The Broke Person’s Guide to Spring Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning out your house without also cleaning out your bank account, a little bit of creativity and community spirit go a long way!

Winter is a time of hibernation, which means letting clutter accumulate around your house. But now that spring is upon us, it’s time to get your living space into shape! Spring cleaning allows you to renew your living space and, by doing so, perhaps renew yourself as you begin to really face the new year.

Besides, let’s face it, the early months were too cold to do too much of anything.

Some people like to hire house cleaners to take care of their spring cleaning. And, while the experts might be able to do the best job, it can get expensive.

“Firstly spring cleaning does take longer than a regular clean,” explained Australian cleaning guru Julie Finch-Scally. “This is mainly because areas such as ovens, cupboards, windows, fans and behind furniture have to be carried out to ensure the perfect spring clean has been achieved.

“Yes, it does cost and depending on the size of the property can take two people up to a whole day to complete the job. In Australia, our cleaners always charge more for a spring clean, and as the customer is paying for two or more cleaners the price can range between $400 to $800.”

So how can you do your spring cleaning for cheaper?

Use a baking soda mixture on your oven.

Many people have never cleaned their oven. “It’s hot in there anyway,” they might say. But hot does not mean clean!

“There’s nothing more challenging than cleaning a dirty oven that has baked on food residue,” offered Jack Prenter, owner of Chore Bliss. “Lot’s of homeowners are also reluctant to use chemicals or strong cleaners in the oven because they are worried that it will impact their food. Fortunately, you can clean your oven with a baking soda mixture.

“Why does it work for your oven? Baking soda is granulated and therefore it’s great for scrubbing away dirt without being overly harsh. As a result, you can use it on stainless steel without worrying about scratches or scrapes. It’s the perfect combination of tough and gentle. Baking soda is also slightly alkaline which causes dirt and grease to more easily dissolve when you apply water to it. It’s important to note that baking soda is also non-toxic, unlike many cleaning products, making it a great choice for ovens.

“To clean your oven you should create a simple paste by combining baking soda, salt, and vinegar. The consistency should resemble cake frosting. Spread the paste over the floor, walls, and ceiling of the inside of the oven using a clean sponge. Leave the paste for 24-hours. During this time it will soften the grease and dirt so that when you come back you can wipe it off with a damp sponge soaked in a combination of half water, half vinegar. Typically, I will use a ratio of: three parts baking soda, one part salt, one part vinegar.”

Get creative.

You may already have a treasure trove of cleaning supplies without even knowing it! And not just the baking soda and vinegar that Prenter mentioned.

Leanne Stapf, Chief Operating Officer at The Cleaning Authority (@LiveLifeWeClean), gave us a rundown of some of the materials you can use to to clean up for cheap:

“Blinds often have multiple sides and shapes, so they can sometimes be a hassle to clean. With this simple and kid friendly hack, it doesn’t have to be! Take a 50/50 vinegar and water mixture with an old (clean) sock. Swipe the sock over each section and the embedded dust and dirt will come right off your blinds.

“Attempting to clean your dusty air vents around the house? Try using a knife. Take a small rag and moisten it with some hot water, then wrap the rag around a butter knife to get in between each shingle in the vent. You can use this hack around every vent in your house!

“Coffee filters are useful items to keep around your living room and office, not only in the kitchen! They are perfect for clearing dust from TV screens, computer monitors, and any other screens around the home, without leaving behind any fibers like towels do.

“Instead of using a rag to clean your ceiling fan, which usually results in dust falling onto your furniture and floors, try using your pillowcase. Slip it in between the fan blades and swipe one at a time. You can then just throw your pillowcase into the washing machine.

“Lint rollers can be the most versatile cleaning tools. Roll it over lampshades or any piece of furniture to clean dust fast. Lint rollers can also pull crumbs and dirt from the bottom of hard-to-reach spots such as drawers, cushions, etc. They’re also great tools to snag up things that vacuum cleaners can’t, like broken glass, glitter, and sprinkles.

