It takes time and effort to keep you home clean, to say nothing of the cost. We’re constantly being bombarded with advertisements for products that claim they are the best on the market and, busy and desperate, we may very well buy them hoping for a time-saving solution to our cleaning woes. But for the most part, you can swap out your commercial cleaning supplies for cheaper replacements without compromising quality. Here are some options.
“I just wanna say magic erasers are overpriced,” says one Reddit user on r/CleaningTips. “They’re just melamine foam, and you can buy a 100 pack for like $30 on Amazon.” That’s true: Melamine foam is the active component in the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers so many cleaning enthusiasts swear by.
You may not have the space to store 160 melamine eraser sheets ($32.89 on SpongeOutlet.com) but there are plenty of more reasonable bulk buys that will save you money over name-brand Magic Erasers—and to be fair, these things are pretty little, anyway.
Like a lovable relative in a romantic comedy, I have a nasty habit of using Windex to wipe down any and all surfaces in my home. You don’t have to be like me, but if you’re someone who is all about having a designated products for cleaning everything you own, you might want to cut down on your name-brand buying.
As we’ve mentioned before, you can clean your windows just fine using a few drops of dish soap in a bucket of water, or ten parts water mixed with one part white vinegar. The secret to a streak-free shine isn’t paying top dollar for a name brand, but about drying your windows and mirrors well after a wipe down. Use a gentle cloth or sponge to apply your homemade solution, and make sure you really buff it off well afterward.
Swiffers and floor cleaners
Years ago, we recommended using bulk-bought socks to replace the expensive pads for your Swiffer Wetjet, and we stand by that advice. Why stop there though? Just because you own a fancy branded product doesn’t mean you have to keep paying whatever price that company demands to keep it working, so make your own Swiffer solution, too. Hearthook Home recommends refilling your empty Wetjet bottle with equal parts water and distilled vinegar, then adding a few drops of dish soap. Shake it all up to mix it and pop the bottle right back into your machine. This DIY method is also more sustainable than tossing out the old plastic bottle every time you run out of cleaner.
Don’t buy a fancy hardwood floor cleaner, either. Instead, just use black tea. (It will hide scratches, too.)
Vinegar is an invaluable home cleaning resource. You can really use it to clean so much. And it’s the main ingredient needed to replace your existing all-purpose cleaner. Combine one cup of distilled water, one cup of white vinegar, and 15 or so drops of your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle, advises Live Simply, and you’re good to start scrubbing. (If you have something against vinegar, make a solution of two cups of distilled water, two tablespoons liquid Castile soap, and your essential oil.
You can use Castile soap and baking soda to make an “easy off” oven cleaner, too. Mix them together in equal amounts until they form a paste, then use a sponge to apply to the inside of your oven. Wait half an hour, then wipe away with a wet cloth, spray everything down with vinegar, and wipe dry.
Toilet bowl cleaner
You can clean your toilet with store-bought products, yes (as long as you don’t use too many at once), but you can also use stuff you probably already have lying around and get results that are just as good. Mouthwash and alka seltzer are a good combo, and once again, vinegar will serve you well when mixed with baking soda, borax, or salt. Here are the instructions to make whichever toilet-cleaning alternative you choose.
Vinegar can also help you get your laundry clean, but it’s hardly your only option for homemade detergent. Per the Spruce, you can combine two cups of borax, two cups of washing soda, and one cup of soap flakes for a more cost-effective alternative to the liquid stuff. If you’re worried about how you’ll get your clothes to smell nice in the absence of your favorite chemical cleaner, there are alternatives for that, too.