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6 ways to spring clean on a dime

I should have a bumper sticker on my car that says, “I heart spring cleaning.” There’s just something about throwing all the windows open on the first nice day of the year and diving into a deep clean.

And I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve to save money while I do it.

Magic Eraser hack. Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser is the greatest cleaning invention of the 21st century. Except they cost, like, $1 a bar.

But do you know what Magic Erasers are? Melamine foam sponges. And you can buy 100 melamine sponges on Amazon for about $8. Or, if you’re not stockpiling for the apocalypse, you can get 10 of them for $1.89. Depending on which seller you choose, you can even get them shipped free.

Homemade liquid laundry detergent. The recipe I have used calls for a bar of white soap, a cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and a half cup of Borax. You grate the bar of soap and dissolve it into four cups of water on the stove at medium heat. Fill a five-gallon bucket halfway with hot water, add the melted soap mix, the washing soda and the Borax. Stir it until everything is dissolved and then fill the rest of the bucket with more hot water. Stir again, cover it up and let it thicken overnight.

It actually makes 10 gallons of soap because each load takes one part of water to one part of the mix. You can premix it in an old laundry soap container to make it more convenient. Use a cup for top loaders, a quarter cup for front loaders.

This alone can literally save you thousands of dollars over the years. If you usually use high-efficiency Tide, for example, you can save about $30 per batch.

Lemon juice. Lemons naturally have antibacterial properties and are so much more pleasant to work with than Lysol cleaners. You can dilute lemon juice with water in a spray bottle to wipe down counters, or use it full strength with salt to scrub grates and grills. Just don’t use it on anything with brass plating or you’ll ruin it. It will work great with real brass, though.

DIY glass cleaner. Try this recipe from HGTV. Combine a cup of rubbing alcohol with a cup of water and a tablespoon of clear, non-sudsing ammonia in a spray bottle.

Windex costs about 13 cents an ounce. The DIY recipe comes out to about 5 cents per ounce.

White vinegar. Replacing your dishwasher rinsing agent with straight vinegar is a big money saver. While you’ll pay about $4.29 for an 8.5-ounce bottle of Jet Dry, the same amount of vinegar costs less than 20 cents. Just don’t put it directly into your rinse aid compartment, because it can ruin the rubber components. Put it in a small cup on the top rack and you’ll get the same effect.

White vinegar is also a powerhouse degreaser and gets rid of mildew and lime scale. To use it as a spray cleaner, combine one part water to one part vinegar in a reusable spray bottle.

Baking soda. It’s a great cleaner and deodorizer and, at 99 cents per pound, you can get a lot of bang for your buck.

I put a couple of tablespoons in a bowl with a cup of water and microwave it for about three minutes. It loosens up the grime on the walls of my gross microwave so I can wipe it away easily.

You can use it to brush your teeth, but I’m not sure you’d want to. You can also sprinkle it on the carpet to get rid of pet odors and sprinkle it in a cat pan to keep the litter fresh.