Homemade cleaners can be a great way to save money. They’re usually made with water and the addition of a few other basic household ingredients. I’ve always had a hunch that the money savings were pretty good, but I’d never actually sat myself down to do the math.
Until this week. This week I sat down with a cup of tea and cookies and the calculator and did some number crunching. Yes, you need tea and cookies to make this job a little easier! It took a while but I’m glad I spent the time because now I truly know what the cost comparison is for some of my favorite homemade cleaners. And as I suspected, when you look at the final cost for a homemade cleaner your figures will be in terms of “cents”, not “dollars”.
Have you wondered how much money you can save with homemade cleaners too? If so, take a look at some of my findings below which I’ll try to share in a way that won’t make your eyes glaze over from my boring and endless math equations. 🙂 Here’s a little sneak peak when we compare the same amount of ounces. Then we’ll go on to the specifics.
All Purpose Cleaners
A couple of the big winners in my comparison were two all purpose cleaners that I make – A soap spray and a vinegar spray. The store bought cleaner I used for comparison was the 409 brand.
32 oz 409 cleaner price: $2.99 = 9¢ per oz
32 oz vinegar/water spray price: 48¢ = 1¢ per oz
32 oz soap spray price: 3¢ = .00093¢ per oz
Yes, the soap spray came out at a measley 3¢ for a 32 oz batch of cleaner! My favorite vinegar & water came out well too at 48¢ per batch.
For any of my homemade cleaners that use water, I did not figure any cost for that ingredient just because I think the cost for one or two cups of water based on the gallons and gallons of water you are charged for on your water bill, would just be too tiny of a fraction to calculate.
So . . . the soap spray was: 2 cups of water (free), ½ tsp of washing soda (½ of a cent) and ½ tsp dish soap (1¢). This made a cost for a 16 oz batch to be 1.5¢ and the cost for a 32 oz batch multiplied up to 3¢. Cheap!
The vinegar and water spray is 1 cup of water (free) and 1 cup of white vinegar (48¢).
Of course when you initially buy the ingredients of washing soda and dish soap you will pay more than 3 cents, but because you only use a ½ teaspoon of each in a batch, the cost per batch is very, very low.
Another homemade cleaner that calculated out to a nice low price was my homemade dusting spray. I compared this to both the Pledge and Endust brands:
9.7 oz Pledge price: $4.39 = 45¢ per oz
12.5 oz Endust price: $3.49 = 28¢ per oz
16 oz homemade price: 16¢ = 1¢ per oz (no essential oils)
16 oz homemade price: 24¢ = 1½¢ per oz (essential oils added)
As you can see, there are a few different variables in this comparison. The store bought brands are smaller size bottles than my homemade version. Adding essential oils for fragrance to the homemade version can increase the price a bit too, although not by much.
BUT – even with this taken into consideration, the homemade dusting spray came out at only around a penny per ounce. That’s great!
The calculation on this one looks like this: 1¾ cups water (free) ¼ cup vinegar (6¢) 2 tsp olive oil (10¢) and 8 drops of lemon essential oil (8¢). A pretty good bargain!
Lots of people like to make a homemade window cleaner (me too). Lately I’ve been using a recipe that’s half water, half rubbing alcohol, with a bit of dish soap. The cost savings here are pretty good too.
23 oz Windex price: $3.29 = 14¢ per oz
26 oz store brand price: $2.79 = 11¢ per oz
16 oz homemade price: 49¢ = 3¢ per oz
At only 3¢ per ounce, the homemade version is much less than both the name brand and the store brand of window cleaner. The breakdown on this one looks like this: 1 cup water (free) 1 cup rubbing alcohol (48¢) squirt of Dawn dish soap (1¢).
Daily Shower Spray
Another one of my favorite homemade cleaners is my daily shower spray (which I also discovered makes a surprisingly good window cleaner!). I was super happy with the savings here too:
32 oz Tilex price: $2.99 = 9¢ per oz
32 oz store brand price: $2.49 = 7¢ per oz
32 oz homemade price: 44¢ = 1.3¢ per oz
Even though this recipe has a few more ingredients, the price per ounce is still just a bit over a penny: 3 cups water (free) ½ cup rubbing alcohol (24¢) ½ cup peroxide (12¢) 1 tsp dish soap (2¢) 1 Tbl rinse aid (6¢).
The price comparison on a Soft Scrub type of cleaner was not quite as dramatic, but you can still make your homemade version for about half the cost:
24 oz Soft Scrub price: $2.89 = 12¢ per oz
4 oz homemade price: 29¢ = 7¢ per oz
This was one a little harder for me to calculate, and my homemade version is a much smaller size batch (and I was not really sure on the volume vs. weight factor). Nevertheless I think the price comes out about like this which is still a savings: 1/3 cup baking soda (11¢) and 3 Tbl dish soap (18¢).
Disposable Cleaning Wipes
Those little cleaning wipes can sure come in handy for quick clean ups. You can save some money here too with a homemade version, but maybe not quite as much as you expected. This is because if you take some shortcuts here, your homemade wipes won’t hold up and/or they can get moldy.
35 ct Clorox cleaning wipes price: $2.39 = 7¢ per wipe
35 ct store brand wipes price: $1.99 = 6¢ per wipe
88 ct homemade price: $2.27 = 2¢ per wipe
For the homemade version you do need to use a good brand of paper toweling or they will fall apart. You also need to use distilled water and tea tree oil to keep the mixture from getting moldy. So with those considerations the price comes out like this: 1 roll of 88 ct Viva paper towels ($2.00) 1¾ cups distilled water (11¢) ¼ cup vinegar (6¢) ¼ tsp dish soap (½¢) and 10 drops tea tree oil (10¢).
But as you can also see, for $2.27 you get 88 wipes which comes out to a third of the cost of the 35 count packages. Still a good cost savings in my opinion!
And finally, to keep it real, I’m including this last one that (as far as I could tell) was NOT a cost savings.
24 oz Comet price: 99¢ = 4¢ per oz
16 oz baking soda price: 79¢ = 5¢ per oz
Yes, it appears one of my favorite homemade substitutions of just using straight baking soda as a scouring powder is not really a cost savings. But it’s not that much of a price difference either (only a 1 cent difference per ounce) and I really prefer the friendly feeling of baking soda so I’m happy to keep using the homemade option.
Congratulations if you’ve stuck with me this far! After digesting all this info and the the numbers (and digesting the tea and cookies we needed to help us power through this) we can see that homemade cleaners will almost always save us money and in some cases, a lot of money. Homemade cleaners really don’t take that long to mix together either and the final result is a product that cleans well and is made with ingredients that are not nearly as harsh as the store bought counterparts.
If you would like to see more on how I arrived at my breakdown prices for my ingredients (things like vinegar, soap, rubbing alcohol, etc.) here’s a link to a pdf of my ingredient price list calculations, as well as the screenshot below. It’s nothing fancy, just a simple little page of notes I made for myself. If you have your own recipes that you want to make some math calculations on, perhaps you’ll find my little cheat sheet helpful. Of course prices are always changing, but at least it’s a starting point.
If you’d like to read more about some of the recipes for homemade cleaners that I referenced above, here are links to the complete articles: