If you are like most families, the cost of household cleaning products comes out of your grocery budget. It makes sense, because most people purchase their cleaning products at the grocery store while they are doing their food shopping. However, if you aren't already making your own household cleaning products with lemon, vinegar and baking soda, cleansers are probably one of the most expensive purchases you will make at the grocery store.

If you actually prefer the store-bought cleansers, there is another way of saving money on those products. Remember the mantra of Savvy Frugality (borrowed from The Tightwad Gazette): buy it cheaper, make it last longer. That is, buy the cleaners while they are on sale (or use a coupon) and then use less of it.

I'm not saying you should do less cleaning around the house. Like most people, I prefer a neat and tidy house. But, you can use less of the cleansers you buy and still have a clean home. If you follow the directions on the packaging of the cleansers, or use more than it calls for, you may be using more than you really need to in order to get the same results.

I have long suspected that the recommended amounts listed on the packaging of cleaning products is, to a certain extent, intended to get you to go through the product faster in order to get you to go out and buy more of the product more often. I started experimenting with varying amounts of cleansers to see how much was REALLY needed to get the job done. What I found surprised me.

I discovered that for most products, I really only needed about half the amount that was listed on the packaging. For laundry detergents, which call for a full cup of powder to do a load of laundry, I use only half a cup. The same goes for the bleach. When I run the automatic dishwasher, I fill the cups halfway, instead of filling them, as suggested on the packaging. I call it "The 50 Percent Solution".

The result? I have not noticed any difference in the effectiveness of the product. I have even applied The 50 Percent Solution to things like shampoo and toothpaste. Using half as much is just as effective as using the full amount listed on the package.

As an example, let's say the average family spends $40 per month on the cost of cleaning products. If you use only half as much as the package calls for, those cleaning products will now last two months. Not only that, they will save $240 per year on the cost of cleaning products. That's $240 which could be used to apply toward food or gasoline, which is increasing in price. The savings could also be deposited in a families emergency savings account.

Try The 50 Percent Solution for yourself. You may find that you are not buying these products as often, or spending as much of your grocery budget on things you can't eat.


  1. Taj // May 3, 2008 at 5:29 PM  

    Good point!

    And not only will using the 50% system save you money, it is better for the environment to use less cleaning products as well.

  2. Christine // May 3, 2008 at 5:30 PM  

    I love the 50% solution...great idea. We do something like that in my house. We put shampoo in a bottle with a pump dispenser and use 2 pumpsof shampoo...which is about 50% of what we used before. It's amazing how long the shampoo lasts now. Great post!

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