Most of the cleaning solutions we use at home are filled with harmful chemicals. It’s also not good to expose little ones to these chemicals, as most are poisonous especially when eaten or absorbed through the skin, Plus, these commercial products are expensive to boot.
Do you want healthier alternatives are also easier on your budget? Grandma actually had the right idea when she used common household products to clean her house. Many recipes can be created with things that you may already have in your pantry or fridge. Here is a room-by-room guide for healthier cleaning on a budget.
This guide is quite long, so we provided anchor links to help you jump to sections that interest you. You can also choose to read this article chronologically.
General Tips for the Entire House
1. Beginning is easier than you think.
First, let’s review the ingredients that will make up the bulk of your cleaning solutions. Most of these items came from ApartmentTherapy.com (@AptTherapy), but you can always add, tweak or remove ingredients based on what works for you.
- Baking soda
- White or apple cider vinegar
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Essential oils (tea tree oil, lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, or lemongrass oil)
- Lemons or oranges
- Fresh herbs
- Olive oil
- Boiling water
This small compilation covers everything from deodorizing to sanitizing and even getting that fresh “clean” scent wafting through your home. While reading this article, you will notice that these general basics are used over and again, sometimes alone and many times mixed with other ingredients.
2. Don’t forget the one step that requires absolutely NO money.
Air pollution exists so open those windows! Even Glamour (@glamourmag) praises the benefits of opening the windows during cleaning routines. The fresh breeze will add a spring to your step as it helps minimize the risk of mold, mildew, and bacteria from growing and spreading through your house. Yes, I know that you’re thinking: “But it’s almost winter!” Go ahead and open those windows anyway. That includes your bedroom windows, as airing your home may help you get a better night’s sleep.
3. Clean windows with vinegar and hot water.
How many of you have seen your children smash their faces against windows? Do your pets like to sit on window sills and watch you leave for the day (like my cat does)? Let’s keep these surfaces chemical-free, shall we? Glass, like windows and mirrors, are easy to clean with 2 to 3 simple ingredients. According to Wellness Mama (@WellnessMama), all you need is a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water. She also recommends adding drops of essential oil or lemon juice to cut the acidic vinegar scent. I like to use apple cider vinegar over any other type.
4. Make an oil and citrus-based wood polish.
Did you know that olive oil is a natural wood conditioner? That’s why it’s the essential ingredient in many polish and cleaning solutions. Try this wood polish recipe from Healthy Blend Recipes (@theblendergirl) that requires one part of olive oil to half a part lemon juice. If you want to clean wood surfaces as you polish, incorporate a little water and a few tablespoons of vinegar to this mixture. Also, search for a soft cloth to wipe with. Better Homes and Gardens (@BHG) recommends wiping wood before polishing, with a feather duster or another soft cloth, to prevent scratching the wood’s surface.
5. Skip the commercial carpet cleaner and use baking soda.
Does your home have wall-to-wall carpet? If not, try taking your floor rugs outside and shaking the dust out from time to time. These areas become magnets for creepy crawlies, in addition to dust, mold, and mildew. If you can’t shake your carpet outside, don’t fret. A great vacuum cleaner and these powders will work wonders. The key ingredient is baking soda. The Best Carpet Cleaner Review recommends sprinkling it at night and vacuuming in the morning to sanitize and deodorize rooms. Also, rubbing baking soda into the fabric with a little hot water assistance can help remove light stains. What if your home is a victim of many different stains? Here is a list of ways to get stains out by cause from Real Simple (@RealSimple).
6. Use dishwashing soap to clean upholstery.
Do you like to spend a couple cents extra and buy dish soap that’s gentle on your hands? Now your dish soap can work triple duty and clean your couches too. This brilliant tip works since the ingredients are powerful enough to remove food and oil while being gentle enough to be used on kitchen items. You can read more at Upholstery Cleaners 101. All you need is:
- ¼ cup of white vinegar
- ¾ cup of warm water
- ½ tablespoon of dish liquid soap
Mix everything in a squirt bottle and spray away. The soap will add an extra punch while cleaning the fabric, especially when paired with the vinegar. What about freshening your furniture mid-week? Mix a few drops of essential oil (I like lavender) or lemon juice with a quarter cup of baking soda and water. Spray lightly over the furniture and let it air dry.
7. The best way to wash hardwood floors.
Hardwood floors are beautiful and usually look cleaner than carpeted floors. The question is, how do you maintain that brilliant shine long-term without breaking the bank (the floors already cost a lot)? Check this video out from Clean My Space (@cleanmyspace). She offers a cleaning solution using vinegar that is low-cost and effective. Also, remember that a little cleaning solution will go a long way since access moisture can ruin the wood.
