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How to save money on cleaning and housework

Rachel Hazelwood 4th Apr 2023 No Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Housework may be a chore but it’s something we all must face sooner or later. You may feel that buying cleaning supplies just isn’t a priority right now with everything being so expensive. But, there is no need to spend your money on pricey branded products. There are so many things you can do (like make your own) and ordinary items you can use (like a sock!) that will save you money.

Here at MoneyMagpie we’ve put together a guide on how to keep your home dust-free and clean  – without breaking the bank. We tell you what you need (basics and extras); what you should spend; how to clean on a budget; and included some fun tips and tricks.

Just remember that when using home-made cleaning products, it’s really important to spot-test surfaces before launching in with a cloth soaked in lemon juice or vinegar. Always wear gloves, even if what you are using is natural. (Some essential oils can irritate the skin.) Don’t use things like vinegar neat – always water it down. Lastly, read the box – products like soda crystals need to be used with care.

Time to dig out that apron…


What you need


Before you get going you need to see if you’ve got the following. (If not, we’ve included a handy guide on what to buy and how much to spend below). Don’t forget, you can use microfibre cloths to save money. They are designed to work with just water. Also don’t bother buying specifics products (like a bathroom or kitchen spray), try a general all-purpose cleaner or the Pink Stuff. They work just as well but are versatile and will save you money in the long run.


  • White distilled vinegar
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Soda crystals
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Lemons and grapefruit
  • Foil
  • An old or cheap toothbrush
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Microfibre cloths
  • The Pink Stuff


  • Shaving foam
  • Coffee filter
  • Essential oils


How much to spend

What is a fund supermarket?

You can get all the essentials (minus the shaving foam, coffee filters and essential oils) from the list above for under £10:

You can buy a litre of white distilled vinegar from Wilko for £1.50.

When it comes to bicarbonate of soda, don’t waste your money on those small tubes of bicarbonate of soda for baking, they are far more expensive per gram. You can get a 500g box from the Online Poundstore for £1.65.

You can get a 1kg bag of Dri Pak Soda Crystals from Sainsbury’s for 80p.

Lemons and grapefruit – around 30p for a lemon and 50p for a grapefruit.

If you don’t have an empty spray bottle you can use (for mixing vinegar and water) you can buy one from Wilko for £1.50.

Asda Smart Price Foil is only 68p for 20m.

Cheap toothbrush – get two for 25p from Asda.

Tesco own brand 1L all purpose cleaner £1.25.

Microfibre cloths are 4 for £1 at the Poundshop.

The Pink Stuff – 500g pot of paste  for £1 at Asda.


If you want to add essential oils, you can get these from places like the Poundshop and chemists like Boots. Nikura has an incredibly wide range of scents with prices at around £2.30 for 10ml. You only need a drop or two so it should last.

You can get a pack of 40 coffee filter papers from Tesco online for £1.20 (for cleaning screens).

Tesco own brand essential shaving foam costs just 70p.


How to use these products…

Man holding cleaning supploes

Now you’ve got what you need – what can you do with them?


  • Fill a spray bottle with 50:50 white vinegar and water to clean most surfaces.
  • Use vinegar and water (50:50) to descale your kettle. Make sure it’s unplugged and that everyone knows you are cleaning it! Leave to soak overnight, empty, rinse, fill, boil and discard that water and rinse again.
  • Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and water 1:9 ratio – and use to clean your windows. Don’t do this on warm sunny days as the glass will dry too quickly and you’ll get smears. Use a microfibre cloth to buff to a shine.

Bicarbonate of soda (bicarb for short)

  • Clean your shower head with a freezer bag filled with vinegar and bicarb, seal with a plastic band and allow to soak overnight. Remove and rinse really well.
  • Make a paste with bicarb and water and apply to the inside of the oven. Leave overnight. Next day, spray with vinegar and then wipe away the grime.
  • Clean off tannin stains from teaspoons and mugs by making a paste with bicarb and a little water, rub round stain then rinse well.
  • Odours – use bicarb in a ramekin in the fridge to get rid of smells; sprinkle in bottom of bin to keep it smelling fresh; deodorise pet beds, upholstery and carpets by sprinkling and then vaccuuming up.
  • Bicarb can also be used to freshen gym clothes by soaking the items in the sink with cool water and five or six tablespoons of bicarb. Rinse well then wash as normal.
  • Clean grout with a bicarb/water paste and an old or cheap toothbrush. Spread on, then spray with vinegar. It should start bubbling! Next, scrub gently with toothbrush (even an old electric one would work well). Rinse well with clean water.
  • Clean your Tupperware, takeaway boxes and lunchboxes with bicarb. Sprinkle on a clean sponge and wipe. For stubborn stains like tomato sauce, soak in a solution of four tablespoons of bicarb with a litre of water.
  • Add bicarb to your washing up liquid for extra oomph.
  • Naturally clean children’s toys with a damp sponge dipped in bicarb (rinse well after).
  • Remove crayon from walls with bicarb.
  • Use bicarb to clean mildew off windows and frames as well as shower curtains and tiles.

