Cleaning Tips & Cleaning Products – Money Saving Page

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This Cleaning Tips & Cleaning Products Page contains a growing list of our favorite money-saving Cleaning Product Tips! 

3 Easy Ways to Remove Sticky Sticker Residue

Adhesive left from removing price stickers from book covers, DVD / CD cases, tins, toys, and other household purchases can be a sticky mess and difficult to deal with.

What type of cleaning products can get off sticker residue?

Just know that the longer a label is left on, the harder it is to get the remaining adhesive off. Over time the glue hardens and crystallizes rendering it almost impossible to remove. Removing stickers immediately after purchase is your best bet to getting the adhesive off.

Video: Watch this video as Steve tries 3 different solvents to remove sticker residue from DVD cases

Here are three easy ways to remove adhesive residue in a few seconds, using common household cleaning products.

4 solvents that remove sticky, sticker adhesive. Photo of WD40, denatured alcohol, vegetable oil and motor oil.

1) Cooking Oil. It doesn’t really matter what kind you use. It can be vegetable, olive, canola, cooking oil spray. Most adhesives are oil based and by using another type of oil, it simply dissolves the adhesive. Caution, don’t use oil on uncoated paper or cloth products, it will leave a stain.

2) Motor Oil or WD40. If you don’t have any cooking oil one of these two products will work. We like WD40 because it is lighter, spray-able and stores well. Simply apply a little of the oil to a rag or paper towel and rub the adhesive residue until it dissolves.

3) Denatured Alcohol. This is one of our favorite household cleaning solutions. It removes adhesive residue easily without staining. It also removes magic marker from plastic, metal and coated (shiny) paper, and it removes paint spatters from woodwork without removing the finish or older paint.

What do you use to get sticky, sticker adhesive off? If you have another solution, please leave a comment below.   Steve – Scottsdale, AZ

Baking Soda and Vinegar for Cleaning Products?

We no longer buy drain cleaners. We use a combination of 1 cup of baking soda poured into the drain then 1 cup of vinegar on top of the baking soda and let it sit for a few minutes then run hot water down the drain. If it doesn’t get all the clog try again and let it set longer before running the hot water. You’ll get clean drains w/o the harsh chemicals and they smell so much fresher too.   Mona Trett – Viola, AR

Editors’ Note: We’ve done the baking soda and vinegar trick on our drains and it works great. When the kids were younger they loved seeing and hearing the hissing foam come up from the drain.

If you’re interested in how to get blood out of sheets and clothes, read this article where we tested 9 different solutions.


Cut Rate Sponges

Sponge being cut in half with scissors.

Whenever I use a sponge I always cut it in half, right down the middle with a scissors. I only need half to wash with. The sponge lasts twice as long.  Angela – Hartsdale, New York

Double Duty Vinegar for Coffee Makers

I use vinegar to clean my coffee maker — but I get double duty out of it.  After I run the vinegar through the coffee maker, while it is still warm, I go to each bathroom sink and pour in? cup of baking soda and then a little warm vinegar — then I let it sit. Afterward, I run some fresh water through the coffee maker to rinse out the vinegar, and then pour the warmed water down the drains to rinse out the baking soda and vinegar. Tracy Bernero –  Highlands Ranch, CO 

Dilute Laundry Detergent & Dish Soap

Two partial bottles of dishwashing soap.

When I get low on laundry detergent, I add a little bit of water, shake and use this when I wash clothes that aren’t really dirty.

I also use this same strategy with dish soap. Mayer – Quakertown, PA 

Cutting Your Dish Soap in Half

I find that a squirt of full-strength liquid dishwashing detergent is usually too much for my needs.  So I fill an old bottle of dish soap half-way with detergent and then the other half with water. Now I have two bottles full of detergent for the price of one (it’s even less expensive because I usually use cents-off coupons). Elaine Ribar – Pittsburgh, PA

A glass, ribbed bottle partially filled with green liquid, sitting on a checkered counter top.

Read what this “Domestic Lab Rat” wrote about the most powerful cleaning chemicals out there and why you can scientifically get by with using less soap and more water.

Diluted Dish Soap as Hand Cleaner?


