Is cleaning your dirty home making chemical companies filthy rich? David Bach, author of Go Green, Live Rich says, "The average U.S. household shells out roughly $600 a year on 40 pounds of chemical cleaning supplies." That's a lot of dough going down the drain with a serious environmental cost.
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There's no doubt that stores are full of these costly cleaning products—just take your shopping cart down any laundry, bathroom, or kitchen supplies aisle to see the myriad of caustic products on sale. And you don't need many of them to get your appliances, floors, clothing, and other household stuff clean. By cutting harsh chemical cleaners from your grocery shopping list and making simple switches to environmentally friendly alternatives, it's easy to save hundreds on cleaning your home.
1. Wash laundry for less. Cut your laundry costs every month by using less detergent, adding one-half cup of Borax (a natural mineral) to boost cleaning power, and skipping fabric softener. Adding one-quarter cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle not only softens fabrics for less, but also removes odor for pennies without adding harsh chemicals to your clothing. For a list of laundry recipes and frugal tips, see How to Save Money on Laundry.
2. Battle dust bunnies with a microfiber mop. Electrostatic dusting refills and floor-mopping fabric sheets may be handy, but these disposable dusters are expensive to buy and impact the environment. For a swift sweeper solution: buy a few inexpensive microfiber cloths (they are electrostatic), stick them on your sweeper, and wash them in a laundry bag when they have done maximum dust bunny duty. Check out the pictures in 4 Swiffer Cleaning Hacks for Cheaper Dust-Free Living for the green and frugal instructions.
3. Make your own all-purpose cleaner. I dare you to look under your sink and count how many cleaning supplies you've got in stock. Under my sink I have one simple solution that cleans most dirty messes for less—a squirt of liquid soap. Seriously. Make your own all-purpose cleaner by mixing a few drops of liquid soap with 1/2 teaspoon of washing soda and two cups of hot water. Add the ingredients to a spray bottle and shake gently until the washing soda has dissolved. Spray, wipe, live chemical-free, and save.
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4. Clean jewelry with a $1.75 solution. When your engagement ring bling no longer sparkles as bright as on your wedding day, there's no need to take a trip to the jeweler for an expensive diamond cleaning. Instead, take a walk down the first aid-aisle for a bottle of $1.75 isopropyl rubbing alcohol, a soft bristle brush, and some facial tissue to get your ring clean. A short soak in rubbing alcohol will remove finger grease and dissolve the dirt making your diamond dim. See How to clean a diamond ring for the bling-cleaning details.
5. Apply some elbow grease. Go grab a pair of rubber gloves and use a little muscle to scrub the floors, wipe the walls, and clean the kitchen grime. Using a little elbow grease is free, and doesn't expose you or your family to any toxic chemicals.
Kerry K. Taylor writes at Squawkfox.com, a blog where personal finance and frugal living are sexy, delicious, and fun. Kerry is the author of 397 Ways To Save Money: Spend Smarter & Live Well on Less.