Frugal Spring Cleaning Works for Me!

We’re expecting an international visitor in the next few weeks, as part of a student exchange program.  He will be here for 2 1/2 weeks; then my son goes to stay with his family for three weeks in Europe this summer.

It’s time to clean and deodorize.  I usually drag my spring cleaning out over a couple of months.  But I don’t have that luxury this year.  I’ve planned which weekends and evenings I have without anyone around to put muddy footprints on my freshly scrubbed carpets, and I’m going to town!

We’ve already done the worst room, the room of doom, aka #1’s bedroom.  He had a day off of school, and everything came out of that room (free).  All fabrics were washed (3 loads, about $1).  All walls were scrubbed as best they could be (cleaning solution and baking soda about .20, elbow grease = free).  The fixtures, floor and baseboards were vacuumed three times.  Then the rented carpet cleaner ($30) was filled, and while I was briefly away, used by #1 himself (free).  He worked for at least half an hour, and it looks, feels and smells fabulous!  The mattresses also got a deodorizing.  The oxi cleaner and deodorizer cost about $10, but they also got used in #2’s room, the hallway, and the master bedroom, PLUS there’s some leftover for the main level.

I have hired professional carpet cleaning services, but this year I have to work around my available hours.  Last year, I used a major service provider’s Groupon, which was a good deal with built up credits, but I still had to pay more than $100 out of pocket, just for four rooms and the steps.  Oh, and the stain guard — doesn’t.  I had the time to be home then, but I didn’t get anything done other than watching carefully.  When you want a job done right….

The Rug Doctor I rented from Westlake Ace did a fantastic job, and although we had to do it ourselves, it was easy!  Transporting it was also easy.  And using the hand tool ($3 extra) was a good decision.  I plan to rent this again in a couple of weeks, to clean the main level and family room sectional.  I’m also going to do the large area rugs and stairway.  I’ll be getting it for two days this time, so I’m not rushed.  I’m guessing it will be $50, plus additional cleaner.  So, for about $100 and a good workout opportunity, all my carpets, mattresses and rugs will be clean and odor free!  I think in future years, doing one key room will not be a multi-hour event, and I can rent the machine, do all the floors and upholstery, and be done, for about $40.  Such a deal!

I used the leftover Howard’s Restor-A-Finish (regularly about $8), along the baseboards, closet and door trims, and the stairway that got slightly banged during furniture removal last year.  The whole upstairs looks awesome, as well as the front entry.  The family room and kitchen are soon to follow.  So far, time investment has been about 7 hours (plus #1’s time reorganizing and purging).

Scrubbing the walls and floors, using  products we have stockpiled (not much more than $1), and really cleaning the surfaces all over the house, is nearly free.  I have much variety of cleaners, which helps.  And rags in our home are really that — old towels, sweatshirts, etc., and a few microfiber cloths found on sale for $1.  But really, it takes just a little cash to get all new cleaning products, if you haven’t been getting deals throughout the year.  For the extremely frugal, there’s baking soda (.50/box) for scrubbing, and vinegar (less than $1 for a bottle of white) for glass, mirrors and fixtures, and bleach (less than $1 for nearly a gallon, but look for sales) for tile and grout.

We have a small amount of real oak flooring in the entryway, and I have leftover cleaner for that, too.  I keep up with the maintenance on this floor, so it won’t be a big deal.  And that really is what’s important to owning a home, anyway.

One thing I did recently, but should be a part of spring cleaning in every home, was to replace light bulbs.  I have a large plastic bin with bulbs purchased on sale throughout the year, and many of them got used, with a few new purchased.  It was dark in our front hall, and I finally looked up and realized four out of five mini bulbs were out!  Duh.  Many bulbs inside and a few outside were burned out, and replacing them with the appropriate wattage is easy and relatively cheap.  Think about your own ceiling fan lights, right? 

The bathrooms should be easy this year, since the boys have been doing a much better job with their weekly chores over the last several months.  No major remodeling or refinishing, just a good scrubbing (including walls and fan vents) with regular cleaning product and a good scrub brush.  One commode needs new innards — the kit was $8 for the complete do-over.  We know what we’re doing, and it saves tons of money when you have an older house with multiple bowls.  I did get a nice, heavy shower curtain liner for the boys’ bath, 3.99 at Aldi (no curtain, just a liner in there).

Last but not least, the kitchen will get a regular scrubbing.  I am lucky to have a self-cleaning oven and will be using it this weekend; it takes 3 hours to clean and 2 hours to cool enough to wipe out the dust.  I can do much work while that is going on.  The table and chairs will get taken apart and scrubbed, as well as a dose of Restor-A-Finish.  The winter window panels will come down (free), get washed (about $1) and stored (free), and the blinds de-guckified (about .50 in cleaner, elbow grease = free).  All this is cheap, cheap, free!

Who says you have to spend a fortune on spring cleaning?  It’s all about the cleaning, which is a little work.  And judicious spending on what will get the biggest results, like the carpet machine.

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