Before TikTok, I was a minimalist when it came to purchasing cleaning supplies. A multi-surface disinfectant, bathroom, and window cleaner were all I had—and they did the trick. But ever since I found myself on #CleanTok, the contents in my supply closet have noticeably increased including some unnecessary cleaning products I wish I hadn’t bought.
One video had me cleaning my fridge with a specific spray, while my dishwasher needed another—neither of which I really needed to do the job. And I’m not the only one shilling out more on cleaning supplies these days. According to a 2023 study, Americans are spending more on cleaning supplies than in the past. In 2021, the average was $178.45 annually compared to $147.55 in 2014. An extra $31 isn’t a ton of money, but it does add up, and spending even a penny on unnecessary cleaning products isn’t worth it.
So if your budget line item for cleaning supplies is feeling a bit inflated, it may be time to review which products your purchasing and cut the fluff. Knowing what’s worth your money and what’s not can help you in this endeavor.
Here are 5 unnecessary cleaning products that you can skip and save your coin on
1. Stainless steel cleaners
During a recent deep clean, aka procrastination cleaning, I convinced myself I needed to buy a stainless steel cleaner. It’s also important to mention that the only stainless steel I have in my apartment is my tiny kitchen sink. Turns out, dish soap and olive oil do the trick just as well. “Dish soap is great for removing grease, oil, food, and fingerprints from appliances,” says cleaning professional and president of Beat the Dust Cleaning, Sergio Sanchez. “Start by putting a little bit of dish soap on a microfiber rag and moisten it with a modest amount of water.” Wipe along the grain of the appliance, he says, then use olive oil to polish it (start with a dime size and add more as needed depending on the surface area.
2. Toilet cleaners
Of course, keeping our toilets clean and sanitized is imperative—experts suggest a deep clean at least once a week. But when it comes to the actual toilet cleaner, Sanchez suggests making your own. “Combine baking soda and essential oils to give it a nice smell, in a glass bowl and drop a tablespoon into the toilet before adding a few drops of white vinegar,” he says. Then all you have to do is scrub it with your regular toilet brush.
3. Floor cleaners
”Floor cleaning products can be pricey and most leave a residue,” says Sanchez. Instead he suggests filling up a mop bucket with a gallon of warm water, white distilled vinegar, and a drop of dish soap. “This will leave your floors looking and smelling fresh—but be sure to change and wring out your mop head as needed so you’re not spreading grime.”
4. Drain cleaners
Using drain cleaners may keep us from the expensive call to the plumber, but “most drain cleaners use powerful chemicals that can be hazardous when inhaled,” warns Sanchez. Rather, combine 1/3 cup baking soda and 1/3 cup vinegar and pour it down the drain. “When we mix those specific ingredients, a chemical reaction is formed that creates the pressure needed to dislodge the clog,” Sanchez says. “For best results, follow up with boiling water.”
5. Oven cleaner
I’m also guilty of making this purchase. And to be honest, the only difference it made was the toxic hazardous smell made it hard to breathe. While the oven cleaning setting is the best and safest way to loosen up any extra grease and grime, not all ovens have that option. But even if you do have the self-cleaning feature, Sanchez recommends following up with this easy recipe of dish soap, baking soda, and vinegar—combine equal parts dish soap and vinegar, then add baking soda until it forms a paste. “Use a sponge to apply a liberal amount of paste to the walls of your oven, including the oven door,” he says. “For best results, let it sit for 30 minutes and then use the abrasive side of the sponge to wipe away the paste along with all grease and grime.” To finish off, simply rinse the inside of the oven with water.