Oh housecleaning. While we wish we could just call a cleaning service or have a robot-maid ala The Jetsons, it's just not in the cards at Tiny Wallet Headquarters. So, we're doing the dirty work all by our lonesome.
The problem is, I'm slightly addicted to cleaning products (I blame my mom- hi Mom!). I buy anything with a brightly colored label that promises to make my job as easy as possible. Now, I know it's all marketing, but I'm a sucker. So, one of my new year's resolutions last year was to green our clean. Cut out the chemically heavy (and expensive!!!) cleaning products and figure out how to do it ourselves to save some bucks and live more green! Here's how our little experiment went down in 2010.
Thrifty Switch #1: Homemade laundry detergent.
This felt kind of extreme to us, until we looked at how much we spend per year on detergent. Enter, the recipe that made us feel like thrifty heroes:
Homemade Laundry Soap
Adapted from the Family Homestead
1/3 bar Fels Naptha or Ivory soap, grated
½ cup washing soda (We use Arm & Hammer)
½ cup borax powder (We use 20 Mule Team brand
Grate the soap and put it in a large stock pot. Add 6 cups water and heat it until the soap melts, stirring frequently. Add the washing soda and the borax and stir until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into the bucket. Add your soap mixture and stir. Now add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water and stir. Let the soap sit for about 24 hours and it will gel. Use aproximately ½ cup per load.
This stuff makes TONS of soap. We didn't have a container big enough, so we ended up using whatever we had around, hence the apple juice bottle. After about 6 months, it's working like a charm. Our laundry is as clean as ever and it's doing wonders for my sensitive skin to boot (I was prone to breaking out in rashes whenever we switched detergents- no fun!).
Thrifty Switch #2: Making our own all-purpose cleaning solution.
This has been absolutely amazing. We bought a bottle of Mrs. Meyers concentrate with the idea that we could save space in our tiny home by swapping all of our other cleaning products out for just one. We never could have imagined how much we LOVE the basil scented concoction that we chose. Mmmmm. It's really mild and leaves our house smelling fresh and yummy.
We use it for all-purpose counter spray (mixing it according to the bottle's directions) as well as for cleaning the linoleum in our kitchen, etc. It's amazing how well it de-greases and cleans up tough dirt without leaving us choking on chemical fumes.
Thrifty Switch #3: Nixing the One-Use Cleaners.
Goodbye Comet. Adios Windex. Ta-ta Pledge.
We're swapping out the pricey uni-taskers in our cleaning cabinet with more eco-friendly alternatives.
-For scrubbing, we're using baking soda made into a paste with some water or vinegar. Works like a charm on our porcelain cooktop, metal sink and bath tub.
-For shining and cleaning glass and mirrors, 2 c. water mixed with 1/2 c. vinegar. Easy peasy. And a wet piece of newspaper works like a charm to clean dirty windows to crystal clear. Oh and you can pour some down your drain to de-stink it. We also spray some in the litter box when we clean it!
-Switching out pricey paper towels for microfiber cloths.
-A wet scrub sponge and hot water to clean stuck-on gunk.
-Warm water and a microfiber mop (wrung out well) to shine up our hardwood floors (we dry them right afterward with another dry microfiber cloth).
-Hydrogen peroxide to disinfect stuff in place of Clorox wipes (we also make a paste of plain non-gel toothpaste and hydrogen peroxide to clean stains ala the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser).
Phew! That's what we've done so far. We're looking forward to hearing how you save cash in the cleaning department. Have you gone green to save green?