Save Money with DIY Cleaning Supplies

A guest post with great savings tips by Rebecca Chopin for

A spritz here, a spray there—before you know it, that bottle of all-purpose surface cleaner has all but disappeared. Your counter tops may be sparkling, but a dark shadow hovers over your household budget. There are still toilets to scrub, dishes to wash and floors to mop. And with specialized products for each dirty job, cleaning house can really clean out your checking account.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the amount of money Americans spend on cleaning supplies is on the rise, with the average family doling out $659 in 2009, compared to $639 in 2007. Bigger families—those with five or more living in a home—and homeowners (as opposed to renters) tend to spend more, bringing the number up to almost $800 a year. If your family has a higher income, $150,000 or more a year, your cabinets may be crammed with $1,500 worth of stain removers and surface shiners.

Break it down, and all that dirt busting drains anywhere from $56 to $125 a month from your wallet. Sure, those colorful, toss-in laundry pods save you a few seconds when starting a load, and that extra-fresh-lemon-scented deodorizing mist makes the kitty-litter corner a little more bearable—but are the minor conveniences and comforts worth money you could be putting toward your car payment?

With a little effort, a few basic supplies and some willpower in the cleaning supply aisle, you can make your own household cleaners and start saving some serious money. Here’s how:

Shopping List:
Baking soda
White vinegar
Hydrogen peroxide
Lemon juice
Cream of tartar
Liquid and bar castile soap
Washing soda
Essential oils (peppermint, lemon, tea tree or lavender)


Dish soap: Combine ½ cup of liquid castile soap, 1 Tbsp. of white vinegar, 1 Tbsp. of washing soda and 1/8 tsp. of essential oil. Stir in 1-½ cups of hot water and mix thoroughly with whisk. For thicker soap, add 1 Tbsp. of bar soap shavings. Let cool and pour into a dispenser bottle.

Counter top and sink scrub: Mix baking soda into liquid castile soap until it becomes a creamy consistency. Scrub small areas of countertop with mixture and wipe clean with damp sponge.

Oven cleaner: Mix together ¼ cup of washing soda and 1 cup of baking soda; add water to make a paste. Apply paste to oven walls and let sit overnight. Remove with a wet sponge, rinsing and repeating until surfaces are clean.

All-purpose sanitizer: Add 2 tsp. of borax to 4 cups of boiled water; stir in ¼ cup of white vinegar and 50 drops of essential oil. Let cool and pour into a spray bottle.

Window spray: Mix 2 Tbsp. vinegar into a gallon of water. Fill a spray bottle with solution and use clean newspaper (not paper towels, which leave streaks) to wipe clean.

Toilet scrub: Add 1 cup of borax and ¼ cup of vinegar to toilet bowl and let sit overnight. Scrub clean in the morning.

Tub and tile scrub: Combine ½ cup of liquid soap, 1-½ cups of baking soda and ½ cup of water. Just before using, pour in 2 Tbsp. of vinegar. Apply mixture to tub walls or tiles; scrub and rinse clean.

Mildew remover: Pour a small amount of vinegar into cream of tartar to form a paste. Use a small brush to scrub grout or other mildewed surfaces using a circular motion; rinse clean.

Liquid laundry soap: Melt one bar of castile soap in a small amount of water on your stovetop. In large container, combine melted soap with 2 gallons of water and 2 cups of baking soda. Mix well. Use ½ cup of solution per load.

Stain remover: Combine ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide, ½ cup baking soda and 1 cup of hot water in a spray bottle; shake well. Apply to stains and let sit overnight before washing.

Furniture polish: Mix together 1 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Apply mixture to furniture with a soft cloth, rubbing in a circular motion.

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