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Cleaning Aisle

Save Money on Groceries: Cleaning Supplies 
by Michelle Jones,

The reason why I haven't shared many tips on homemade cleaning supplies over the years is because I usually prefer to buy them. With four kids and a publishing business to run, I need my ready made cleaners, PLEASE! I do not have a housekeeper, though I surely could use one, I hate the smell of bleach and vinegar, or rather I should say it literally makes me ill so I have to be very careful of the cleaning supplies I do use. So, I have a few products that I like, especially the lemon scent Clorax disposable wipes and I always try to get them for the best price. I also use coupons, get my cleaning products on sale, and use refills whenever possible.

Yet, on occasion and just for you, I do enjoy testing recipes for homemade cleaners. I have discovered that they are usually easy to make and work quite nicely. If you have homemade recipes for cleaning products that you use regularly in your home and would like to share them here with our readers please contact me and I will add them to this page.

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Readers' Tips...

"Place Comet cleanser or any discount brand as long as it is the kind you use for cleaning tubs and sinks in the bottom of your garbage can, then place garbage bags in it.  This simple step will save time cleaning the garbage can; it will absorb any liquids and it keeps the can smelling great.  And it will save you money because you won't have to buy bug spray to keep the bugs away." - Dawn B.

"Beware of Wal-mart pricing! Half a gallon of white vinegar was 10 cents higher than a gallon of the same brand.  We have found the same to be true on Dawn dish liquid, by figuring the cost per ounce, we came out better by buying several small bottles. Same on toilet tissue. Check and recheck those prices. Also, try adding white vinegar to your laundry's fabric softener dispenser instead of that higher priced softener. Clothes are just as soft, no vinegar smell and I swear my whites have become whiter!" - Betty

"I do laundry for just a few pennies a load...

Recipe for Laundry Detergent:

1 grated bar of ivory (some recipes call for Fels Naptha laundry soap but ivory is both easier to grate and cheaper and works just as well, I have found)
1/2 cup of borax
1/2 cup of washing soda (NOT baking soda!)

Take the grated ivory and boil until melted in 2 qt of water.  Pour into a large container (I used the giant animal cracker container I had) that will hold up to 2 gallons when done.  Add borax, washing soda and fill the rest of the way with warm tap water, mix.  Stir every so often until cool... it will thicken as it cools into a gel-like consistency and sometimes will have a watery layer if you didn't stir enough but I haven't ever found this to be a problem.  Use 1/2 cup for small loads or 1 c for large. 1/2 cup to 1 gal. of water and a Tbs. of bleach gets yucky kid stains out of whites.  I keep a bucket ready and toss them in to soak.  I also toss in my white dinner napkins as we use them (don't use paper ones, use the white "restaurant" napkins since they can be bleached).


1/2 c white vinegar

I put this in my Downey ball so it gets into the rinse cycle and I don't have to wait around.  Makes clothes soft and fluffy and they don't smell like vinegar, just fresh!  Makes cloth diapers soft too and you don't have the same issues you would with absorbency as you would if you used store softener. I was making a softener with vinegar, baking soda and water but it was messy and plain vinegar works. I also have been able to cure my 17-month-old's eczema by making my own products, she had chronic problems and then within one week of using these it was gone!!! :)" - Maria Gross

"I have found a product that saves me money, shelf space, is good for the environment and does not have a strong chemical smell. It is called CitraSolv and I can only find it at a local grocery store in the organic section. A bottle of it is about $15. Sounds high, but you dilute it. One cap in a $.99 spray bottle of water cleans counters, glass, furniture, walls, carpet stains, etc. Two to Three caps in a mop bucket cleans floors and is safe on wood and tile. I still buy the disinfectant cleaners for the bath and for after I cut meat in the kitchen, but for everything else, it is all I use. It is made from oranges so you have the faint scent that smells like someone just sliced an orange. A bottle can last me 9 months so I am spending $1.66 per month to clean my kitchen and living area. I don't have bottles to throw out or to make space for in the cabinet. No coupons though." - Missy

"I use baking soda mixed with Dr. Bronner's peppermint liquid soap instead of commercial "Soft Scrub". This is safe to use around children, and doesn't leave the chemical smell. Mix baking soda with the soap to a frosting-like consistency and use as you would Soft Scrub or Comet. I also keep a spray bottle filled with vinegar to disinfect countertops. This is also safe around children. Annie Berthold-Bond has a great book called "Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living" that is full of easy recipes for homemade household and personal care products. I purchased this book when my daughter was a baby, because she had respiratory problems and I wanted to reduce the chemicals used in my home. It turned out to have economic benefits as well. Vinegar, baking soda and borax - along with my favorite peppermint soap - can clean almost anything in the house." - Kate

