For many, the arrival of spring heralds the season of cleaning. It’s no wonder this annual tradition has survived for generations. Depending on where you live, when the weather turns warmer and the sun peeks out from formerly gray winter skies, it’s not just the flowers and trees that wake up. We all feel motivated to come out of hibernation, throw open the windows, and air out our dusty closets.
Spring is the perfect time to start fresh — from getting rid of all the clutter to giving the rest of our home some sparkle and shine. But it’s easy to get carried away, spending a small fortune on cleaning supplies, carpet cleaners, power washers, and organizing bins. According to Statista, Americans will spend $6.2 billion on household cleaners alone in 2021.
Spring cleaning can be a fun and therapeutic activity that leaves you feeling lighter and your home fresher. But if you’re not careful, it can also lighten your wallet.
How to Save Money on Spring Cleaning
Spring is a time to declutter, organize, and do a deep-cleaning of your home — meaning tackling less frequently cleaned places, like your baseboards and the inside of your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. It also means completing tasks you only need to tackle once or twice per year — like shampooing your carpets or power washing your home’s siding.
But since it involves tasks that aren’t routine, you might not have the equipment on hand to take on these jobs. That’s where the costs can really add up — whether that means stocking up on sponges and degreasers, buying or renting equipment, or hiring professionals to do the tasks you’d rather not to do yourself — or ones it’s best not to DIY.
That’s why it’s crucial to follow these tips to save money anywhere and everywhere you can.
1. Use What You Already Have
Before heading to the store to load up on buckets, mops, and sponges, first decide what you want to accomplish. Is your goal a full-house deep-clean or a whole-house decluttering? Or do you have specific projects in mind? For example, have you been longing to tackle the garage, declutter your kitchen, or organize your clothes closet?
Once you know exactly what your goals are, decide what cleaning supplies, equipment, and organizing materials you need for those specific jobs. Then shop your home first. What can you use from what you already have?
Just as meal planning saves you money at the grocery store, planning your projects and taking stock of the supplies you already have can save you money on your spring cleaning.
But don’t just inventory the sponges and spray cleaners you use regularly. Dig around for those rarely used speciality cleaning supplies tucked away in the back of your cabinet, like hard water stain cleaner, oven cleaner, grout and tile cleaner, or a window squeegee.
Likewise, among the things you already have laying around the house are materials for making rags, dust cloths, and even organizing bins.
For example, if you use dryer sheets, they make excellent dust cloths for appliances like TVs and computer screens. Their antistatic qualities help your electronics repel dust, reducing the need to dust as frequently.
And if you came across any old, torn, or stained clothing and linens while you were decluttering your closets, instead of simply tossing them in the trash, repurpose them into cleaning rags. You can use old T-shirts and towels in place of paper towels — they’re just as absorbent.
When it comes to organizing what’s left after decluttering, consider how you can repurpose furniture you’re not using elsewhere in the home. For example, if you have an old dresser in your spare room that could solve an organization problem in your kitchen, move it. We have a dresser currently serving as storage for linens and tableware in our dining room. The more creative you can get with what you already own, the more money you can save.
Likewise, take a look at all your boxes, baskets, and bins, including those that seem destined for the trash. With a little ingenuity — and a glue gun — a basic cardboard box can become a stylish magazine holder or a pretty lingerie drawer divider. For ideas on upcycling cardboard boxes to use as storage, visit The Budget Decorator.
2. Avoid Unnecessary Tasks
Not every recommended spring-cleaning project is necessary — at least not annually. So you can save yourself a considerable amount of cash (and time) by skipping certain tasks, especially those you might consider hiring a pro for, such as.
- Air Duct Cleaning. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, unless there’s a directly identifiable problem, such as mold or an infestation of rodents or insects, there’s little benefit. And while air duct companies may advertise that studies show health benefits, The Washington Post reports there’s no actual data to back up those claims. In fact, having your ducts cleaned may make your air worse since it will kick up all that settled dust. Instead, perform basic air-conditioning maintenance.
- Polishing Hardwood Floors. Trond Nyland, a carpenter and CEO of the Cordless Drill Guide, tells Reader’s Digest homeowners should stop polishing their wood floors regularly. Frequent polishing damages the wood. Instead, vacuum them once per week (or more often as needed). If your floors need it, wax or polish them every three years. But check to see if they need it first. Some floors have special coatings that allow you to avoid waxing and polishing, both of which you can DIY if necessary.
