8 Ways to Save on Household Cleaning

Photo (cc) by Smitten with Kittens

In 2011, the website Statistic Brain compiled census data and found that the average American spent $42 on cleaning supplies every month. That’s $504 a year – which means in 10 years you will have spent $5,040. That’s enough to buy a used car.

Cut your costs by 25 percent, and you could save $126 a year. It isn’t hard to do. Any one of the eight ways below will help you save…

1. Buy generic

Household cleaners came in at No. 6 in our story, 7 Things You Should Always Buy Generic. In that story, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson compared the cost of a name-brand household cleaner and a store-brand one. Here are the results:

  • Name-brand cleaner with bleach: $3.29
  • Store-brand cleaner with bleach: $2.39
  • Difference: 90 cents (38 percent)

In my personal experience, generic household cleaners work just as well as the name brands. The only difference I’ve noticed is the smell. A few generic cleaners I’ve bought don’t smell as good as the name brands – but smells dissipate quickly. A 38 percent savings quickly accumulates.

2. Skip the specialty cleaners

I recently stopped by Walmart to pick up some dishwashing liquid – which wasn’t that easy to find, since they have three aisles of cleaning products to choose from. I saw three different kinds of tile cleaners, seven different floor cleaners, eight carpet stain removers, and an entire aisle of bathroom cleaners.

I’m clearly not their ideal consumer, because the cabinet under my sink only has three bottles: dishwashing liquid, an all-purpose cleaner, and a bottle of white vinegar. Those three clean everything in my house just fine. Bottom line: Skip the expensive specialty cleaners in favor of a cheap, generic-brand all-purpose cleaner.

3. Switch to reusable

If you’d opened my supply closet a few years ago, you might have mistaken me for a Swiffer employee. I had the duster, the extender duster, the dry mop, and the wet mop. And I won’t lie – those disposable products cut down on cleaning time. But they also cut down on my disposable income. For example, here’s the cost comparison of a 10-count Swiffer duster refill pack…

  • CVS – $9.49
  • Walmart – $7.97
  • Alice.com – $7.84

At one refill a week, you’d buy about six boxes a year – and spend up to $57. Now that I know better, I make my own reusable dusters out of old clothes and towels. For example, old socks/ I also cut up old towels and use them in place of the cleaning pads on my Swiffer mop. I don’t buy the expensive disposables anymore, and I get a second use out of old stuff.

4. Stack coupons with sales

There are dozens of coupons available in the Sunday newspaper ads and on online coupon sites like these: Coupons.com, CouponMom.com, and SmartSource.com.

Using coupons alone will save you money, but you’ll save the most by using coupons on sale cleaners. For example, last week I stopped by Walgreens because they had Scotch Brite Heavy Duty sponges buy-one-get-one-free. I also had a 35-cent-off coupon and a 10-percent-off-your-entire-purchase coupon. I was able to stack all three deals. The savings broke down like this:

  • Full price for two packs – $8.58
  • Buy one, get one free – $4.29
  • 35 cents off – $3.94
  • 10 percent off entire purchase – $3.55
  • Total discount – $5.03

5. Read reviews before you buy something new

Remember the ShamWow craze? I actually got one for Christmas and could never get it to work like it did on the infomercial. (Surprise, right?) The latest and greatest cleaners and tools (both the infomercial and the store kind) don’t always work like they’re supposed to. Before you waste money on a product you might hate, check out a few Amazon reviews or a user review site like Epinions.

6. Buy green online

The few household cleaners I buy are natural ones, but few stores in my area stock a good selection of green cleaners – and the stores that do charge a fortune. For example, my local grocery store charges $5.49 per bottle for Method’s all-purpose cleaner. But once I found it on Amazon for $3.99, I started buying most of my cleaning products on Amazon, Drugstore.com, and Alice.

