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Cheap House Cleaning Basics

Since I live in a small space and try to be as frugal as possible, I really only have a handful of cleansers in my home. I've found that I only really need white vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, laundry detergent and bleach. I also have some oil soap for cleaning and polishing wood surfaces.

With the vinegar I batch it up 1:1 in a spray bottle, and use that for most of my daily house cleaning - on counters, light switches, the mirrors and glass items, doorknobs, microwave, fridge, the coffeepot and so on. Vinegar dries quickly and cleanly with no streaking. If the scent of vinegar bothers you, add some lemon or lime juice, or some essential oils. Personally I find the scent clean and refreshing. Vinegar dissipates quickly and absorbs more unpleasant odors from the air, so I even use it instead of Fabrese.

I use baking soda for most 'scrubby' work. I also make a paste with it for heavy duty cleaning (think Soft Scrub), or combine it with vinegar for that bubbly 'chemical exfoliation' type cleaning (try it to clean your drains on a regular basis). I keep an opened baking soda in the fridge to absorb fridge odors, and use that one for my house cleaning. When it's empty, I simply put a fresh one in the fridge. It's a good way to keep a rotation going so you can get the most use out of your baking soda as possible.

I also add the vinegar and baking soda to my washing machine, and sometimes run a cup of vinegar through my coffeepot.

What is nice is that if you are on food stamps, both vinegar and baking soda count as food products, so you can get lots of those. Lemon juice is another 'food' product that you can get with food stamps and keep around for adding to vinegar solutions. Salt additionally makes a good abrasive and is also considered a food. I remember using salt to clean out coffee stains in industrial coffee carafes in the food service industry.

I bought Ajax to make a line to keep ants out before I learned about the ease and benefits of using diatomaceous earth instead. I use the Ajax very rarely for super duper scrubbing. When it's gone I will not buy it again. I really don't need it, when I can just use baking soda. I do have Borax that I use as an additive to my laundry, and know that can be used as an abrasive scrubbing cleaner.

The oil soap (I use Murphy's) works great on wood and on my wood laminate floor. Actually I can dilute it enough to use on anything but glass (I reserve the vinegar for that).

Some people will disagree with using bleach, but I like to have it around. I use a 50:1 water-bleach dilution in a spray bottle for basic kitchen and bathroom sanitizing needs, and use heavier dilutions as needed for dealing with molds or colds. For example, I add some to my rainbarrel water to both keep mold from growing in the containers and keep down the mosquito breeding. And if someone has a cold, it's a smart idea to wipe down doorknobs, the phone, switch plates and other surfaces in your house with a little 10:1 water-bleach solution.

You can get more ideas from these two very cool books at Amazon.com: Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses and Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses.

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