Soda crystals can be used for:

  • Cleaning/deodorising washing machine.
  • Removing burnt bits from pans.
  • Keeping sinks clean and clear (and smell free).
  • Unblocking drains.
  • Removing moss/algae from patios.

Remember to read the instructions on the box for amounts and how to use. Always wear gloves.


  • Clean your iron with foil and salt. Turn on iron (without steam function), sprinkle some salt on the foil and the salt with pull off the grime.
  • Use tin foil instead of Brillo (or other metal scourer). Scrunch it up into a ball and use as you would a scourer.
  • Use ketchup on scrunched up tin foil to clean rust off stainless steel.

Lemon and grapefruit

  • Use half a lemon to clean stainless steel.
  • Use half a grapefruit sprinkled with salt to clean soap scum marks off bath and basin.
  • Clean chopping boards with lemon juice, leave overnight and then rinse really well.

Coffee filter

  • Use a coffee filter to clean TV and computer screens. Cloth cleaners create static which attracts more dust.

Shaving Foam

Use cheap shaving foam to polish stainless steel, clean toilets and remove carpet stains.


How to clean with items found around the home

Make money as a cleanfluencer - the influencers cleaning up on Instagram

  • Use a hairdryer to remove dust, cobwebs and dirt from radiators.
  • Use uncooked rice to clean vases. Swirl round in warm water then add a dishwasher or denture tablet and leave overnight. Should come up sparkling.
  • Use an old damp sock to clean venetian blinds.  Put it on your hand and wipe away…
  • Use nail varnish remover to clean product build up on hair straighteners (just a little on a cotton pad).
  • Use cold tea to clean glass and chrome. Get a bowl, fill with a litre of boiling water, add the teabag and wait for the water to cool down. Then use this water to clean mirrors, taps, glass door of oven and microwaves.
  • Another use for teabags – while soaking pots and pans, drop in a used teabag and the tannins help to lift the residue.
  • Use a damp rubber glove to remove pet hair. Rather than investing in expensive bespoke products, pop on your marigolds, dip your hand in cool water and rub the carpet or upholstery to remove the hair. Don’t over wet – you don’t want to create a watermark!
  • Use toothpaste to remove coffee stains from mugs and tables. It can also be used to remove coffee stains from carpets and rugs.


More tips and tricks

15 Steps to a proper Spring Clean

  • Use baby oil on stainless steel – hobs, kettles, splash-backs. The oil will prevent finger marks and makes cleaning them next time so much easier. You can also use baby oil to remove sticky labels (it’s way cheaper than branded label removers).
  • Use your dishwasher (if you have one) to clean over racks, draining racks and fridge shelves.
  • It may sound obvious but use a doormat! You can cut down on the dirt and debris that comes into your home with a good doormat. Clean it regularly though or it will stop working as well! (Take outside and knock hard against a wall.)


Be careful…!

  • Avoid using bleach for cleaning. It can be so tempting to get rid of stains quickly but all you’re doing is hiding them and you could be causing surface damage (as well as damaging the environment). This is especially true with toilet seats – those yellow stains aren’t anything nasty, it’s usually build up of limescale or the wrong cleaning products (like bleach!). Use bicarb and vinegar, apply with toothbrush then wait half an hour and wipe off.
  • Vinegar is great and popular for homemade cleaning – but be cautious. It should never be used on natural stone, such as marble countertops or tiles. Also, never use on the inside of an iron (to descale). If you are unsure always test an area first – eg if you don’t know what your taps are made from, be careful as the vinegar could cause more marks than it removes.
  • Don’t ever spray window cleaner or vinegar on your computer screen. Remove dust with a coffee filter or microfibre cloth and if you must, you can use a slightly damp cloth to get rid of stubborn marks. Be patient, go slowly and don’t saturate the cloth or the screen.
  • Don’t use nail polish remover on anything (apart from very carefully on hair straighteners!). It can damage surfaces (eg polish or varnish on wood), and discolour plastics.

Get in touch in the comments below to let us know how you’ve got on with any of these ideas and let us know how you save money on housework too!

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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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