Expensive solutions can never replace good old-fashioned elbow grease. Even though we are conditioned to spend money to solve our problems, a dirty house is one problem with a very cheap solution. Just… you know… clean it. That being said, you will need a few supplies, even if you make your own cleaners.
Here are the frugal cleaning items that will keep your entire house in tip-top shape.
- An all-purpose concentrate (such as Mr. Clean or Simple Green)
- Vinegar or glass cleaner
- Baking soda
- Bar Keeper’s Friend
- Dish soap
- A broom and dustpan
The items on this list will help you save money over what the typical household spends on cleaning supplies. Let’s take a look at how to save even more.
Stop Buying Specialty Cleaners
Do you really need a special solution for your hardwood floors, countertop, stainless steel, and toilet? Really? What do you think would happen if you cleaned your floor and counter with a simple all-purpose cleaner? Unless you have some really fancy surfaces in your home, they will be perfectly fine.
If you are looking for a store-bought all-purpose cleaner, keep two things in mind. First, it does not have to be a fancy brand. Second, a concentrate that you dilute yourself is always cheaper. My favorite budget cleaning concentrate is Simple Green. If you are willing to spend a little more, Mrs. Meyers smells lovely, and a little goes a long way. A name brand is also not necessary.
This cleaner will pretty much clean your whole house, with a few exceptions.
For a little more cleaning powder, you’ll want an abrasive cleaner like Bar Keeper’s Friend or Bon Ami. Add this to a damp cloth to create a paste that will remove even stubborn bathroom and kitchen stains.
Many people also like to have a separate glass cleaner with ammonia and bleach for anything with mold.
Here are some cleaning supplies you don’t need:
- dusting spray (a damp cloth works fine)
- a hardwood floor cleaner (how did people clean their hardwood in the 100 years before this expensive spray was invented?)
- a robot vacuum
- cleaning wipes (even store brands)
Now, of course, if you have expensive surfaces in your home that require special care, there are exceptions. Use common sense.
Try Homemade Cleaners
Want to go even further? DIY your cleaners. Is it actually cheaper to make your own cleaning supplies? Absolutely; if you keep it simple. Cleaning solutions are already fairly inexpensive, but nothing is as cheap as a big bottle of white vinegar.
Don’t make this too complicated: all you need is a vinegar solution of 1:1 or 1:2 in order to clean most surfaces in your home. Add a squirt of dish soap if you really want to go crazy.
Since a homemade cleaner like this doesn’t contain any harsh chemicals, you don’t need annoying and expensive gloves, either.
You can get into trouble when you start spending money on pretty glass bottles, wooden brushes, and linen cloths. None of that is necessary. Instead, use an old spray bottle and some old rags.
Need something a little more powerful to tackle soap scum and light staining? Baking soda is a great choice for bathrooms, cutting boards, and anything that needs just a little boost.
Some things will require storebought cleaners from time to time, so you’ll want to keep a scouring powder and maybe bleach on hand for when you need them.
Oh, and listen to people telling you to use fresh lemon juice for cleaning. Lemon juice is expensive!
Choose Reusable Over Disposable Items
Place a stack of microfiber cloths next to your cleaning supplies. It’s amazing how much money you can save on paper towels when you aren’t using them to constantly wipe your counters. The key to making this work is to make grabbing a cloth just as convenient as grabbing a paper towel. Then, put them in a handy spot until you find one that you find one you’ll really use.
You can even sew reusable cloth “paper” towels that fit right on the dispenser.
Microfiber cloths can even replace Swiffer sheets. Get a damp cloth and stick it in. It works!
And do not, under any circumstances, buy cleaning wipes. For what they cost, you’d think they jump out of the package and clean your house themselves. But you still have to do all the work, except the spraying motion of a cleaning solution. You can do that yourself. Promise.
Save Money By Cleaning More
Sounds strange. But if you clean items in your house more frequently, you save money on cleaning supplies. For example, your toilet doesn’t need a fancy stick-on contraption if you wipe it down and brush the bowl every day. If you clean out your fridge every week, you won’t have to buy special filters to control odors. Many stains (especially blood stains) will come out with plain water when treated immediately. And so on. Baking soda doesn’t seem like an effective cleaner when you use it on old, set-in stains. But when you use it every week to clean your tub, it works wonderfully.
So many expensive cleaning products really mask neglect.
One of the best hacks for budget cleaning is this: Keep an old towel by your shower and dry the whole thing off after every shower. It sounds like a pain, and it is. But you will never again have problems with mold, rust, or anything of the sort.
To help yourself get in the habit of cleaning more frequently, put a spray bottle and rags or paper towels in your kitchen and each bathroom. No need to have a cleaning caddy and make big production of carrying it all over the house. Every day spray, wipe, and don’t let things get out of hand.
Keep it simple, buy less, and do the work.
Works for a lot of things, right?