Never Buy These 7 Overpriced Cleaning Products Again

Most of us would agree that a clean home is a more pleasant — and more healthful — place to live than one with dirt, mold and funky smells.

Yet the cost of making your home sparkle is daunting if you rely on products from the cleaning supplies aisle of the supermarket or discount store.

The truth is, you can easily do most cleaning jobs just as well by using a few inexpensive household products rather than buying their mass-manufactured counterparts. Here are nine costly products you’ll never have to buy again:

1. Swiffer WetJet refill

Face it: A mop and bucket are soooo much cheaper, but not everyone is going to use them. A close relative of mine has chronic health conditions and loves the easy-to-use Swiffer WetJet.

What doesn’t she love? The cost of the refills.

On a recent visit, I freed her from refill tyranny, with help from an article on Lifehacker. It was pretty simple:

  • Turn the bottle that holds the WetJet cleaning solution upside-down and briefly (about 90 seconds) immerse it in a pan of hot water. Make sure it is submerged far enough to cover the cap.
  • Remove the cap with a good, hard twist. Use nail clippers to snip off the locking tabs inside the cap.
  • Refill the bottle with water and a small amount of your favorite cleaning agent: white vinegar, a few drops of your favorite soap, lemon juice, bleach or tea tree oil.
  • Put the cap back on. You’re done.

2. Swiffer replacement pads (wet or dry)

These pads get thrown away after one use! Fortunately, reusable replacements are easy to make.

For dry sweeper pads, substitute microfiber cloths from the dollar store. Secure them on a dry Swiffer sweeper with rubber bands, or with clothespins holding the ends of the cloth together on top of the sweeper head.

Once the floor has been swept, attach DIY replacements for the wet pads to the Swiffer WetJet that you’ve filled with DIY cleaning solution (see No. 1). You can make the pads for the wet work from worn washcloths or pieces cut from old towels. You’ll need to cut an “X” in the fabric near the spray head so that it can do its job.

Count on making a half-dozen or more, because these cloths need to be taken off as they become wet and dirty, just like the throwaway kind. The difference is that you’ll be washing and reusing these until they fall apart.

3. Foaming bathroom cleaner

Scrubbing Bubbles-type products are great. They melt the soap scum off in minutes!

Here’s a frugal clone: Mix one part white vinegar to one part blue Dawn dish detergent in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray it on, wait a few minutes and rinse clean.

Magic!

Does it stink? Oh, yes. But like the smell of commercially produced cleaners, the aroma does disappear. (Bonus for me: The homemade cleaner doesn’t trigger my asthma like the commercial products.)

4. All-purpose cleaner

This one is sooo easy: Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

The mixture will take care of bacon spatters on the stove top, jelly drips on the kitchen counter, toothpaste smears on bathroom fixtures and the streaks on windows and mirrors.

My partner calls vinegar “nature’s Clorox.” He’s right.

5. Cat box deodorizer

Sometimes, you walk into someone’s home and know immediately that a cat also lives there.

Other times you can’t tell, which has a lot to do with how well the owner cares for the kitty toilet. Clumping litter is a marvel, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. Here’s how a site called The Nest suggests you do things:

  • Every few weeks, empty the box entirely and scrape off any dried litter. Scrub it with hot water, then fill with a mixture of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of hot water. Empty and rinse after five minutes, then dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  • Cover the bottom of the box with a thin layer of baking soda before refilling with litter.

6. Hard-water stain remover

Mineral-saturated water can make some ugly stains on bathroom porcelain. Once again, it’s white vinegar to the rescue.

The process is super-simple: Apply vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes, scrub and then rinse. If it’s a toilet, turn off the water supply and flush until the bowl is mostly drained, then pour in a lot of vinegar and start scrubbing after a few minutes.

I performed this chore for my chronically ill relative. She was delighted, going so far as to say that the newly sparkling porcelain provided “a great sense of peace.”

7. Fabric freshener

You love your golden retriever. You do! But that eau de canine tends to cling to his doggy bed, and to the sofa he knows he’s not supposed to lie on.

You love your preteen hockey player. You do! But that gear bag just plain stinks, even when the uniform has been freshly laundered.

The list of potentially smelly household items could go on and on. Commercials would have you believe that spraying on an expensive “fabric refresher” makes the world brand-new again.

Instead, search online for “homemade fabric freshener” or “homemade Febreze” and you’ll see plenty of DIY recipes that use ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, fabric softener, essential oils, rubbing alcohol, distilled water and — my favorite — cheap vodka.

Have your own favorite alternative for an overpriced product? Share it in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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

Read Next
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.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

7 Things I Never Buy at Costco

A bulk buy isn’t always the best buy. Here’s where I shop for these items instead of a warehouse club.

How to Get the Best Possible Deal on Car Insurance

This is the last article on understanding and shopping for car insurance that you’ll ever need.

7 Reasons Not to Move When You Retire

Sunny skies and warm breezes sound great. But in reality, you might be better off retiring closer to home.

View this page without ads

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

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

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

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

Do This With Your Mask Before Thanksgiving Dinner

Before you sit down at the year’s biggest feast, make sure to properly care for your mask.

Never Buy These 10 Things With Your Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

13 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

8 Surprising Household Items You Can Sell for Fast Cash

Sometimes, the humblest household items are worth the most money.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It

Discover some must-have products on Amazon that you didn’t even know you were missing.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

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

11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

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.