- Cleaning Area Rugs. Philip Costikyan of Restoration by Costikyan tells House Beautiful you should only clean area rugs every four to five years. And if a rug isn’t walked on much, you could go as long as 10 years. In fact, you don’t want to overclean, as it causes wear and tear. Spot-treat stains at home with club soda as soon as you spot them to avoid taking the rug to a pro.
3. Hire Professionals Strategically
It’s not always true that doing it yourself saves the most money, especially if you don’t already own the supplies and tools you need to take on the jobs you have in mind. Plus, if you’re truly doing it all yourself — without a crew of friends and family to help — spring cleaning can be a monumental undertaking.
Not only is it exhausting, but your time is money too. You need to consider whether any money you save by investing your own labor is offset by whatever supplies you need to buy coupled with the hours you’ll put in — whether that means hours you’ll take away from your own rest and relaxation or actual work time that could be earning you money.
Regardless, that’s where it pays to delegate at least some of the work to professional cleaning services.
But hiring a pro doesn’t have to mean blowing your budget. You can hire a professional for a single task — like shampooing your carpets, cleaning your windows, or power washing your siding. In fact, regardless of budget, it’s a good idea to delegate specific tasks where safety is a concern, such as those that involve climbing a high ladder, like cleaning your gutters.
But even if you have the pros do a full-house deep-cleaning, you can still keep costs low by shopping strategically. Instead of heading straight to the national chains with name recognition, search sites like Angi (formerly Angie’s List) or Thumbtack to find local, lesser-known small businesses or individuals with good reviews but lower prices. Or ask friends and co-workers who use house cleaners for referrals.
You can also try deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, where you can score deals up to half off a deep-clean. Note that a deep-cleaning is more intensive than a regular house cleaning — it takes about twice as long and thus costs twice as much.
4. Rent or Borrow Expensive Gear
Avoid buying expensive cleaning equipment you’ll rarely use. Instead, ask around to see if you can borrow what you need from friends or neighbors. If you own anything they can use, you can negotiate a tool swap. For example, we’ve borrowed our neighbor’s power washer, and they’ve borrowed our carpet shampooer.
If you don’t know your neighbors well, check out Nextdoor. The social networking app brings neighbors together to discuss local events, post warnings about hazards or lost animals, and generally get to know each other. But it also enables them to swap and sell their old stuff, including tools and equipment. After creating an account, check the For Sale or Free tab. If you don’t see what you need, you can post asking if anyone has one you can borrow.
Alternatively, try a tool lending library. Just like you check books out of a regular library, tool lending libraries let you borrow tools to get your home improvement projects done.
Or if you live in the same neighborhood as several family members or close friends, you can go in on equipment you can all share. For example, one household might purchase a power washer, another a carpet cleaner, and another a multi-position, telescoping ladder. Then you can have a standing arrangement that each household can borrow the equipment whenever they need.
Alternatively, rent what you need from a local store. It’s still far cheaper than buying your own or even hiring a professional to do it for you. According to Thumbtack, it costs an average of $150 to hire a professional to shampoo all your carpets. And it costs even more to have them steam-clean your upholstery — an average of $165 for a single couch, according to Home Advisor.
But renting a carpet cleaner from Home Depot costs around $30 to $35 per day (depending on location) plus about $15 for a carpet cleaning solution, depending on what type and size you buy. Plus, many models come with additional attachments that allow you to steam-clean your upholstery.
Buying a nonprofessional-grade home carpet cleaner costs about the same as hiring a professional to shampoo your carpets for you — about $160, depending on the model. Just like rentals, these often come with steam-cleaning attachments too, so you can still save money over hiring the pros if you plan to do it every year.
5. Split the Costs
Teaming up with family members, housemates, or friends comes with money-saving benefits. It lets you pool your resources so you can split the cost of buying cleaning supplies in bulk.
You can also team up to rent equipment like a carpet cleaner or power washer. Tool rental time periods are typically by the half day, full day, or week. And the per-hour cost goes down with time. So it’s more cost effective to team up to rent one machine for a day and use it at two or more houses than to rent it by yourself for half a day.