8. Fabric softener sheets can double as wall trim cleaners.
When was the last time you focused your energy on cleaning the wall and window trim? Often, these areas get ignored and accumulate dust as a result. Clean them easily with fabric softener sheets, as suggested on Apartment Therapy (@apartmenttherapy). These nifty sheets will quickly pick up dust with just a few wipes! And since we’re all about money-saving tips, clean with used sheets after completing a load of laundry.
9. Keep in mind the material that your kitchen counter is made of.
Some of us prefer marble counters while others like laminate. Then again, you may prefer the beautifully rustic appeal of stone surfaces. Luckily, Better Homes and Gardens (@BHG) has provided us with green cleaning solutions for each type of surface. Warm soapy water is the common denominator and some of us (pointing at myself) prefer a bit of dish soap (unless I have natural, handmade soap on hand). This is also one of the few times I opt for a bit of bleach in my solutions since I love to cook and am afraid of bacteria. Just be sure to wipe counters well with hot water after cleaning them.
10. Freshen the fridge naturally with ground coffee.
I once learned a clever trick in the perfume section of a department store. Hidden here and there among the perfumes were small containers of ground coffee, for clearing the nasal passages between smelling different scents. It got me thinking about other ways to use ground coffee. A little research pointed at the refrigerator. Of course, an open box of baking soda or a bowl of charcoal will absorb odors too. Simple Most (@simplemost) suggests using food to clean, scrub and wipe the fridge in place of harsh chemicals or bleach (which none of us want near the food that we’re going to eat). Only lemons, tomatoes and vanilla are wanted here!
11. Use ketchup to clean burnt pans.
Before, I wanted to cry every time I burned a pan. Soaking in hot water can help a bit, but it isn’t enough to remove the tougher marks. Now I turn to ketchup! Tomatoes are the main ingredient of ketchup, which means this condiment is acidic. Just liberally pour the ketchup on your burnt pan and leave overnight. The marks should easily wash off the next day. Another kitchen staple, salt, is the recommended cleaning choice for cast-iron (followed with olive oil). If you’re still not satisfied, here are a few more recipes from One Good Thing By Jillee (@byjillee). By this point, you will recognize a few superstars, but I think the cola is the most interesting recommendation.
12. Clean the stove and oven with baking soda.
A few times a year, it’s necessary to clean the entire stove and oven, from top to bottom. First, I pull off the burners and let them soak in super-hot water. Lifehacker (@lifehacker) recommends adding a small bit of ammonia to the water and letting burners soak overnight before wiping them dry. Also, The Kitchn (@thekitchn) suggests spreading a baking soda paste (a mixture of baking soda and water) to the bottom of the oven and letting it sit overnight before wiping it down. A little elbow grease may need to be involved, but not much. This step should be followed with a vinegar-water spray down and additional wipe.
13. Heat spices over the stove for a natural deodorizer.
Do you love to burn candles and spray air freshener, especially around the holidays? A food-inspired scent adds a lovely touch of Christmas to the air. Unfortunately, commercial air fresheners come with extra risks of cancer, asthma, allergies and hormone imbalances! Don’t worry, you already have everything you recreate similar scents! Here are some recipes from Clean My Space (@CleanMySpace) that require a little heating on the (newly cleaned) stove top. My preference is a mixture of apple peels, a cinnamon stick, a few drops of vanilla and a little water!
14. Sanitize trash bins.
Even despite our strongest efforts, trash will sometimes miss the bag inside the bin completely. This project is one of the few that calls some chemical assistance (remember to use gloves). Basically, I like to use any all-purpose disinfectant that I have on hand, as does The Kitchn (@thekitchn). After removing any trash that is sitting at the bottom, spray the cleaner and let it sit for a bit (preferably outside). Then wipe it clean and let it air dry. This is also a great time to turn to bleach.
15. Unclog those drains without emptying a bottle of chemicals.
Does your bathroom drain get clogged often? I like to create a hair-pulling wand out of an old iron hanger and yank any strands that are hanging out. Then I turn to baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water. Here are Crunchy Betty’s (@crunchybetty) step-by-step directions for cleaning and clearing your drains. Baking soda will start loosening the clogging gunk, but its chemical reaction with vinegar will really break it free. The boiling water rinse makes sure it all gets washed away.
16. Use citrus fruits to clean your bathtub and sink.
The acid from lemons and other citrus fruits make them great cleansers. All you need to do is cut a piece of fruit in half (preferably an orange or grapefruit) and get ready to scrub. Apartment Therapy (@apttherapy) also recommends adding a liberal amount of salt to the fleshy side of your cut fruit, which should add extra scrubbing action to remove water stains near the drain.
17. Brush away grout with a toothbrush.
How annoying is grout? These white spaces between bathroom tiles act like magnets for anything grimy and gross, easily turning it yellow or brown (which stand out for miles). Fortunately, all you need to clean it is a toothbrush, baking soda, vinegar, borax, and water, according to Apartment Therapy (@apttherapy) and Natural Living Ideas (@NatLivingIdeas). Some people use a basic cloth, but a toothbrush fits into the space between tiles very well.
