For Women & Co. by Andrea Woroch
Spring is finally here -- and with it comes the annual desire to clear clutter and start the season with a clean slate. Spring cleaning is a tedious but necessary task that can often be a budgetary burden if not managed thoughtfully. The notion, "out with the old and in with the new," leads many people to overspend unnecessarily. And, the impulse to forego the task altogether may be at its peak when you're on your hands and knees scrubbing grout! Stay strong though; here are several ways to make the task manageable and affordable.
1. Use dollar store cleaning supplies
Not everything is a good buy at the dollar store, but house-cleaning supplies represent one of the smarter purchases. In addition to sponges, brushes, and gloves, many tests have found that cleaners from the dollar store work just as well as name-brand products. You can also buy generic versions of bleach and ammonia since the composition of these chemicals is identical between brands.
2. DIY for savings
Cleaning products and tools represent a billion-dollar industry, and yet most of your daily tasks can be completed using items you already own. Short on rags? Cut or tear old clothing to make your own. Soft cotton t-shirts can be used as polishing cloths, while a tube sock makes for a great dusting mitt. Cleaning products themselves are also easily replicated at home, and vinegar and baking soda are two of the ultimate multi-purpose products. Check out these recipes for task-specific solutions made from products you likely have in your pantry or laundry room.
3. Exchange clutter for cash
Spring cleaning often results in a pile of unwanted items typically destined for donation. While some items might be more appropriate for Goodwill, take the time to sort through everything to determine what you can sell for cash. During a recent TV segment, I offered several websites that will accept specific items in exchange for cash, including jewelry, gift cards, and even old DVDs.
4. Repurpose for organization
Once you're in the spring-cleaning mode, you may find yourself eager to toss anything and everything that no longer services you. Before you overwhelm your trash service, think creatively about how you can repurpose some general items. Old plastic containers can be used to organize items like paper clips, push pins, or gadget accessories currently cluttering your "junk drawer." Similarly, folded magazines or diced pool noodles can serve as boot shapers.
5. Try deeply discounted cleaning
Spring cleaning should be synonymous with deep cleaning, but motivation tends to wane after one session of scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush. Consider hiring a professional cleaner to do the initial dirty work. Though expert services tend to be pricey, you can usually find savings through daily deals. You can also score new-client discounts from local companies, but be sure you don't have to sign up for multiple sessions to get the initial savings. Pre-clean and organize your home before the professional visit to expedite the process.
6. Don't clean "just because"
Strangely, there are some parts of your home that shouldn't be cleaned too often. Area rugs, for example, require deep cleaning every five years and can even go without for up to 10 years in the case of silk rugs. Same goes for carpet, as most of us know repeated steam cleanings produce diminishing results, making your floor more prone to stains over time. Ultimately, spring cleaning should be about conquering those areas of your house that actually need a good scrubbing.
Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women. By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.'s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures.