Alternatives Kenyans Are Adopting After Prices of Household Items Increased

As the prices of essential household items continue to rise owing to various market factors, Kenyans are compelled to reassess their budgets and explore substitute products. 

Budget cuts have also been necessitated by the early closure of schools as candidates sit national exams, which commenced last month. With children staying at home, parents are compelled to allocate the saved money to cover more miscellaneous. 

However, rather than striking some basic items off the budget list, here are affordable alternatives you can consider. 

Air Freshener

A photo of a traditional posho mill being in use in January 2020.


Edward Mwasi

Currently, a 300 ml air freshener spray costs between Ksh230 – Ksh250.

As a means of cutting costs, Kenyans have adopted the air freshener bubbles, which go for Ksh100. The new fresheners are considered cost-effective, as just a few drops placed in various corners of the house can provide a pleasant scent that lasts for three to five days.

“I bought a 100 ml perfume bottle in the CBD at Ksh80 in town, and I have used it for three months. It is way cheaper and more effective compared to the sprays. Some shops have different fragrances, so it is cheaper,” Jerry Ouma, a resident of Uthiru who uses the air freshener bubbles, told

Maize Flour

Ugali is a staple food in most Kenyan homes. However, many have not enjoyed the popular delicacy because of the rise of maize flour prices, with a packet trading as high as Ksh240 this year.

As an alternative, some are opting for the ‘unga siaga’ or ‘kisiagi’ which is cheaper. Others are also mixing the packet flour with the milled one to maintain flavour. 


In its latest review, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) increased the price of Super Petrol, Diesel and Kerosene by Ksh5.72, Ksh4.48 and Ksh2.45 per litre, respectively.

This saw many motorists dump cars and opt for matatus, which are cheaper.

For instance, a motorist driving from Westlands to Kinoo averagely uses fuel worth Ksh200 for one way. However, matatu charges Ksh70 for the same distance.

Therefore, car owners prefer to drive on weekends and rainy days only and use public means on weekdays.  


Fluctuations in fuel prices have a significant impact on electricity costs, and the recent surge in the former led to an increase in the cost of power as well

As an alternative, some Kenyans are opting to install solar panels in their homes and use them in conjunction with intentional electricity. 

For instance, one may opt to use electricity during the day and change to solar power during the night and vice versa.

A photo of a customer keying in tokens in a prepaid electric meter.



The prices of paper napkins have also been on the rise this year, with a packet of 100 pieces currently retailing between Ksh80 to Ksh190, depending on the quality and brand.

Being that the napkins cannot be reused, Kenyans have opted to buy hand towels instead.

While hand towels may be expensive during initial purchase as compared to the serviettes, they can be reused for years after being washed. 

Most cotton hand towels range between Ksh100 to Ksh250. However, in some shops, one can get them at a cheaper price if purchased in bulk. 


Every person has a preference for a certain perfume fragrance. However, some Kenyans have to spend thousands a year to purchase their trademark perfumes. 

As an alternative, perfume users are opting for refilled colognes, which are usually sold at beauty or cosmetic shops.

Some as sold as low as Ksh50 depending on the fragrance and bottle size.

Refill oil perfumes sold at a shop in Nairobi CBD on August 2023.


Vee Classic


Several Kenyans are currently crafting liquid soap within the comfort of their homes, employing ingredients like potassium hydroxide, water, boric acid and perfume.

Those who cannot produce their own liquid soap consider homemade options from friends and retail and delivery shops as a more affordable choice. 

For instance, a 20-litre jerrican of homemade liquid soap goes for Ksh550 while a similar amount sold in supermarkets goes for over Ksh2,000.

Mama Mboga Cereals

With the rise in the cost of living, many vendors, including mama mboga have been forced to increase the prices of cooked cereals such as beans and githeri.  

As a result, Kenyans in urban areas are purchasing jikos to cook the cereals on off days before storing them in the fridge for later consumption. 

What alternatives have you considered for costly items on your shopping list? Kindly share in the comment section. 

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