It pretty much kills me to spend money on things I know I can make myself for less than their pricey commercial cousins.

Take cleaning products for example. Knowing how to make things for pennies that cost dollars at the store just makes me happy. It’s a no-brainer.

 spray bottles in a bucket filled with cleaners you can make yourself that better than store bought and lots cheaper too

Here are three handy recipes to help you get started saving all that money you’ve been spending on household cleaners.

Granite Cleaner

Countertops made of granite, marble, and stone are tricky because these materials are porous and stain easily. You never want to clean them with anything acidic, which means vinegar and lemon juice are both out.

Here is a homemade granite cleaner that will not stain nor is it acidic. Used with a good microfiber cloth, it works like a champ to clean and shine these natural counters. 

RELATED: Best Inexpensive™ Microfiber, Electronics, Automobiles

Pour 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol into a 16-oz. spray bottle. Add a few drops Dawn liquid dishwashing detergent, 5 to 10 drops essential oil (this is optional, but will add a nice fragrance) plus enough distilled water to fill the bottle. Apply the spray top and shake to mix. You can use this cleaner to clean and shine your appliances as well.

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Salt. It’s mandatory in a human diet. But in other situations, salt can be as destructive as it is needful due to its ability to eat holes through metal and leave ugly stains on footwear.

Staind tan cowboy boots on worn stairs

I have several pairs of beautiful winter fashion boots in suede and leather. I’d like to remove salt stains that have built up but don’t want to take them to a cobbler. Any advice on how I can do this myself? Maha

Dear Maha: We should be thankful for sidewalk salt in the wintertime because it’s effective in helping us avoid injuries from slipping on icy surfaces. Of course, the downside is, as you know, these chunky salt particles get on boots and shoes causing damage and ugly stains.

Cleaning these stains from your leather and suede footwear regularly throughout the winter will help them last and looking good for many years to come.

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Yellow armpit stains on white shirts are a problem if my inbox is any indication, which I believe it is. And I’ve been avoiding the subject because honestly, it’s kinda’ gross.

Upset girl looking at tshirt with yellow armpit stain after laundry

 

I can’t begin to estimate how many email messages I’ve received asking for help with getting rid of these stains, but it’s a lot. And now it’s time. Today we’re hitting this topic head-on.

What are these stains?

Curious, isn’t it that ugly yellow stains show up only in the armpit area? Left untreated, these stains can cause the material to become stiff as if just being yellow isn’t disgusting enough. And crunchy.

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I love my overflowing inbox filled with questions from my dear readers. What I don’t love is not being able to respond personally to each and every one!

So today, rather than trying to decide which ones to answer, how about I just reach in and let’s see what comes out.

multi-ethinic arms outstretched to ask questions.

Upside Down in a Durango

Dear Mary: I have a Dodge Durango gas guzzler and I owe way too much money on it. If I sell the vehicle outright, I could probably squeak by ending up just $5,000 in the hole. If I trade it in, I would be about $9,000 in the hole.  

I could put the shortfall on a credit card, but I know that is a bad idea for so many reasons. What should I do to pay the difference?

We have an old pick-up truck and an older Subaru that will be okay for now, but how do I get out of the loan and the Durango? And how can I sell it to someone when I don’t have a clear title? Any help will be appreciated. Linda

Dear Linda: There’s no perfect solution here, but here’s a plan that might work: 

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When Swiffer WetJet hit the market years ago, consumers went wild for it. I loved my Swiffer, but did not like the price of the cleaning pads. And my readers didn’t like it either.

Readers still send me their tips on what they use instead for disposable, pricey cleaning Swiffer cleaning pads. Some are clever, some too complicated, and some I just can’t repeat. I like Brenda’s idea, as it saves money and recycles, too.

SECOND LIFE FOR FLANNEL

My tip involves giving my husband’s old flannel lounge pants and flannel shirts a second life as cleaning pads for my Swiffer. I cut pieces 8″ x 20″ (or to fit your mop head of choice), attach to the mop head and then dampen with water before use. When I’m done mopping, I toss these in the laundry. Brenda

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Have a messy outdoor job you need to tackle? Need a surefire way to keep mice out of your outdoor storage? Or how about those crummy, cheap backpacks that don’t even last through the school year? Today your fellow readers have tips for how to deal with those annoying problems and so much more!

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STURDY BACKPACKS

My sons had terrible trouble with backpacks. Even the expensive ones would not last an entire school season—that’s how hard they were on them. Then one day we went into the Army/Navy surplus store. We found military backpacks (rucksacks) that wore like iron! In fact, the boys carried them for years—all the way through college. They thought they were very cool. Carole

MICE REPELLANT

While covering my ‘49 Ford for the winter storage, I put a dryer sheet on the floor in the front seat area, one on the floor of the rear seats, one in the trunk, and one under the hood. Mice hate them. No damage to wires or upholstery. Larry

TRASHY APRON

If you have a particularly dirty job to do like cleaning the outdoor grill, taking down dirty window screens or hosing down the patio furniture before storing away for winter, make yourself a disposable apron: Take a large garbage bag, cut holes for your head and arms and slip it over your clothes. You may look a little weird, but you’ll protect your clothes and save yourself a lot of time and trouble later. Roy

STORAGE MAP

If your storage space is limited and you have to stack several boxes on top of each other, make a diagram on an index card and keep it in a handy place. When you go to look for something you’ll know exactly where it is. Store items towards the front that you’re more likely to use often with less-used items at the back. Lucille Read more

Germs—bacteria and viruses—are pretty much everywhere. Most of them are harmless, but one percent of all those germs can actually cause anything from a runny nose to a life-threatening infection.

Common sense dictates that when we clean our homes, we target places such as the toilet and counters to eliminate these germs—but we haven’t even scratched the surface of where germs lurk.

According to Prevention magazine, there are more than half a million bacteria in the kitchen sink, about 1,000 times more than the average toilet.

The garbage disposal collects germs from raw food, like chicken, eggs, and spinach, and that food can be filled with harmful bacteria, like salmonella. It can make anyone, especially children, the elderly or anyone with a compromised immune system, very sick.

The metal part of the garbage disposal in a kitchen sink produces ions that can help kill germs, but they love to grow on the crevices in and around the slimy rubber splash guard. Your disposal can become a real breeding ground for bacteria, contaminating your hands, and everything you touch, like your dishes and utensils. All that rotting gunk and grime can cause quite a stink, too!

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Why bother? Why go to the trouble of homemade cleaners when buying commercial products is so much easier?

That was my arrogant response so many years ago when the idea of making my own cleaning products made no sense to me at all. I’ve come a long way! Oh my, have I.

Cleaning bottles in bucket that hold homemade cleaners better than store bought

Here are my top four reasons to make your own cleaning products:

  1. It takes as little as 30 seconds to mix up any number of homemade natural cleaning products—a lot less time than finding the right aisle in the supermarket or another store.
  2. Homemade cleaners give you complete control over the ingredients. Conventional cleaning products often contain toxic chemicals, harsh smells, unpleasant residues, or allergy-inducing irritants. 
  3. Making your own cleaning products is super cheap because they use simple everyday ingredients—things you may have already in your pantry.
  4. Homemade cleaners using natural ingredients perform equally well if not better than expensive name brands cleaners. 

Come to think of it, I can’t really think of any valid reasons not to make our own household cleaning products. Read more