How To Save: Spring Cleaning by Mercedes Cardona

Tidy up your home without cleaning out your wallet

1. Make your own cleaners.

Besides saving a ton of money on supermarket products, you'll have the comfort of knowing there are no harsh chemicals around. Use vinegar as a natural disinfectant, says Kimberly Danger, family savings expert of Combine one cup vinegar with two gallons of water in a bucket to clean floors, or combine the ingredients in equal parts to make an all-purpose cleaner for the rest of the house. You can also make your own dishwashing liquid: Grate a bar of soap (or leftover slivers) into a half-gallon of water and heat for ten minutes until dissolved. Clean cook tops by gently scrubbing with a mix of a little dishwashing liquid and baking soda. Your grandchildren will love the chemistry of it all!

2. Skip the professionals.

Rent a carpet cleaner from a local supermarket or hardware store and clean the carpet yourself, instead of paying a professional, and save at least $100, says home savings expert Marcia Layton Turner, of 3. Or share the professionals.

If you're going to pay to have your windows cleaned, contact your neighbors and try to negotiate a volume deal from one window-cleaning company, says Layton Turner.

4. Ditch the paper towels.

Forget buying paper towels. Instead, use sponges and rags; clean them in the washing machine with hot water, detergent, and bleach, says Karen Hoxmeier, bargain-shopping expert at Wipe windows and glass with newspaper to save money and avoid that annoying paper-towel lint.

5. Get organized.

If organizing your space is a goal this spring, take a lesson from professional organizer Maeve Richmond of She shows her clients how to segment their disorganization into clear piles. For example, one client had an overwhelming number of books, so she had her go through each book and decide if it was worth keeping or donating. What remained was divided and reshelved by genre.