Scrub up on cleaners

Clean out of ideas? Home recipes can help cut the cost of cleaning. Photo from Getty Images.
Clean out of ideas? Home recipes can help cut the cost of cleaning. Photo from Getty Images.
Here's the dirt: I hate to clean. It turns out that puts me at odds with a majority of women. A recent poll revealed that only 7% of women dislike slaving over a hot vacuum. The rest of us "love" cleaning and "find it relaxing".


I "love" shopping. I find a cruise "relaxing". Scrubbing floors, washing windows - not so much. Call me crazy.

To keep my home from being condemned by the health department, I've always ascribed to the "more is more" theory of cleaning supplies - using a designated product for each dirty area.

Spray bottles filled with blue liquid for the windows, green for the bathroom.

Lemony-smelling liquid for furniture. Disposable magnetic dusting sheets. Canisters of gentle powder for scouring the tub. Heavy-duty cleanser for the toilet. Aerosol foam for appliances. Cooktop wipes.

If a product promised to cut down on cleaning time and make the task easier, I'd buy it.

But as much as I dislike cleaning, I hate wasting money even more.

Since I've been writing about ways to live on less, I've discovered that spending big bucks on pricey cleaning products is dollars down the drain.

It's also as far from being a "green" consumer as one can be.

According to such websites as,, and, everything I need to make the house sparkle is already in my kitchen and medicine cabinet.

Well, almost everything.

While I do have vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide - the major ingredients in most homemade cleaning supplies - on hand, I found myself fresh out of rottenstone, neatsfoot oil, Fuller's earth and oxalic acid.

Luckily, such off-the-grid components are not essential.

Home and living TV presenter Sara Snow says replacing even a few expensive commercial cleaning products with easy, homemade alternatives can save money and create a healthful, more natural home environment.

"With lemon juice, white distilled vinegar, baking soda, a mild liquid Castile soap and water, you can clean your whole house for pennies on the dollar to what it costs for commercial cleaners," she says.

"Think of it as going back to the thrifty ways of past generations.

"Our grandmothers didn't have a special cleaning product for each task, and their homes were spotless."

A few of her suggestions: To freshen a toilet, pour 2 or 3 cups of white vinegar into the bowl, let it sit a few hours, scrub and flush.

Use distilled white vinegar to clean and disinfect benches, remove stains on carpets and to replace fabric softener in your washing machine's final rinse.

"A paste of baking soda, warm water and mild soap makes a great scrub that won't scratch your surfaces," Snow says.

"Two parts of olive oil and one part lemon juice picks up dust and gives a nice shine to your wood furniture.

"Mix one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts water, put it in a spray bottle and use it to clean the mouldy, mildewy stuff off the grout in your shower."

Another green-clean advocate, Alison Haynes, recommends shining silver with sour milk, dissolving rust with white vinegar and water, and shining patent leather with petroleum jelly.

At, a community of consumers share money-saving ideas and swap tips on making homemade and eco-friendly cleaners and beauty products, and provide money-saving uses for common household items.

These budget-minded people remove stains with mixtures of ammonia and dishwashing liquid, polish silver with toothpaste and remove water marks from wooden tables with peanut butter.

They wash windows with solutions of ammonia and water and crumpled newspapers.

They make their own mop heads with old T-shirts.

It all makes good sense, so I'm stocking up on jugs of vinegar and bottles of peroxide.

I'm buying ammonia, cartons of salt and boxes of baking soda.

The house is just as scrubbed as it was with the high-priced products, and, best of all, I'm saving money.

But I still hate cleaning.

- Korky Vann, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post

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