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8 Amazing Cleaning Hacks That Will Save You Time and Money
When the days start to get longer and the snow begins to thaw, it can only mean one thing: it’s time to throw open the windows, hang your linens out on the line, and power through a deep spring clean.
And, if you’re like most Americans, you’re ready and willing to spend good money making every surface in your house as reflective as a mirror.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the average American “spends more than $500 per year on household cleaning supplies.” Ouch!
Before you fill up your shopping cart with expensive, organic cleaning products, take a minute to rethink your strategy.
Here are eight of our go-to cleaning hacks for staying on budget – and still having time to kick up your heels at the end of the weekend.
1. Learn to Love Vinegar
We love the delicious scents and grease-cutting power of Mrs. Meyers’ concoctions as much as anyone, but do they have to be so gosh-darn expensive?
If you’re tired of shelling out big bucks for natural household cleaners that still get the job done, it might be time to introduce you to your new best friend: plain white vinegar.
“It is non-toxic, lasts for a long time without losing strength, and is much safer to have under your sink than bleach, ammonia, or other toxic cleaning products,” explains Brian Clark Howard at Good Housekeeping.
A vinegar solution works for just about every household cleaning need, from washing windows to disinfecting surfaces.
Just don’t get overzealous and use vinegar on hardwood, stone, or granite, says Good Housekeeping’s web editor Lauren Piro. Its natural acidity can break down these surfaces.
For an expert take on creating your own vinegar cleaning solutions, head to natural cleaning maven Good Girl Gone Green.
2. Embrace the Power of Citrus
Aside from vinegar, lemon juice and lemon peel are your best allies in the kitchen – and, no, we’re not just talking ingredients for salad dressing, here.
According to Alexandra Ossola of The Kitchn, lemon juice magnifies the efforts of your elbow grease – and then some.
“Lemons are quite acidic – more acidic than orange juice and black coffee, although not quite as acidic as your stomach juices – and this is the key to their effectiveness as cleaning agents,” explains Ossola.
Acidity is why you can use a little bit of lemon juice and table salt to clean your cutting boards without ruining the wood – or why lemon juice can help you eliminate stains from other acids.
You can also send a few lemon peels down your garbage disposal to help kill any lingering bad smells, says Huffington Post’s home editor Michelle Manetti.
Want to learn more about the many uses of lemon juice outside of the kitchen? Check out Today.com for more ideas.
3. Stay on Top of Kitchen Grime
Spring cleaning is hard enough – don’t make it more difficult on yourself by trying to eliminate a season’s worth of grime in one go.
According to Jo First at The Kitchn, it’s easier to complete a deep clean of your kitchen, including your appliances, when you have an A+ spot-clean strategy during the rest of the year.
“The basic process is to soften grease and grime with warm water, then clean with a sponge soaked in warm, soapy water, and finally dry with a dishtowel to avoid any leftover residue that would attract dirt and grime,” writes First.
“Stubborn stains may call for a baking soda spot treatment or a spritz of distilled white vinegar,” she adds.
Making time throughout the year to eliminate stubborn grease stains around your oven or on kitchen cupboards will help you avoid a major headache during big spring or seasonal cleans – plus, you’ll feel great knowing your stove is clean enough to eat off of.
4. Make Laundry Your Secret Weapon
If you don’t have a high-efficiency washer, you could be wasting up to 13 extra gallons of water per load of laundry. And, once you factor in energy costs, you’re talking big bucks just swirling down the drain.
That’s why it’s also important to rethink your loads of laundry throughout the year, says cleaning expert Christina Peterson.
“Not everything you wear gets dirty after you've worn it once. Jackets, dresses, and jeans can be worn several times before they need a cleaning,” writes Peterson at Good Housekeeping.
A few times a year, suggests bargain hunter Lori McDaniel, go through your old clothes and set aside ancient T-shirts or socks with holes in the heel to use as cleaning rags.
“My favorite items to reuse are old towels, T-shirts and cloth diapers,” McDaniel writes at U.S. News & World Report.
“I don’t care if they get stained, and compared to paper towels they absorb spills better and are way more durable,” she adds of her old towel collection.
Want to learn how to turn an old pillowcase into a perfect duster? Head over to Real Simple for more details.
5. Pet-Proof Your Furniture
Our furry friends feel like part of our families, but they sure don’t clean up after themselves.
Without proper care and attention, you could lose thousands of dollars by having to regularly replace furniture ruined by pet odor, shedding, and other stains.
Not sure what to keep on hand? Arm yourself with a box of baking soda and a lint brush to minimize odor and hair throughout the year.
“Deodorize the soft, cushy places around your house — including the dog bed — by sprinkling surfaces with baking soda, letting it sit for 15 minutes, and then vacuuming it up,” advise the editors of Good Housekeeping.
Not only will your house smell clean and fresh, but regular spot treatment can help extend the life of your furniture, too.
6. Kill Germs with Your Dishwasher
If you’re just using your dishwasher to manage post-dinner clean up, then you’re definitely missing out.
A dishwasher’s high heat makes it the ultimate germ killer, says health reporter Alexandra Jaffe.
“What reliably sanitizes dishes is high heat, at temperatures greater than most people can stand,” Jaffe writes at The Atlantic. “Past 145 degrees Fahrenheit, water easily and quickly kills bacteria.”
Plenty of other products can be cleaned in the dishwasher to zap germs, too, says Julie R. Thomson at Huffington Post – including plastic toys and bathroom accessories.
“Plastic toys are handled by kids all day, which means they’re full of germs,” writes Thomson. “A quick wash in the dishwasher, storing them in the cutlery closure, gets them squeaky clean and looking like new.”
Not sure whether an item is dishwasher-safe? Whether you have a plastic toy or an insulated aluminum travel mug, check with the manufacturer before putting the item through the rinse cycle.
7. Spot-Clean Appliances
Major household appliances like ovens, refrigerators, and washing machines are some of the biggest investments homeowners make – but we often don’t take care of them as well as we should.
Show your oven range a little TLC by cleaning up spills so they don’t harden over time, suggest the editors of Good Housekeeping.
“After gently chipping off any loose pieces from your range, liberally spritz burnt-on food with ammonia from a spray bottle,” write the editors.
“Then sprinkle some baking soda and add just a few drops of white vinegar. Let it bubble for a minute or two, then whisk away the grime with a scrub sponge.”
Want a shortcut for cleaning your fridge? You can chuck fridge shelving into your dishwasher for a deep clean, says Huffington Post’s Thomson.
8. Value Your Vacuum
Get more mileage out of your vacuum by using it to help you clean more than your living room carpet.
According to bargain hunter McDaniel, vacuums can help you save money by extending the reach of your deep clean.
“I also use my vacuum to clean the air registers and fan blades because I don't want the wind blowing dust onto my newly-cleaned furniture,” writes McDaniel at U.S. News & World Report.
“I vacuum the coils at the back of my refrigerator, which, according to The Family Handyman, can eliminate more than 70% of refrigerator service calls and save $5 to $10 per month,” she adds.
Use that extra pocket money to invest in a good air filter for your vacuum – or more lemons for your cleaning supplies.
While it may be tempting to drop a lot of cash as part of your spring cleaning ritual – don’t be fooled.
There’s plenty you can accomplish with affordable, natural ingredients from your pantry – and careful planning throughout the year.
Do you have a spring cleaning strategy? Tell us the money-saving hacks that keep your house squeaky clean in the comments below:
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