Cleaning on the Cheap

For most surfaces, Ivory soap and water cleans just fine. For heavier cleaning jobs I use Fels Naptha soap or Octagon Soap.  Lather it on, let it sit for a few moments on really grungy stuff, then scrub a bit and rinse.

For windows, take a bucket of warm water, add a small squirt of dishwashing liquid and swish to mix.

Wipe on windows with a cloth, then either use a squeegee or another cloth to dry. I generally clean all of my windows and mirrors at once using this mixture.

Back in the old days people used just regular soap like lye soap or Ivory Soap to clean almost everything, so I’m trying to learn from them and save money in the process. While I have discovered that Ivory soap is an excellent all-purpose cleaner, for tougher jobs Fels Naptha of Octagon Soap are MUCH better. 

I no longer use paper towels, and instead use cloth.  A wash with a cup of ammonia in the water instead of bleach really gets them clean!  Ammonia also makes for a good color-safe “bleach”—it really helps to clean your clothes, and it does not leave a scent! Also, ammonia only costs about a dollar per half-gallon, half the price of the equivalent in bleach (less than half for the color-safe variety).

Instead of fabric softener I use a half-cup of vinegar in the rinse for my whites.  I still have a lot of fabric softener left from where I purchased a gallon last year, so I dilute it half and half with water and use it sparingly in my colors.  At this rate that gallon will last me another year or longer!

I wash dishes with a bar of Octagon soap these days.  A bar costs 79 cents and lasts a while!  I’ve been using this bar for a month on my dishes as well as for general cleaning, and it is still over halfway intact! Considering that a bottle of dishwashing liquid costs several dollars anymore that is a considerable savings!

To deodorize my home I take used coffee grounds, dry them and place them in old socks that I place around like sachets to absorb bad odors.  Fresh coffee grounds actually work better, so occasionally I mix a little in with my used ones, but used grounds are much more frugal—it is something you would normally throw away or compost!

To freshen my carpets and keep insects at bay I sprinkle Borax on them and use a broom to rub it into the carpet.  I like to leave this on at least for an hour, but I frequently leave in in the carpet for a day or more. Not only does this help with odors in the carpet, but if insects walk on it, they will lick it off of their feet and it will kill them. Not sure of the science behind it, but I did use it to eliminate a flea infestation in this place when I moved here.

To treat my laundry stains I dip a bar of Fels Naptha in water then rub it on the damp stain.  It works really well—if not better than all of those expensive pre-treaters they have in the laundry section.

I do use Bon Ami scrubbing powder on tough spots on the stove—it seems to have a bit more power than baking soda or salt, but otherwise those two things are what I use for scouring powder.

My floor is washed in a vinegar and water solution, but I tend to mix this up with a borax and water solution to continued insect control.  Living out in the county I feel prevention is better than dealing with an insect infestation.

I do have some commercial cleaners that I purchased the other year.  I occasionally drag them out to try on this or that, but my current cleaners tend to do better than the fancy commercial stuff I’m afraid.  I’m not sure what I do with the leftover cleaners as a result—I hate the thought of wasting them!

One commercial product I still use is OdoBan.  I keep it diluted in a spray bottle and use it for serious odors or whenever I want to kill some germs.  I worked  for a cleaning company once and they used it to even kill smoke odors for a fire, and in daycares to eliminate the urine smells in the bathroom.  You can buy pre-mixed bottles at Wal Mart but I get it by the gallon at Sam’s Club because it is much cheaper this way and lasts a long time.

What frugal products to you use for cleaning?