One expense around the house that seemed unnecessary was the cost of hand soap. In D.C., it’s gone up to $3.50 for a bottle of Method foam pump hand soap, and while we both appreciated the benefit of clean hands, we were wary to make this purchase a second time. Our solution? Diluting Dawn’s new Direct Foam for dishes into the used bottle. We found that three or four pumps of Dawn, combined with water, provided enough soap to keep our hands clean and it costs us pennies to refill rather than dollars. The good news is that Dawn is regularly on sale, and coupons, of course, are always a hit. Susan & Stephan Baumert – Falls Church, VA 

Making My Own Dish Soap

I make my own laundry detergent.  3T borax, 3T Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, 2T Dawn(original blue), 1 capful of Purex Scent beads(blue bottle) and water and that’s it!  Makes one(1) gallon.  Probably costs about .50 a gallon.

Here’s how I mix it: Pour borax, washing soda, dawn and scent beads (if desired) into a one-gallon container.  Add 4 cups of HOT water and stir to combine ingredients.  Once combined fill container to top with cold water.  DONE!  It doesn’t create much lather…but it cleans like a champ !!  It also can be used in High-Efficiency washers.  I just love this stuff !!

And my own Fabric Softener:   2 cups Suave Conditioner (I use 1.00 bottles), 3 cups white vinegar, 6 cups of water.  Mix all together.  DO NOT STIR !!   Use the same amount as you would normally use.  I love this stuff too !!   Natalie G – Las Cruces, NM 

DIY Dryer Sheet – Sock Your Fabric Softener

A chrome dryer drum with a white sock laying on the bottom of it.

A small bottle of fabric softener lasts me about 8 months.  Take an old sock or washcloth and add 1 teaspoon of fabric softener. Throw it in the dryer and you have an instant dryer sheet for almost no cost!   Cheryl Feathers – Summerville, SC 

Cleaning with Alcohol

When I was younger, I worked for a deli, where it was extremely important for us to have not only scrupulously clean counters and equipment,  but also shiny counters and sinks! We put straight isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol into a spray bottle.

Spray it on the counters, plastic surfaces, stainless steel sinks, anything that’s glass, including windows and mirrors. It works like a charm, doesn’t streak, the excess will evaporate, and you will have surfaces which have been disinfected, too!

Hospitals have also been using rubbing alcohol to disinfect for years. The only type of surface that you need to be careful with are painted surfaces (always test first!) There are some types of paint that will be lifted by the alcohol. Any time you use it on a new surface, it doesn’t hurt to test in an inconspicuous spot first. I never use alcohol on wood surfaces because it could dry it out (Murphy’s Oil Soap works great on wood!).
Darlene Bolesny – New Orleans, LA

A Toothbrush for Cleaning the House?


I couldn’t clean my house without an old toothbrush.  No matter what I’m cleaning or what kind of product I’m using, I can get into the tiniest places and get them cleaner with an old toothbrush. It sure does shorten cleaning time and saves my fingernails too! Give it a try, you’ll smile! Marie Davis – Pendleton, SC

Cheap Window Cleaner

Instead of buying a (Windex) type of window cleaners I use the one for your car windshield. It costs around $2.00 for a gallon. I pour it into a refillable spray bottle I saved from another product.   Roberta Stetson – Bay City, Michigan

More Recipes for Homemade Window Cleaner

One of the most dreaded tasks known to man or woman is cleaning windows. Is there some magical method to overcome this frightful task? Some people advocate the blue window spray and newspaper. Others recommend a squeegee and water with a bit of dish soap. Does this task require a costly investment in tools and a multitude of specialized sprays, formulas and caustic concoctions to do it properly?

We do do windows   We use a combination of several methods to keep our glass and mirrors squeaky clean. We like spotless windows, but don’t want to spend hours cleaning them.

Squeegee Method Outside

For exterior windows where drips and splashes on the “floor” don’t matter much, we use a one-gallon bucket of water with a capful of dish detergent. We purchased a professional grade brass squeegee for $7.00 from a janitorial supply store and love how it works. Our kids fight over who gets to clean the windows. We use a large sponge to wash the window, then, with a squeegee in one hand and a rag in the other, squeegee the window clean.

Using this method, Steve can clean the five large windows and two 4-foot sliding glass doors inside our atrium in about fifteen minutes.

Rag Method Inside

We’ve tried the squeegee method for interior windows, and whether because of inexperience or just because it shouldn’t be done, we’ve ended up with too much water on the sill and floor for our liking. So, we’ve resorted to using spray-on cleaners. Sometimes we purchase the Wal-Mart brand of blue cleaner — when it’s 99 cents per bottle (Windex™ is about $2.50 per bottle). Other times we mix our own “home brew” of water, ammonia and a bit of alcohol. It’s not a pretty blue color, but it gets the windows clean. On dirtier windows, we use the two-rag method with the same ammonia-base spray. Spray the window and wipe with Rag One. Spray again and wipe with Rag Two; make sure there are no streaks.

Kids love to do windows, but we’ve had to train ours not to give the windows a bath with the spray bottle. On a 4×3-foot window, we use about four “spritzes” from the spray bottle.

Small Windows

When cleaning small windows, housecleaning expert Don Aslett, in his book Is There Life After Housework? advocates using a trigger spray with an alcohol-based window cleaner and a rag. For the outside, he quips, “Just spray them off with a hose and call it ‘good.’ ” Larger windows show more streaks and dirt than smaller ones. One more sage word of advice from Aslett:  “I don’t think any window in a home is worth numerous hours of work.”

Non-Toxic method

In her book Clean House, Clean Planet, Karen Logan researched many different formulas for window cleaning. Her focus was on using non-caustic, hypoallergenic ingredients. She said that club soda worked the best. We’ve heard of club soda for getting stains out of clothes and carpeting, but never on windows. Club soda is one of many names for water that has been charged with
carbon dioxide. So if the “fizz” is gone, all you’ve got is pricey water.

  • Vinegar Recipes 

If you’re concerned about chemicals, use water with some vinegar, and your windows will sparkle.

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
    • 1-gallon water

Or if your windows have a waxy build-up, use this recipe.

1/4 cup vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent
• 2 cups water
• Combine in a spray bottle.
Gently shake to blend.

Ammonia Recipe

Best to use in kitchen areas where windows may be covered with a coat of oil or grease. Mix: 2 ounces household ammonia and 1-quart water

Alcohol-based Recipe

This recipe will help your windows to dry streak free. Combine:

  • 1-quart water
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol

Any way you look at it, windows and mirrors are going to get dirty. Find a method and recipe that works for you, save those old spray bottles and get your glass squeaky clean. Oh, if you want to be really fancy, just add a drop of blue food coloring to any of these recipes and no one will ever know you’re using a “home brew.”

Cleaning Stove Vents & Shower Doors

For built up grease on surfaces such as vent hoods, stove parts, etc.  I make a paste with baking soda and just enough water to dampen it. Then I rub it on the greasy surface. You’ll need to rinse it off, but it is not-abrasive and cleans quick and easy. For hard water build-up on my clear glass shower doors, I get an SOS pad impregnated with soap and dip in vinegar and lemon juice mixture.

The steel wool does not scratch the glass and the acids dissolve the hard water, the soap cleans the scum that starts sticking to the glass. We squeegee the shower every time we’re done, but it eventually gets a dull build-up on it. I don’t have to do this very often. But it really keeps the shower looking nice. Lyn Haberstock – Tucson, AZ

Cleaning up Spills a new way!

Here is a way we save money around the house. We consider paper towels a luxury, so to save money and clean up spills, I use lots of rags and just rewash them.   Emily W – Pocatello, ID

I made napkins out of white cotton (unused single fold cloth diapers) with plain surged edges. One visitor commented on how it was a luxury to have cloth napkins.
Martha T. – Columbia, MO 

SOS: Half the Pad, Twice the Life

A blue steel wool soap pad.

I cut S.O.S. (or Brillo) pads in half and only wet part of it when I use it. It lasts a lot longer if you don’t wet the whole pad and doesn’t rust as quickly.
Diane Kuhn – Cabot, PA 

Homemade Laundry Soap


Instead of buying laundry soap, I make it myself.  I can make 2 gallons of liquid soap for around $2.50.


1 – 2-gallon bucket with lid

Other instruments needed:
Large pot
Blender stick

Instructions:  Grate soap using the smallest side on your grater and set aside.  Add 1 gallon of water to the pot, add borax, washing soda and grated soap and let boil, stirring constantly.  Let soap melt. When soap is melted, add 1 gallon of hot water to the bucket and stir in soap mixture.  Stir well, put on the lid and set aside until next day.  The next day the soap should be a block of hard gel-like substance. Take hands and break up the block of gel.  This step is actually quite fun and my favorite part. When broken up enough, take your blender stick and blend it up until it is creamy and smooth.

You are now ready to use your homemade soap.  It only takes a cup of soap per washer and if you have extra dirty clothes, I usually add 2 cups to those really soiled washes, because it just makes me feel better.

I hope you enjoy saving money with your homemade laundry soap.
Selina Dixon – Lucedale, MS

Related Article: How to get blood out of sheets and clothes.

Going green for less

Question: What about “green”-conscious families, like mine, who are on organic/nonprocessed diets with recycled paper/plastic products, and non-toxic cleaners? They don’t have coupons for this stuff or carry it at warehouses. Do you have ideas to save money yet live healthy and environmentally-friendly?

