(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you’ll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)
By the author of the FREE online course Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture
Yeah, some folks make a phone call and order a personal organizer to pop over and organize their home. And some others might have an online auction team come to sell their valuable stuff for them. But, if you’re like me, spring cleaning will fall on your shoulders. Here are some thrifty ways to tidy up around the house when you don’t want to spend a lot of money (actually ANY money!) doing it.
Avoiding the spring cleaning “freeze”
OK, if I’m being honest with you, I’m not the tidiest homesteader on the block! I’m on my own, I’m very busy, and I have a high dirt tolerance. I’m one of those people that just doesn’t notice unless the dust bunnies are actually having babies! Still, I do like the tradition of starting the spring season with a nice, extra clean home and yard.
What usually stops me in my tracks? Getting intimidated with a lot of “shoulds” about what I should be doing and making it into a mountain so BIG that I don’t even get started. If I do this kind of thinking, I become the “deer” in the proverbial headlights facing a huge SPRING CLEANING truck on the highway of life. Nothing gets done.
So, what I have found over the years is that I actually get some spring cleaning done when I break it down into manageable chunks and do smaller bits at a time. This approach has led to much more getting done than when I put myself under unrealistic expectations.
Clearing clutter step by step
You know yourself better than I do. Take a look around your place. What needs tidying? In my own eco-cabin, the small nature of the space generally leads to my top tidying issue being clutter. Some of it is unavoidable: right now, I’m starting seedlings for myself and some local community gardens. There are around 120 or so seedlings sharing the eco-cabin with me right now. I do what I can to keep the soil bags and extra pots tucked under a table. That tidying will have to wait until the garden is planted!
However, there are other kinds of clutter that I could do better dealing with. One is paper. It tends to collect in a giant pile by the desk. When it becomes difficult to find what I need, I will “attack” the pile and put things in their place: financial files, personal items, bills, records, receipts. They all have a place to go. I think that this is a key to managing clutter.
I am due this spring to go through this pile of paper. I have been avoiding it. When I don’t want to do it, I just set a timer for five minutes and do it five minutes at a time. Often, I’m actually enjoying it when the five minutes are up and I may do a bit more. I hope you find this approach helpful to tackling whatever kind of clutter you might have. If you don’t, good for you!
Sell what you can
Being Frugalites, we all like to have a bit of extra cash in our pockets. One way you can declutter and make room in your spring cleaning is to identify a few items that you could sell. If we are honest with ourselves, we own some stuff we aren’t using. Now, I’m not recommending you sell your pantry of food items or your food dehydrator. Heavens, no!
What I often do is just have a box or a bin in a corner to throw the sales items in. Changing over your clothing from winter to spring? You could have a look at what you haven’t been wearing and maybe a couple of items would end up there. Any dress items that you haven’t worn in years? They could go in the bin. Look on your shelves: do you really need all those nic nacs? Could one go? Maybe two? What about your shed? Has your hobby changed? Are there some tools or raw materials someone else would like?
Over the years, I have done this regularly. I am consistently amazed at what sells. Just in the last couple of months, I have sold boots that didn’t fit me, extra live kefir grains, an old trailer hitch, and an extra set of driver bits I didn’t need.
Thrifty disposal options
Whether out in the country or the city these days, some of us have to pay for each bag of garbage that goes to the dump or to the curb for pick up. One way I have saved on dump fees over the years is to put items out on the side of the road with a “free” sign. It can be a great way to get rid of things AND to get things, so be careful if you’re trying to declutter.
All of our local buy-and-sell groups allow people to give away free items. I often see them picked up within minutes. You know that saying… “One man’s garbage is another man’s gold.” It is so true! By taking a bit of time, you can save your garbage tags for another day. If you’re out in the country, don’t forget: you can also likely burn some of your spring cleaning garbage. In our township, burn permits are free: so frugal for us!
Low-cost elbow grease
If you take a walk down the cleaning supplies aisle of your local big box store, you might break out in a cold Frugalite sweat, fearing that your spring clean up might cost you an arm and a leg. Not so, dear Frugalite!
In my own home, for almost every job, I only use high-concentration castile soap (vegetable-based liquid soap). For example, to mop the floor, I might only put a squirt of it into an entire bucket. Only a teaspoon or so allows me to refill my own soap-foaming dispenser in my bathroom. One capful does a load of laundry. One bottle of this soap, 32 fl. oz, lasts me over half a year! That’s a lot of mileage for $12 of soap (bought at a discount retailer, of course!).
