If there’s one thing that we all have in common, it’s that we despise how expensive everyday cleaning items are. Every year the prices go up, and that’s money that we’d rather spend enjoying ourselves. Cleaning products like soaps and detergents are a multi-billion dollar industry, so the manufacturers don’t want you to know that you can replicate their results at home with some basic ingredients:
1. Swiffer refills:
I love my Swiffer 2-in-1. It’s an inexpensive, lightweight, and easy-to-use floor cleaner that I use all over my home. However, those disposable pads and fluid refills can add up in cost quickly. Swiffer is running a similar business to shaving razors: buy the handle cheap, and expect to pay big for refills.
I beat the razor game by investing in a safety razor and using much cheaper (albeit harder to use) straight razor blades. You can beat Swiffer’s game the same way: using cheaper materials to do the same job. The clips that hold their proprietary disposable mats in place could also be used to hold a microfiber towel or a large chenile sock, which can be washed and reused instead of thrown away. You can also cut a hole in the top of a refill cartridge and put in your own refill mix: half water and half vinegar, with 2-3 drops of dish soap. Enjoy a squeaky Swiffer clean without those pricey Swiffer refills!
2. Foaming hand soap:
Foaming soap: faster to use, and more fun for the kids. What’s not to like? Well, it’s much more expensive per volume than your average liquid soap, and those little pumps by the sink run dry quickly.
The truth is, foaming soap isn’t that different from regular soap. What causes it to foam is the dispenser, which pushes air out along with the soap. The main difference in the soap itself is that foaming soap has more water and less soap per volume, allowing it to run through the unique foaming nozzle.
With that in mind, it’s easy to make your own soap at home for much less than you would spend at the grocery store. Just mix 1/3 a cup of plain Castile (meaning olive oil based) soap with 2/3 cup of water, adding the water slowly to avoid premature foaming. Then add 1/8 teaspoon of your favorite essential oil (like lavender, lemon, or peppermint) for scent. Now your family is washing their hands for pennies on the dollar!
3. Laundry detergent:
I never remember to account for laundry detergent in my weekly budget. That’s all fine and good until I run out of detergent – after buying that big box, I feel like I have to live off of ramen to make it through the week. Who knew it was so easy to skip the expense and make your own detergent at home?
Start with one bar of Zote laundry soap (or your favorite bar of laundry soap). Grate the bar into a small bucket. Mix in one cup of Borax, one cup of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, one cup of OxiClean (or a generic alternative), a half cup of baking soda, and some Gain scent crystals (or your choice of scent additives). Cover the bucket and shake everything up, and you’ll have over 50 tablespoons of quality detergent – enough for up to 50 loads of laundry!
4. Stain remover:
I think every company that can afford to air a commercial is advertising some sort of magical stain removal solution. Some of them might seem affordable, but it’s really just because you’re only getting a small pen with some formula in it. Since I don’t carry around a bleach pen in my pocket, I don’t necessarily need that convenient packaging. Instead, I’d rather save a heap of money by making my own stain remover at home.
Mix a half a cup of baking soda and a half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one cup of water. Stir thoroughly to make sure it’s all one solution, and you’re done! Make sure to store your new stain remover in an opaque jar, as hydrogen peroxide breaks down in sunlight. Before you throw that stained piece of clothing in the laundry, dab some of this stain remover on it, then move on to your usual washing routine.
5. Drain cleaner:
Take it from me: you never want to buy drain cleaner in the middle of an emergency. Not only will you be cursing at every red light and suspecting that the cashier knows what’s going on at home, but you’ll likely end up paying more than you had hoped. Instead, you could have a drain cleaner ready to go with ingredients you already have in the house:
First off, many clogs don’t need a special cleaner at all. Before you try any chemical approaches, bring a small pot of water to a simmer (not a boil). Squirt some dish soap into the clogged area, then steadily pour the hot water directly into the drain from a few feet above it (about waist height for a toilet or bath, and chest height for a sink). The soap, heat, and force of dropping water can dislodge many minor clogs.
If the pot of water doesn’t work, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Mix a cup of baking soda, a cup of table salt, and a half cup of vinegar, and pour that into the drain. Wait five minutes, then follow up with a half cup of lemon juice. After another 10 minutes, pour some hot water in to finish the job. If this doesn’t do the job, it’s time to call a plumber.