Answer: We’ve seen several organic products and some environmentally friendly cleaning products at our local Costco. When buying “green,” the principles of establishing a buy price and stocking up still apply. Know your prices for items you purchase. Over time and through research, you’ll find sources for what you want. Then when you find a better price, stock up.

Minimize use of paper products. Disposable products are wasteful and costly. We use cloth napkins, cloth dishtowels and old shirts for rags. We use very few disposable products.

Consider making some of your own cleaning products. Visit; they have recipes for everything from air fresheners to homemade soap.

The best way to guarantee organic produce is by growing your own vegetables or planting fruit trees in your yard. Look for organic produce at farmers markets or join a co-op. Greg Peterson, a local “green” expert, is the owner of the Urban Farm in Phoenix. Learn about his ideas here:

Going green is more expensive. So decide what the non-negotiables of your lifestyle are, find the best prices and work on saving money in other areas.

Rags for Cleaning Up


Here is a way we save money around the house. We consider paper towels a luxury, so to save money and clean up spills, I use lots of rags and just rewash them. Emily W – Pocatello, ID

Hydrogen Peroxide in the Laundry

I have used Peroxide in my laundry for several years and it works very well, however, I put it in with colored clothes also . . . just not as much. Should you really want clean clothes and to get rid of stains also, spray with a pre-conditioner for stains first, then wash with laundry detergent, Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (in a large reclosable bag), Oxyclean, and lastly Peroxide. Start washer to put water in the tank, put in all ingredients, let agitate for approximately 5-6 minutes then fill the remaining water in the tub (I wash in cold water… yes, even for whites), and add clothes AFTER the mixture has had a chance to dissolve, as you do not want to pour Peroxide or Oxyclean directly onto the clothes, then wash as usual.

Should you want to really get more bang for your bucks:  AFTER you have run the WASH CYCLE ONLY, start the procedure over again BEFORE the rinse cycle, etc., let the load soak for one (1) hour, then run it through as usual.  This addition is mostly for those who have babies/small children.   Sue Cozens – Scottsdale, AZ

Hydrogen Peroxide for Other Household Cleaning

Hydrogen Peroxide Bottle.

Hydrogen peroxide – the 3 percent kind you can buy in a drug store – can be a useful household cleaner. Try some of these ideas for disinfecting and cleaning around the house.

For Kitchen Counters and Tables: You can wipe down counters and your tabletops with hydrogen peroxide to kill germs. Just put a little on a clean dishrag and wipe, or use a spray bottle and spray it on, then wipe it off.

For Cutting Boards: After washing your cutting boards, pour or spray on hydrogen peroxide and you’ll kill germs including salmonella.

For Bathroom Disinfecting: Fill a spray bottle with the 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution and keep it in your bathroom to disinfect down counters and toilets. In small amounts, hydrogen peroxide is safe to allow into septic systems, large amounts of it can affect the effectiveness of a septic system.

A bathroom faucet on a white sink.

For Toilets and Floors: If someone is careless and has missed the toilet (guys) so that the floor and toilet are messy and started to smell of urine, you can clean it with your hydrogen peroxide spray and a paper towel or rag. The bacteria will be killed and the smell and filth will be gone in an instant.

In the Laundry: If you add a cup of hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) instead of bleach into a load of white clothes in your washing machine, it will whiten them like bleach. Also use hydrogen peroxide directly on clothing that has blood stains. Let it soak for a minute, rub and then rinse with cold water.

On Mirrors: You can use hydrogen peroxide (3 percent) directly on a clean rag to clean your mirrors. There are no streaks, just clean and shiny mirrors.

We use a special solution with hydrogen peroxide to keep our carpets clean. Read about our DIY Carpet Cleaner here.

Automatic Crud Buster

If you are planning on washing dishes right after your meal,  fill the sink with hot water and put some of the pots and pans in it to soak while you eat. By the time you’re ready to wash them, most of the “crud” will be loosened, making your job faster and easier. It’s also helpful to put more dishes in the suds to soak while you’re emptying dishes from the rinse water. Jennifer Dahl – Bayard, IA

For more savings at the grocery store checkout our Paper Goods/ Disposables page.
If you want an additional idea for a DIY Stain Remover for Carpet & Clothes, click here.
Here’s a blog you might enjoy about Dishwashing Detergent.
And also, this blog about how to get blood out of sheets & clothes.

If you have a tip for saving money on Cleaning Products that would help others, please leave it in the comments below.

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