Have you resolved to get organized? Keep a clean(er) house? Save money? Odds are at least one of these resolutions made your list, but there is no reason not to tackle all three of them. That's right: You can actually get organized and clean while saving money. Here are 8 simple ways to get started on a more frugal approach to your home making.
1. Use concentrated cleaners
Have you ever wondered why concentrated orange juice is so less expensive than the ready-made kind? It's because manufacturers save money on water and packaging, savings which they pass on to you. The same saving principle applies to cleaning solutions. Buy concentrated formulas and mix them up at home to save on money and natural resources.
2. Make your own cleaners
For everyday, all-purpose cleaners, you can further reduce your cleaning budget by making your own. And as an added bonus, some homemade cleaners are great for the environment! All you need is a good spray bottle, tap water, vinegar and baking soda. Full strength vinegar kills most mold and germs, while baking soda gets out stains like hard water deposits and eliminates stinky odors in bathrooms and kitchens. Plus, unlike air fresheners, baking soda is completely non-toxic and gentle on people and pets.
3. Unclutter your home
You may be wondering how freeing your house from clutter can save you money. Lots of ways, actually. First, did you know that one in ten Americans is spending at least $2,000 a year for outside storage? Cut the clutter, cut the storage bill. Second, by uncluttering, your home will become easier and faster to clean. And you know what they say: Time is money! Finally, after you unclutter, you can find a place for everything. Which means you won't waste time looking for your cleaning supplies, nor money replacing them -- because they will be right where you left them. Oh, and as an added bonus, if you sell your uncluttered goodies on Craiglist or eBay, your efforts will net a few extra dollars, too.
4. Maintain your cleaning supplies
If you keep your cleaning supplies in good working order, they will last longer and you will save money on replacements. Be sure to rinse your brushes and blades with clean water after each use. Wash your floor and cleaning cloths immediately, or let them dry in a well-ventilated space, so that mold and bacteria don't start to grow. Also be sure to keep all your supplies organized in one central location. For more on how organization helps save money, refer back to tip #3.
5. Clean green
You can cut old towels, socks and t-shirts into cleaning cloths as long as they are 100% cotton. They can be hemmed on your sewing machine, but they work just as well if you snip them with scissors and start cleaning--although they will produce more lint without a hem. If you are going to buy cleaning cloths, buy reusable cloths rather than paper towels and pre-moistened sheets. Cloth will cost more in the short-term, but in the long-run you will save money ... and the environment. Finally, ditch your old mop with its disposable sponge heads and switch to mops that have reusable cleaning pads that are quick and simple to launder.
6. Take your shoes off
Admittedly, this tip may not work for every family, but going barefoot (or slippered foot) will save you a lot of vacuuming. The less you track into your home, the less mess there is to clean up. Which means you save money on vacuuming -- lower electric bills and less wear and tear on an expensive home appliance. If the shoeless lifestyle just isn't going to work for you, at least be sure to install good floor mats at all entrances to your home. (And instruct everyone to wipe their feet well before tracking into your house.)
7. Maintain a regular cleaning schedule
A little bit of maintenance goes a long way. Clean out your sink every day, swish your toilet every morning, pretreat stains before you toss clothes into the hamper, and wipe up spills as soon as they happen. Most stains and dirt can be removed easily with a little water, a bit of dish soap or a spitz of all-purpose cleaner. If you let it sit, on the other hand, you will need to bring out the big cleaning guns. And these specialty products are all more expensive to buy and more time-consuming to use than basic cleaners.
8. Launder your clothes in cold water
As much as 85% of your washing machine's electric usage comes from heating the water. By using cold water, you can save $80 a year or more. And if you pretreat your stains, you should be able to get your whites just as sparkling clean in cold water as you can in hot. If you happen to use cloth diapers, continue using hot water for those, as well as for sheets and towels.
Changes are best made when we are aware of the need, recognize the process necessary, and focus on one-step-at-a-time.
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