How to Clean Your House on a Budget

Dealing with household stains and odors can be a real pain.  If you’re tired of spending money on multiple chemical-filled products that take up valuable space and don’t work as well you’d hoped, here are a few tips for dealing with some of our most common problems.


Stains (non carpet)

Coffee stains can be removed with a paste made of baking soda and water.

For red wine spills, saturate the stain with regular table salt as soon as the spill happens and let it sit for a couple of hours before washing in cold water.  You can also pour white wine on the red wine stain and wash appropriately.


Blot grease/oil stains with dishwashing detergent if you catch them quickly.  If the stain has had time to soak in, use one part vinegar mixed with two parts water to treat the stain before washing.


Lipstick and ink stains can be removed by spraying the area with hairspray or rubbing alcohol followed by blotting the area with a colorfast cloth or paper towel.  Repeat the spray/blot process until the stain is gone or mostly gone, and then wash.  If lipstick stains seem especially tough, follow a few spray/blot cycles by scrubbing with some dishwashing soap.


For blood stains, hydrogen peroxide will do the trick.  Just make sure the stained item is bleachable.


Carpet stains

To remove mud, let it dry completely and remove as much as you can with a knife or other scraper.  Add 1/4 teaspoon of dish or hand soap (without bleach or lanolin) to one quart of water.  Add this mixture to a spray bottle, then spray, rub, and blot.  A cheap steam cleaner can also help with various carpet (and upholstery) stains.

Rust stains on carpet can be removed by spraying a vinegar/water solution onto the stain and letting it sit for a few minutes.  Next, clean the spot with a sponge or brush and warm, soapy water.  For tougher stains, spray on enough lemon juice to thoroughly wet the area without wetting the padding underneath.  Let this sit for five minutes or so and then blot with a paper towel.


To remove oil/grease stains from carpet, scrape and blot to remove as much as you can.  Next, pour some rubbing alcohol onto a colorfast cloth or paper towel and blot until the stain is removed.


Other hard-to-clean messes

Vinyl and plastic shower curtains are usually machine washable.  Add a cup of bleach, a cup of detergent, and a few dirty towels (they’ll help scrub off the scum).  Use the gentle cycle on warm or hot, remove the curtain immediately after the spin cycle, and allow to drip dry.

Mix three teaspoons of vinegar with one quart of warm water to clean windows.  Use a spray bottle to apply the solution to the window and wipe with crumpled newspapers.  To avoid streaking, don’t clean windows when the sun is shining directly on them.


Hard water deposits on glassware can be removed by scrubbing white toothpaste on the glass and then rinsing thoroughly.


Using the above tips can be a start to eliminating some of the clutter and expense of countless chemical-filled, ineffective cleaners.