"I clean houses for a living.  I use undiluted 3% Hydrogen Peroxide in spray bottle for wiping counters, washing window, mirrors, stuck on gunk.  It's odorless and It is a lot cheaper than other cleaners." - Karel

"Foaming hand soap refills cost as much per ounce as the regular full strength liquid soap refills--but you’re paying mostly for water! Try this instead: in a standard 8-ounce measuring cup put in 6 ounces (3/4 cup) water, then add the last 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of any liquid hand soap. Stir gently with a spoon or small spatula until blended well without a lot of bubbles, and use as your foaming refill. Works perfectly!" - Janna K. of Virginia Beach, VA

"I too, tend to prefer the smell of some name brand cleaners, and I know ammonia can be harsh, but I like to use it when I can. It is much less expensive. I also use diluted white vinegar to clean my hard wood floors. I use very little vinegar to a gallon of water. I even put this in my swiffer sprayer bottle. Lastly, to save on wash, I make my own laundry detergent. I have three kids and a husband...I do still use store brands for the tough dirt, but for everyday clothing I use my own. It is simple to make a large amount and you can use a scented fabric softener if you like more of a scent!" - Jean B.

"I keep a 5 gal. pail right outside the bathroom door and immediately pretreat the stains on everyone's clothes as they take them off. I use a store bought pretreater on the stains. If that hasn't taken the stain out completely, I pour a little peroxide on the stain. On laundry day I add warm water and about half a bottle of peroxide and let it sit until I'm ready to do laundry. I've noticed that perspiration stains came out of my husbands white T- shirts and brightened them. I've used peroxide on colored clothes and it didn't fade the colors. If you have toddlers, keep the bucket up out of their reach to prevent accidental drowning." - submitted by MsJan (Editor's note: Always a good idea to do a test spot first. :o)

"Never buy laundry detergent again. I use Dawn Original Dishwashing Detergent. Just a squirt will wash a large load of clothing. One can add a squeeze of Suave Shampoo if they want a little fragrance. Speaking of Suave Shampoo, it's great for a bubble bath. The bubbles are long-lasting!" - submitted by Lynne

"I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your Money Saving Tips and am thankful for your insight. Thank you for creating your website and sharing them with others! Here are my tips for saving money on cleaning products: I clean almost everything with Vinegar and Baking Soda. I bought two 32 oz spray bottles at a hardware store and filled them with vinegar: one for the kitchen and one for the bathroom. I don't like the smell of Vinegar either, so I bought a small bottle of Lavender oil and put 2-3 drops into my spray bottle of Vinegar. Yes, the scented oil can be a little expensive ($3-10 for .5 oz) but if you use it sparingly it will last four to five years! I only put the oil in the vinegar I use to clean the bathroom. I don't mind the smell so much in the kitchen, but if you can always buy a bottle of lemon oil ($3.70 at to scent your kitchen vinegar. I use Aura Cacia scented oils. If you like to see bubbles when you spray the vinegar, just add a few drops of dish detergent. If you have granite counter tops you can make your own granite cleaner: 5% alcohol, 95% water and a few drops of dish liquid. For stubborn stains on countertops I use a little baking soda, then spray with vinegar and scrub. I have found that Krud Kutter is more efficient for cutting soap scum, but everything else get cleaned with Vinegar and baking soda. (tile floors: hot water, 1/2 C. Vinegar, a few drops of dish liquid) (toilets: full strength vinegar) I also clean our mirrors and windows with vinegar, a squeegee and a lintless cloth (old t-shirt). For smelly loads of laundry I add a 1/4 c. of baking soda. I also use baking soda and water to make a paste for stubborn stains and odors. The other great thing about using vinegar and baking soda is that they don't harm the environment and they're safe to use around children." - God Bless, Angela B.

"A tip I learned from my Mom many years ago was to always start the (hand wash) dishes with the glassware first, then the less dirty stuff, and finish off with the dirtiest. That way the greasy things are last and do not make the water unusable for glasses, plates and such. Having to refill a sink with more water and detergent means you use twice as much with each clean-up. It seems obvious, but many people start with the biggest job of casserole dishes, roasting pans, pots, etc., and waste the hot water and soap." - Nancy Kelly, Montreal, Canada

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