Save like Nana did. Cleaning.

This is a big subject that probably deserves a few posts but I will make a start at least.  Thinking it over I can see that this is similar to laundry.... there are just endless products for every imaginable cleaning job and they are expensive!  Our friend said that he can manage his food budget IF he doesn't need any cleaning products.  I am making him some Miracle Cleaner and introducing him to some big savings.   Between laundry and cleaning products it would be very easy to be spending A LOT.    Nana had a clean home and she didn't have all these products!   She did have methylated spirits (Denatured alcohol) and bi carbonate of soap,  cleaning brushes and rags,  hot water, sunlight or velvet soap...   Newspaper was used to clean windows.  (And her windows were clean!)   So her budget was spent more on food and necessities and very little on cleaning items.      

We can see the savings by looking at things Nana just never bought and the list is long!   She never bought dusters.   Dusting was done with rags.  Rags were torn up old clothing or sheets...  socks even.   Because I crochet cotton dish cloths I looked at the prices of the various kind of dish cloths you can buy.  I was amazed some were $8 each!    Nan also did not buy paper towels.  Or paper napkins.  

I have found my way somewhere in between rags and buying cleaning cloths.  I watch for old flannelette sheets in the thrift stores and when I find them I either make hankies (handkerchiefs) or cleaning cloths. 

I can't help but go for pretty ones.    Now and then I will have a session of tearing up the old sheets and folding myself a new stack.   My main cleaner is Miracle Cleaner which is originally from The Cheapskates Club.  You can find the recipe here Clean and Fresh.   This smells wonderful and leads to another thing you never have to buy which are air fresheners.   Another thing Nan never bought!     An actual clean house, fresh air,  clean bins... does not need air freshener.   Instead it smells clean and hopefully of good cooking!   Seriously,  clean smells just fine.  If things don't smell nice then an air freshener is just trying to mask a stink and you end up with a frankenstink.    To top it off many of these things are toxic.   Not buying thee kinds of things is a win win! 

Because I don't love dusting very much I try to make it more enjoyable by making up a jar of damp dusters using my flannelette squares, some water and miracle cleaner.   They are stacked into a big jar ready to go.   When I dust with these they work so well but also the house smells lovely and fresh.  

Miracle cleaner is made about once a year.   The supplies to make it will keep me going for years.   I can't estimate the cost...  I am going to say under $5 a year for cleaning most of the house.   I use this for floors, counters, fridge, bathroom, sinks, toilet...   dusting and inside the car.   When things need a good wipe down ie the washing machine...  this makes everything lovely!

Pre Miracle Cleaner I had times when I used a spray cleaner and it absolutely took my breath away.  I don't think we know what we are breathing in!    I can say that making your own cleaning items is beautiful and the savings are significant.   So many good old fashioned ways can help us now.   

Nana would also use up what she has.   What products do you have that could be used.... and as they are used consider saving the spray bottles for the cleaners you make.   As you convert to buying less you will have both more space in your cupboards and more money for other areas like your pantry.  

For more take a look at Jess' cleaning inspiration and recipes.  They are enough to make you want to clean!  Housecleaning Spring Collection.   You will love this as I do!   xxx


  1. Nana wasn't stupid, was she! I remember seeing a doco on the Korean War and how germs and bacteria were kept at bay with hot water, soap and a scrubbing brush! My mother always had scrubbing brushes, for the floors, the stained laundry, the toilet bowl, even an old one she kept outside for scrubbing plant pots before she reused them. Now I have scrubbing brushes all through the house too, and they get used with hot water, soap and elbow grease. I love when one of Wayne's flanellette shirts gets to worn and holey to wear - off come the buttons and it gets cut up into squares for cleaning cloths, they are so soft and absorbent and they last for years. Miracle Spray, soap, water, vinegar, bicarb soda and my cheat cleaner, generic dishwasher powder, make up my cleaning cupboard. They're all budget friendly and none of them make us itchy or sneezy or our eyes water. I'd say when it came to house cleaning Nana was spot on!

  2. Dear Annabel, your Nana was a smart lady! Like were the women in my family - I have learnt a lot from my Mammy, and her daughters my mom and my godmother.

    We never used air freshener but the house had a nice smell of clean, or orange, or flowers or cookies. In winter we put on the hot stove citrus peels and the other seasons we opened the windows and had flowers in vases. I still do that, I put the peels on the radiators in the winter.

    I use old t-shirts as cleaning rugs, I like socks for dusting, because they follow the furniture lines easily. I don*t buy cleaning products - or very minimal - I use the half vinegar with orange peels, or lemon peels, or pine needles and half water. I sprinkle with water the broom when sweeping the floors and carpets.

    A bitter-sweet memory from my childhood regarding big cleaning days - after our house had burnt down to ashes we had to move to a block of flats in town where everybody was taking the carpets in the summer to the river to be deeply washed. We gathered together - 5-10 women with their numerous carpets and a big bunch of skinny tanned children (I was one of them) and went to the Iza river for a big carpet day wash. They were deeply brushed, washed and rinsed well by the river. Of course children helped, too. While the carpets were drying on the grass or special fences we all ate, played, swam, listen to music, laugh and chat together. A nice wonderful community day out but very tiresome. That isn*t happening around here anymore - people are not so friendly or helping anymore.

