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Make Household Cleaners Last Longer: 11 Thrifty Tricks to Try

Extend the lifespan of everything from kitchen sponges to bars of soap.

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Spray the cloth, not the surface

You’ll use less productand achieve the same level of sparkleif you spray cleaner onto a cloth, instead of directly onto the surface you plan to clean. If your goal is to disinfect an area (as opposed to polish or remove a stain), pre-clean the surface with a wet cloth, and then clean it with one sprayed in disinfectant. These spring cleaning tips get the job done faster.

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Reuse Swiffer dusters

Cut down on expensive Swiffer refills by using both sides of a single pad. And don’t be so quick to throw it awayfill your sink with warm soapy water and swish the duster around to clean it up for a second use. Roll the wipe into a paper towel to remove extra moisture and allow it to air dry.

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Cut sponges in half

A half-sponge will clean just as effectively as a whole sponge. Plus, you’ll be able to get into the nooks and crannies on your pots and pans more easily. To disinfect your sponge between serious suds sessions, saturate it in warm water and pop it into the microwave for two minutes. One study found that this method killed or inactivated 99 percent of germs and bacteria, including E.coli. Have you tried these genius uses for your kitchen sponge?

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istock/Ben Harding

Swap out your dish soap container

Hate how difficult it is to get anything less than a nickel-sized glob of dish detergent? Take control by transferring your detergent to an empty olive-oil container. Because it’s meant for making precise cooking measurements, you’ll be able to pour your dish soap one drop at a timewhich is really all you need.

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Measure your laundry detergent

It’s better for both your clothes and washing machine (not to mention, your wallet) if you play it safe. “Don’t pour in your detergent without measuring,” Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, told Good Housekeeping. “Eyeballing the correct amount is more difficult than you think. You’ll get it wrong.” Follow this helpful guide to make sure you know how to do laundry the right way.

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Try this frugal fabric softener trick

Try this blogger trick: Buy a pack of sponges and cut each one into four pieces. Stick the mini sponges into an empty plastic or glass bin, such as a coffee can or snack tub, and pour liquid fabric softener into the container until the tub is almost full. Use one sponge per load of laundry by squeezing the extra softener into the washer and tossing the sponge in with the clothes. Transfer both the laundry and sponge into the dryer, where the sponge will act as a dryer sheet. When the dryer finishes, return the sponge to the container, suggests ProjectRainyDay. Refill with softener as needed.

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Use a foaming soap pump

A foaming soap pump can turn any liquid soap into a luxurious foam soap. What’s more, you’ll only need to fill the bottom of the dispenser about a quarter of an inch with soap. Fill it the rest of the way with water and shake the mixture.

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Repurpose those dryer sheets

Before starting a new pack of dryer sheets, cut them all in half. And once you use one, use it againthe sheets work like a charm the second time around as well. You can also reuse dryer sheets to dust around the baseboards of your home or to scrub away soap scum in your shower.

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istock/Geni Corwin

Dry out your bar soap

As soon as you begin a new bar of soap, remove the one you plan to use next from its packaging and set it aside (someplace away from the shower) to dry. The drier the soap, the longer it will take to dissolve when it comes in contact with water. To make your soap go even further, invest in a soap-saving product that will keep your bar shielded from the water in your shower, and always use a washcloth to apply your soap.

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Just add water

Most chemical cleaners are made just a bit too strong. As soon as one of your sprays reaches the three-quarter mark, top it off with tap water.

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Finish up with a DIY air freshener

Finish your cleaning spree with a low-cost fresh scent. Fill a clean spray bottle with water and add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. These are the best fragrances for every room in your house.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest