Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to keep your home sparkling clean.
Learn how to save money on cleaning supplies and other thrifty housekeeping tips with these cleaning tips that really work.
1. Clean often
It sounds counterintuitive, but cleaning your home more often will save you time and money. Consider this: A quick swipe with a soapy rag will wipe a new spill from the stove, but you need to take out the harsh cleaners and scouring sponges if you’re expecting that spill to be a hard, crusty globe.
The same goes for almost all other types of cleaning: soap scum in the tub, crumbs in the carpet, stains on fabrics and dust on the television, furniture and blinds. Everything comes off more easily when you clean it right away.
An exception is mud on carpets or upholstery. If you jump on it right away with a damp cloth, the stain may rub against the fabric. Let it dry, then vacuum up as much dirt and soil as possible before treating the remaining stain.
Clean your house once a week or more often, and you’ll find that a cleaning cloth dampened with water fixes most of the mess. You won’t go through expensive cleaning supplies this quickly, saving your hard-earned money for more important – or for the fun of it! – purchases.
2. Buy good quality cleaning products
I like to buy most of my cleaning tools from a hardware or hardware store. At least that’s what I loved doing 10 years ago, that’s probably how long I haven’t needed to buy anything.
The point is, these cleaning tools work well, are comfortable to use, and last a long time, so you don’t keep buying new, fragile tools that break and need constant replacement.
Try not to get swayed by too many additional features that are just a trick to make you spend more money. Flat mop, broom, dustpan, window squeegee, bathtub squeegee, cleaning bucket, sprays, real ostrich feather or lambswool feather duster and several carefully cleaning rags folded will fit most homes.
3. Eliminate disposable products
If you want to save money on cleaning supplies, don’t buy disposable items that require refills or replacement. Use rags instead of paper towels and wash them between uses. Choose a mop that can be used without the need for replaceable pads.
In love with your Swiffer? Don’t waste your money on replaceable pads. Instead, buy a pair (or two) of these stretch chenille socks (found at Bed, Bath & Beyond, or Christmas Tree Shop) for around $ 1 or $ 2 and run one over your Swiffer Head.
Use a vinegar solution to blot the floor, then switch to a dry sock and wipe it dry. Or, if you’re comfortable with a sewing machine, these reusable Swiffer covers are adorable too.
4. Buy a lightweight vacuum that you can afford
I have used a lot of vacuum cleaners and my two criteria are that I must be able to move the vacuum cleaner without a tow truck and buy it without financing. If you can’t lift them, you’re less likely to use them. And if you have to make payments, well, don’t.
These days even inexpensive vacuums have HEPA filters and do a pretty good job. Seek the reviews, buy what you can afford now, and save for the vacuum of your dreams.
5. Change your cleaning products
For most jobs like wiping down counters, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, and cleaning tiles, a leave-in all-purpose cleaner is all you need. You don’t need special products for every room or area in your home.
If you want your all-purpose cleaner to disinfect or disinfect, be sure to follow the directions on the bottle. Most disinfectant cleaners require a “hold time,” which means you must allow the cleaner to stay wet on the surface for a specific amount of time (often 10 minutes).
If you want to limit your cleaning collection to a few key items, these cleaners are on our must-have list.
6. Trade in store bought products for homemade cleaners
Don’t waste your money on store-bought cleaning products that don’t always perform as well as you would like. It’s cheaper to make your own cleaning products from ingredients you probably already have on hand.
You can make an all-purpose cleaner by filling a spray bottle with half water and half distilled white vinegar. Spray this cleaner on stainless steel and chrome surfaces, windows and accessories, then wipe off with a lint-free cloth or paper towels. Diluted vinegar also eliminates odors in plastic containers and lunch boxes.
Undiluted Distilled White Vinegar will clean dirty and greasy surfaces, such as hobs, oven doors, exhaust fan racks, ceiling fans, shower doors, and cloudy door tracks. For stains, scum and baked goods, sprinkle baking soda on the surface and scrub with a damp sponge.
Baking soda and vinegar used together can keep your drains free of clogs and odors and replace toilet bowl cleaner. Borax is excellent for cleaning showers, tubs and sinks.
If you need a glass cleaner, a tablespoon of ammonia or 2 tablespoons of vinegar mixed with a quart of clean water will do a better job than store-bought sprays and are much cheaper. Even cheaper, the best cleaner I’ve ever used on bathroom mirrors is hot water. It perfectly dissolves hairspray and toothpaste.
7. Buy store-bought cleaning products intelligently
When it comes to buying a commercial cleaning product, be aware that inexpensive cleaning products generally work just as well as expensive products. To save money, look for generic or store brands instead of buying the brand name product you saw on TV. If you compare the ingredients, you will see that they are not that different.
If you must buy a brand, look for store or manufacturer specific coupons in weekly flyers or online to avoid paying full price.
8. Store cleaning supplies together in cool, dark places
Some household cleaners lose their effectiveness or can become flammable when exposed to light and extreme heat. Store your products in cool, dark places to ensure you get the maximum strength from your cleaners. If you have children or pets, make sure your storage space is also high up and out of reach.
Another money-saving tip is to keep all of your cleaning supplies together in one place, rather than some in the bathroom, some in the kitchen, and even more in a supplies closet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve searched my house for a bottle of something, only to find three half-empty bottles in different rooms of my house. Don’t waste your money buying new cleaning products because you can’t find the ones you have.
The exception to this rule is that bleach and ammonia should not be stored next to each other – or never mixed together – as the combination of the two can create toxic fumes.
9. Choose a minimalist lifestyle for minimal cleaning
It goes without saying that if you have a smaller house or less stuff, you will have less to clean, saving you time and money on cleaning needs. Do you need all those dusting trinkets or vacuuming rugs?
Make your life easier and you’ll simplify your cleaning routine too. Plus, if you get rid of your stuff at a garage sale, you can earn money to put back into your dream vacuum cleaner fund.
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