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Tip of the Week

Cleaning Tips to Save Time and Money
by Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam

Here are some quick tips to save time and energy by changing your habits:

*First, get dressed, comb your hair and put on a comfortable pair of shoes. You wouldn't show up at the office or work in your pajamas. Take your home and family's needs that seriously, and get dressed!

*Kids chores: Have the kids make their own beds and pick up their rooms before they leave for school. The fastest way to get this done is to make sure that no one eats breakfast or turns on the TV until it's done. When I first put this rule to the test, I went from one hour of nagging and accomplishing nothing to 15 minutes of peace and quiet with clean rooms and groomed children.

*5 minute organizing: While on the phone, clean out a desk drawer or your purse. Put away the DVDs or tapes lying around the TV. These small sorting projects can really make a huge difference in the amount of time you spend cleaning.

* If clothes are clean, hang them up and wear them again.

* Let each family member use one towel per week.

* Allow family members to eat only at the table to avoid food messes in the rest of the house.

* Make toddlers wear a bib or oversized T-shirt when eating.

* Serve only light-colored drinks such as white grape juice, lemonade, and water if you have light-colored carpet

* Don't overdo it when buying clothes. 10 days worth of clothing is plenty for most people.

* Buy clothes that don't need to be taken to the dry cleaners.

* Don't clean if the house doesn't need it. Who says you have to vacuum everything every week? For a seldom used room like a guest room, don't waste time vacuuming it every week.

* Don't dust until you see dust.

* If there is something that continually frustrates you, fix it. If you can't find you keys, put a nail in the wall and hang them by the door. Hang the keys there as soon as you walk in and you will know right where they are when you leave. It literally takes 30 seconds to pound a nail into the wall to solve a chronic problem. I once heard someone refer to this as being "too busy driving to stop for gas."

Homemade Cleaning Recipes

All-Purpose/Window Cleaner

2 Tbsp. ammonia
1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
1/4 tsp. dishwashing liquid

Put the ammonia and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Fill almost to the top with water.

Add dishwashing liquid and mix. Top off with water. This is rated to work better (and much cheaper!) than most commercial window and kitchen sprays by Consumer Reports magazine.

Cleaner for Stainless Steel Sink

1/2 borax
1/2 baking soda

Mix and scour on sink. Rinse well.

Fruit and Vegetable Wash

You really don't need a special cleaner for your fruits and vegetables. Just wash them with a weak solution of dish detergent and a scrub brush. This works just fine. If you still insist on using a special wash, this is a good recipe that is the same as the "natural" stuff in the store.

1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. baking soda
1 cup water

Put ingredients in a spray bottle. Be careful because it will foam up. Spray on vegetables. Let sit 5 minutes then rinse with a scrub brush.

Homemade Laundry Soap

1/3 bar Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap, grated
6 cups water
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax

Heat 6 cups water and soap in a large pan until dissolved. Stir in washing soda and borax. Mix and heat until dissolved. Boil 15 minutes. Remove from heat. (It will have the consistency of honey.*) In a 3 or 5 gallon bucket, add 1 quart of hot water. Then add the soap mixture. Mix. Add enough cold water to make 2 gallons of the mixture. Mix until well blended. Let sit 24 hours. The soap will gel.* Use 1/2 cup for each load.

Makes 2 gallons. (Approx. $.40 per gallon)

*If the detergent doesn't gel or reach honey consistency, it will still work.


*Stir before each use as this does separate. Detergent can be stored in a liquid detergent bottle. Then, just shake it up each time you use it. It is safe for HE washers.

*This detergent will not sud up in the washer, but it is still getting your clothes clean.

*If you have extra-hard water, the soap may not clean as well. Add 1/2 cup borax or washing soda to the load and that may help.

*If you do not like this laundry soap, you can still use the Fels-Naptha bar for spot cleaning and to rub on stains. The borax and washing soda are great to add to your regular detergent for extra cleaning.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit, sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more! Permission granted for use on
Tags: Budget, Health, Jill Cooper, Kids, Parenting, Simple Savings, Stay-at-Home Mom, Tawra Kellam
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