To keep your home clean, you might think grabbing a bottle of all-purpose cleaner off the shelf at your local grocery store is the way to go. But making your own cleaning products can actually be better for your budget — and the environment.
"The nice thing about making your own cleaning products is that when you're using basic ingredients, it tends to be safer for your kids and pets," says Melissa Maker, host of the CleanMySpace YouTube channel and founder of Clean My Space, a housekeeping service based in Canada.
In 2018, the average household spent $184 on laundry and cleaning supplies annually, up from $148 in 2014, according to Statista. If you go the DIY route, Maker suggests, you can have safe and effective products for a fraction of the cost.
All you need are a few items you probably already have in your pantry or medicine cabinet, such as basic white vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, Castile soap, hydrogen peroxide, and essential oils, says Maker. DIY cleaning products generally take less than two minutes to make and, depending on the ingredients you use, they'll last in your pantry for about a year.
Compared to store-bought products, the savings are significant: Two 32-ounce bottles of Clorox multisurface cleaner can run you $19 on Amazon, or 30 cents per fluid ounce. Maker says her homemade version brings the cost down to just 10-15 cents for about 16-ounces of product, lowering the cost per ounce to a penny, or less. Maker says she keeps the ingredients on hand so that she can remake her cleaners when she runs out.
Most store-bought cleaners come in plastic bottles, too. For consumers who live more sustainable lives, homemade cleaning products are not only less expensive, they're also more eco-friendly because you can store them in reusable glass bottles.
Maker does urge consumers to stay away from making cleaning products that go into a piece of machinery, like a vacuum cleaner or washing machine. If the homemade detergent doesn't agree with your washing machine, for example, it could break the machine and void your warranty.
"The good news is, for a lot of surfaces in your home, that's not the case," says Maker.
Maker's recipes for common household cleaners include:
Soap scum remover:
Room refresher spray:
"It's so inexpensive, and it's the best way to go," says Maker. "It's such an easy way to save money and do good."
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