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False Economies? Can You Really Save Money With Generic Household Cleaning Products?

Updated on November 14, 2015

Household Budgets: Do You Need To Save Money?

Boy, this economy is just awful! Is the recession getting you down? Are you urgently looking for ways to cut down on your household bills, so that you can pay down credit card debt or begin to put away a financial cushion of savings? (It never hurts to have some 'so-what' money stashed away, now that the spectre of possible job loss and redundancy seems to be haunting us all. Even with no immediate emergency, it never hurts to be careful with your money.)


But where is the best place to begin to make cuts in your expenses budget? Sometimes when you look at your list of monthly expenditures, it's hard to know where to begin. Everything looks essential: how can you begin to make cuts when all the fat has been cut already, and there's nothing you can do without?

One good way to save money out of your pay check almost without noticing, is to drop a level or two in terms of the branded products you buy. One example of an area where you can do this is in relation to household cleaning products: soap powder, detergent, anti-bacterial spray, oven cleaner, disinfectant, bleach, air freshener, cream cleaner, drain unblocker, mould remover, toilet cleaner, glass brightener, scented plug-ins, furniture polish etc.

Household Bills: Anti-bacterial Spray Is Expensive!


Public domain.
Public domain. | Source

How much can you save?

Well, you don't need to buy every single household cleaning item every month: let's suppose you just need five this month. We'll go for detergent, anti-bacterial spray, soap powder, glass brightener and drain unblocker. I took a look at the prices for well-known branded versions of these items on an on-line supermarket site. (I'm based in the UK so my prices are in GBP, but you can easily do the same thing with a US site.)

Fairy washing up liquid (yes, that's what we call detergent!) is currently £0.99 for 450 ml. On the other hand I can buy the Basics version for £0.34 for 500ml.

Dettol anti-bacterial cleaner spray is listed at £2.00 for 500 ml. What I do for this is to take an old spray bottle, fill it with water and add a couple of drops of grapefruit seed extract. A little bottle of grapefruit seed extract will set you back anywhere between £3.79 and £16.37 on-line, if you take a look at Google Shopping. (I buy mine from my local ethical whole-food shop: it's not the absolute cheapest, but it's a good brand (Citricidal) and it's very convenient to be able to pick it up there.) I already have my GPS extract in the house (as it's a wonderful little product), so I won't count the full price of this. I estimate the actual cost of a bottle of my home made spray at about £0.05 (and that's at the very most.)

I'm not necessarily recommending you make this home-made anti-bacterial spray up for yourself. If you're intrigued then you should research and investigate the properties of grapefruit seed extract for yourself, and see if you're sold on it too! (Don't forget, always do your research!)

Domestic Costs: What Do You Pay For Soap Powder?

How about soap powder? How do those figures rack up? A premium branded soap powder on the supermarket online shopping site I checked out - Persil Non Bio Powder, providing enough powder for ten washes - comes in at £2.97. On the other hand, I could buy the Basics version, also good for ten washes, for just £0.84. (And bear in mind that I'm a little stingy with the powder, so I'll likely get more than ten washes out of that box anyway.)

Detergent Prices

Domestic Economies: Cleaning Glass & Mirrors On The Cheap

Let's move on to glass brightener. Glass brightener, how much do I hate thee? Maybe it's just me and there's something about my technique for cleaning glass that's all askew – but what glass brightener seems to be really good at, in my experience, is putting smears on glass. That's right, not taking them off – just adding some more! Why does anybody buy this stuff?

Well, somebody must – they keep right on stocking the shelves with it after all. So for those of you crazy enough to keep on putting this junk in your trolleys, let's have a look at the actual products and their prices. The premium glass cleaner available on the supermarket online site I used is Mr Muscle Concentrated Window Cleaner, and it costs £1.84 for 500 ml.

On the other hand, you could just use what I use for cleaning windows and glass: a bucket of nice hot water, a couple of spots of household vinegar, a wet cloth and a nice close-grained dry cloth. That's right, regular household vinegar, the stuff straight out of your food cupboards! Estimated cost: probably less than a penny. Nada! Negative cost!

Does it really work? It works great! It works better than the stuff you actually pay for (and I mean way better). Glass cleaning is a lot more about technique than it is about product: wet the surface, take your (very) dry cloth and start lightly, rapidly but thoroughly wiping down the glass or mirror. Don't immediately go back and try to cover your steps on the spot you just did, trying to make one little spot streak-free! Cover the whole glass once, then go back a second time, and a third if need be. This works better and faster than trying to de-streak one little spot at a time.

Disclaimer: this is my opinion, and though I tend to think I'm right about everything, your mileage may, as always, vary.

Save Money On Plumbers: Unblock Your Stinky Pipes - Cheap!

What about drain unblocker? Domestos Sink & Drain Unblocker is one of the pricier branded products in this area at £3.98 for 500ml. Instead of buying this, as any of the many frugal living websites so popular now will tell you, you could use bicarb of soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) and/or vinegar to de-stink and unblock your pipes. Many of these sites will advise you on the correct techniques for doing this: here, let's have a look at the prices. The cheapest sodium bicarbonate available according to my source is £0.84 for 200g. (However you can almost certainly source this cheaper from an Asian supermarket, where they tend to have it available in bulk.) The same goes for white distilled vinegar: £0.99 for 468ml of Sarson's Distilled Vinegar from the online supermarket, but almost certainly cheaper from an Asian supermarket.

How well do these home-made versions of Drano do, compared to the 'real thing'? Well, the most I can say from personal experience is, 'about the same'. I have only ever found either commercial or 'improvised' drain unblockers a temporary solution to a stinky or blocked drain problem. Sometimes, you just need to call a plumber in!

Tightwadding Household Expenses: How Much Money Can You Save?

Now, in conclusion, how do the figures rack up? Adding up, I find that the total cost for the premium products comes to £11.78. On the other hand, the bill for the 'alternative', Basics and cheaper products is a total of £3.07.That's quite a saving you could potentially have right there! (Oh, I added in a penny for the cost of the home-made window cleaner. Every penny counts, you know!)

Savings can be made on your monthly household bills. Get out there and cut your costs, people!


All prices sourced using Sainsbury's online shopping search facility and Google Shopping

"Women with clean houses do not have finished books."

Joy Held.


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