5 Tips For a Frugal Clean House

by Kelly · 18 comments

in A Frugal Home

It’s nearing finals time here at the Almost Frugal household. I have four papers to write and six exams to study for, including the triple death crown of finance, accounting and economics. Gah! So what am I doing? Cleaning my house until it shines, of course.

I am a terrible procrastinator, and along with killing time, cleaning helps me to kill stress. Inevitably therefore, finals time becomes cleaning time. But I don’t have a lot of money to spend on cleaning products, nor are they really what I want to spend my money on! Here are my top five tips for a frugal clean house.

  1. Dilute your products. Research has shown that people, even when consciously trying to reduce the amount of product being used, typically squeeze the bottle for the same length of time. So a good way to reduce how much you are using is to dilute it a little. I like to buy large bottles of concentrated, all natural cleaner which I then dilute in a spray bottle. I use this for everything, floors, stove, toilet. Which leads me to point number 2:
  2. Reduce your selection. If you pick just one or two products, then that’s just one or two products that you have to buy and stock. As I mentioned above, I buy a good concentrated all purpose cleaner which works for most things. Then I have a gritty scrubbing product for the bathtub and sinks, the appropriate soaps for laundry and dishes, and vinegar for everything else. No special shining agents, or mold reducers, or things to reduce soap scum or make my grout glisten.
  3. Use natural cleaners. The basics work best. And, as I said above, you need a whole lot less of them. ‘Green’ cleaners now cost about the same amount as the traditional variety, but you can make do with fewer products. Not to mention the karmic satisfaction you’ll get from doing your bit to save the planet. Vinegar, the simplest cleaner of all, is also one of the cheapest. I can pick up a large bottle for about รขโ€šยฌ1 at my local store; there are probably similar prices in your area.
  4. Clean efficiently. Time is money, especially when you don’t have a lot of either. Tackle one room at a time, or one area at a time or even one surface at a time. But do just that and nothing else! I’m a champion at starting one thing and then finding myself five minutes later doing something else entirely. It’s the ‘If you give a mouse a cookie syndrome‘ and I find that a whole lot of things get started but not much gets finished.
  5. Touch things once. It might be easier for example, to get the broom out to sweep up the messy floor immediately than putting it off until you have time to vacuum. Not to mention that if you do put off the cleaning, you then have to vacuum the whole floor, not just the area under the baby’s highchair. This goes back to the time is money principle, but it’s really about being more efficient with your time and your resources. Isn’t that what frugality is all about?

What have I missed? What are your favorite frugal cleaning tips?


1 MoneyGrubbingLawyer November 28, 2008

It’s amazing just how attractive cleaning becomes when studying is the alternative! ๐Ÿ™‚

My best tip would be to make your own cleaners, which is even cheaper. If you search for natural cleaner recipes, you can find some fantastic alternatives to even the best store brands.

MoneyGrubbingLawyer´s last blog post..American Thanksgiving is Way Better than Canadian Thanksgiving

2 Tomato Lady November 28, 2008

Excellent advice! I have to be in the right mood to clean. Wish that mood hit me more often! Best of luck on your exams–I’m sure you will come through with flying colors.

Tomato Lady´s last blog post.."Lightly Spooned" Flour v. Scooped Flour

3 Coupon Artist November 29, 2008

I make all my own cleaners. Vinegar, with water & a few squirts of Dawn Dish Soap is my all purpose cleaner. Baking soda, salt & vinegar mixed together to form a paste is great on ovens & tubs & showers. And diluted rubbing alcohol cleans glass with no streaks. Vinegar also doubles as fabric softener in laundry.

It is so much healthier and they really work just as well…

Coupon Artist´s last blog post..Are You Going Black Friday Shopping?

4 Kelly November 29, 2008

Making your own cleaners is such a great idea. I haven’t made the leap yet, but I really should. Maybe when the products I’m using run out.

5 Malcolm November 29, 2008

If you’re trying to be environmentally friendlier, then you have to check ingredients when it comes to using vinegar – a lot of vinegar is made from petroleum based alcohol.

