This is a guest post from Edward Antrobus. Edward has spent most of this decade as a house-husband which has provided him with a unique view on personal finance and domestic life. He writes at http://edwardantrobus.co.cc.
The time for spring cleaning is upon us. It is time to clear away the debris and cobwebs (figurative, hopefully) of the past year and prepare the way for warmer, sunnier days ahead.
Stocking up on cleaning supplies can easily wind up cleaning out your wallet, however. Window cleaner, oven cleaner, toilet cleaner, grout cleaner… you will feel like you were taken to the cleaners!
Fortunately, they are pretty much completely unnecessary. Forget about the entire isle of the supermarket with the household cleaners. All you need is bleach from the laundry isle and baking soda and vinegar from the baking isle. Then grab that toothbrush you have been meaning to replace, and some paper towels and you are ready to get started!
Frugal Tip: Go to the paint isle of your home improvement store and buy a bag of cotton rags. Use these instead of paper towels and toss them in the wash when you are done to use again for the next time you clean.
Do you know what is in the bottles of All-Purpose cleaner? Watered down bleach, plus possibly some dyes and fragrances. Sodium Hypochlorite is the active ingredient in bleach; it is, essentially, what bleach is. A gallon bottle of laundry bleach is 15% Sodium Hypochlorite and costs $6. A quart of all purpose cleaner is 2% Sodium Hypochlorite and costs $3.
Mixing one part laundry bleach to seven parts water will provide the same cleaning power for less than a tenth of the price.
Vinegar is one of the greatest cleaning substances known to man. It’s great on windows. It has antiseptic properties. It’s a mild acid that will eat at food residues. You can 50% more for vinegar-based cleaners (yeah, I’m calling you out, Windex). Or you can buy the gallon bottle of store brand white vinegar for the same price and get several times the cleaning power.
Mix one part vinegar to three parts water and use it to wipe down counters or clean windows, mirrors, computer/tv screens, and any other glass surfaces. You can use it on wood, too, but I would cut it in half again with water first.
Baking soda isn’t just for baking cookies. Remember making volcanoes in elementary school? That was just vinegar and baking soda. (and red dye… whoever heard of white lava?) The vigorous chemical reaction made my mixing the two together does a great job of removing stuck-on food particles on cookware or in the oven.
Mix equal parts vinegar and baking soda to form a paste. Apply the paste to the surface you want to clean and let sit for an hour or more. Then put in some elbow grease to scrub. Then just rinse away with water. For cleaning grout, an old toothbrush works great to get in between the tiles.
Editor’s Note: Do you use non-commercial cleaners and why?