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Switch Your Costly Household Products to These Cheap Alternatives

Taylor Bell
·12 min read
PeopleImages / Getty Images
PeopleImages / Getty Images

Household products are essential to every home, but they can sometimes be expensive. Depending on the preference of brand and need, prices can vary greatly. In 2017, Americans spent an average of $177.27 on laundry and other cleaning supplies, according to Statista. In addition, many commercial household products often carry more harmful chemicals than natural cleaning products. For example, a study by the University of Norway examined the long-term effects of exposure to household products on people around the world. Researchers found that people — women in particular — who frequently clean their homes, suffered more of a decline in their lung function than those who did not.

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So, if you’re looking to shave a little off your monthly expenses — and protect your health — think about trying DIY cleaning products. In many cases, you might already own some of the ingredients needed to make these cheap alternatives for your household cleaners.

Last updated: Feb. 10, 2021

Young female cleaning the floor in the kitchen.
Young female cleaning the floor in the kitchen.

Multipurpose Floor Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon Castile soap

  • 15 drops essential oil (optional)

  • 1 bucket of water

A homemade all-purpose cleaner created by The Paleo Mama, this concoction will leave your floors sparkling. Simply combine all the above ingredients in a bucket, and you’re ready to get started. These ingredients can be used on just about every type of flooring, including tile, hardwood, linoleum, ceramic, laminate and vinyl.

You might already have these ingredients lying around your house, but if not, they’re easy to find at your local Target. Of course, you’ll need to invest in the entire bottle of each item — not just the amount needed to make one batch of solution. All the ingredients for this DIY all-purpose cleaner should cost you no more than $12. That’s still cheaper than the buying a 128-ounce bottle of Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner Reill, which costs $17.97 on Amazon Prime.

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Shot of a young mixed race man cleaning a kitchen top.
Shot of a young mixed race man cleaning a kitchen top.

Countertop Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide

HouseLogic, a site from the National Association of Realtors, has a DIY cleaning recipe sure to disinfect your dirty countertops: hydrogen peroxide. The compound is especially effective in removing leftover residue from meat and fish. HouseLogic recommends placing it in a spray bottle for the best results. And because hydrogen peroxide is non-toxic, you don’t have to be afraid of how much of this homemade cleaning product you use.

When it comes to the price, a 32-ounce bottle of hydrogen peroxide will cost you around $10 for a pack of two 32-fluid-ounce bottles at Walmart. By comparison, a pack of two 32-fluid-ounce bottles of Lysol can cost you just over $20.

asian chinese male cleaning home with yellow gloves and orange colored cloth.
asian chinese male cleaning home with yellow gloves and orange colored cloth.

Bathroom Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon liquid Castile soap

  • 1/3 cup baking soda

Real Simple offers an effortless DIY cleaning solution for your sinks, showers, tubs and ceramic tile. This recipe is the next easiest thing to opening a bottle and spraying a surface. Simply combine the ingredients above, and you’re ready to start scrubbing.

With a price of around $14, this homemade bathroom cleaner offers an economical alternative to purchasing standard cleaning supplies. The number of batches you’ll need to make will vary based on the size of the area you’re cleaning and the stubbornness of any stains present. By comparison, a two pack of 32-fluid-ounce bottles from Scrubbing Bubbles will cost you more at $14.40 on Amazon Prime.

Woman cleaning stove.
Woman cleaning stove.

Stovetop Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

  • 3 drops orange essential oil

  • Water

The Pinning Mama has a DIY cleaning method sure to remove even the peskiest leftovers. To make a batch, mix about 1 tablespoon of baking soda with one-half tablespoon of water to form a paste. Next, add three drops of orange essential oil. When you’re ready to start cleaning, simply apply the paste directly to the stain you’re trying to remove. Scrub with a nonabrasive sponge, and when you’re done, your stovetop will look brand new.

All the ingredients for this cost less than around $10 on Amazon. The number of uses you’ll get will depend on the size of the batches you make, but you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. If you don’t make your own cleaner, a pair of 12-ounce bottles of Weiman’s stovetop cleaners is $13.97 on Amazon Prime.

Full length of mid adult couple polishing chair outside house.
Full length of mid adult couple polishing chair outside house.

Furniture Polish

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine the olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice in a container with a lid. Before using the mixture, give it a few strong shakes. Then apply a small amount to a soft, clean cloth and carefully polish the wood. You can either allow the furniture to air dry or wipe it with a clean cloth.

