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Miracle money savers for you and the home

Miracle money savers for you and the home

Do you spend a fortune on window cleaner when newspaper could do the trick? Or £4 for sink unblocker when some inexpensive soda crystals could do the job just as well?

Advertising makes it look like the only way to have a clean home is to buy chemical products. They ‘cut through grease’ and ‘kill 99.9% of germs’ – but they usually come with a hefty price tag to match.

Here are some great and easy ways to save money in the home using much cheaper alternatives.

Cleaning your home

  • Bicarbonate of soda/baking powder

Don’t assume your kitchen and bathroom have to smell of bleach to be clean. Bicarbonate of soda works on almost anything. Mix it with water and it will cut through grease and grime, leaving your work surfaces sparkling. Just sprinkle some onto a damp cloth and you have a cheap alternative to chemical sprays.

Mix one part baking soda to three parts water and that’s a ready-to-use oven cleaner. You can also refresh mattresses by mixing a few drops of essential oil with some bicarbonate of soda and sprinkling it on. Leave for around an hour and then vacuum up.

  • Soda crystals

You’ll find these in the cleaning aisle at the supermarket, but they are seriously cheap compared to the more manufactured products – you’ll pay around £1 a kilogram. Soda crystals can clean pretty much anything, even burnt residue in the bottom of pots and pans.

A good drain unblocker can cost £5 a pop, but a handful of soda crystals followed an hour later by hot water will do just as good a job. The crystals can be used to rinse your washing machine and also soften the water when you’re cleaning clothes.

  • Lemons

if you’re wiping surfaces to simply remove dust then a damp cloth is really all you need. It collects up the fluff and bits with no need for chemicals at all - and water is completely free.

But as lemons are slightly acidic, they can really cut through ingrained grime. You can use lemon juice to clean surfaces and beat tough limescale. Best of all, you get a fresh lemony scent.

If you’re using lemon zest in a recipe, this is a great way to use up the remaining lemon.

  • Distilled white vinegar

Vinegar is also acidic and can get rid of tough soap scum marks, so it’s a handy product to keep in the bathroom.

You can mix equal parts of vinegar and water to make a cheap window cleaner that’s also good for floors and mirrors. Polish your windows with scrunched up newspaper afterwards to make them really gleam.

Vinegar is also good for descaling kettles; simply pour in enough to cover the scale and then boil it. Make sure you rinse it well afterwards though, or your next pot of tea will taste pretty peculiar.

My most hated job is cleaning the microwave, but vinegar can make this surprisingly easy.

Simply add white vinegar to a microwavable dish and heat it in the microwave. When it’s boiling, the inside of the machine should be covered in condensation. Leave it a few minutes and then wipe – just be careful when removing the boiling vinegar!

  • Elbow grease

Lots of the expensive cleaning products sell because they make life easier – they do dissolve dirt, meaning minimal effort is needed. But you pay for that convenience, and you fill your home with harsh, abrasive chemicals.

So perhaps the most natural product you can use to clean your home and save money is elbow grease. Enthusiastic scrubbing will clean most things.

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Cleaning yourself

If you think you spend a lot of money on cleaning products, that’s nothing to the amount you can spend on yourself.

Moisturising lotions, skin-cleaning potions, shampoos, conditioners – all promising to eternal youth, heavenly scents and smoother skin. But there are alternatives that are more natural, very gentle and cost just pennies. Here are three of the best.

  • Oat bath

Want silky smooth skin without expensive moisturiser? Or to treat eczema without harsh steroids? The answer could be porridge oats in a hot bath. You can pop porridge oats in a fabric bag (a sock works well!) and use it to wash with, or blend dried oats and sprinkle them into the water. Your skin will thank you.

  • Intensive conditioner

You can spend as much as £10 or more on intensive conditioning treatments for hair, but the internet is filled with cheap alternatives that work just as well.

Some people use olive oil, others mash a banana into some oil and for some a beaten egg is the key to soft shiny locks.

I recommend two egg yolks, mixed with two teaspoons of vegetable oil. Massage into hair and then wrap in a warm towel for 15 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. As good as any expensive intensive conditioning treatment.

  • Hand scrub

Mix olive oil, sugar and a little essential oil and you can create a wonderfully luxurious hand scrub that costs just pennies to make. You can enhance the smell using dried herbs or lemon zest, and it also makes a great present.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these? How much money did you save? Share your thoughts, experiences and tips with other readers using the comments below.

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