When you read the phrase "household cleaning expenses," what do you think of? Perhaps the costs of cleaning solutions like laundry detergent and carpet shampoo? Or maybe the fees associated with maid services? Those things can contribute to overall cleaning costs, but there are many related expenses that will also put a dent in your household budget.
Consider not only the soaps and sprays (which come specialized for every area of the home: laundry, dishes, tubs, toilets and the like) but also the tools you use. Cleaning tools might include something as simple and inexpensive as a sponge or mop, or something pricier, such as a vacuum cleaner or carpet shampooer. Don't forget the major investments like washing machines and dishwashers. Add in what you pay for the electricity, water or natural gas needed to run some of your cleaning equipment, and it's easy to see how your expenses can grow. In fact, it shouldn't come as surprise to learn that the average consumer spends $639 a year on housekeeping supplies alone [source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics].
Thankfully, with a little cleverness and shopping around, you can cut your household cleaning expenses. Strategies such as reusing and multitasking your products -- and even making your own cleaners -- can go a long way toward stretching your housekeeping dollars. On the following page, we'll offer you lots of tips for cleaning on the cheap.
Tips for Inexpensive Household Cleaning
Tasks like cleaning the house or saving money don't sound very exciting. In fact, you probably think of them as drudgeries. However, quite the opposite can be true. Finding ways to cut household cleaning expenses can offer you opportunities to exercise your creativity and ingenuity. Check out some of these tips for inspiration:
- Reusing Products: You'd be amazed at what you can reuse for household cleaning. Plastic grocery bags can become wastebasket liners, old toothbrushes can scrub sink faucets and used dryer sheets can be transformed into dust rags.
- Use Less: You're probably using more of your laundry and dish detergents than you need. Make them last longer by cutting back just a little each load. Your clothes and dishes will still come out clean, and you'll end up buying these products less often.
- Smart Shopping: Consider buying generic, store-brand cleaning solutions. Many are formulated similarly to the brand-name products. Buying cleaning supplies in bulk or using coupons can also save you money. Just be sure you compare prices to verify you're getting the best bargain. The bulk buy isn't always the best deal.
- Make Your Own: You don't have to be Granny from "The Beverly Hillbillies" -- making lye soap in the cement pond -- to create your own cleaning solutions. A few simple things from your cupboard or bathroom cabinet will do. Ammonia, vinegar, lemon juice, toothpaste, baking soda and basic hand soap are all common components of homemade cleaning solutions [sources: Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Quizzle]. You'll find many formulas for their use online.
- Use Multipurpose Cleaners: Instead of using a different cleaner for every room or area of your home, buy multipurpose cleaners that can take on several jobs. There are, however, some places that still need specialty care, like glass and wood.
- Save on Energy: Your vacuum cleaner may have a hard-floor feature, but you'll save on electricity by sweeping your linoleum, tile and hardwood instead. You'll also want to avoid multiple loads of dishes and laundry by waiting until you can fill the units. In fact, running a full dishwasher saves more money than doing dishes by hand [source: Good Housekeeping]. Another money-saving tip is to air-dry clothes on a rack or clothesline rather than running your dryer. And don't forget to invest in energy-efficient appliances the next time you're in the market for a new washing machine or dishwasher.
- Donate or Sell the Remnants of De-cluttering: You might find you have a lot of things you no longer need after you go through spring cleaning each year. Consider selling your unwanted clothes, toys and household items in a yard sale or through a consignment shop. You can put the money you make toward your cleaning budget. Even if you donate the items, you can earn savings through tax deductions.
We have lots more housekeeping and budgeting information on the next page.
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- How to Cut Household Pet Expenses
- How to Cut Laundry & Dry Cleaning Expenses
- How to Open a Bank Account
- How to Raise a Large Family on a Budget
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- Bozzo, Donna. "Homemade Cleaning Agents." Family Circle. (Jan. 21, 2011)http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/green-living/homemade-cleaning-agents/
- Carter, Kathy. "Balancing Your Budget with ... Toothpaste?" Quizzle. July 27, 2010. (Jan. 21, 2011)http://www.quizzle.com/blog/2010/07/balancing-your-budget-with-toothpaste/
- Clark Public Utilities. "33 Ways to Save Energy and Money." February 2007. (Jan. 21, 2011)http://www.clarkpublicutilities.com/yourhome/freeResources/archives/waysToSave.pdf
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- Heloise. "How to Save Money Around the House: Use It Once, Use It Twice." Good Housekeeping. (Jan. 21, 2011)http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/money/budget/save-more-money?click=main_sr
- Karimi, Sabah. "Money Saving Tips for Household Cleaning Supplies." Woman's Day. June 3, 2009. (Jan. 21, 2011)http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Lifestyle/Money-Saving-Tips/Money-Saving-Tips-for-Household-Cleaning-Supplies.html
- Visual Economics. "How the Average U.S. Consumer Spends Their Paycheck." (Jan. 21, 2011)http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck/