Lean Spending for Green Housecleaning

green cleaningAnyone who buys bottles of Formula 409 or Windex knows it costs a pretty penny for the most popular cleansers. In light of the green movement, companies such as Seventh Generation, BioKleen and Caldrea have developed ecological alternatives to chemically-harsh cleaners, but they cost even more! Check out a health food store and you’ll see that a bottle of natural all-purpose cleaner costs about $8.

Baking soda, salt and white vinegar, three of the least expensive, most easily available household products, can save you big money on cleaning products.  In addition to your wallet, since they are non-toxic, you’ll be protecting the health of your pets and family.

Each of these items may be purchased inexpensively in restaurant sizes (bulk) at warehouse stores.  What are some of the ingenious ways these staples can be used to clean your household without breaking your budget? Let’s investigate.

Baking soda

With its odor-absorbing qualities, baking soda sprinkles (or an open box) may be used to deodorize:

  • trash cans
  • drains in the sink and bathtub
  • athletic footwear
  • cat litter boxes
  • pet beds
  • gym bags
  • carpet
  • closets
  • stuffed animals
  • refrigerators; and
  • dishwashers.

Dust the bottom of trash cans or the litter box and leave it. An open box works well in the fridge, but dusting the items, letting them sit overnight and shaking or vacuuming the power off then works well.

The slight abrasion in baking soda also makes it an effective and safe cleanser for:

  • microwaves
  • the oven
  • floors
  • pots and pans
  • tiles
  • sinks
  • tubs
  • shower curtains
  • countertops
  • car exteriors
  • walls

In most cases, it is less messy and easier to work with when mixed with a bit of water to form a cleaning paste. But, it also may be used by sprinkling it on a damp cleaning cloth.

And, with its alkali properties, it will clean corrosion off and neutralize battery acid, extending the life of the batteries and engines in cars and mowers and battery compartments in your digital camera, video game player, as well as TV remote controls.

White vinegar

Vinegar, too, works as a deodorizer, but also as disinfectant.  It kills most mold, bacteria and germs. After use, the smell of vinegar will linger, but will fade after a few hours.  If it bothers you, you can also soak it with lemon or mint for several days and strain it before using.  It’s handy to buy a spray bottle, fill it with half vinegar and half water.  Keep it on hand for use on:

  • ketchup, tomato or mustard-stained clothing before washing
  • grout (use a toothbrush to scrub it out)
  • windows
  • faucets
  • walls
  • stovetops
  • counters
  • exterior of the fridge and washing machine
  • shower stall
  • mini blinds
  • linoleum or no-wax vinyl floors
  • toilet
  • sinks and
  • stains in wool carpets

Other ways to take advantage of this economical cleanser include:

  • Boiling a cup of vinegar in the microwave to get rid of odors and loosen dried food splatters for removal with a sponge.
  • Running it, diluted, through the coffee maker, dishwasher, drains and garbage disposal. (Make sure to run plain water through the coffee maker a couple of times after the cleaning cycle).
  • Adding a cup to rinse water in the washer will remove excess detergent and hard water deposits leaving the clothing cleaner and softer.
  • Removing price tags and decal residue by soaking overnight.
  • Soak hardened paint brushes with vinegar for an hour then simmer, drain and rinse them.

Table Salt

Salt, too, is mildly abrasive and kills germs.

It’s great for removing wine or grape juice stains on carpets or clothing. Pour on fresh wine stains to absorb the liquid.  Leave it to dry.  Then brush it off or vacuum and repeatedly wash the spot with diluted white wine vinegar.

A good salt scrub helps remove grease from plates and sinks and coffee and tea stains from cups and teapots.

Add water to some salt and soak overnight with a bit of water on burnt food on pots and pans.  Likewise, it can be used to clean up oven drips and juice spills on the bottom of an over.  Sprinkle salt on the spills while they are still warm. Let the oven cool and scrub them off.

In a pinch, it may be used as dishwashing liquid. Just add a tablespoon into water in your dishpan.

If the bottom of your iron becomes sticky, rub some salt on a damp cloth and iron it a few times. Then wipe the iron’s surface off with plain water.

You may also clean drains regularly to helps prevent the build up of grease, food particles and bacteria. Just boil salt water and pour it down the kitchen drain.


House cleaning is rarely fun, but if you can make it cheap and healthier for your family, your pets and yourself, you benefit in two ways.  As always, the greater savings in everyday costs, the more money we have left to pay down debt and save for the future. Economical cleaning is just one option for cutting costs.  Click here for additional ideas on ways to save.

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