Products Revisited - Buy House Brands | Says:
      October 6th, 2007 at 6:13 am

      […] Save On Cleaning Products By Buying Refills. […]

    6. Karla Says:
      December 24th, 2007 at 2:54 pm

      Don’t forget to buy refills for your body soap, shampoo and rinse!

    7. Layla Says:
      March 27th, 2008 at 2:22 pm

      I’ve actually been thinking about implementing the same practices in my home and residential cleaning business. Great thoughts and thank you for the helpful information.

    8. 30+yearshere Says:
      September 22nd, 2008 at 3:54 am

      Tsumekaeyou (つめかえ用, [つめかえよう]) refills for many other items:

      In addition to refils for household cleaning products, laundry detergent and bleach, and body care products, I buy refills for beverages such as Milo, instant coffee, cocoa, creaming powder, etc. You can buy their regular version in a bottle the first time and then buy refills or save money right off the bat by using a container of your choice that you happen to have on hand.

      I also get refills/refill cartidges for many stationery items such as tape glue, correction tape, highlighter pens, erasers, and of course, ballpoint pens. Many of these items like correction tape or highlighter pens come in both refillable (カートリッジ式 ka-toriji shiki)and one-use (使い切りtsukaikiri) types so pay attention when selecting.

      The refills for ballpoint pens are called kaeshin 替芯. The refill product number is usually in teeny tiny print on a label on the pen. If your local store does not have them on hand they might order them for you (you might have to take a whole box). You can also get them from catalog or online stationery shops like those on the Rakuten site or Office Depot. If you are not sure if refills are available for your favorite ballpoint pen, check out the info (with photos!) in the Office Depot catalog or go to the pen maker’s homepage and check out the info for that particular pen. I keep my favorite ballpoint pens going for years!

    9. Atlanta Maid Service Says:
      January 27th, 2009 at 5:49 am

      Nice tip, we still buy in this size.

    10. crunchymama Says:
      April 8th, 2010 at 1:48 am

      Even better, buy the Pax Naturon brand — plant-based cleaners with no synthetic chemicals. Regular cleaners are full of chemicals that pollute the air that you and your family breathe. You would think the gov’t would regulate this type of thing, but they don’t — not in Japan or anywhere.