6. Invest in the Tools You Use Regularly
It’s worth it to invest in quality tools you plan to use regularly — like a vacuum cleaner. Because you use your vacuum weekly or even daily rather than only once or twice per year, you want one that gets the job done. That means one with powerful suction that won’t clog easily and isn’t prone to breaking down.
I’ve tried to cut costs on vacuums a time or two and always regretted it. Cheaper models are prone to breaking, which means you have to replace them more often. And that means you really haven’t saved anything. Plus, if they don’t get the job done, they’re more hassle than they’re worth. Sometimes, you really do get what you pay for.
Fortunately, April is the best month to buy a vacuum cleaner, according to House Logic. Because new models come out in June, the old ones go on sale in April and May, right in time for spring cleaning. And if you’re looking to buy a carpet cleaner (which pet owners especially may use frequently enough to merit a purchase), Reader’s Digest says to get one in April, when these also go on sale.
While you won’t find all your cleaning supplies at a discount this time of year, if you need to stock up on anything you use regularly, it’s worth it to invest in quality. Your supplies and equipment will last longer and you’ll reduce waste — and that helps you save money in the long run. So consider investing a little more upfront in tools like:
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloths. The loops on a microfiber cleaning cloth are non-abrasive, so they won’t scratch surfaces. Plus, they’re better at trapping dirt and dust than a paper towel, making them as ideal for dusting furniture as wiping grimy windows. You can buy them in a range of rainbow colors, so you won’t confuse the rag you use to wipe your toilet with the one for your kitchen counters. And high-quality microfiber will withstand hundreds of wash cycles.
- A Squeegee. If you have kids or pets, you know how grimy windows can get from little hands, noses, and paws. That makes a squeegee a useful cleaning tool for many people. They also come in handy for cleaning stuck-on pet hair off furniture, according to Bob Villa’s website. Opt for a squeegee with a telescoping handle if you plan to clean the outside of your windows yourself.
- Spray Bottles. If you’re DIY’ing your cleaning solutions or using cleaning concentrates, you need your own spray bottles. Ensure they’ll hold up over time and have nozzles that spray well and won’t clog. And if you plan to use essential oils, opt for glass bottles. Though they cost more upfront, quality glass bottles outlast plastic.
- A Mop. If you have hardwood floors, buy a quality mop that won’t scratch them. Opt for a mop with a soft microfiber pad or a spin mop with microfiber loops.
- A Broom. Brooms should be built to last. You want one that can stand up to frequent use. So skip the cheap brooms at the dollar store. Even if it only costs $1, it’s not saving you money if you have to keep replacing it.
7. Buy in Bulk or Concentrate
You’re likely to go through a lot of cleaning supplies. So buying in bulk can help save money, especially when it comes to things like trash bags and paper towels. When you buy larger packages, the unit price typically decreases, meaning you pay less per trash bag or paper towel. You can save even more if you shop a big-box store like Walmart or buy from a warehouse club like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s.
8. Embrace No-Name Brands
When shopping for cleaning solutions, compare ingredients across brands. Often, all you’re paying for with higher-priced solutions is marketing and branding.
The ingredients of cheaper generic brands are often the same. Whenever that’s the case, skip the fancy name and pretty packaging and go for the less expensive bottle with the same ingredients. Store brands typically get the job done for a fraction of the price.
9. Use Coupons, Rebate Apps, Browser Extensions, & Reward Points
Using coupons can lead to big savings on cleaning products. That includes not only cleaning solutions — for which coupons are common — but also paper towels, trash bags, rubber and latex gloves, sponges, mops, brooms, dusters, and toilet brushes. Search coupon sites like Coupons.com, use a smartphone coupon app like RetailMeNot or Coupon Sherpa, or sign up for coupons directly on manufacturer websites.
You can also find coupons on shopping apps like Flipp. Flipp compiles all the flyers for stores in your area, which typically contain coupons in addition to showcasing their weekly sales. The app lets you “clip” the coupons and save them for use while shopping. And because it lets you see sales and coupons in one convenient place, you can match the coupons to the sales, allowing you to stack them for the best savings.
Alternatively, score deals by directly searching store apps like Target Circle, which compile the sales as well as coupons. Plus, some store apps come with the added bonus of rewards points for frequent shopping, and those points often add up to discounts off future purchases. That lets you combine sales, coupons, and rewards when buying your cleaning supplies from that store.
