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Budget-Friendly Cleaning Recipes Our Grandmothers Taught Us

Budget-Friendly Cleaning Recipes Our Grandmothers Taught Us #homekeeping #cleaning #natural living

Written by Anita Edwards.

They say that your house is your home; it’s your safe haven for relaxation and for unwinding after a busy day. But as all homeschooling families know, the house isn’t just a home; it’s also a place for education, for structured activities, for learning new things, for trying (and failing), and for growth and development. Homeschooling houses are hectic, chaotic, and, as I’m sure many will agree, messy!

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Cleaning isn’t my strong point, I confess. Partly because I don’t like it (who does?), and partly because I’m a little wary about using some products. Most are considered safe these days, but with kids, at home, I just don’t want to take the risk. Despite my reluctance to clean, my house actually isn’t too bad. And I’ve got my Grandmother to thank for that, who passed along some of her weird and wonderful recipes.

Budget-Friendly Cleaning Recipes Our Grandmothers Taught Us #homekeeping #cleaning #natural living

Here are some old-fashioned, budget-friendly yet effective and natural cleaning tips of yesteryear that can still be used today:

Vinegar for Coffee Pots (and Much More!) 

Vinegar was used in cooking in ancient Egypt, but the Egyptians used masses of it; much more than the splash of balsamic we add to pasta sauce today! In fact, vinegar was consumed as a drink and people found it gave them much more energy. And so, vinegar started to be used to rejuvenate the sick, and during the cholera outbreaks of the 1800s, was discovered to be a powerful disinfectant. Many of our grandmothers will have used white vinegar or even raw apple cider vinegar with the mother to disinfect kitchens, especially if they had access to an apple orchard. Today, vinegar can be used to clean pretty much anything!

You Will Need:
  • 1 bottle white vinegar (or apple cider, although this may require more flushing)
  • Plenty of water

If you’re noticing that your morning coffee (a must for many homeschooling parents!) is tasting a bit bitter, vinegar can help. Simply fill your pot with vinegar and let it run through before flushing with cold, clean water. Don’t worry about the lingering smell, that will disappear as the coffee pot dries thoroughly.

Salt Scrubs for Wooden Chopping Boards

Salt has gotten a bit of a bad reputation in recent years for being unhealthy, but our grandmothers practically swore by it. Of course, back then salt was used less as a seasoning and more as a budget-friendly, natural cleaning product.

Soap only became part of cleaning history in the 18th century when French chemist Nicholas Leblanc used it to create sodium carbonate, or ‘soda ash’, revolutionizing the soap industry.

We use salt a bit differently in our home, making use of its abrasive properties. While baking soda is milder and should be used for more delicate cleaning projects, salt is great for those times when you really need a good scrub.

You Will Need:
  • 1 lemon, cut it half
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground salt
  • 1 scrubbing brush

Sprinkle salt over the object you wish to clean — a wooden chopping board is perfect — and then squeeze over the juice of half a lemon (save the other half to garnish your lemonade later!). Use a small, stiff-bristled scrubbing brush to work the salt into the nooks and crannies of the board before rinsing with warm, clean water.

Tea Leaves for Musty Carpets

In our home, carpets never stay clean for long. Mucky shoes, wet dog, drink spillages...you name it, we’ve had it. Getting the dirt out of the carpet is one thing, but removing those lingering smells is quite another! A common cure amongst the earlier generations was to use dried tea leaves to add a touch of freshness back into fabrics such as carpets.

Why tea? Well, this practice became popular at around the time one of America’s most prolific housewives — Marion Cabell Tyree of Housekeeping in Old Virginia fame — shared her recipe for sweet tea. Her recipe used green tea, although black tea works just as well.

You Will Need:

  • Enough green or black tea leaves to sprinkle across your carpets (leave them to dry after brewing)
  • 1 Vacuum cleaner
  • 1 Food processor (optional)

You can use dried tea leaves in much the same way as store bought carpet fresheners. Simply crumble them up in your hand (or use a food processor for speed) and sprinkle over your carpets. Leave for 30 minutes before vacuuming them up. If you don’t have tea leaves, you can also use grass cuttings!

One Final Thought

Cleaning isn’t fun, but as Nancie J. Carmody says in "The Sunny Side of Life": "I am thankful for a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home."


Anita Edwards is a professional writer and editor. She works as blog editor at Spekless, where she shares her own and her colleagues' tips for cleaning. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and going on day trips with her children.


  1. I would like to have seen the recipes for the kitchen and bathroom cleaners per the labeled bottles in the title pic. Are these available? Thanks!

    1. Sorry, that's just a photo. Although I can tell you my kitchen cleaner is just vinegar and water and my bathroom cleaner is vinegar, dish soap (to cut body oils in the shower), and water.

    2. We have had to live very tight for a number of reasons. One thing that works well is citrus rinds. Any citrus rind placed in a canning jars covered with vinegar will working. Let the jar sit for a couple weeks with a lid loosely tightened. When ready to use, just use 50/50 of the solution to water.

      If I don't have time to wait, I use 50/50 white vinegar and water and drop a couple drops of lavender oil inside the solution. These cleaners are great for kitchens and bathrooms.

    3. Yes, we use citrus rinds in our homemade cleaners too. In the summer, when I make lemon iced tea, I save the rinds to add to a vinegar/water solution for cleaning.

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