New season, fresh start. Right? Not without a little elbow grease, friends. As the last signs of winter begin to fade, and the sun starts shining—so you see how deep the grime actually goes—doling out cash for a cleaning service may be tempting, but cost-conscious it is not. Here are some tips to help you get clean without breaking your budget.
Consider Your Options
While you can certainly opt to stock up on store-bought cleaning products, you can save cash by using homemade and repurposed cleaning products—like white distilled vinegar, baking soda and old cloth rags. Even newspapers can be recycled to clean windows and mirrors—for a streak-free shine. These are inexpensive, safe and environmentally friendly.
Vinegar cleans, sanitizes and kills most bacteria, germs and mold, while baking soda scrubs and shines and can be used to remove stains, buff surfaces and deodorize. Baking soda even removes wax crayon marks and eliminates pet stains and odors.
If you do opt for store-bought products, consider buying in bulk from a warehouse store like Costco or Sam’s Club. Make sure to skip name brands in favor of less expensive store brand options—and always browse the local paper or store websites for coupons before you head to the store.
Re-Purpose Old Items
As you de-clutter, consider new uses for old items before you throw them out. Old magazines can be rolled and used as inserts to keep boots upright, while items like cans and bottles can become creative vessels for candles, art supplies, even plants. And again, consider saving items like old wash cloths and t-shirts for future cleaning or car-washing—but only if you have the storage space.
Consider all the resources you’re using during your deep-clean. There’s no sense in leaving water running while you wipe down the counter, or leaving doors wide open as you cart bags in and out of the house while the air conditioner is running.
At the same time, if the weather is nice and your circumstances allow, cut off the air units altogether and leave windows open as you clean. The natural air flow will freshen your rooms, while saving on utility costs for the day and providing welcome ventilation for the harsh smell of cleaning products.
Divide and Conquer
Cleaning can be overwhelming. If you have others in the household, assign jobs to different members. If you live alone, consider which jobs take priority, the time they will take and how each task will fit into your schedule. Then make a list of tasks to be completed each day. Do enough to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed—or justified in giving up.
For immediate results, start with piles of clutter. Store books on shelves, file away (or toss) stacks of bills and mail, and put away all toys and books. De-cluttering your space makes all the difference, and it works to provide easy access for the deep spring clean that you’re after.
Stick to Strategy
Clean with purpose. Dust before cleaning floors and surfaces. You don’t want to send up a cloud of dust and dirt to settle on something you’ve just cleaned. If you clean the shelves and then dust the overhead fan, you’ll end up cleaning the shelves all over again.
Keep it Up
Once the house is sparkling clean, commit to keeping neat and clean. Schedule time each week to dust, vacuum and quickly straighten up.