    Thank you for all the good ideas in this post.With love, Laura_s_world from Romania

  3. You are so right about those air fresheners! I practically run when I smell them because they make me feel ill. We do very well here with soap and water and the old fashioned Bon Ami and not much else. I can't imagine spending money on all those smelling and expensive products at the stores.

  4. When you first introduced the Bluebirds to Miracle Cleaner, in a post, I wrote the recipe down and have used it since then. It is amazing and the Eucalyptus creates a nice clean smell.

    I intend to make the laundry soap, also, but that has been a bit of a go round with John. 😉 He likes the fragrance free Seventh Generation. Personally, the fragrance free is a must for me, but I don't feel the clothes get that clean. Perhaps it is the front load washers that don't do a great job? 🤔 I am a fan of wringer washers myself.

    Your beautiful jars of cleaners and lovely cloths are such a pretty sight. I haven't seen lovely sheets or fabric here to make clothes from. I do have some frayed towels I intend to make into quilted cleaning rags.
    Love and hugs,

    1. Hi Glenda, Our farm clothes get filthy, and I didn't think the laundry detergent home made worked as well either. I've discovered putting half the usual amount in as a "prerinse" and the usual amount in the main wash and putting the front loader on the pre-rinse plus normal cycle makes a huge difference. I do use commercial detergent occasionally with napisan for whites tho! Missy C

    2. Thank you, Missy, for the suggestion. I appreciate your information.

  5. I have made and used miracle spray for years and as you say, it is cheap and effective and smells great. One thing I remember reading somewhere a long time ago was not to use it on wooden surfaces, so I don’t tend to use it on my floors or damp dusting timber furniture, but I would love to if I can! What is your experience with this?

    1. I use Miracle Spray on everything except glass and, especially, mirrors. It leaves a greasy reside that is almost impossible to remove. I think it is the eucalyptus oil. Miracle Spray is wonderful!
      --Maxine, aka mikemax

  6. Thank you for sharing this. My children have all had to learn to clean the kitchen and bathroom. So I didn't want them exposed to harsh chemicals. We use Barkeeper's Friend, baking soda, soap, and vinegar. I do have to use bleach on the grout in our bath when the mold gets bad.
    I will give the miracle wash a try.
    Blessings, Leslie

  7. Thank you for this informative post, Annabel. I am really enjoying this series! When I first became a homemaker my mum taught me to clean windows with newspaper too. Over time I switched to using cloths but I have always used homemade vinegar glass cleaner. It feels good to know exactly what is in our cleaning supplies!

    With love from,
    Kelly (Mrs. Kiwi)

  8. When you use this cleaner on floors, do you rinse them with water afterwards? I wondered with the soap if it leaves a film on the floor or other surfaces. Thanks!

  9. Years ago I started making laundry liquid. On the back of the washing soda packet was a recipe for Miracle Spray. I made up a batch of that and I was hooked. I made my own soap and used this in the shower, laundry and in the kitchen. I purchased a soap shaker for using soap for washing the dishes and in my mop bucket for cleaning dirty floors.
    I need to take a leaf out of your books and start making myself some large, pretty, flannel cleaning clothes. I have a pretty spotted old sheet from the op shop in my cupboard. I might just have to start there.
    I borrowed your idea of cleaning cloths in a jar, dampened with Miracle Spray. I keep one jar in the bathroom and another under the kitchen sink. This provides a quick and easy way to clean up messes. The Grandies knew where to look and wiped up toothpaste messes with the cloths in the bathroom.
    My go to for greasy cleaning is half dishsoap and half heated vinegar. I mix this in small amounts when needed. It is one that you need very little of to get a great result.

  10. I too cannot abide scented (especially scented with scent boosters) cleaners. I prefer a pine oil on floors but was told not to use such on our vinyl tile floors. My preferred cleaners are baking soda, powdered cleanser like Bar Keeper's Friend or Ajax or Comet, and bleach in water. If properly diluted bleach is 100% safe and will kill germs and bacteria. The key is to know what the ratio is and to keep it to that ratio. Using undiluted chlorine bleach will cause burns in lung and sinus if breathed in. My grandmothers used these three items and nothing more to keep their homes clean. Yes, I too use purchased laundry detergent that is unscented. We have such soft water that I found homemade (both dry and liquid) did not dissolve and rinse out properly since the main ingredients were all water softening agents which further softened the water and prevented a nice clean rinse of clothing.
    In the past I kept a large basket on my kitchen counter with nice washcloths to use in place of paper towels and I really ought to go back to that.
    In our childhood years, the ink that was used to print newspapers had an antiseptic agent built in and public health nurses who visited homes were instructed to keep newspaper in their car and take a sheet into each home they visited to set their medical bag upon. This prevented the bag from picking up bacteria that might be present on the surface upon which the bag was set. In modern days the ink formula is different as is the paper and it's not nearly as good for cleaning as that from the former days, but it does polish glass nicely.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts