Cheap cleaning

bry84December 17, 2006

About six months back I worked out how much I was spending on cleaning products and I was shocked, even with cheap store brand items it gets expensive. It's also bad for the environment to be pouring so many chemicals down the drain and throwing out all those packets. Definitely seemed a good place to cut back.

Toilet cleaner has got to be the most wasteful thing we used to use. Even the cheapest brand is a waste of money by the design of the product. One application uses lots of liquid and the bottle goes down very fast. We were throwing out loads of them. Turns out that about 2 teaspoons of dish washing liquid in the pan and scrubbed around every day or two works really well. It's actually brighter and cleaner than ever before. I use the cheap store brand stuff that costs 13p a litre.

We also live in a hard water area, so the kettle fills up with chalky deposits fast. The acid based de-scaler was expensive, smelly and corroded the kettle over time. Soda crystals work much better. Fill the kettle with enough water to cover the element and scale deposits, add a table spoon or two of soda crystals and boil it. Leave it overnight and by the next morning the hard scale will have turned in to a soft mush that easily cleans away.

Multi-purpose liquid is another wasteful item, the directions on most packets suggest you use far more than you really need to. Instead of lasting months and months, like it should, a bottle is empty within weeks if you use it as they suggest. It generally works much better if you get a damp cloth or sponge, place the end of the bottle against it and upend it for a moment, then clean with the cloth. The level in the bottle doesn't even visibly go down. Should be able to do a whole bath or cooker top with this much. There might be radically less product being used, but it's concentrated and cleans much better this way. Makes lots of foam and you can rinse it away with all the dirt at the end. They also suggest about 5 full caps in hot water to clean the floor. Better to get a bucket of just hot water, wet the floor then pour a small quantity (half a cap perhaps) on the floor and scrub it with that until it's clean, which doesn't take long with concentrate, then rinse it.

I also used to use various products to clean things with burnt on dirt, like oven trays, the shelves from inside the oven itself and BBQ parts. Expensive, and most of them were hard work to use. However, placing all the dirty things covered in carbonised grime in a plastic bag with a few tablespoons of ammonia, sealing the bag and leaving it a couple of days turns the dirt in to soft gunk that just rinses away.

There are also lots of expensive products for cleaning TVs and computer monitors. Unfortunately most other cheaper cleaning products (even glass cleaner), don't get them quite clean enough. A little isopropyl alcohol on a cloth works really well on glass screens, being a solvent it removes the dirt and then evaporates without trace itself.

I have spent almost nothing on cleaning products the past few months. Most the things I use now are cheap, come in large packets and a little bit goes a very long way. I hope these suggestions everyone save some money as well as reduce the chemicals they pour down the drain.

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There are a lot of safe, easy ways I've found to save on cleaning supplies.

BBQ grill? When you're done cooking, lay a piece of aluminum foil on the grill, shiney side down, fire it up to high, close the lid for about 8-10 minutes and the grill will have self-cleaned with NO chemicals at all.

For most cleaning jobs in the house (burned spots on pans, the grates on the burners, stains on formica, stainless steel, etc)--I reach first for the baking soda. It's cheap, non-toxic, antibacterial, doesn't scratch surfaces, and most importantly is much more effective than a lot of pricy cleaners are.

Rubbing alcohol is the only glass cleaner I use.

For laundry, I use about 1/4 the amount recommended on the box, cold or warm water, and the shortest cycle on my washer--and my clothes come out CLEANER than when I was using more soap and longer washing cycles. No detergent build-up, and if you wash for a shorter length of time, the dirt doesn't have time to be redeposited on the clothes. And since I dry most things in the dryer, no need to use hot water to kill germs--the dryer heat is plenty for that. No fabric softener--mainly because we have allergies, but my clothes come out of the dryer plenty soft.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2006 at 9:37PM
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Thanks for the excellent suggestions.

I use white vinegar (bought in the largest available jug) for shining chrome fixtures. Unfortunately, not everyone likes the smell :) and you need multiple, prolonged applications for "water" stains.

In case anyone doesn't know what "soda crystals" are, here's some information:

Here is a link that might be useful: Soda crystals

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 11:49AM
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- Place a glass marble in the bottom of the kettle to help prevent a build up of mineral deposits once you've gotten it clean. Use solution of equal parts of water and white vinegar, bring it to a boil and let it sit overnight, to clean the kettle.

