Clean on the Cheap

Cleaning is an expensive albeit lucrative business. Reports vary but most agree that Americans spend upwards of $600 a year on cleaning supplies, most of which are toxic to both humans and the planet.

Fact is, cleaning is one of those happy categories where buying natural truly is massively cheaper than buying commercial products. Case in point, two large jugs of distilled white vinegar cost less than $5 from a big box store and will easily take the place of many chemically-based cleaning agents. I use vinegar to clean countertops, sinks, stovetops, windows, mirrors, the works. Vinegar also works great to clean toilets, just let it sit for a hour before giving it a good swish. Toss vinegar in your dishwasher, coffee maker and clothes washer once a month. Yup, vinegar is your go-to cleaner for most things. I also use it very effectively to kill weeds naturally in the yard.

Salt and baking soda are also cheap when bought in large amounts and make a great paste to clean nearly any surface because when mixed with a bit of water, they form an abrasive paste that can scrub away most gunk very economically.

Hydrogen peroxide and borax make excellent stain removers and can be bought in smaller amounts. For blood, always use the coldest water possible and maybe a dab of liquid detergent, anything else may set the stain. Before treating other stains, be sure and do your research. Club soda is an economical stain remover for many stains so keep a small bottle on hand in your pantry.

Lemons are another secret ingredient in your frugal cleaning arsenal. First, use the zest and juice in cooking. Then use the fruit husks in something that needs lemon flavoring such as when cooking artichokes. Next, run the fruit over a surface to clean and scent it. Finally, you can chop up the leftovers and place them in a large jug of vinegar to improve the scent. Talk about using up something to the very last bit. You can also freeze used up chunks of lemon or other bits of citrus to clean your garbage disposal for free.

Finally, your biggest saver on cleaning products is actually simple boiling water. Place a bowl of boiling water in your microwave and shut the door to let steam. Then simply wipe down the insides. Boiling water can also (very carefully) be poured on any number of heat-resistant surfaces to clean and disinfect. I usually use very hot water to clean the inside of my fridge. It’s not rocket science but it is incredibly cheap and works great. Boiling water (be careful not to slosh!) kills weeds naturally and on the cheap as well. To clean the metal trays that sit on your stove top, simply remove them from your stove and submerge in boiling hot water. If necessary, use a paste of baking soda and salt to remove any remaining gunk.

And a final word, if you don’t let the gunk and dirt accumulate, then you will have far less cleaning to do and far less cleaning supplies to buy.

The Big Eight:

Boiling water

Distilled White Vinegar


Baking Soda


Hydrogen Peroxide


Club Soda

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