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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RMN = Retail Me Not
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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Household Cleaning Supplies: Homemade vs. Couponing

With the dawn of the modern age came prepackaged, perfumed household cleaners modeled by a skinny woman in an apron with perfectly manicured nails (you’ve seen the commercials). Some say that it is more economical to make your own, but as we all know, using coupons and searching for freebies can result in some killer deals on these oh so convenient products. Even so, there are some who stick to their guns and mix up huge batches of homemade cleaners.

Well, we’ve done the leg work for you. Here is a cost comparison of some recent sale prices (taken from our Best Prices List) and some simple home recipes for basic products. However, it is difficult to tell you which system will be best for you and your family. Really only you can make that decision. First take a moment to assess your situation, and then check out the price comparison.

A few things to consider

  • Are you buying because you need the product right now or are you just trying to stock up because you found a great sale?
  • Are you trying to avoid harsh chemicals due to sensitive skin?
  • Are you looking to “go green?”
  • Are you more comfortable knowing the exact ingredients in your products?
  • Are you looking to save time, or do you have time to spare?
  • Are you going to use extra gas running around for the deal, or could you just as easily use something you already have stocked in your pantry?
  • Do you have coupons in your stash for the component ingredients?
  • Consider that most of these recipes make large quantities, as opposed to small bottles of cleaner in the store.

Basic ingredients

The comparisons below are assuming you bought the product at regular price, but don’t forget that you can use couponing to get even better deals on the components of homemade cleaners, making them even cheaper! Keep this list handy so you can stock up.

  • vinegar – $2 for 1 gallon
  • baking soda – $0.75 per box
  • washing soda – $3.79 for 55 oz. box
  • rubbing alcohol – $0.97 for 32 oz.
  • hydrogen peroxide – $0.67 for 16 oz.
  • gentle soaps (Ivory, pure castile) – $1-$3
  • borax – $4.65 for 76 oz.
  • plastic spray bottles

Laundry Detergent

Example Sale Prices:
Bi-Lo – Purex Liquid Laundry Detergent, 50 oz., $1.49 ($.05/load)
Bloom – All Liquid Detergent, 50 oz., $1.99 ($.06/load)
Kroger – Surf Powder 40 ld 9
9¢ ($.02/load)
Winn Dixie – Xtra Laundry Detergent, 35-44 load liquid, $1.99 ($.05/load)

Homemade Recipe 1:
Mix 1 cup Ivory soap,
1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads = $0.05-0.10/load

Homemade Recipe 2:
1 cup castile liquid soap (Dr. Bronner’s or Mountain Rose Herbs are good choices)
2 cups water
1/3 cup salt
1 cup, baking soda or washing soda
1 cup vinegar
Use 1 tbsp for light loads; 2 tbsp for heavy loads = $0.05-0.10/load

Additional Considerations: may be gentler on sensitive skin, environmentally friendly; if you can’t make it out to the store or can’t find a sale, you can mix this up for a comparable price at home

Fabric Softeners

Example Sale Prices:
Bi-Lo – Arm and Hammer Dryer Sheets, 100ct., $1.50 ($.015/load)
Harris Teeter – Arm & Hammer 100 ct. Dryer Sheets 99¢ (4/22) ($.01/load)

Homemade Recipe:
1 cup baking soda
6 cups distilled white vinegar
8 cups water
10-15 drops orange essential oils (optional) or lemon essential oils (optional)
Use 1 cup per load in final rinse cycle.

Cost for Homemade:

Additional Considerations:
no fragrances or harsh chemicals, if you can’t make it out to the store or can’t find a sale, you can use this as a substitute

All Purpose Cleaning Solution/Wipes

Example Sale Prices:
Publix – Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, 56 or 80 ct., $1.74

Winn Dixie – Lysol Toilet Bowl Cleaner, 24 oz., 80¢
Ingles – Seventh Generation household cleaners, 32 oz., $1.98

Trends: regularly found for 50¢ or less, occasionally FREE

Homemade Recipe
Mix into 1/2 gallon (2 liters) water:
1/2 cup vinegar and
1/4 cup baking soda

Cost for Homemade: $0.12-0.19/half gallon

Additional Considerations:
environmentally friendly, no harsh chemicals, great alternative to the new bottles of “green” cleaners which are expensive even on sale, most bottles of cleaner are much less than a half gallon

Glass Cleaner

Example Sale Prices:
Publix – Glass Plus Glass & Multi-Surface Cleaner, 32 oz., 24¢
Walgreens – Windex Glass or Mutli-Surface Cleaner, 26 oz. bottle, 75¢

Homemade Recipe:
1 cup Rubbing Alcohol,
1 cup water
1 tbsp vinegar

Cost for Homemade: ~$0.50/32 oz. of cleaner

Additional Considerations: environmentally friendly, no harsh chemicals

Paper Products

Example Sale Prices:
Bi-Lo – Scott Paper Towels, 6-8 rolls, $3.98
CVS – Bounty Basic Paper Towels, 8 rolls, $4.50
Bi-Lo – Bounty Basic, 1 roll, 50¢

Trends: Paper products are always expensive even when they’re on sale. $5 is a typical sale price for a 6-8 pack.  Buying this in the drugstore system though can result in making them FREE.

microfiber cloths
old cloth diapers (the oldschool kind) – Prefolds fit perfectly on the end of a Swiffer sweeper and work great wet or dry!
old towels, t-shirts, etc.

Cost: FREE
to $0.55 each

Additional Considerations:
re-purposes fabrics that you might throw away, keeps a lot of paper out of landfills, saves tons of money; can be washed and reused, but if it really gets so dirty that you don’t want to use it again, just chuck it like a paper towel

Our Conclusions

  • Homemade laundry products are basically the same price.
  • Homemade all purpose cleaner is a savings, especially when you consider the batch size to the size of the store bought bottle.
  • If you are comparing prices for the new natural/organic products (even on sale), you are definitely saving a few dollars by making it at home.
  • Of course if you can get it for free and not waste too much time or effort doing so, you should probably take advantage of the deal!
  • Some of the best savings are on specialty products, for example oven cleaner, mildew/shower cleaners, carpet stain removers, metal cleaner or polish, mineral deposit removers, furniture or floor polish, drain cleaners, and even air fresheners. These items are harder to find at rock bottom prices and are typically expensive. You also have the added bonus of removing potentially harmful chemicals from your house. (See the resources below for recipes.)

Join the Discussion!

What do you use in your home? What are your favorite “recipes?” Do you think homemade is worth it? What cleaning secrets have you discovered over the years?

Join us next week for a comparison of prepackaged convenience foods and making staple recipes from scratch.