Life hacks: ways to make the most of your cleaning supplies

Oct 4, 2013 at 5:09 a.m. ET

Cleaning supplies can be expensive, especially if you like to keep your home tidy and spotless. Here are some ways you can get the most use out of inexpensive cleaning supplies and to make the supplies you have last longer.

Woman with spray cleaner

Tired of replacing household essentials each time you head to the store? Here are some tricks to make the most out of your cleaning supplies.

Bath time

Soap isn't expensive, but when you buy it frequently, it can add up. To make shower gel last longer, use a loofah or sponge with it — a small amount can make enough suds to adequately cleanse during shower time.

With bar soap, allow it to dry out a little before you first use it. Dry soap doesn't dissolve as quickly as fresh soap when it makes contact with water, so allow it to dry out for a few weeks first.

Dish and hand soap

Hand soap

All you need to make dish and hand soap last dramatically longer is a foaming hand soap dispenser. Pour one tablespoon of your liquid soap — either dish or hand — into the empty dispenser. Then fill the rest of it with water, leaving a small space at the top. Screw on the dispenser's lid and shake the mixture. You may need to pump the dispenser a few times, but once you do, you will use much less soap and still get the job done.

Versatile vinegar

White vinegar

Vinegar is a wonderful cleaner that is not only versatile but is also super cheap. To make an all-purpose cleaner, combine 1 cup of vinegar with 5 cups of water. To wash linoleum, mix 1/4 cup vinegar with one gallon of water. And to clean a coffee maker, add vinegar to the water reservoir until it's about one quarter full. Fill the remaining space with water. Run the coffee maker, then repeat with plain water. Here are some other ways you can use vinegar to clean.



Feel like you've squeezed as much toothpaste out of the container as you possibly can? Think again. Try cutting the tube open with a pair of scissors. You'll likely find at least a few more brushings worth of toothpaste in there. Just be sure to store the tube in a plastic bag in between uses so you will prevent the paste from drying out.


laundry detergent

Detergent can be expensive, but finding ways to save on the amount of laundry you do can make it last much longer. For example, have kids wear the same pair of pajamas for a few nights, especially if they bathe before bedtime. Use towels two or three times instead of just once, and if your jeans aren't dirty, wear them another day or two before washing. Also, always measure your detergent. Often, we "eye" it and end up using more than is necessary.

Surface cleaning

Instead of spraying the surface, such as mirrors or stainless steel appliances, spray the cloth you're using. Often, we use way more than is necessary when spraying the surface, and some of it gets left behind — causing extra wiping and buffing to remove afterward.

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