The key to living the good life on a budget is being able to cut where it doesn’t hurt. That means, changing the way you spend your money in areas of your life where you will not notice a huge difference when spending less. I don’t know too many people who are attached to the labels and social status associated with cleaning products. As long as the product is efficient, most are happy.
What better way to save on cleaning products than by making your own? Here are the 3 most common natural household cleaners:
Vinegar: For years now I have relied on vinegar more than any other cleaning product available. With it, I wash my hardwood and ceramic floors, kitchen counter tops and appliances, toilets and most any surface (except marble). I even clean my mirrors with vinegar and recycled newspaper.
Pour the vinegar inside a plastic spray-bottle and dilute with water. I am a bit of a germaphobe so my ratio is usually 50:50 to ensure its disinfectant proprieties, but you can modify to suit your purpose. It can also be used as a natural fabric softener. About.com prescribes adding “½ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle in place of store-bought fabric softener. Vinegar has the added benefit of breaking down laundry detergent more effectively and will not irritate sensitive skin.” Some people complain about the smell, but once it dries the smell is gone. It’s hardly an excuse.
Baking soda: Never underestimate its power. Baking soda is a natural deodorant and abrasive. When we moved into our home a few years ago, I was able to remove 20 years of grease built up at the top edge of our kitchen cupboard doors by creating a paste with baking soda and warm water. Rub this same paste onto a toothbrush and scrub the dirt from the grout of your tiled floors. You can also add a box of it in your fridge to help absorb any unwanted smells.
Lemon juice: Lemon juice can be added to your vinegar or baking soda cleaning mixtures to achieve the fresh scent that denotes cleanliness for so many of us. Sarah Aguirre suggests “cutting a lemon in half and sprinkling baking soda on the cut section. Use the lemon to scrub dishes, surfaces, and stains. Or, mix 1 cup olive oil with ½ cup lemon juice and you have a furniture polish for your hardwood furniture.”
Not only are all of these products inexpensive, but they are friendly to the environment, children and pets. Your children’s bare feet and hands, as well as pets’ paws absorb the toxins left behind by chemical cleaning products. So while you may associate clean with the smell of pine, the product is not the best for you and therefore not worth the olfactory familiarity.
An easy way to ensure you will actually use these natural homemade products instead of the commercial cleaners is to pre-mix the solutions into containers or spray-bottles and label them. As you embark on your spring cleaning, reach for the cheaper, more natural option. Even if you start slowly and incorporate the natural cleaners for certain jobs only and not others, that’s ok. Every little bit counts.
This was the last of my spring cleaning installments. Now I say: “bring it on!” I am done with winter.