Cleaning Tips to Save Time and Money

Here are some quick tips to save time and energy by changing your habits:

First, get dressed, comb your hair and put on a comfortable pair of shoes. You wouldn’t show up at the office or work in your pajamas. Take your home and family’s needs that seriously and get dressed!

Kids chores: Have the kids make their own beds and pick up their rooms before they leave for school. The fastest way to get this done is to make sure that no one eats breakfast or turns on the TV until it’s done. When I first put this rule to the test, I went from one hour of nagging and accomplishing nothing to 15 minutes of peace and quiet with clean rooms and groomed children.

5 minute organizing — While on the phone, clean out a desk drawer or your purse. Put away the DVDs or tapes that lay around the TV. These small sorting projects can really make a huge difference in the amount of time you spend cleaning.

If clothes are clean, hang them up and wear them again.

Let each family member use one towel per week.

Allow family members to eat only at the table to avoid food messes in the rest of the house.

Make toddlers wear a bib or over sized t-shirt when eating.

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Serve only light colored drinks if you have light colored carpet such as white grape juice, lemonade and of course water.

Don’t overdo when buying clothes. Ten days worth of clothing is plenty for most people.

Buy clothes that don’t need to be taken to the dry cleaners.

Don’t clean if the house doesn’t need it. Who says you have to vacuum everything every week? For a seldom used room like a guest room, don’t waste time vacuuming it every week.

Don’t dust until you see dust.

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If there is something that continually frustrates you, fix it. If you can’t find you keys, put a nail in the wall and them by the door. Hang the keys there as soon as you walk in and you will know right where they are when you leave. It literally takes thirty seconds to pound a nail into the wall to solve a chronic problem. I once heard someone refer to this as being “too busy driving to stop for gas”.

Homemade Cleaning Recipes

All Purpose/Window Cleaner

  • 2 Tbsp. ammonia
  • ½ cup rubbing alcohol water
  • ¼ tsp. dish washing liquid

Put in the ammonia and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Fill almost to the top with water. Add dishwashing liquid and mix. Top off with water. This is rated to work better (and much cheaper!) than most commercial window and kitchen sprays by Consumer Reports magazine.

Cleaner For Stainless Steel Sink

  • ½ borax
  • ½ baking soda

Mix and scour on sink. Rinse well.

Fruit and Vegetable Wash

You really don’t need a special cleaner for your fruits and vegetables. Just wash them with a weak solution of dish detergent and a scrub brush. This works just fine. If you still insist on using a special wash, this is a good recipe that is the same as the “natural” stuff in the store.

  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup water

Put ingredients in a spray bottle. Be careful because it will foam up. Spray on vegetables. Let sit 5 minutes then rinse with a scrub brush.

Homemade Laundry Soap

  • 1/3 bar Fels Naptha Laundry Soap, grated
  • 6 cups water
  • ½ cup washing soda
  • ½ cup borax

Heat 6 cups water and soap in a large pan until dissolved. Stir in washing soda and Borax. Mix and heat until dissolved. Boil 15 minutes. Remove from heat. (It will have the consistency of honey.*) In a 3 or 5 gallon bucket, add 1 quart of hot water. Then add the soap mixture. Mix. Add enough cold water to make 2 gallons of the mixture. Mix until well blended. Let sit 24 hours. The soap will gel*. Use ½ cup for each load. Makes 2 gallons. (Approx. $ .40 per gallon) *If the detergent doesn’t gel or reach honey consistency, it will still work.

Notes: *Stir before each use as this does separate. Detergent can be stored in a liquid detergent bottle. Then, just shake it up each time you use it. It is safe for HE washers. *This detergent will not suds up in the washer, but it is still getting your clothes clean. *If you have extra hard water, the soap may not clean as well. Add ½ cup borax or washing soda to the load and that may help. *If you do not like this laundry soap, you can still use the Fels Naptha bar for spot cleaning and to rub on stains. The Borax and Washing Soda are great to add to your regular detergent for extra cleaning.

The Author:

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit, sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more!

24 thoughts on “Cleaning Tips to Save Time and Money

  1. I keep my stairs clutter free by keeping one empty basket at the bottom of the stairs and another upstairs. Anything that is lying around that needs to go upstairs I throw into the basket, then next time I go upstairs I just take the little basket, dump into the other and sort later when time is more convenient. It’s easy and even kids can help too!

    1. That’s a great idea! Having designated baskets for items that need to be taken upstairs is a simple and efficient way to save time and declutter. Plus, getting the kids involved in putting items in the baskets is a smart way to teach them responsibility.

  2. Oil Stains On Driveway – Sprinkle some kitty litter on those nasty oil stains that can destroy the asphalt. The litter absorbs the oil. Let it sit for a little bit, then sweep away.

    1. I never knew that kitty litter could be used to tackle oil stains on the driveway! It’s definitely a cost-effective solution and seems like it would be easy to clean up afterward. I’ll have to give it a try next time I have an oil spill.

    1. Soaking fingers in bleach to remove nicotine stains sounds effective, but I would be cautious about using bleach on my skin. It’s important to use protective gloves and rinse thoroughly afterward to avoid any potential irritation.

