The Amish Way of Life: Frugal and Humble
If you don’t know, the Amish are devout Christians who believe in simplicity and humility. They live largely off-grid and often shun modern technology such as motor vehicles, electricity, and telephones.
Amish families live frugal lifestyles, and while we’re not advocating selling your car in exchange for a horse-drawn carriage, you could benefit from adopting some Amish practices.
1. Dress More Plainly
One of the most recognizable characteristics of the Amish is their way of dress. Dressing plainly is used as a way for Amish people to distinguish themselves from the rest of the world—and different Amish sects.
While you shouldn’t adopt traditional Amish fashion, dressing more plainly can save you time, money, and energy. Instead of focusing on what’s fashionable and trendy, having just enough to keep you comfortable and warm is a frugal practice we should all try.
2. Use Minimal Modest Decor
If you’ve ever seen the interior of an Amish home, you know that they are spotless most of the time. With six children or more, how do they do it?
One way to keep your home clean—and making cleaning it more manageable—is to focus on function over design. While the Amish do still have décor, how little they have can be striking. Without many items to clutter rooms and catch dust, cleaning is much easier and faster. Plus, being frugal on décor will save you money.
3. Have Family Help Around the House
While the housekeeping responsibilities in the Amish community do fall mostly on the women of the house, day-to-day tasks like laundry, cooking, and cleaning are taught to children from a young age.
Instead of doing everything for their many children, the Amish teach kids how to be self-sufficient from an early age. If you have kids in the house, consider teaching them life skills and lightening your load.
4. Create a Weekly Routine
With simple lives that revolve around family and faith, the Amish have schedules that keep them on track. For example, instead of doing laundry when the bin is “full,” many Amish people do laundry on Mondays.
When you create a weekly or daily routine, it’s easier to hold yourself accountable for the regular maintenance of yourself and your home.
5. Degrease with a Salt Solution
The Amish have lots of simple and natural cleaning solutions up their sleeves, and here’s one that might surprise you. If you’ve spilled oil on your favorite shirt, it’s actually not ruined.
Get greasy stains out of fabrics with a medium strength salt solution. Rub it into the affected area generously with a sponge. Then, rub the area gently with a soft dry cloth. Repeat as needed, and voila! Those greasy stains are gone.
This simple Amish degreaser will salvage so many clothes you might have just thrown out instead.
6. Create a Basic Natural Disinfectant
You might think you’re running low on cleaner for your countertops, but you probably have all the ingredients for a natural disinfectant that the Amish use in their homes. All you need is some white vinegar (about 2 cups) and a dash of baking soda (about 1 teaspoon). Mix it together, and use a soft cloth to wipe down surfaces.
Keep in mind that you should never use vinegar on natural stone, iron, or hardwood.
7. Use a DIY Citrus Cleaning Solution
If you want to level-up your DIY cleaning game, you can create your own spray cleaner that doubles as a disinfectant and pest repellent—and it smells great.
Combine equal parts of water and vinegar in a pot. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Add an equal amount of citrus peel (we recommend 1 cup of each ingredient). Cover the pot, and let it sit overnight.
In the morning, strain out the citrus peels and pour the solution into a spray bottle.
This cleaner is perfect for wiping down high-traffic areas like countertops, microwaves, refrigerators, containers, pantry doors and shelves, and more. You can also give your baseboards and entryways like doors and windows a good spray to deter pests like ants, cockroaches, and mice. Use it this way up to 4 times a week, and your home should be pest-free.
8. Keep Mice Away with Mothballs
Whether you’re living in NYC or the countryside, you might be living in an area prone to rodent infestations. If you’re having trouble keeping out mice, mothballs are your secret weapon.
Mothballs are human-made balls that consist of chemical pesticides and deodorants, and they are toxic to humans and animals. You’ll want to make sure to put mothballs directly in areas where you believe mice are getting into your home—and where kids or pets will not find them.
Because mothballs create toxic fumes, it’s essential to keep the safety of your household in mind. You should also know that it’s illegal to use mothballs to deter any pests not explicitly listed on the label in some places.
9. Buy and Use Borax and Washing Soda
You may have never heard of either borax or washing soda, but these cleaning supplies are staples in Amish homes.
Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate, is often sold and used as wax remover or paint stripper. You can add a dash to your laundry to help remove odors and brighten colors—but you should never let clothes soak in washing soda because it could result in holes.
You can also use washing soda to get dirty pans looking like new again. Sprinkle on the washing soda. Spray a bit of water. Let pots and pans sit for 20 minutes. Then, scrub.
On the other hand, borax (sodium tetraborate) is a decades-old cleaning product that can assist you with cleaning. It deodorizes, disinfects, softens hard water, and repels roaches. It’s great to use on showers and bathroom tiles or in the kitchen to kill insects. It also helps unclog gunked-up drains.
Both borax and washing soda can irritate skin and should never be ingested.
10. Say Yes to Simple Flooring
You’ll never see wall-to-wall carpeting in an Amish home. You might find a throw rug here or there, but since most Amish homes don’t run on electricity (and don’t have vacuums), carpeting is not ideal.
Simple flooring like hardwood or linoleum is easier to maintain and clean than carpet or tile. If you can, choose to have a home that can be cleaned with a broom or mop—it makes keeping floors clean easier, to begin with.
11. Grow Food at Home
Are you tired of needing to go to the grocery store all the time? Well, an easy solution you can take from the Amish is to grow your own food. While you don’t need to commit to full-scale farming, growing some veggies and herbs by the window isn’t a bad idea.
12. Prioritize Being Frugal
The Amish maintain a lifestyle that focuses on frugality. By saving their time, money, and energy when it comes to maintaining their homes, acquiring the necessities of everyday life, and supporting themselves, they can focus more on what matters most to them: their family and faith.
There’s something for all of us to learn from the Amish way of living with less.