I will be shortly enough. Cleaning got me thinking about how much I used to spend on cleaning products. I still have a kitchen sink cabinet that I need to get into and clean out. About 90% of that stuff is unnecessary and I don't know why I bought it. *scratches head* I worked janitorial for 15 years and I know better. The pitfalls of advertising.
In reality, you only need a few items, all cheaply and readily available, to clean your house safely, effectively, and inexpensively. Sorry, no homemade cleaners here, just practical stuff you can pick up at your local market or dollar store, and get the job done.
Here's my el cheapo list of things to get the job done....first is my list for housecleaning.
Hand dishwashing liquid
This is a great, all purpose, neutral cleaner. Do yourself a favor, and buy a well-known brand in this product. You will use much less and it will be less expensive in the long run. I like Ajax(tm) for a balance of cost and performance.
Use this for....duh....washing dishes, and almost any all purpose cleaning which doesn't require a germicide. It is formulated to be a degreaser already, so given time, it will dissolve almost any mess that you have. Next time, when you're mopping your kitchen floors, add a squeeze to your mop water (go easy because of suds), and run the bucket a little higher than normal. Before you mop, put the bottles of a couple of trigger sprayers into the bucket and fill them up. Label them accordingly and use for touchups on kitchen counters, trip, appliances, and the like.
If you have a really nasty mess, a little bit of Arm and Hammer washing soda will make this into a degreaser extraordinaire. Wear gloves when using.
Automatic Dishwasher Detergent (if you have a dishwasher)
Oven Cleaner (if you're not blessed with a self cleaning oven)
Glass cleaner that is unsurpassed. Mix a small capful with water in a spray bottle, add a splash of rubbing alcohol and you're set for mirrors, glass, and all kinds of shiny surfaces. A half gallon is less than a dollar, and will last for years.
Note: never mix this with chlorine bleach....too many people have left a shiny bathtub and a beautiful corpse behind doing this. DEADLY FUMES.
Soft Scrubbing Cleanser with Bleach
Keep a bottle of this on hand for those coffee, tea and fruit stains on countertops, or when things need a mild abrasive to come clean. I buy the Bab-O(tm) with bleach at Dollar Tree and it works just fine.
Pick up a half dozen or so of the 32 oz size next time you're at the dollar store. Mix your own chemicals, label accordingly and save big.
Scrubbing sponge with white pad
This is a gift from the gods. The white pad provides enough scrubbing for practically anything you throw at it, but won't damage even non-stick or soft plastic surfaces. 3M(tm) is the BEST brand here....bar none....and rinse properly last practically forever. To sanitize, wet them and put in your microwave and zap for about 30 seconds. Remove carefully, they're hot! You can also put them in the dishwasher. Use them until they start disintegrating.
This is for the bathroom. It's available as Pine-Sol(tm), and other names usually ending with "disinfecting cleaner" or "deodorizing cleaner"
Use the bucket trick for mixing and filling up spray bottles (label them), using the amount directed on the bottle. Spritz on, use a scrubbing sponge for problem areas, and wipe dry. Clean and sanitized.
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda(tm)
Add this to your dishwashing liquid when you need a cleaner with extra kick. A tablespoon or so is the most you will need (more is not better). Also useful in grimy laundry.
Now for the laundry....here are my suggestions on what gets the job done quickly and safely.
Laundry Detergent (powder or liquid)
Do yourself a favor and buy a product with enzymes (if you're not sensitive to them). They work much better on getting the last of the stains and stink out of even grungy clothes. Sears Ultra Plus(tm) powder is a great value and works well. I haven't tried the liquid variety.
Do keep a small jug of liquid detergent on hand for cold water washes and delicates. Also great for when you're washing a bulky item; sometimes powders don't completely dissolve when you're doing comforters in cooler temperatures.
Fels Naptha(tm) Soap
Keep this, and a spray bottle of water on your laundry shelf at all times. Whenever you run into a spot on your clothes, spritz the spot with some water, rub it with the Fels Naptha bar, and set aside for a few minutes. It's especially good for greasy spots and a bar lasts for ages using it this way.
Oxi Type Cleaner
This can be Oxyclean, Oxobrite, Sun Oxygen Cleaner, or the stuff I buy at Dollar Tree. They all work about the same.
Use this instead of bleach for your white clothes (follow the directions on the package), and put a scoop in a gallon of cool water for things like blood stains. Let it soak for a bit (overnight is necessary sometimes) and even dryer set blood stains will budge!
Fabric Softener or Dryer Sheets (if you tend to use them)
Go cheap here, especially for dryer sheets. There's not a lot of difference in performance.
Distilled white vinegar
Use about an ounce of this in your final rinse for dark clothes. Removes that very last bit of detergent and lint from dark clothes and helps keep them looking fresh.
(Note: some folks like to use this as softener or all-purpose cleaner. I find it is far better for rinsing stuff than cleaning or softening. To everything there is a season....)
Keep a small bottle of reconstituted lemon juice in the fridge at all times, and keep a REAL LEMON for your recipes.
The reconstituted lemon juice is for the occasional rust stain. Dab or pour on until saturated, let sit (preferably in the sun if you have a nice day), and wash when the rust is gone. It takes time, but it works, even on rust marks from furniture on carpet.
Hair Spray (cheapo stuff)
This is one of the few aerosols that I will recommend keeping on hand. Keep a cheap can of hairspray on your laundry shelf. When that uncapped ball point pen leaks, spray it on to the stain, rinse, and repeat if necessary, and wash as usual. Thanks Mom for this one....it has saved me MANY times over the years.
There you have it.....with spring around the corner....you now have a list of stuff that will get your digs clean and not break the bank. Happy cleaning.