6 Emma November 30, 2008

Funny y'all are discussing the natural cleaners because I started to think about it myself. Especially after my nanny told me a story about her little boy opening a child-proof cabinet, getting in there, taking a bottle of dishwashing liquid – also in a childproof packaging, opening and drinking about half of it! Luckily it was from non-poisonous make, but she didn't know that at the time.

So I guess natural cleaners are looking more attractive in that light ๐Ÿ™‚

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7 Lucie @ Unconventional Origins November 30, 2008

This is so funny, because I am in the midst of finals as well and (no exaggeration) my apartment looks the best it ever has! It is clean and shiny, all the rooms are together and organized, it’s amazing. Now, let’s hope I don’t fail tax!

I would like to me my own cleaners as well but have not taken that jump yet. Maybe over Christmas vacation . . .

I don’t know if I have any frugal tips, but I definitely stick to what I know works best and that helps me save money. I also use old tshirts, socks, whatever scraps I have so we don’t really have to buy paper towels very often.

8 Kelly November 30, 2008

Good point! I had no idea about that in vinegar. Is there one kind that is safer than another, or should you just stick to food grade vinegar?

9 Sarah H. December 1, 2008

I have not thought of diluting cleaners! Thanks for sharing this great tip because cleaning supplies are pricey!

Sarah H.´s last blog post..Houseplant Hacks – Three ways to manage your time more efficiently

10 Coupon shipping December 3, 2008

Great tips! I am to0 a champion of starting one thing and then finding myself going room to room doing something else. But when I see what I’m doing, I am forcing myself to focus on something only.
Thanks for sharing!

11 Gretchen Skovron December 4, 2008

I completely agree with you on the “touch things once”, so worth the few seconds to just deal with what needs dealt with at that moment than to put it off while it creates a bigger mess.

Gretchen Skovron´s last blog post..Matchbook Notepad

12 Tina December 4, 2008

I generally only use a few things around the house. White vinegar, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide when needed. I use all natural dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent. Diapers get clean with vinegar and most stains etc will come off with diluted hydrogen peroxide. I just get the big jugs and they stay locked away in the garage so the kids can’t get them. I only mix what I need at any given time.

13 karla (threadbndr) December 11, 2008

The best housecleaning tip I have is to get good quality tools. It’s worth it to hit up the local cleaning service – a lot of them also sell to the public. I have a proper mop bucket with wringer and a commercial grade mop with the washable head (get two so you have one on the mop and one fresh from the wash). Make it SO much easier than the cheap mops with the sponge heads (0r worse, the disposible pads). I also got a commercial grade duster and a big bundle of cotton cloth dust rags.

The professional grade tools won’t be cheap, but you also will not have to replace them in a few months and you won’t have ongoing costs for sponges, papertowels, or swiffer pads.

14 gic January 5, 2009

Dear Kelly,

Thanks for this nice post..I came across it while cleaning my inbox and enjoyed reading it again.
I’ve heard about vinegar being a very good cleaner, but I don’t exactly know how to use it.. Do I simply scrub the sink with vinegar?.. Can I clean my tiles with it?.. Do you know if it’s ok to use it on wooden floors?..

Thanks in advance, and happy 2009 ๐Ÿ™‚

15 Kelly January 5, 2009

I don’t know if I would use vinegar to wash wood floors, although it’s done OK on all other types of flooring I’ve tested it on (tile, ceramic, paint and as a carpet cleaner). To scrub your sink you could try making a paste of some baking soda on a damp sponge, and vinegar works great for cleaning tiles.

16 gic January 7, 2009

Thanks a lot for the tips Kelly.

17 Carolyn Tuft April 17, 2009

vinegar works well on hard wood floors, just add a little vinegar to a bucket of water and wash. one can also make dish washer detergent by combining baking soda and borax in equal parts. Vinegar can also be used to wash window (and it doesn’t leave any streaks) In fact, a lot of times the active ingredient in commercial cleaners is one of the above…

18 gic April 21, 2009

Thanks Carolyn, do you know how to get rid of the smell of the vinegar?.. I tried to clean with vinegar and found that it works well, but the smell won’t leave the room for hours and it is really irritating..

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