Many times when people talk about their grocery budgets in a way to see if they can save some money, I often hear them say:
I include cleaning and paper products in my grocery budget as well. It just makes sense, if I buy the laundry detergent at the grocery store, not to itemize the receipts for my budget when I get home.
I can’t help but wonder though, are people spending too much on cleaning products? Those are such a small part of my spending that I don’t even notice them. The cost is so negligible, I never think to mention it.
So just in case, let’s talk about cleaning products and see if we can find some ways to save you money.
Our detergent comes with a scoop, but the instructions say to only use half of a scoop. Read the instructions for your laundry detergent and check the recommended amount. (You might even want to use a little less than that.)
I have a baby and with our family of four, I do a load of laundry almost every week day. In addition to that we also use cloth diapers, but washing those requires only a minimal amount of detergent. One box of laundry detergent can last six months.
Here too, check the instructions to make sure you’re not using more than you should. One time when my husband turned on the dishwasher, I noticed he poured enough of the powdered detergent to fill up both detergent cups on the dishwasher door. He didn’t know that particular brand only required one tablespoon.
I’m probably in the minority here, but I haven’t used fabric softener in years. When my clothes are clean I want them to smell like nothing. (My favorite scent is unscented, so I don’t like the scent that comes with fabric softener.)
I always thought you had to use it or your clothes would have static cling. Cotton clothes don’t require fabric softener to stay soft and static-free. It’s the synthetic clothes that build up static, so if your clothes are mostly cotton, try a load without it. Towels work much better to absorb water when they aren’t coated by fabric softener.
Laundry Stain Remover
This hasn’t been a problem since we switched to cloth diapers, but when we used disposables, I went through a lot of Stain Stick stain remover trying to treat diaper leak stains on baby clothes. I didn’t know that if you dry the clothes (and cloth diapers) in the sun, sunlight makes baby poo stains disappear! It’s amazing.
For most potential stains I take special care to rinse them out when they happen. Then they don’t need any special treatment.
All-purpose cleaning sprays
In most cases, I try to clean with just water first, to see if that’s enough. Remember learning in high school that water is the universal solvent? Sometimes all it takes is a wipe with a damp rag. If that’s not enough, then I break out the cleaner. We’re using a concentrated bottle of Shaklee’s H2, and I think it’s going to be a couple of years before I need to buy more. (I also use it as a glass cleaner.)
Instead of using shower cleaning sprays, I bought a squeegee (like this one). Before we get out of the shower, we use the squeegee to wipe off the walls and the glass shower door. When the walls stay dry, you don’t get water spots, soap scum, or the chance for mold to grow. Our shower stays pretty nice all the time, and I only officially clean it once in a while.
Don’t use Pledge. It’s a product that coats your furniture instead of cleaning it. Find out how you can remove the Pledge residue from your furniture and go back to dusting with a damp cloth.
Open the window. We could all use more fresh air.
Sprinkle baking soda over the carpet, sweep it in with a broom, and let it remain overnight to absorb odors. Vacuum it up the next day. This technique removes odor instead of covering it up.
Toilet cleaner, counter cleaner, floor cleaner, tile cleaner…
These are marketing gimmicks. You don’t need to have separate cleaning products for every part of your house.
Try using cleaning rags instead of paper towels, but I’m sure you’ve heard this before. I have a small towel bar in the laundry room that I use to hang up wet rags to dry, so they don’t get moldy before I can wash them.