Cleaning Without Breaking the Bank

As I sat around the house today after spending most of the morning cleaning up after the family, I got to thinking about how we clean. Today, we have so many options to choose from when we peruse a website or a store for cleaning supplies. There are products for just about every single job and every little cleaning task seems to require a different cleaner to get the job done right.

When I realized what the implications of this simple fact were, I comprehended just what it could do to a pocketbook in short order. This little bit of information had me longing for yesteryear when things were simpler. With the economy continuing to struggle in the middle of a slump, the last thing I usually have money for is cleaning supplies. In fact, most of the time, there isn’t money for a lot of other things either.

This is resounded in countless of American homes in a time when unemployment is rising and gaining new means of income is getting harder by the hour. Yet, we all want our homes to be clean and to reflect at least some semblance of normalcy when nothing else is stable in the world around us. How to combat the cost of living and cleaning when incomes don’t match what they once were is of utmost importance.

Therefore, instead of continuing the series I have planned on green living, I decided to take today to give some tips on how to clean economically while managing a budget as well. Some of these ideas are tried and tested by generations long gone and others are ideas I have used or that my neighbors have been kind enough to share with me.

I’ve mentioned and many readers have suggested the wonderful properties household white vinegar holds in the realm of cleaning. This is truly a standby from the past that works as well or better than commercial brands.

Plants are the best (and one of the cheapest) air fresheners around. Not only do they lend a subtle scent to the room, they also clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen for us to breathe.

Vanilla isn’t just a great spice to cook with in the kitchen. I love to place shallow dishes of vanilla under the couch and in one corner of the room out of the way to lend a touch of old fashioned charm to my home.

Club soda is great for removing stains from carpets and curtains. It’s gentle and very inexpensive to use. Just rub it into the spot and blot dry. While it won’t work on really set in stains, it’s a lifesaver for fresh ones.

Baking soda
set about in the refrigerator and sprinkled on cat litter boxes can do wonders for the scent of those areas. It absorbs odor and neutralizes them so no unpleasant smells linger. I also sprinkle my trash cans with this.

Salt and lemon juice make a great scouring compound that not only smells good but removes a lot of grime easily. Just use gloves as the acidic juice can be murder on the hands. Also, salt will sting any cut, no matter how small.

Newspapers make great window rags and clean stainless steel well too. The shine left behind won’t show signs of lint as some other paper products will and it gives another use to the stack of papers that lay around after reading the news.

Old t-shirts too stained or torn for wear are wonderful cloths to use for dusting. They won’t leave lint behind and they won’t scratch delicate surfaces.

Those unmated socks also have other uses. I love to use them as wash mitts for the dishes. I just turn them inside out and wash as I would with any other cloth.

If your looking to keep the heat or the cold inside your house, you can use old socks filled with rice. These effectively keep drafts from entering or escaping areas you don’t want them in. These also double as great heating pads when warmed in the microwave and placed wherever you have need of a little heat.

When vacuuming, I prefer to use generic vacuum cleaner bags rather than name brand. The performance is no different than the pricier brands and the cost difference is significant.

I also choose hepa type filters as these meet my needs just as well as true hepa filters which are more expensive This saves on my pocketbook and still gives me a clean home.

For most items, soap and water is still the best way to go. I use these simple items to clean walls and cabinets. I use only hot water with a bit of bleach added for mopping my floors and for cleaning toilets and bathtubs. Both of these are cheap and easy to use. Just remember that the bleach has to be diluted with the water and it doesn’t take much. One part bleach to 10 parts water will clean quite nicely without a strong bleach smell. Ammonia can be used the same way, but must be diluted.

It is also very important to note never to mix bleach and ammonia. The results can be deadly. Before you mix any cleaners to make a stronger one of your own, be sure to check the components. If either of these is present, do not mix it! The odorous gas mixing bleach and ammonia together is toxic and will burn your lungs.

If ever in doubt, use plain soap and water. It worked for generations past and it will work for you today. Otherwise, try some of these tips out for yourself and send your tips in on how to clean around the house without spending a fortune. I’d love to hear how you manage the best of both worlds.