You can also save with rebate apps. Rebates work like coupons in reverse. Rather than getting the discount at the register, you get cash back after you make the purchase. But because they’re not technically coupons, you can use them in addition to coupons, even in stores that disallow coupon doubling.
You can use rebate apps by themselves. But you get maximum savings if you match coupons with sales, utilize any rewards points, and then go for any available rebates on top of that.
To get in-store rebates, use a smartphone shopping app like Ibotta, which lets you search for offers before you shop. To get your rebates, you either link your store loyalty card or upload your receipt after your shopping trip.
Or use an app like Fetch Rewards, which is even simpler. There’s no searching. Just take a picture of your receipt, and if you bought anything that qualifies for a reward, Fetch Rewards finds it automatically. For even less effort, go with Dosh, which gives you automatic cash back whenever you use a linked credit or debit card to shop at a partner store.
You don’t have to choose between rebate apps — you can use all these rebate apps together.
If you’re shopping online, use a browser extension like Rakuten, Honey, or Capital One Shopping (formerly Wikibuy) to get cash back on all your purchases. Browser extensions are especially useful for getting cash back on your bigger purchases — like vacuums, carpet shampooers, or power washers — since many coupons and coupon apps are geared primarily toward grocery shopping.
10. Use DIY Cleaners
One of the more expensive aspects of spring cleaning is stocking up on cleaning solutions. But for most cleaning projects, there’s no need to spend money on them at all. A few basic household ingredients — like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, bleach, and water — clean nearly everything in your home. And the DIY cleaners you can make from them are cheaper and less toxic for you and the environment.
A quick search of Google or Pinterest reveals thousands of recipes for combining things you already have on hand to clean nearly every corner of your home. But there’s no need to get fancy. A few DIY cleaning solutions using common household ingredients include:
- Scented all-purpose cleaner
- Vinegar-free all-purpose cleaner
- Carpet deodorizer
- Homemade glass cleaner
- Bathtub scrub
- Toilet bowl cleaner
Caution: Avoid using vinegar on wood, metal, or stone surfaces, such as marble or granite countertops. The acid in the vinegar can etch, pit, and strip finishes on these materials.
And when it comes to using your DIY cleaners, if any recipes contain essential oils, opt for glass spray bottles over plastic. Undiluted oils break down plastic, as demonstrated by the Soap Queen. While diluted oils are thought to generally be plastic-safe, to be on the safe side, green cleaning experts like Kait of A Clean Bee recommend using glass bottles,especially if you plan to store the cleaning solution for a while. Additionally, colored glass bottles, such as blue or amber, help preserve your oils, which are sensitive to light.
11. Shop Discount Stores
Skip the high-end organizational stores and head straight to the dollar store or thrift store to pick up all your bins, boxes, and racks.
The dollar store is the place to find all kinds of containers for small items, such as bins for organizing paper clips and rubber bands in a desk drawer or plastic baskets for corralling hats and scarves on a closet shelf. And you can track down boxes, baskets, and furniture for larger-scale storage at thrift stores.
Dollar stores don’t have the classiest stuff, and thrift stores don’t always have the selection you’d prefer. But there are endless ways to hack a dollar store product or flip a thrift store find and turn it into something chic enough to proudly display in your living room.
12. Conserve Water & Utilities
Whether you’re scrubbing the bathtub, running loads of dishes, spinning through cycles of laundry, or power-washing the outside of your house, spring cleaning takes a lot of water. It’s a cost you may not think about until you get the bill. So to prevent future sticker shock, be mindful now and try to only run water-consuming appliances when they’re completely full.
And when you do run them, save on your heating bills and avoid using hot water if possible. It’s not necessary since today’s laundry detergents clean more effectively than ever in cold water.
The exception is if you’re cleaning anything that needs to be sanitized, such as vomit, urine and feces, blood, or sweaty workout clothes. In those cases, you need the hot water (along with a sanitizing agent like chlorine bleach) to help kill the bacteria.
Spring cleaning is a lot of work. So take some time to enjoy the home you worked so hard to spruce up. Host a party, have a backyard barbecue, or just relax.
And once you’re well rested, it’s time to start your next project, like spring cleaning your finances. Or take advantage of all the room you now have in your clutter-free garage and stock up on the tools you need to take on that home improvement project you’ve been pondering or keep up with routine home maintenance.