6 DIY Cleaning Projects to Save You Money

by Jamie Simmerman · 12 comments

I’m a clean freak. I admit it. When stressed, I clean. It’s a win-win situation. However, I’m also very conscious about what I spend on cleaning supplies, so when a DIY cleaning project pops up, I give it a try. Like housework, cleaning supplies are temporary, with most materials ending up washing down the drain so it only makes sense to save money whenever possible on cleaning supplies. Here are a few of my favorite DIY cleaning projects for frugal families.

DIY Cleaning Projects to Save You Money

1. Get rid of water spots. We have well water, full of iron. I can spend hours scouring bathroom fixtures to have them yellowed by the next day. To help combat water spots and mineral deposits, I wipe the bathroom fixtures down with WD-40, then polish the faucets and shower doors with wax paper to help repel water longer.

2. Environmentally friendly floor cleaner. Living on an organic means I have to pay special attention to everything that goes down the drain. To clean floors, I like to mix a half cup of vinegar, a half cup of washing soda (Arm and Hammer Baking Soda), a Tablespoon of grated Fels-Naptha, and two gallons of hot water. This mixture cleans well without a residue.

3. Toilet Cleaner. Living with a house full of energetic boys, I tend to clean overspray off the toilet daily. Instead of buying toilet cleaner by the case, I keep a tub of baking soda and lemon juice (mixed to a honey consistency) to scrub away odors. Let the paste sit for a half an hour, then spray with vinegar to bubble away the stains and smell. Clean off the paste with a damp cloth for a sparkling clean toilet.

4. Laundry Pretreater. My laundry hamper often looks like a rag bag. You’ll never know what you’ll find in there, but constant staples are machinery grease and layers of mud, sometimes combined to create a stain that would send Heloise running for her supplies. One of my favorite DIY laundry pre-treaters is a paste of baking soda, a few squirts of hydrogen peroxide, a little Dawn dishwashing liquid (yes, it must be Dawn), and fabric softener. My measurements aren’t precise; I add what I need to make a thick paste. Be sure to spot test on different fabrics before using.

5. Dishwasher Powder. With hard water, getting dishes clean can sometimes be a real challenge. My favorite DIY dishwasher powder is a mixture of one tablespoon of powdered bleach (the oxygen bleach cleaner works best), one half teaspoon of Dawn dish soap  (yes, it must be Dawn again). To help fight soap scum on glassware, I also place a half cup of white vinegar in a cup or bowl in the top rack to act as a rinse aid. Dishes usually come out spotless.

6. Carpet Freshener. We have a cat and two house rabbits indoors. Needless to say, sometimes my carpet is less than fresh smelling, even with regular vacuuming. To help combat the pet odor, we mix up our own carpet freshener from two cups washing soda (baking soda), one cup Borax, and 4 Tablespoons of finely grated orange peel. Just sprinkle on, let sit for a half an hour (and encourage the kids to walk all over it), then vacuum up the remains.

What DIY cleaning solutions have you tried that work?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Argie August 9, 2012 at 9:39 am

Make your own laundry soap. This recipe works well and is very cost effective. It was given to me by a friend who runs a summer camp.

1/3 of a 5-1/2 oz bar of Fels Naptha* soap
1/2 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda*
1/2 cup Mule Team Borax*

Grate the bar soap into a large saucepan. Add 6 cups water and heat until the soap is melted. Add the soda and borax; stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Pour 4 cups hot water into a large bucket. Add the soap mixture and stir. Add 1 gallon plus another 6 cups (22 cups total) warm to hot tap water, and stir. Let sit for about 24 hours, and it will gel. Stir gently and put into containers.

Use 1/4 cup for a small load of laundry, 1/3 cup for a medium load, and 1/2 cup for an extra large load. It will NOT suds up. Don’t use more, thinking it’s not working. It’s also a great pre-wash stain remover and an excellent carpet spot cleaner. Put a little on a brush and work into the carpet. Blot with a damp towel, then a dry one.

*May not be available in some large stores – go to your smaller grocery stores.

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Gay August 30, 2012 at 11:45 am

Does this recipe work with front load washers too?

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Argie August 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

A few years ago I used a front load washer when I was between residences. It required detergent that didn’t make a lot of suds and also a smaller amount of detergent. This recipe doesn’t suds up. You would have to experiment with the amounts to see what works best.

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Ornella @ Moneylicious August 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm

These are actually really creative ways to save money. I had no idea about the WD-40 and wax paper. I’m going to try it.

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Kate August 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm

If you have a husband or child who puts wet glassware down on your wood furniture, even though you have drilled him in Coaster Use, you can take that mark out; take a soft cloth and dip out a gob of Crisco (or any white lard type shortening), sprinkle with salt, and rub into the white ring. Cover and leave overnight. In the morning it will be gone. Polish the wood as normal and drill family members in Coster Use again.

If smells are wafting from the sink trap when you run water into one of your two double sinks, put two tablespoons of baking soda (bicarbonate) down the drain, then pour in half a cup of white vinegar. It will boil up like a volcano (give this job to the kids — they will love it!) When the bubbling stops, rinse with clean water and the smell will be gone.

The best polish for mirrors and windows is a newspaper well dampened with white vinegar. Works as well as Windex and costs almost nothing.

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Mel August 10, 2012 at 6:22 am

A smack to the back of the head also helps if hubby keeps forgetting to use a coaster

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Marbella August 10, 2012 at 2:30 am

I never clean because I know nothing about cleaning. I have a great personal maid 2 times a week who doing a wonderful job. How she does it I do not know, but clean it gets.

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Alexander Collins August 13, 2012 at 4:58 am

WD-40 for bathroom cleaning. I would never figure out this for sure without your advices.

P.S. How to become a clean freak? It’s a problem for me:(

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Whitney August 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

Great tips! Thanks. I have made dishwasher detergent and laundry detergent. I ran out of these products in my stockpile, so now I would rather save the money and just make my own. It’s cheaper than even using coupons:)

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TB at BlueCollarWorkman August 13, 2012 at 9:23 am

My wife does all the housework that invovles cleaning (she’s a SAINT!) so I don’t really know what she does. But any of these things look like they’re not just good for the environment but that you can save money too with them!

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dePriest August 22, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Our shower had glass doors that were absolutely rust-covered when we moved into our last house. I got the rust off but the doors were dull as could be due to the soap scum that was under the rust. I tried everything to remove the scum – products made for scum removal and products intended for other uses – but nothing worked until I wiped the doors with baby oil. From that time on I used baby oil them once a month or so to keep them crystal clear.

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Inspired Shopper September 6, 2012 at 12:37 am

For cleaning interior windows and mirrors I use a mixture of vinegar and water from a spray bottle and wipe down with a rag. It works well, but you do need to use a bit of elbow grease when wiping to get rid of smudges.

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