If the job is too dirty for just soap, I sprinkle a bit of baking soda on top. Voila! That will do it for most jobs. If I have a super heavy, greasy mess, I use an industrial cleaner that I buy in bulk to save. [LINK: ]
Wanna save tons? Make your own cleaning supplies using the simple recipes in this article.
Spring (cleaning) is in the air!
Spring can be a great time for a fresh, tidy start. For more suggestions, check out Chloe’s spring cleaning calendar here.
Could you see yourself trying any of the thrifty tips offered here? Do you have a thrifty spring cleaning tip you can share with us? What are your favorite low-cost cleaning supplies? Please tell us in the comments section.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient. Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!
12 thoughts on “A Frugalite’s Guide to Spring Cleaning”
For every day cleaning, I use a spray bottle with half water, half white vinegar a a small squirt of blue dawn dish soap. I got this off of another site and have been using it for years. The dollar store is also a good place to buy cleaning supplies.
That is a cool mix, Denise. I know a little bit of that Dawn soap does go a long way. I bet that is a great spray for the countertops! Thanks so much for sharing. Happy Spring Cleaning!
Cheap glass cleaner: a splash of vinegar in a spray bottle full of water. You can use old newspapers to clean the glass if you still read paperr news.
Hi JT, As a matter of fact, the inside of my windshield is pretty dirty. I am going to try this before I head to town tomorrow. While I don’t read the newspaper, I do get the local free papers, and I’ll use those. Thanks so much for sharing. I wish you Happy Spring Cleaning!
@Daisy – author title fix required.
Paper is my main clutter issue and it time to clean out tax papers again (did it 10 years ago, where does the time go). While I own a shredder, too much is accumulated. I had to go through a deceased relatives papers and PII must be shredded, even if the “P” is no longer walking this earth.
I too can live with a reasonable amount of dust. It tends to be worse during wood stove season. Between the better half and I, we do the cleaning but neither of us likes to dust. But we do it. We both go at it, it doesn’t take long.
Hi Selena, Great to hear from you! Glad to hear I’m not alone regarding paper. I would find it a daunting task to go through someone else’s papers. Perhaps that is a good reason to improve my own! I, too, have a woodstove. It is a dusty season for me, too. Although I don’t have a helper here to dust, if I just do one area/item per day, it seems more manageable to me. Wishing you a great spring. Happy Cleaning!
I have never thought to use Castile soap to clean or do laundry. I use it to make my hand soap. I will definitely look into this more.
Hi Marie, Oh, I’m so glad to hear that. Yes, I use only one capful per load. I am sensitive to many chemicals and scents. I love the fact that the castile soap I buy only has natural and gentle scents that I can handle, like a pleasant lavender scent. For laundry, I found that adding some baking soda GREATLY improved the action of the castile soap on my clothing. It doesn’t take much, maybe 1/4 cup to make a real difference. By buying very large boxes of baking soda, my cost for this is literally pennies. What I like is that I only need to buy one item to do everything. Hey, maybe I should write an article about this??? Thanks for the inspiration!!! Wishing you the best. Happy Spring Cleaning!
Yes! I’d love to read that article!
Woo Hoo! Then, it’s decided! I will proposed it this week. How fun. I love it when inspiration comes from the Frugalites and is seconded by the Frugalites! Thanks so much, Redbranch. This made my day! Wishing you a clean and tidy and enjoyable Spring (Cleaning)!
I have had good results from the “Totally Awesome” spray you can buy at the dollar store. I use it for a lot of things. I learned how to soak orange peels in vinegar to make a cleaning spray from the Organic Prepper though, and still use that too! Then there’s the old baking soda on lemon half trick if you have a bunch of old citrus. It’s pretty good for scrubbing.
Hi Redbranch, Thanks so much for adding these great ideas to the mix. I’m sure some folks will be checking their local dollar store for that “Totally Awesome” spray, which sounds….well, Totally Awesome! When I heard about the spray with the orange peels, can you imagine my mouth was watering. What I was actually imagining, though, was what a wonderful scent that would be to fill the home with. As I’m sensitive to chemicals, I have to be careful. That one sounded wonderful. Your tips are always much appreciated. Happy Thrifty Spring Cleaning!