  3. Remove Nicotine Stains off of Fingers – Lemon juice with a little salt rubbed lightly on the stained area a few times a day. Make sure there is no open cuts on your fingers because it will sting.

    1. Using lemon juice and salt as a natural remedy for nicotine stains on fingers is a great alternative to using bleach. I appreciate the suggestion to be careful if there are any open cuts, as lemon juice can be quite stingy. I’ll definitely keep this method in mind for natural stain removal.

  4. Room Deodorizer

    Mix a small amount of your favourite essential oils into a spoonful of alcohol. (Surgical Spirit, Vodka or Methylated spirit). Add enough distilled water to fill your spritzer bottle, shake well – then spray around the house for a beautiful aroma.

    Eucalyptus oil is magic for chasing away odors and leaves a refreshing scent. I use it as we have small children and inside pets. ( Please do not use eucalyptus oil if you have rabbits in the house.)

    1. Creating a homemade room deodorizer with essential oils and alcohol is a brilliant idea! It’s nice to have control over the scent and avoid using artificial air fresheners. Thanks for recommending eucalyptus oil as well – although it’s important to be cautious with pets in the house.

  5. To clean a dishwasher of those brown spots, simply run an empty dishwasher using Tang crystals in place of dishwasher soap. It cleans out the inside the dishwasher like it was brand new again.

    1. Using Tang crystals to clean the dishwasher and remove brown spots is a neat trick! It’s an affordable solution compared to buying specialized dishwasher cleaners. I’ll definitely try this to keep my dishwasher looking and smelling fresh.

  6. Recycle Junk Mail – I go through my mail to see if I can use the other side of the paper for my own personal printing. If the back is blank, I like to print recipes and save them. I’ve been doing this for years and look forward to opening the junk mail. I now have several notebooks of special recipes for my family. I hope I have saved a few trees.

    1. That’s a great idea to recycle junk mail! It’s a creative way to save paper and also find a practical use for it. Plus, having a notebook full of special recipes sounds like a wonderful keepsake for your family.

  7. If you notice your curtains don’t need cleaning but could do with a freshening up of odours such as smoke; cooking etc. Take two cap fulls of your normal fabric conditioner, place in a mist spray bottle and fill with water. Spray a light mist on your curtains, I normally do this once a week to keep them fresh and they always smell like they have just been freshly washed.

    1. Thanks for sharing the tip about freshening up curtains with fabric conditioner! It’s a simple and affordable way to keep them smelling fresh. I’ll definitely give this a try to spruce up my curtains.

  8. Here’s another one that works on fresh oily stains. I used it in the kitchen as an emergency measure when I spilled olive oil on a favourite pair of jeans (their tagline “gets grease out of your way” came immediately to mind, so I tried it figuring I had nothing to lose except a stain!):

    Dawn Dish Liquid: pour/drop Dawn dish soap directly on oily stain, let penetrate and wash normally as soon as possible. Stain will lift out and you’ll never know you had a kitchen mishap.

    I’ve also used Dawn liquid to remove cat vomit and hairballs from the carpet: clean up the majority of the mess, then pour a few drops of liquid on a clean white cloth (I sometimes use an orphaned sports sock for the task), add a bit of water and scrub the carpet from the outside inwards, in gentle circular motions or back & forth. Repeat and rinse lightly as necessary. The soap is mild but check for colourfastness first before doing a whole area. I don’t use expensive stain remover anymore and it’s saving me a fortune! My two elderly cats have a tendency towards furballs and eating too quickly, so it’s a godsend.

    1. Dawn dish soap is truly a versatile cleaning product! It’s amazing how well it works on oily stains and even on cat messes. It’s great to hear that it’s been a cost-effective and successful solution for you.

  9. Vodka Cleaning Remedies

    — To clean the caulking around bathtubs and showers, fill a trigger spray bottle with vodka, spray the caulking, let set five minutes and wash clean. The alcohol in the vodka kills mold and mildew.

    — Prolong the life of razors by filling a cup with vodka and letting your safety razor blade soak in the alcohol after shaving. The vodka disinfects the blade and prevents rusting.

    — Spray vodka on vomit stains, scrub with a brush, then blot dry.

    1. Wow, I never knew vodka could be used for cleaning purposes! The tips you shared are interesting, especially using it to clean caulking and prolong the life of razor blades. It’s good to know that vodka has disinfecting properties. I’ll definitely keep these tips in mind.

    1. I would have never thought to use furniture polish to fix squeaky doors and hinges. That’s a clever tip! Not only does it take care of the squeaks, but it also helps protect the wood. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Carpet Cleaning – I don’t own stock in Oxy-Clean but I can attest to its efficacy on carpet stains of all kinds, absolutely all kinds. I used the directions exactly, for my light carpet, and “EXACTLY” is the operative word here, and was able to remove stains that professional carpet cleaning outfits could not, and told me could never get out. While Oxy-Clean doesn’t do much of anything for clothing stains and other things it promises, it is really miraculous on carpets.

    1. Oxy-Clean sounds like a miracle product for carpet stains! It’s impressive that it was able to remove stains that professional carpet cleaning couldn’t handle. I’ll definitely give it a try for stubborn carpet stains. Thank you for sharing your experience with it.

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