There’s no shortage of cleaning products for sale. In a short walk down the cleaning aisle, you will find one product to wipe off your kitchen counters, another to wipe off your bathroom counters and yet another for wiping the fronts of your cabinets.

In this post, I’ll go over the simple, affordable products I use to clean my home.

Disclaimer: This information is true to the best of my knowledge. I verified the information with my husband, who is a chemist who has worked in a laboratory setting for 15 years. Consult a safety data sheet (SDS) for appropriate safety, first aid and personal protective equipment (PPE) information.

My favorite tools for cleaning

Dish soap and water

This is probably one of the easiest cleaners because it doesn’t require any prep work or mixing. When you’re washing your dishes, simply use some of your dish soap suds to wipe down the counter.

We specifically use blue Dawn dish soap because it’s strong, phosphate free and biodegradable. It is a soap that my husband has commonly used in laboratory settings.

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Vinegar and water

I use a mixture of half vinegar and water as an all purpose cleaner. I use it to wipe food gunk off my kitchen counters and cabinets, to wipe sticky finger prints off of door handles and light switches and to clean crumbs out of drawers.

Vinegar is natural and biodegradable. Since it’s a food-grade item, it’s safe around kids and pets. I personally love the smell of vinegar (I have my childhood years of boardwalk fries with vinegar to thank for that). But if it’s not your thing, the smell will disappear.

Vinegar and water is also a great degreaser for wiping hard stuck on food off of the counter, table or chairs. Just spray the grime, let it sit for a minute and then wipe up. If that doesn’t get it all, spray again, wipe and wait.

Vinegar is not a strong enough disinfectant. Despite what many people will claim online, it is not strong enough to kill bacteria and viruses. That brings us to…

Bleach and water

A mixture of bleach and water is an excellent way to kill bacteria, although it stinks to high heaven and requires gloves. We use a 28 fl. oz. spray bottle from the dollar store, fill it up with bleach to the 3 fl. oz. line, then fill the rest of the bottle with water.

As stated above, vinegar and water is NOT strong enough to kill serious germs, like staphylococcus. I use diluted bleach to clean my bathrooms and to sanitize the kitchen if meat juice accidentally spilled onto the counter.

Bleach is a nasty chemical, so don’t get it on your skin or in your eyes or mouth. For safety, you must wear gloves when handling bleach.

Yellow cleaning gloves

If you’re going to use a harsh cleaning product to disinfect, you must, must, MUST wear gloves to protect your skin. It’s also a good idea to wear ratty clothes meant for cleaning. If you get bleach on your clothes, it will…well, bleach your clothes.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a great for disinfecting light switches and door handles, especially during cold and flu season. Just walk around with a wash cloth and the bottle of rubbing alcohol. Pour a little bit on the wash cloth and wipe the infected surface.

While rubbing alcohol is more expensive, the odor is less offensive, it evaporates quicker and is less of an irritant. Gloves should be worn to protect your skin.

Wash cloths

I have a stack of wash cloths that I keep in my kitchen. I use them in lieu of paper towels for most messes. (The exceptions are dog messes and when I use bleach. Those are pretty much the only times I’ll use paper towels.)

Kid knocks over a cup of juice? Wipe it up with a wash cloth. You splattered spaghetti sauce on your kitchen cabinets? Wipe it up with a wash cloth and diluted vinegar.

Washable Spray Mop

A few years ago, I bought an O’Cedar spray mop, complete with washable pads. I fill up the container with either dish soap and water or vinegar and water. Any time I have a few minutes, I’ll pull the mop out and do a quick spray and wipe.

My 3 year old son loves to use this mop, although it is difficult for him to squeeze the spray trigger. I’ll spray an area for him and let him mop, even if he doesn’t do it as well as I would do it. Hey, he’s having fun and the mopping is getting done, win win!

When the mopping pad is dirty, I throw it in the wash with a bunch of dirty towels and it comes out clean.

Note: Check to see what type of cleaner works best with your hard floors. For reference, we have tile floors.


Okay, this one isn’t absolutely necessary because you COULD use a wash cloth and diluted vinegar. Add to the fact that having a little bit of dust has never bothered me much. I usually don’t notice until it’s an inch thick, haha.

But I’ll include this as one of my top tools because it is something my 3 year old LOVES to do. I hung the duster in the laundry room at a level he can reach. Any time I see some dust accumulating, I ask him if he’d like to dust. More often than not, he runs straight for the duster and gets to work. He loves it!

That’s it!

That is my list of top tools I use to clean my home. We save a ton of money by not running out to the store to buy several different cleaners. With these few tools, you can clean the majority of your home and make it sparkle.

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