7. Replace cleaners with household products

You can replace most (if not all) of your cleaning products with other household products for a fraction of the cost. Here are a few products that work as cleaners…

  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice
  • White vinegar
  • Borax
  • Salt
  • Beer

In 19 Uses for Baking Soda, Dryer Sheets, and Beer, we list a whole bunch of ways you can clean with household products. Here are my three favorites:

  • Clean glass: Mix a quarter-cup of white vinegar and 3 cups of water in a spray bottle, and you have a better glass cleaner than any commercial product you could buy. Just spray it on, wipe it down with a piece of newspaper, and you’re done!
  • Scrub stuck-on food and stains: Baking soda works as an alternative to abrasive cleaners like Comet. You can sprinkle dry baking soda on stuck-on food, or combine the baking soda with a little water to make a softer scrub for bathtubs and shower tiles.
  • Polish metal: The acidity of beer actually polishes metal. Rubbing copper-bottom or aluminum pans down with some flat beer removes tarnish and restores shine. Beer also works on baking sheets and cupcake tins. Add a little to your mouth and you’ll have an even better cleaning experience!

8. Make your own

You can also make your own cleaning products for much less. In Make Your Own Laundry Detergent and 20 Other Tips to Save on Laundry, we give you this recipe for homemade detergent:

Ingredients

  • 1 bar of soap
  • 3 gallons plus 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup borax
  • ½ cup washing soda

Directions

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Grate the bar of soap with a cheese grater. Drop the pieces into the boiling water and cook until the soap dissolves. Pour 3 gallons of water into a large bucket. Add in the soap and water mixture. Add in 1 cup of borax and half a cup of washing soda. Stir until the ingredients thicken. Use about ¼ cup (the size of a normal laundry detergent cap) per wash cycle.

And we’ve got more recipes for homemade cleaners in How to Make Dishwasher Detergent (And More). Like this one for dishwashing liquid:

  • 1 cup of borax
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • ¼ cup of table salt
  • 2 packets (half an ounce) of unsweetened lemon Kool-Aid

For more ideas, check out 6 Alternatives to Expensive Cleaners. You’ll get a few more recipes and more common items you can use as cleaners around the house.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
2 Costly Rewards Credit Card Mistakes — and How to Fix Them
2 Costly Rewards Credit Card Mistakes — and How to Fix Them

If you commit either of these credit card sins, you are likely losing money every time you use a card. Here’s how to easily right this wrong.

15 Things You Should Always Buy at Yard Sales
15 Things You Should Always Buy at Yard Sales

You can save a ton of money — especially if you spot any of these items.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

10 Common Ways Seniors Get Scammed
10 Common Ways Seniors Get Scammed

Here’s what to watch for to make sure you don’t fall prey to some of the biggest rip-offs targeting seniors.

What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?
What Brand Makes the Best Rechargeable AA Batteries?

The best battery depends on what you need it for and how big your budget is. Here’s how to find the cheapest brand that will do the job you need.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?
Am I Eligible for My Mother’s Social Security Benefit?

Can an adult daughter tap into her late mother’s benefit?

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco
11 Generic Products You Should Buy at Costco

Not all generics are worthwhile, but these are among the best from Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand.

These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy
These Are the 3 Best Used Cars You Can Buy

These vehicles boast reliability, safety and long-lasting value.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have all of these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone
8 Tips for Retiring Comfortably on Social Security Alone

It’s never too early to start learning how to live well while living on less.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry
9 Small Expenses That Are Bleeding Your Budget Dry

Keep more of future paychecks by eliminating these budget-busting unnecessary expenses.

The 4 Best Things to Buy in January — and 4 to Avoid
The 4 Best Things to Buy in January — and 4 to Avoid

As a new year dawns, deals abound for some types of products. In other cases, it pays to wait.

11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked
11 Huge Retirement Costs That Are Often Overlooked

Does your retirement budget account for all of these costs?

7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors
7 Bank Accounts With Extra Perks for Seniors

These accounts offer exclusive discounts and other perks — including interest — to older customers.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.