Are the traditional cleaning products still the best?
Shop bought cleaning products can be expensive. Though a litre of bleach is reasonably priced at around £1 in all the main supermarket, specialist grease removers, oven cleaners and floor cleaners will usually cost between £3 and £5 a litre. A bottle of glass cleaner for windows and mirrors will cost from £1.50 more. All these costs add up, and the average household spends around £30 a month on cleaning products. Make your own cleaning products, however, and you will have a lot more left in your pocket every month.
If you want to clean your carpets, hiring a cleaning machine is a fast and effective way of doing it; but you are also expected to use pricy proprietory shampoos with it too, when you can make your own with a half cup of an all-purpose bleach-free household cleaner , half a cup of fabric softener, a cup of ammonia and about a gallon (five litres) of hot water. Cheap, cheerful and it works just as well as many expensive branded products (mind you, they come in a fancy bottle, not a bucket!).
All purpose cleaner made from three household ingredients
A gallon of tap water mixed with a cupful of cheap white vinegar and half a cupful of baking powder or bicarb is all that you need to create an effective all purpose cleaner. This mixture can be stored in old drinks bottles and it will easily last you a month. Use it to add shine to mirrors and remove smears, to wash baths, showers and sinks and to clean floors. White vinegar is effective for adding sparkle to metallic furnishings (such as taps) and for combating mildew. A bottle of white vinegar will cost as little as 40p for 500ml, whilst a tub of bicarb or baking soda will typically set you back around 80p. Only a fraction of the whole bottle or tub will be needed to make your cleaner. For a month's worth of all purpose cleaner, then, you will have forked out the princely sum of about 30 pence. A stronger paste made of bicarb and vinegar is effective against tough oven grease.
A squirt of lemon in water for antibacterial action
If you do not like the smell of vinegar, or if you do not have any around, another simple cleaner can be made from a mixture of a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and a litre of water. Lemon juice is a natural antibacterial agent, which is why it is effective at combating sore throats caused by bacterial infections. A single lemon costs 30p in almost all supermarkets, but fresh juice is not essential here. A bottle of concentrated lemon juice - typically priced at between 40p and £1 - will last longer and will cost you a mere 5p per dose (if that). Fresh smelling, this cleaner is perfect for kitchen surfaces and it is effective against almost all bacteria that you will find around the home.
Natural air fresheners
Shop bought air fresheners are not only expensive (at least £1.50 a pop), they can also irritate our respiratory systems. Freshen your home with dried citrus peels arranged in an attractive bowl or by growing fragrant herbs or houseplants in each room. Simmering a pan of vinegar on the stove whilst cooking will neutralise strong cooking smells.