18. Baking soda will also clean toilet bowls.
Like the sinks and tub, anything you dump into the toilet will get flushed back into the environment, so green-friendly DIY is the best way to go. DIY ‘n Crafts (@diyncraftscom) refers back to our trusty recommendation of baking soda and lemon, but also likes to pour Coca-Cola into the bowl.
19. A windshield wiper can double as a glass shower door wiper.
Do you enjoy a steamy hot shower but hate the streaky water marks it leaves behind? The simple solution is to leave a small squeegee near the tub and wipe down excess moisture before stepping out. Here are a few other reasons from Better Living(@BetterLivingTM) for keeping a squeegee in the bathroom. It can even help maintain grout cleanliness and reduce the number of times it needs to be scrubbed!
20. A little maintenance every day will go a long way.
A clean bedroom requires a little effort every day, whether that means folding clothes, purging old items or quickly wiping bedside tables. Here are four ways from Thought Catalog (@thoughtcatalog) to keep your room looking its best, daily. These maintenance tips will also minimize the time you spend deep cleaning.
21. Take advantage of sunny days for fresh-smelling linens.
One of the strongest energy sources is free too! Yes, I am talking about the sun. Not only can solar energy kill bacteria, the fresh air will help eliminate odors. From blankets to carpets and even your child’s stuffed bear, nearly everything can benefit from some time outside. Just be sure to place them on a clean clothing line or place a clean towel on the ground. The Nickel Pincher (@OrganicLifeMag) has a few more ideas and reasons for heading out of doors.
22. Invest in a microfiber cloth for dusting.
Most of the bacteria and dust can be cleaned off with just the right fabric and a little water. Microfiber cloths are great money-savers because you won’t need much more to do day-to-day cleaning routines. Here are many other benefits, listed by SimplyGoodStuff (@simplygoodstuff). They’re also easy to find, and some dollar stores carry them! Also, try looking at Amazon, Target, or Wal-Mart for low prices.
23. Keep shelves clean with a simple water/vinegar solution.
This solution also works well on walls, counters, and bed frames. A dilution of vinegar in water can even help remove pesky stickers from furniture by weakening the adhesive. Vinegar is such a great liquid that is both safe for humans and animals. It can be used all over the house, especially in bedrooms. The New Home Maker (@LynnSiprelle) is another green cleaning mom who can’t get enough of vinegar.
24. Wipe off crayon marks easily with mayonnaise.
Walking into a crayon-colored wall is a nightmare for many parents, but fortunately, there are many ways to clean up your child’s “artwork.” Have you ever tried cleaning with hairspray or mayonnaise? Yes, you will then need to “clean the cleaner,” but if it removes the crayon marks, why not try it out? Here are other interesting ideas from Tip Nut (@tipnut). Then you won’t feel so bad letting your little artist express him or herself.
25. Add baking soda for a cleaner load.
Have you ever sprinkled a few teaspoons of baking soda into your wash or directly on your laundry? I have and the effects are rather amazing. In addition to eliminating terrible odors, it helps scrub away marks for an extra clean load. To save money on laundry products, I like to add a bit of baking soda first and scrub some clothes by hand (like undergarments) before adding them to the washing machine. Then I use half or three-quarters the amount of soap than recommended (depending on the load size), which helps stretch my detergent. There are also a number of recipes for making your own detergent online, like this one from Mommypotamus (@mommypotamus). I recommend choosing one that requires a minimal store run on your part.
26. Make a stop in the herb garden before heading to the laundry room.
Have you run out of fabric softener? Skip the store and step into your herb garden instead. Of course, this will work if you have an herb garden to begin with. It’s never too late to start growing one. Basil and mint are two examples that smell lovely when left to steep in the detergent (especially a homemade laundry detergent). Are you curious to learn more? Here is a recipe from Apartment Therapy (@AptTherapy) for making your own pleasantly scented detergent and softener.
27. Skip the dryer and use a clothesline.
I really can’t get enough of using what nature has given me. Drying clothing outside is an essential step in achieving fresh smelling laundry. Also, it’s a super money-saving tactic, and not just in energy costs. Drying clothes outside can also prolong the life of your garments since dryers can weaken the fabric. Here are a few more reasons for hanging your clothes outside from The Art of Simple (@tsh). What if you live in a city and lack yard space for a clothing line? Buy a drying rack and place it under a window. They can be purchased for under $20 (some are less than $10) and will save you much more in a short time.
Cleaning on a budget is important because it allows us to spend our money on other important things. The fact that green cleaning can also be less expensive is the cherry on the cake. Do you agree? What do you think about this list? Do you have any suggestions, alternatives or ideas for budget cleaning that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about anything that saves me money while keeping my family healthy, so let me know what you’ve got! Also, feel free to share these tips with your friends as well!