Spring Cleaning Time? Here Are Some Tips For Cleaning Supplies On The Cheap

As spring approaches and the weather slowly begins to turn warmer in the northern hemisphere, many people get an itch to clean up their homes after the long winter slumber. I know we have that itch; we’ve spent two weekends recently cleaning like crazy.

The problem is that if you visit a department store and look for cleaning supplies, you’re often inundated with a huge array of options, many of which are ridiculously expensive. Instead of buying $30 worth of cleaning supplies, spend substantially less instead. Here’s your shopping list:

Baking soda (get a big box)
Washing soda (look in the laundry section, near the laundry detergents)
White vinegar (distilled is better)
Liquid dishwashing soap (get your preferred kind – we usually get a big container of Dawn or a generic equivalent)
Tea tree oil (we find this in various places; try asking in a pharmacy)
2 glass jars (only if you want to make a batch and store it)
6 spray bottles (again, only if you want to store it, though it’s good to have a couple for applying window spray and such)
Some rags and sponges

That’s all you’ll need to make any kind of cleaner you can imagine to clean your house. The only thing that’s even remotely expensive is the tea tree oil, and a jar of it will be enough for a very long time. The best part? These things are all nontoxic, so if my kid were to dip his hand in something, it wouldn’t harm him. Here are some recipes for specific cleaning situations:

Soft Scrub: Put a bit of baking soda in a bowl (try 1/8 of a cup for starters), then just enough liquid detergent so that it’s like frosting when you mix it. Then, cover a sponge with it and use it to wash the surface. This is really good for washing bathtubs and any tile you might have. It also works as an oven cleaner, though I would recommend wetting it down a bit with water first, rubbing a layer of the mixture all over the inside of the oven, then letting it sit overnight before you scrub it all off.

Windex: Take one of those spray bottles and in it mix half a teaspoon of the liquid soap, three tablespoons of vinegar, and two cups of water. Shake it up, then spray it on your windows and wipe it off.

Pledge: Mix half a teaspoon of the tea tree oil and a quarter of a cup of vinegar together – this will make any furniture you may want to polish actually gleam!

Glade: You won’t need Glade any more if you regularly spray odor producing spots (like the kitchen sink, the cutting board, and the trash) with a mist of vinegar just before bed.

Tilex: Mix two teaspoons of tea tree oil and two cups of water in a spray bottle, shake it up, and spray it on anything that has mold or mildew on it. Don’t rinse it, just leave it. It will smell strongly at first, but the smell will dissipate, as will the mold and mildew.

Spray Cleaner: Take a spray bottle and in it put half of a teaspoon of washing soda, a squirt of the liquid detergent, and two cups of hot water. This will work great as a general cleaner (the walls, doorknobs, and so forth). I used to use Windex as a general spray cleaner, but this works far better.

With these tools at your disposal, you don’t need to drop any Hamiltons on cleaning supplies; just get the basic ingredients themselves. I especially recommend going this route if you have a toddler who will want to “help” out with the cleaning, as these are all non-toxic – but they all clean quite well.

Trent Hamm

Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.