You can spend a fortune on expensive cleaners you don’t need and that don’t really work well at all. But you don’t have to. Here are out four top tips for how to clean your home on the cheap.
It seems counterintuitive, but cleaning more often will save you time and money. Consider this: A quick swipe of a soapy dishcloth will remove a fresh spill from the stove, but you have to break out the heavy-duty cleaners and scrubbing sponges if you wait until that spill is a hard, crusty glob. The same is true of almost any other kind of cleaning: soap scum in the tub, dust on the television, furniture, and blinds, crumbs in the carpet, stains on fabric.
An exception is mud on carpet or upholstery — if you pounce on it right away with a wet cloth, the stain can get rubbed into the fabric. Let it dry, then vacuum up as much dirt and soil as possible before treating the leftover stain.
Clean weekly or more often and you’ll see that a cleaning cloth dampened with water takes care of most messes. Use a shower squeegie daily to dry the walls and tub; expensive sprays aren’t really necessary if you do.
Edit your cleaning supplies.
For most jobs, like wiping counters, kitchen and bathroom fixtures, and mopping tile, a no-rinse, all-purpose cleaner is all you need. If you want it to disinfect or sanitize, be sure to follow the directions on the bottle. Most disinfecting cleaners require a “dwell time,” meaning you need to let the cleaner remain, wet, on the surface for a specific amount of time (often 10 minutes).
Don’t waste your money on the blue (or yellow, or green, or clear) glass cleaner. A tablespoon of ammonia or two tablespoons of vinegar mixed into a quart of clean water will do a better job and is much cheaper. For bathroom mirrors, the best cleaner I have ever used is plain hot water. It dissolves hairspray and toothpaste perfectly. Wet a cloth with the hottest water you can handle — without burning yourself, of course — and thoroughly wet the mirror, wiping back and forth a few times. Use your window or tub squeegie to remove the water, and catch any drips with a dry cloth. If you’ve been using commercially prepared glass cleaning sprays, you might have to repeat this process two or three times just to clean off all the residue left behind by the glass cleaner.
Dispose of the disposables.
If you want to save money, don’t get flimsy tools that require frequent, expensive refills. Purchase good-quality cleaning supplies. I like to buy most of my cleaning tools at a hardware or janitorial supply store. At least that’s what I liked to do 10 years ago, which is probably how long it’s been since I’ve needed to buy anything. The point is that they work well, are comfortable to use, and they last a long time. Try not to get swayed by too many added “features.” A flat mop, broom, dust pan, window squeegie, tub squeegie, cleaning bucket, spray bottles, real ostrich feather or lambswool duster and several neatly folded cleaning cloths will do for most homes.
Get a vacuum cleaner you can move without a tow-truck and that you can buy without financing.
I’ve used a lot of vacuum cleaners, and those are my two criteria. If you can’t lift them, you’re less likely to use them. And if you have to make payments — well, just don’t. These days, even inexpensive vacuums have HEPA filters and do a pretty good job. Research the reviews, buy what you can afford now, and save up for your dream vacuum.
What are your top tips for cleaning on the cheap?
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