“There are a few things you can do to put ordinary dryer sheets to work outside the laundry room. Try running one along your baseboards to remove dirt and repel dust. To keep your garbage cans smelling nice, you can also line dryer sheets on the bottom of the bin to help absorb odors and leaks. And if you have a gym bag or pair of shoes with a foul odor, throw in a sheet to help keep a fresh scent.

“Instead of scrubbing it down, try putting a bowl with lemon juice in the microwave for five minutes. The steam will loosen any food remnants and will steam away odors too.

“When your standard vacuum doesn’t seem to get all your pet’s hair, rubber gloves will get the job done. Just slide them on and rub down any areas that need extra cleaning. When rubber is pushed against fabric, it can generate elasticity to gather remaining pet hair. Rinse the gloves under running water when you’re done and the hair will unstick.”


You can also use a few cleaning supplies in multiple roles and shouldn’t feel the need to splurge for the more expensive options.

“If you want to save money on supplies, you need to embrace mild dish soap and use it throughout your home,” explained Camilo Maldonado of The Finance Twins (@TheFinanceTwins). “You can use it as a surface spray (wood or tile floors & counters), stain remover, mild carpet cleaner, the list goes on.

“You can also save money on supplies by switching to store brands. You don’t need Mr. Clean supplies when buying things like baking soda or other basics.

“Finally, when it comes to supplies don’t go overboard with paper towels. You can use newspaper to clean mirrors and glass surfaces instead. You’ll get a better result and save money.”

Band together.

There’s no reason your spring cleaning should have to be a solo endeavor.

“If your property needs a good spring clean and you are short of money, join forces with a friend or a couple of friends in the same position and help each other,” advised Finch-Scally. “This way each person gets their home spring cleaned and the jobs are shared.

“And don’t think this is wholly for the ladies. Men who have worked for me are great cleaners and in some cases more fastidious than women. They are also more able to move furniture, which is always a blessing when that extra strength is needed.

“Is there another girl and guy who works with you who you feel might be interested? Organize a cleaning bee system between you so all three of you can assist each other to spring clean each other’s home.

“The work will be hard, but because there are other people working with you, for some reason it doesn’t seem to take as long, and when the job is finished you can all enjoy a meal or a drink together. You will be surprised at the clever ideas you will pick up watching someone else clean your home.”

May you spring into a cleanlier home! And with it, a new lease on life! To learn more about saving money on home-related expenses, check out these other posts and articles from OppLoans:

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Founded in 1977, The Cleaning Authority (@LiveLifeWeClean) currently operates more than 225 locations across North America. As one of the only cleaning companies to use all environmentally responsible products, The Cleaning Authority places emphasis on protecting the environment while simultaneously providing consumers with a thorough clean. The Cleaning Authority utilizes its own Detail-Clean Rotation System, which focuses on the four major areas of the home and has been proven effective in 20 million cleans.
Julie Finch-Scally, The Guru of Cleaning®, became a cleaner in 1992 when she walked out of her job with a bank. Being over 50, the only job Julie could get was as a cleaner. In 1993 The Duster Dollies was formed. What started as a one-woman business, delivering pamphlets and doing the cleaning, slowly became a franchised company with Agencies in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth. In 2012, Julie decided to close the franchise side of The Duster Dollies and became a Consultancy in Hygiene Management and Cleaning. As a consultant, Julie reports on the hygiene of hotel rooms around the world. Seeing rooms through the eyes of a cleaner has been of value to hotels such as Rydges, The Sands and Alt Hotels in Canada. She is happily married, living in Canberra, with a grown-up daughter in London.
Camilo Maldonado is the Co-Founder of The Finance Twins (@TheFinanceTwins), a personal finance site that helps thousands of readers learn the fundamentals of personal finance, like learning how to budget and how to invest. Camilo was raised in a poor single-parent household by his widowed mother, and is passionate about using his experience and professional success to help others achieve financial independence. He has an M.B.A. from Harvard and a B.S. in finance from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Jack Prenter is the owner of Chore Bliss, a residential cleaning company based out of Toronto, Canada. By combining traditional cleaning expertise with modern technology, Chore Bliss makes it easier than ever for customers to book a clean.

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