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Queen of free: Spring cleaning on the cheap

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True confession: I despise cleaning my house.

Someone else’s house? I’d pitch right in and even whistle while I work. My own dirty dishes? I’d rather stick out my tongue at you or go for a run or read a book or write a newspaper column.

The only minor exception to this rule is if I am procrastinating a project that I dread even more. Then, my house sparkles like a 1950s household cleaner commercial, although I don’t wear pearls while vacuuming the floor.

Maybe you’re like me and have an aversion to cleaning, or maybe you rock the June Cleaver dress and heels with perfectly coiffed hair and a squeaky clean kitchen to match. Whatever your disposition, spring is on its way, and typically it’s a great time to clean out and up our homes.

Time to crank up some good tunes, open the windows, and get your scrub on, Money Saving Lords and Ladies. Just be sure you don’t send your hard-earned cash down the drain with the dirty dishwater. Here are some of my favorite tips for saving on spring cleaning.

Lighten load

Begin with decluttering. It’s a fairly simple rule of the universe, but the more stuff you have, the more you have to manage. In my world, that means more cleaning.

Hypothetically, let’s say you don’t enjoy doing dishes, but you own three complete sets. If it’s too much of a temptation to use every dish before donning your apron and sudsing up the sink, then perhaps it’s time to either store or give away the other sets.

The principle can be applied to almost every area of your home. Fewer clothes equals less laundry. A handful of prized toys will be better maintained and loved than a truckful of inexpensive ones left out all over the floor.

Before you sweep a single floor or clean a cabinet, begin by lightening your load. Offer your extras up on social media. After all, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Donate it to a local church or charity. Find someone who needs what you have and meet that need.


Make your own cleaners. Cleaning is a sophisticated and high-grossing industry. Products, solutions, tools and appliances crowd the aisles at your nearest big box. All of the options can overwhelm you to the point of exhaustion before you lift a single finger at home.

Travel back in time to the era of your grandparents or great-grandparents where household cleaners were basic. You can create almost any household detergent from three basic ingredients — white vinegar, baking or washing soda, and Borax. Head to Pinterest to find easy to follow recipes (my favorite board is http://www.pinterest.com/thequeenoffree/cleaning-on-the-cheap/) or just look at the box.

Laundry detergent, dishwashing detergent, glass and all-purposes cleaners, even jewelry cleaner, can all be made at a fraction of the price and in minutes. Plus you have the ability to make a bulk amount, keeping plenty on hand. Don’t overthink what you need. Keep it basic. Keep it clean.

Find discounts

Head to the Dollar Store. I’m always careful in suggesting heading to the Dollar Store. Sometimes, it isn’t your best value — the price per ounce or unit might actually work out to be more expensive in the long run. However, I’ve found the Dollar Store typically has great high quality mops, brooms, sponges, steel wool, spray bottles for making your own cleaners, all at a buck apiece.

It’s worth your while to check there first for your needs.

Just set a budget, make a list, and shop with cash to make sure that you won’t need to immediately declutter after returning home, repeating step No. 1.

To do or not to do?

Make a list and check it twice. Nothing makes me happier than a good to-do list. Checking off boxes or scratching off tasks gives me great joy.

Make goals for your cleaning efforts, checking list items off as you complete each task.

This will keep you from wandering around your home aimlessly, getting jobs only halfway done. You could even set up a cleaning rotation, focusing on a different task or room of your home on a specific day of the week every week, rather than having to tackle the complete house on weekends.

Organizing and breaking up your time will make a big difference in your finances, too.

Well-managed time typically translates into well-managed results.

Make it less boring

Last, do something to distract yourself to get the job done. Whether it’s an inspirational podcast while you’re mopping the floor or guilty pleasure TV while you’re folding laundry, multitasking will help the experience to be a little less painful and allow the job to be completed with a bit more joy.

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be drudgery or empty your rainy day fund. Think through each step and make a plan today.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. Send questions, column ideas and comments to newstips@dailyjournal.net.

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