Before adopting a lifestyle of Savvy Frugality, at least 5 to 10 percent of my family's grocery budget was spent on something that we couldn't eat: cleaning products. Between window cleaner, toilet cleaner, spray cleaner for counter tops and sinks and other assorted cleansers, a significant portion of our food budget went instead toward the purchase of chemicals. We still use a few store-bought cleaning items, such as dishwasher and laundry detergent, but we discovered a better way of keeping our home sparkling clean without the magic of chemicals.

It might surprise you that all you really need to clean your home is probably already in your pantry, and these items are cheaper and clean just as well, if not better, than anything pumped out by a chemical company. Mix a few simple household items, and you've got your own homemade cleanser!

The main ingredients you will need for your own home-brewed cleaning products are vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice.

Vinegar - This is probably one of the most versatile items you can use to clean your home. I usually buy a gallon jug of this every month or two, and a little goes a long way. It's inexpensive, effective and when diluted half and half with water, you barely notice the smell, which dissipates quickly anyway. The great thing about vinegar is it is naturally acidic, so it cuts through dirt, soap scum and grease. I usually buy an empty spray bottle from Home Depot, fill it half full with vinegar and half full with wanter and use it for my general cleaning needs in the kitchen. For tougher jobs, just use it full strength, but not on marble or tile grout. Check out the many other cleaning uses of vinegar.

Baking Soda - Baking soda is a natural deodorizer. When I was growing up, my family used open boxes of baking soda to deodorize the refrigerator and freezer. I also sprinkle some on the bottom of my cat's litter boxes, and I put a couple of table spoons in the garbage disposal following up some vinegar to keep it clean and odor-free. Baking sods is incredibly versatile and has many household uses.

Lemon Juice - Why use commercial cleaners scented to smell like lemon juice when you can just use lemon juice? Lemon juice is a natural bleach and disinfectant. You can use it to clean wooden chopping blocks, to polish copper or chrome plumbing fixtures and even to bleach your whites in the laundry. That's certainly more "green" than dumping a bunch of chlorine bleach into the sewer system. Learn more about the cleaning properties of lemon.

If someone in your household is sensitive to the cleaning chemicals in your home, you're concerned about the environment, or you just want to save a bunch of money on the cost of cleaning supplies, try the natural ingredients our grandparents and great grandparents used. It worked for them, and it still works today! Why spend more on commercial cleaning products if you don't need to?


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