- A spritz bottle of equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol makes a great bathroom cleaner, including chrome. I spritz all flat surfaces and wipe them dry (daily).

- If you empty the water from the toilet bowl before you clean it (I dump 1/4 bucket of water - usually leftover from another task - to flush out the water), you will only need a small amount of cleaner (of choice) on the brush. The entire bowl doesn't need covering with cleaner....

- I keep a spritz bottle of 1 quart water and 1 teaspoon liquid bleach in the kitchen - it's the ultimate sanitizer for all kitchen surfaces. And don't forget to keep rags for these cleaning tasks, rather than paper towels, and wash and dry them for reuse.


    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 8:59PM
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Silly question from the youngin'. So it sounds like I can start replacing all my cleaning supplies with Bleach, rubbing alcohol and vinegar. My question is, when do you use vinegar and when do you use alcohol?

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 7:48AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

And I thought this thread was going to be about cheap housekeepers....

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 9:33AM
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rushmom3 - I use white vinegar in the rinse water in my laundry (about 1/4 c. in the softener dispenser, instead of high-priced softener). Once dried, the clothes DO NOT smell like vinegar. I've tried to remove as many products that have a fregrence in them as possible, because I think they can be dangerous to the environment and people.

Vinegar is a good grease-cutter, so is an excellent cleanser for floors. No-wax floors can be cleaned with a solution of 1 cup vinegar per gallon of water for a shinier surface.

In the Bathroom...

To remove corrosion or mineral build-up from showerheads, soak in vinegar overnight.

Remove stains from the toilet bowl by spraying with vinegar and spraying.

To remove soap build-up from faucets, clean with a mixture of 1 part salt to four parts vinegar.

Spray shower walls and shower curtain with vinegar to help prevent mildew.

Alcohol is an excellent and inexpensive disinfectant. I use it to wipe off things like the phone, door knobs, faucets, keyboards, etc. If your no-wax bathroom flooring suffers from hairspray residue, a spritz of alcohol will easily remove it. CAUTION: Alcohol is flammable, so keep it away from open flames.

What's in Toxic Cleaning Products - glycol ether, acids, caustics, borine, chlorine, ammonia, petroleum solvents, butyl, phosphate, MEA, EDTA, nonyl phenol, sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate, known carcinogens, artificial fragrance, colors or preservatives.


    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 1:01PM
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I use rubbing alcohol to clean paint brushes. Even dried oil based paint will soften after the brushes soak overnight.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 3:51PM
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Let any cleaner soak on the surface before wiping it away. Apply the cleaner, walk away for a few minutes, do someting else, when you come back the goo will be dissolved.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 8:23PM
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Alcohol is an excellent and inexpensive disinfectant. I use it to wipe off things like the phone, door knobs, faucets, keyboards, etc.

Be careful using alcohol on plastic items: it can remove screened-on labels and soften plastic into a sticky dirt-attracting mess.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 6:04AM
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Ditto on what steve_o said. I ruined a toilet seat by using rubbing alcohol on it and I also ruined a phone.

Rubbing alcohol works great on ceramic in kitchen and bath and on chrome.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2006 at 12:01AM
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I'm having to take physical therapy at a local hospital twice a week,my therapist spilled my coke. When he cleaned it up he spreyed it with a plain spritz bottle. I asked him what it was. He answered....Alcohal. So-o-o we're not alone in cheap cleaning. LOL

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 1:07AM
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I put rubbing alcohol in a small spritz bottle and use that to clean my glasses. I learned this from an optometrist who cleaned my glasses this way in his office.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 1:28PM
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White Vinegar is also good for cleaning mirrors, windows, shower screens and to remove limescale from draining boards.
Another great cheap and 'greener' cleaning product which i seem to use for everything is washing Soda Crystals. I get a 1kg bag from Sainsbury's for about 70p. I use them for everything from cleaning grease from the grill, washing the kitchen floor, cleaning the bathroom and unblocking sinks.
The link is great for cleaning tips using Vinegar and Soda Crystals.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soda Crystals Cleaning tips

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 5:45AM
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