For my second installment of the Ready. Set. Done. series (still up in the air about this name, in all honesty, but I haven’t though of a better one!), I wanted to put together a post on some of various ways we save money in our household. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it would best to break it down into several areas – starting with household cleaning products! (So stay tuned for a few other posts on other money-saving tips and tricks we use!)
To begin with, for those who are new readers, I am a research librarian for a consumer products testing company – which means I’ve been able to learn SO much about how various products are regulated (or AREN’T in some cases!) here in the U.S., but also around the world. So, partly because of my job, but also just being a mom and wanting to protect my family (and the environment!) from harmful chemicals, I try to limit the number of chemicals we purchase. Also, I am SUPER sensitive to fragrances, and since many fragrances are chemicals themselves (phthalates! eek!), I usually go fragrance-free wherever possible.
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So first things first, here are the cleaners I do purchase outright and don’t make myself (that’s right – spoiler alert! – I make a bunch of our cleaning products):
- Laundry detergent (this will change though as this is the next project I plan to take on – a DIY laundry detergent): I stick to ALL Free and Clear (I’ve used it since before the kids were born, but it’s been great for both of them too as they both have eczema/sensitive skin, just like me).
- Dish soap: I end up using dish soap in some of my homemade cleaners, so it just makes sense to buy this, and we usually buy IN BULK! The original blue Dawn is what I use in my homemade cleaners, but we also have started buying Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap and I LOVE IT! It’s one of the few things I buy with scents too! I love the lavender and honeysuckle fragrances, especially!
- Dishwasher detergent: We usually end up buying Cascade or the local Wegmans brand of the dishwasher pods. I have tried “greener” brands, but find that they don’t clean as well. This is something I want to look into more this year so help save money, but also be a bit more eco-conscious (plus any detergent pods are really dangerous for kids…always keep them out of reach of the kiddos because it is very serious if they are ingested!).
- Hand soap: We buy Method or Mrs. Meyer’s brands and buy the refill jugs to help cut down on the amount of plastic bottles we put in the recycling bin (plus it’s cheaper! score!).
Purchased Cleaning Tools
I have posted many times of my love of e-cloths, so I can’t have a whole post without mentioning them! 😉 I love the eco-friendly aspect of these products, since they get reused over and over and just get washed after a week or two of being used frequently. And of course, they just use water!
I use my e-cloths (and a few Norwex products, too) for all of the following on a very regular basis (meaning daily to weekly), so the cost-per-use of these items really is minimal (and I’ve had them for years too!); I’ve included links to the actual cloth I use for the job, too:
- window cleaning (I just use a Dollar Tree spray bottle with water and the cloth),
- dusting (just the mitt! no other products needed!),
- dry mopping (again, nothing else needed),
- wet mopping (using the mop from above but with the special “wet mop” head, plus some water – I either wet the mop head and then wring out very well, or use my water spray bottle if I’m doing spot treatments),
- surface cleaning (just water! I do have several of these and use them in different rooms – one for kitchen, one for each bath, etc.),
- shower and tub scrubbing (just water, too! but I do use baking soda with a regular microfiber cloth every other week for a deeper clean),
- toy cleaning (you guessed it, just water!).
Or you can just get the whole cleaning set to save some $$! 😉
I also love my Woolzies dryer balls! They are wool balls you put in the dryer instead of using fabric softener or dryer sheets. Saves money, eco-friendly, and chemical free! Bonus tip: Add some drops of essential oils if you like your laundry to be scented!
Lastly, for odor reduction (because, let’s face it, with two kids, 3 animals, and a husband – our house has it’s fair share of smells!), I have two different routes I take:
- Charcoal bags. I use these around the house to eliminate odors. I personally like this brand. They currently reside at the bottom of our garbage can (between the can and the trash bag), in the refridgerator, freezer, coat closet, pantry, and our side entry bench (we have baskets where we store the kids shoes and some of my shoes). They’re re-usable, too! If they seem to stop working, just lay them in the sun the “re-charge” them. Then, toss them wherever you need them and forget about them! It’s that easy!
- Oil diffusers. I, like many others, have jumped on the essential oils bandwagon. I have used them in homemade cleaners (more on that below) for a while, but I have in the past 6 months or so started diffusing them as well. We now have 4 diffusers around the house (1 in each bedroom and 1 downstairs). My current favorite DIY blend is lemon, lavendar, peppermint, and grapefruit oil!
- P.S., I’m a huge fan of Rocky Mountain Oils, after doing extensive research! 😉
Toilet bowl cleaner
This one is pretty simple. I take a glass bowl with a lid. I pour a bunch of baking soda in and then add several drops of Lemon Essential Oil (I specifically use lemon because of its deodorizing qualities). I mix together with a spoon. That’s it!
