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Student Accommodation

12 homemade cleaning products

Fed up of splashing out on expensive cleaning products? Here are some cheap and cheerful alternatives that are super easy to make.

woman holding cleaning products and person cleaning toilet

Credit (left): WAYHOME studio - Shutterstock

NoteIf you're looking for disinfecting cleaning products to prevent the spread of coronavirus, we recommend sticking to shop-bought detergents and bleach products if you can.

If there's one thing more annoying than having to clean the house, it's having to waste your precious pennies on overpriced cleaning products.

There's actually no need to fork out on expensive cleaning supplies to get your floors, windows and even your microwave sparkling (trust us on this). You might already have everything you need to clean your whole flat sitting in your kitchen cupboards.

The alternative cleaning supplies below are cheap, versatile, non-toxic and multi-purpose. What more could you want?

Don't forget that a thorough clean is essential if you want to get your deposit back when you move out.

Essential ingredients for homemade cleaning products

Sponge, gloves and ingredients for cleaning

Credit: New Africa - Shutterstock

To make cheap cleaning products, you will need these ingredients:

  • Vinegar – lifts dirt because of its acidity levels
  • Lemonhas antibacterial and antiseptic qualities and cuts through bad odours
  • Baking soda – good for soaking up odours, and foams when mixed with vinegar due to its alkaline properties
  • Coca-Cola its carbonation and high level of acidity help it clean up dirt, dissolve limescale and even remove rust.

Best cleaning products to make on a budget

The most effective way to save money on cleaning products is to make them yourself. Here are 12 essential cleaning supplies, with tips on how to make them cheaply:

  1. Window cleaner

    child at window

    Credit: amarax - Shutterstock

    To make homemade window cleaner, mix equal quantities of white distilled vinegar and tap water in a spray bottle. Spray your windows with this solution, and use scrunched up newspaper to wipe them down.

    If your windows are seriously grimey, wash them with warm, soapy water first, and then use the vinegar solution and dry newspaper to get rid of any streaks.

  2. Drain unblocker

    You don't need to rely on all those nasty, toxic foaming drain unblockers to get things moving.

    Try pouring half a cup of baking soda down the blocked drain, and then follow it with a half cup of vinegar. Cover the drain with a cloth and leave for about 10 minutes. You'll see science get to work as they react and start to foam.

    Rinse with hot water after 10 minutes and you should find the soda and vinegar combined have worked their magic. If you're still struggling to clear it, you can also try cutting a tennis ball in half, placing it over the plughole and using pressure to create the same effect as a plunger.

  3. Shower head descaler

    shower head descaler

    Credit: alexring - Shutterstock

    If you share your shower with others and live in an area with high levels of limescale in the water, you're probably familiar with the problem of a seriously scaly shower head.

    Sometimes, the buildup can get so bad it even prevents the water from flowing properly, and you find yourself struggling to wash under one single-jet drizzle.

    To save you and your housemates from buying expensive limescale-removing products like Viakal, you can solve the issue really cheaply by making your own cleaning product. All you need is vinegar.

    You'll need to start by detaching the shower head completely (if you're unsure how to do this, just unhook it from the wall). Find a bucket or bowl that it can fit into (the smaller the bowl, the less vinegar you'll need to use) and fill it with white distilled vinegar until the shower head is completely covered.

    Leave it to soak for a couple of hours (overnight if you can). Then, remove the shower head from the vinegar and scrub under warm water with a toothbrush (an old one, please!) and the flakes should come away easy peasy.

  4. Oven cleaner

    Not only are oven cleaning sprays super potent and dangerous for your health (there's a reason you're told to cover absolutely everything in your kitchen and open all the windows when using them!), but they're pretty expensive to buy too.

    Homemade oven cleaner is a cheap and environmentally-friendly alternative to branded products.

    To make them, you'll need to first use a dry scourer or brush to remove any bits of food from the inside of the oven. Then, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda across all the greasy bits and parts that need a good clean. Follow this up by spraying vinegar on top of the baking soda, and watch it foam up as it gets to work on the tough grease.

    Leave for at least 30 mins (but probably closer to an hour or two if it's particularly grubby) then get scrubbing with a sponge, scourer or brush to make sure all the tough grease has been removed. Wipe down once or twice with a warm, damp cloth, and you're good to go.

  5. Dishwasher or washing machine cleaner

    Woman unloading plates from dishwasher

    Credit: Gabi Moisa – Shutterstock

    If your dishwasher or washing machine smells bad and generally needs a cleanup, vinegar is perfect. It's non-toxic (so safe to run through your dishwasher) and weirdly, it's even good for your clothes.

    Simply fill a plastic cup with white distilled vinegar and place this in the (empty!) machine. Run the machine on the hottest cycle and the vinegar and hot water together should break away any mould or mildew, and leave it smelling fresh.

  6. Multi-surface cleaner

    You can mix vinegar with another household cleaning gem, the lemon, to cheaply make a pretty heavy-duty multi-purpose cleaner.

    Make the concoction by adding the skin of a lemon to a small(ish) jar of distilled vinegar and leaving for two days to pickle. Then, pour the vinegar into a spray bottle, and you have a mixture that will remove tough grease and even pick up strong smells like fish from kitchen surfaces.

    Warning! Don't use vinegar to clean porous kitchen surfaces, like granite and marble, as the acidity can etch away at them. Also, you might be tempted to run some vinegar through your iron to clean that too but this isn't a good idea – it can damage the internal parts of the iron, so avoid this.

  7. Chopping board cleaner

    person chopping vegetable

    Clean your chopping and cooking surfaces by cutting a lemon in half and rubbing it across the whole surface. By some sort of miracle, lemon seems to be able to remove even some of the most brutal smells (even the dreaded fish guts).

    If you have particularly tough stains or smells to clean up, try rubbing them with salt or throwing on a bit of baking soda before using the lemon.

  8. Kettle descaler

    Ever noticed little bits of calcium floating around in your cups of tea? You can fix this issue with just a bit of lemon and hot water.

    Fill your kettle with water to just below the max level and add one lemon cut into eight chunks. Bring the kettle to the boil, then leave to stand overnight (make sure you stick a post-it note warning your flatmates not to use it!).

    In the morning, throw the fruit away and give the kettle a good rinse (scrub the inside too to help get the flakes off if necessary) before making your scale-free cuppa.

  9. Bathroom mould remover

    Fresh Meat character in the shower

    Credit: Channel 4

    If your bathroom tiles tend to suffer from a buildup of mould and mildew, there's an easy way to keep on top of it that won't break the bank.

    Mix a paste together out of equal parts baking soda and lemon juice and spread across the tiles (paying close attention to the mouldy bits, of course!).

    Leave the paste to work its magic for around two hours, then rinse off. Any tough spots can be removed using an old toothbrush.

  10. Pot and pan cleaner

    Fill the saucepan with coke until the burnt area is completely covered (discount cola should be just as effective!). Bring to the boil, then pour away the coke.

    Rinse and wash the pan with warm water, and you should find that the burnt parts of the pan come away pretty easily.

  11. Toilet cleaner

    hand pushing toilet flush

    Credit: VanoVasaio – Shutterstock

    If you've ever wondered what Coca-Cola does to your insides, this is a pretty clear (and worrying!) indication.

    When your toilet bowl starts to look a bit grey and discoloured, try throwing in a can of cola and leaving overnight (coke cleans pretty slowly). In the morning, scrub away at the sides with a toilet brush and flush away.

    The phosphoric acid works wonders on removing limescale and discolouration.

  12. Microwave cleaner

    This one's an old favourite. Chop a lemon into quarters and put in a microwave-proof bowl of water. Place the bowl in the microwave and 'cook' the lemon mixture on high for around three minutes.

    The time will vary depending on how powerful your microwave is, but we'd suggest waiting until you notice the glass steaming up from all the evaporating lemon liquid.

    This should get the hot lemon juice into all corners of the microwave, and the heat should loosen some of the tougher food splatters. Wipe down the insides with a cloth, and you'll hopefully find that it cleans up nicely.

Struggling to evenly split cleaning tasks with your housemates? Read our tips on how to survive shared living.

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