If you don’t use all the polish at once, put the lid back on the container and store it in the refrigerator. There’s a good chance you already have all the ingredients lying around your house to make this furniture polish, but if not, all three will cost you just under $10 at Target — that’s $4 cheaper than a pack of two 12.5-ounce bottles from Old English.

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A woman cleans a bathroom toilet with a scrub brush.
A woman cleans a bathroom toilet with a scrub brush.

Hardcore Toilet Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup borax

  • 1 cup white vinegar

  • 10 drops lavender essential oil

  • 5 drops lemon essential oil

This homemade toilet cleaner from DIY Natural is designed to give your commode a seriously tough spring cleaning. If your toilet has rings or an unpleasant odor, you can count on this hardcore DIY solution to clean up its act.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Use a toilet brush to wet the toilet bowl or just flush it. Pour the mixture into the toilet bowl and let it sit for several hours or overnight. You might already have at least some of the items needed for this recipe in your home. If not, it will cost roughly $18 to buy them all. By comparison, a 12-pack of Clorox Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaners on Amazon is currently $29.48.

Gloved hands cleaning an oven in a kitchen.
Gloved hands cleaning an oven in a kitchen.

Oven Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup baking soda

  • A few drops of white vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons water

  • Spray bottle

  • Damp dish cloth

  • Rubber gloves (optional)

  • Plastic or silicone spatula

If your oven doesn’t have a self-cleaning feature or you’d rather not use it, make this DIY mixture from The Kitchn.

Mix the baking soda with a few tablespoons of water. Adjust the quantity of each as needed until you’ve created a spreadable paste. Apply the paste all over the inside of your oven, except for the heating elements. Allow the paste to sit at least 12 hours or overnight to work its magic. After, use a damp dish cloth to wipe the dried paste off. You might need the spatula.

Pour a small amount of vinegar into a spray bottle and spritz it on spots where stubborn residue remains. The vinegar will gently foam on contact. Use the damp cloth to do another pass of the oven. Keep going until all the baking soda residue has been removed.

You probably already have the white vinegar and baking soda needed for this solution, but if not, they cost approximately around $5 combined. If you’d rather buy a store-bought cleaner, a 14.5-ounce bottle of Easy-Off Heavy Duty oven cleaner costs about $13 at Walmart.

Housewife washing clothes with different detergents in the bowl.
Housewife washing clothes with different detergents in the bowl.

Laundry Stain Remover

What you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide

  • 2 tablespoons Castile soap

  • 20 drops lemon essential oil

This homemade stain remover recipe comes from the creator of the blog Mommypotamus who said to mix all the ingredients together into a dark glass spray bottle and shake it up. Then, apply to the affected area and let sit on the clothes for a few minutes. After, place the clothes under water and scrub thoroughly until the remover has worked its way into the clothes. Then reapply.

Altogether, the ingredients will cost you just under $20 when you shop at Walmart. On the other hand, a pack of two 31-fluid-ounce bottles of OxiClean Laundry Stain Remover will run you $32.65.

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Shot of a father and son cleaning the kitchen counter together at home.
Shot of a father and son cleaning the kitchen counter together at home.

Disinfecting Spray Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup high-proof vodka or rubbing alcohol or vinegar

  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 50-60 drops tea tree essential oil or lavender essential oil

If you’re in need of a natural disinfectant spray, try this homemade recipe from the lifestyle blog Live Simply. Take the one-half cup of rubbing alcohol, vodka or vinegar and pour it into a 16-ounce spray bottle. Add your choice of essential oil and shake. After, add the vinegar and water before shaking one last time.

Stop by your local Target and pick up the white distilled vinegar for 89 cents. If you want to use rubbing alcohol instead of vodka, you’ll pay about $2 more. By comparison, a 19-ounce bottle of Lysol Disinfectant Spray costs about $6.

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Father and child using sanitize antiseptic for hand coronavirus protection.
Father and child using sanitize antiseptic for hand coronavirus protection.

Hand Sanitizer

What you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel

  • 3/4 cup rubbing alcohol

  • 1/8 cup vegetable glycerin (optional — if omitted, use an extra 1/8 cup aloe vera gel)

  • 10 drops essential oil (optional)

This DIY hand sanitizer from blogger Crunchy Betty promises to not only leave your hands clean, but soft. Take all the ingredients and pour them into a blender or a food processor on high for a couple of minutes. Bottle it up and use as needed.

If you want to pass on the essential oils and vegetable glycerin, this homemade hand sanitizer will cost you a lot less. Shop at Target and grab a bottle of rubbing alcohol for about $3. Get a jar of aloe vera gel for nearly $8 on Amazon. In total, that’s about $3 less than a pack of Purell Naturals Advanced Hand Sanitizers. A pack of two Purell Naturals Advanced Hand Sanitizers sells for $14.12 on Amazon.

Pouring softerner for loundry in waching machine.
Pouring softerner for loundry in waching machine.

Fabric Softener

What you’ll need:

  • 6 cups vinegar

  • 1 cup baking soda

  • 15 drops essential oil (optional)

Tired of using heavy fabric softener, make this one for less than $5. Take the vinegar and pour it into a large bowl. Then add your essential oil. After it has settled, pour the mix into a container and voilà, you’re good to go, according to The Happy Money Saver.

Pick up all the ingredients at Target for less than $10. By comparison, the price of Mrs. Meyer’s Fabric Softener is $19.72 on Amazon.

macro shot of dish soap being squeezed onto green sponge in aluminum sink.
macro shot of dish soap being squeezed onto green sponge in aluminum sink.

Dish Soap

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup distilled water

  • 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar (optional)

  • 1/2 cup Sal Suds

  • 1 tablespoon jojoba oil or other moisturizing oil (optional)

As explained in a post by Live Simply, pour the water and vinegar into a soap dispenser. Shake together, then add the Sal Suds. Gently shake the ingredients together one last time and you’re good to go. You also can just add the Sal Suds to the water and still get a nice dish soap.

If you don’t want to add any moisturizing oil or distilled vinegar, you’re looking at paying $9 for a bottle for the Sal Suds. However, you’ll pay about $3 more for a three-pack of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap at Walmart.

Young woman wiping windows at home.
Young woman wiping windows at home.

Window Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup distilled water

  • 2-3 tablespoons white vinegar

  • 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol

To create this natural cleaner, first, pour the vinegar and rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle. Let those mix before you add the distilled water, according to this DIY recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. You can pick up all the ingredients for less than $9 when you shop at Walmart. But a two-pack of Windex glass cleaner can cost about $15 on Amazon.

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Close-up Of Person Hands Pouring Blue Mouthwash Into Bottle Cap.
Close-up Of Person Hands Pouring Blue Mouthwash Into Bottle Cap.

Mouthwash

What you’ll need:

  • 2 cups warm water

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

  • 1/2 teaspoon of Celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

  • 2 drops of peppermint oil

This DIY recipe from author and blogger Dr. Steven Lin might be a bit more expensive, but it is a natural mouthwash. Simply put all the ingredients into a glass container and shake well. According to Lin, it’s best to keep the mouthwash out of sunlight so the coconut oil doesn’t solidify.

You can get all these ingredients for around $13, which is not so far off in price than regular brand-name mouthwashes. For example, a two-pack of Listerine Cool Mint mouthwash is $13.14 at Walmart.

Cleaning, Washing, Polishing, Bonnet, Dusting.
Cleaning, Washing, Polishing, Bonnet, Dusting.

Car Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

  • 1 cup of club soda

  • 1/2 cup of nontoxic dish soap

  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice

First, add the distilled white vinegar into a spray bottle. Then, mix in ingredients one by one, according to this recipe from BuzzFeed. You can get ingredients all these ingredients for less than $10. But you’ll pay $1 more when you buy Meguiar’s G7164 Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo & Conditioner.

Close-up image of woman removing stain from the carpet.
Close-up image of woman removing stain from the carpet.

Carpet Cleaner

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar

  • 2 cups warm water

  • 2 teaspoons table salt

  • 15 drops of your favorite essential oil

If you need to spot-clean your carpet, then this recipe from the lifestyle blog Tips Bulletin is a great solution, literally. First, pour the distilled vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Next, add the drops of essential oil and salt, and shake well. Stop at Target and get these ingredients for less than $8. By contrast, a 32-ounce bottle of Spot Shot stain remover costs $14.24 on Amazon Prime.

Click through to read more about other ways to save like going DIY in the kitchen.

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Laura Woods contributed to the reporting for this article.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Switch Your Costly Household Products to These Cheap Alternatives