I use a measuring cup to put in a scoop in the toilet bowl – generally about 1/3 to 1/2 cup…I’m not too strict on the amount, because it can depend on how much scrubbing is necessary (TMI!) and how big the toilet bowl is. Also, I try to pour on the inner sides – not directly in the water of the bowl!
Then I take a bottle of plain white vinegar in one hand and my toilet brush in the other. I pour a healthy splash of vinegar in and start scrubbing! I generally let it sit for a minute then flush.
Usually just some baking soda! Maybe with a few drops of essential oils like the toilet cleaner. Then scrub with a microfiber cloth or sponge and let sit for a bit. Then, depending on my mood, I either rinse clean with water, or sometimes use vinegar to rinse.
I take some glass spray bottles (since I am using essential oils and amber/cobalt glass bottles can help sunlight from getting in – sunlight speeds up the expiration of essential oils), and then use the following:
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 3/4 cups water
- essential oils (usually 20-30 drops, depending on how strong I want it)
- I like using a lavender and lemon combo, or eucalyptus and peppermint!
Remember to shake it up before use as the oils will float to the top after a while. I use with a simple microfiber cloth.
So how does this really save money?
That was a lot of stuff, so you may ask, how does this really end up saving money?
Well, it did take investing some money up front that’s for sure, but we also didn’t buy all of the above one-off products at one time – I’ve been picking up e-cloths, oil diffusers, etc. for years! But the best part it is, once I buy it – that’s it. I haven’t had to go back for replacement e-cloths yet, or really any of the products I use.
I end up purchasing some essential oils about once a year to replenish our stock. I do try to wait for sales, especially around Black Friday to save as much as possible on those.
As far as regular purchases, because of my DIY cleaners and the eco-friendly cleaning tools, here is a breakdown of how often we are purchasing cleaning products:
- A staple for DIY cleaners!
- Once every 6 months. I buy at Sam’s Club (in bulk) to get the best deal.
- $4.42 for two 1 gallon jugs
- Baking Soda
- Another staple for my DIY cleaners!
- Once every year to two years. Again, I buy at Sam’s Club.
- $5.98 for 13.5 lb bag
- Laundry Detergent
- Every 5-6 months, typically (Another Sam’s Club purchase, but sometimes if there is a good deal I’ll pick it up on another website or at Target; I’ve noticed I can never really get a good deal on this through Amazon Subscribe and Save which bums me out since I love my Prime!)
- $15.82 for 250 oz
- Dishwasher Detergent
- Every 6 months and we buy from either Amazon Subscribe and Save, or sometimes another website like Boxed.com or Soap.com
- We buy dishwasher tablets/packs, and I try to ensure the cost per tablet/pack is less than 20 cents per pod.
- We aren’t too brand sensitive either which helps. As I mentioned above, we generally buy Cascade, but have purchased Finish, Wegmans brand, and even Mrs. Meyer’s (but as I mentioned above, I really think the Cascade and Wegmans work best).
- $9.49 for Wegmans brand, 105 count (we typically need about 2-3 containers per year)
- Hand Soap
- I stock up on this when I can, so I usually only buy once or twice a year.
- We also buy refill jugs, to reduce waste and get the best deal on cost per ounce.
- I am a bit picky on brands for this as I mentioned above (Mrs. Meyer’s or Method only, really), so just keep in mind, the pickier you are, the harder it is (sometimes) to get the best possible deal. Therefore, my threshold is around $0.15 per ounce.
- $4.99 for a Method refill bag of 34 oz (typically use about 2 bags per year)
- Dish Soap
- Every 3-4 months typically (since I do use Dawn occasionally for some homemade cleaners). Typically another Sam’s Club purchase, since it’s convenient when we’re running low and we know we can buy in bulk.
- Again, we’re picky on this brand-wise, so I do try to buy whenever I know it’s a good deal, even if our current stock isn’t low.
- $8.58 for 90 oz
- Paper Towels
- Every 3-4 months (we primarily use e-cloths and microfiber cloths, but we do need paper towels on occasion too!)
- We purchase these as a Club Pack from our local Wegmans grocery store, and we buy Wegmans brand to get the best price.
- $12.99 for 12 Mega Rolls
Therefore the grand total, estimating of course, is about $140 per year, and this is without coupons and other savings (we roll savings we get elsewhere into purchasing more of these products, so we have a constant stock pile). I would say with coupons and other savings, we typically get all of this for less than $100 per year!
So all in all, not to shabby when you consider this really covers everything for cleaning the house, including paper towels (another goal of mine is to really reduce the number of paper towels we use – we have already done a great job by using microfiber cloths, but I want to get it down as MUCH as possible!).
Also, be sure to check out my next Ready. Set. Done. post on how we save money shopping for groceries (many of the ideas I use when buying the few cleaning products we do purchase outright light laundry detergent, hand soap, dish soap, etc.)!
Happy cleaning everyone! 😉
P.S. You can see my first installment in the Ready. Set. Done. series on purchasing holiday cards here! Stay tuned for more! 🙂