Fabulously Frugal: do-it-yourself cleaners equal money-saving solutions

Using a handful of items you may already have around the house, you can make effective cleaning products at home for a fraction of the price of their store-bought counterparts — and a little citrus can go a long way in adding a fresh scent to those products, too. Kingstonist file photo.

Hello, frugal friends!

When we’re busy, tired, and sick of winter, it can be easy to dismiss savings in favour of convenience. After all, why put effort into saving just a dollar or two?

Because saving a dollar or two here and there really adds up. For instance, if you save $100 in a month by finding small ways to save a loonie or toonie, and then you use that $100 to pay down your balance on a credit card, you actually compound your savings by the interest rate on your credit card. That’s (almost) like free money!

So, frugalists, let’s look at ways to save a bit of cash on cleaning supplies. Although it seems like it’s January 226th, we’re actually only 53 days from spring. And spring usually means we’re looking to reduce the herds of dust bunnies in our homes — at least a little bit.

Don’t worry if you don’t own a car — go out and buy a 4 L jug of windshield washer fluid! When your window-cleaner-type spray bottle is empty, fill it with the windshield washer fluid. That 4L jug costs about the same as the 750 ml bottle of window cleaner: in other words, based on per-unit price the washer fluid is more than four times cheaper! Reminder: traditional antifreeze is toxic if ingested by pets, even in very small amounts, so be sure to choose an antifreeze-free formula if you have a nosy furry friend or a pet who likes to lick the windows!

Take note of how much the same item costs at different stores. The pot scrubbers that are $5.49 for 12 (Frank brand) at Canadian Tire can be found at the dollar store costing $1.25 for six (or $2.50 for a total of 12) — less than half the price. And you know how the edges get worn out first and the middle is fine, but you have to toss it because there’s no way to use the middle? I cut my scrubbers in half; this way there’s zero waste.

Buy dish soap only when it’s on sale — and if you have the space to store it, buy extra. Recently, we saw $2 dish soap that’s regularly $3.29. Assuming a household uses two bottles a month, that’ s $2.58 in savings each month.

Most things can be cleaned with baking soda, dish soap, and/or vinegar in water. Floors get very clean with just a small squirt of dish soap and a quarter-cup of vinegar per four litres of water. And you may recall the tip from an earlier column: use old towels or cut-up T-shirts in place of those expensive Swiffer cloths. Much easier on the wallet!

For cleaning metal sinks and taps, a gentle paste of three to four our tablespoons of baking soda and a cup of water will get them sparkling and will save you the cost of a can of cleaner.

Just don’t mix baking soda and vinegar together or you’ll have your very own erupting volcano in your mop pail!

And of course, we all like to save money on groceries, so…

Best grocery deals of the week in Kingston

Food Basics

Broccoli crowns: $1.98 each

Basa fish steaks, Seahorse brand: $3.48/400-500 g

Frozen fruit, Irresistibles brand: $4.44/400-600 g

Yogurt, Astro brand, original: $2.49/750 g

Yogurt, Iögo brand, vanilla: $2.49/650 g

Flakes of chicken or ham, Maple Leaf brand: $1.98/156 g can

Butter, Gay Lea brand: $4.98/lb
This is a stock-up price! Butter freezes well for months.

Cauliflower: $1.88 each

Avocados: $1.88/bag of 5

Medium ground beef, in-store butcher: $3.49/lb

No Frills

Boneless chicken bites, frozen, Janes brand: $8.88/710 g package

While comparison shopping might seem
cumbersome, taking a few seconds to consider
your options can lead to small savings
that add up quickly. Photo by Julie Mock.

Cabbage: $0.49/lb

Guacamole, President’s Choice brand: $5/425 g

Pork half loin, in-store butcher: $2.49/lb

Chicken breasts, boneless/skinless, in-store butcher: $4.69/lb

Green or red peppers: 4/$3.99

Potatoes or onions: $3.99/10 lb bag

Tortillas, No Name brand: $1.75/package of 10

English muffins, No Name brand: $1.75/package of six

Bagels, No Name brand, Everything flavour: $1.75/ package of six

Giant Tiger

Meat pies, frozen, Swanson brand: $1.25/200 g pie

Frozen entrees, Michelina’s brand: $1.25 each

Bacon, Bob’s brand: $2.25/375 g package

Family-sized meat lasagna, frozen, Roman brand: $5.97/900 g

Syrup, Pearl Milling brand: $3.47/710 ml


Frozen waffles, No Name brand, $1.49/box of eight

Toothpaste, Colgate brand, assorted varieties, $0.99/95 ml tube


Whole chicken, Maple Leaf brand: $2.99/lb

Menu ideas for the week ahead using the on-sale ingredients:


Yogurt parfait with frozen fruit

Waffles with fruit and syrup

Bacon and eggs

French onion omelet

Egg and bacon wrap

Egg on English muffin

Yogurt and fruit smoothie


Flakes of ham with mayo, pickle relish, onions and celery in a wrap

Roast chicken sandwich

Coleslaw side dish

BLT wrap

Frozen entree with grapes and carrot sticks


Beef burritos
Nearly all the ingredients are on sale.

Roast chicken with potatoes, carrots, onions
Who doesn’t love a one-pan meal?!

Lasagna, garlic bread, salad
Remember: fresh herbs can make all the difference, and many varieties can be grown right in your kitchen!

Fish steak, homemade oven fries, and coleslaw

Chicken, broccoli, and pepper stir fry over rice

Roasted pork loin, cauliflower mash, carrots
This one is a sheet-pan meal!

Chicken pot pie with mashed potatoes and broccoli

Lasagna, garlic bread, and salad make for an easy, warm, and comforting meal in the cold, damp weather we’ve been having in Kingston!

Happy Frugality!

Kingston resident Sarah Cronk offers tips on money-saving strategies and the best deals to be found in local grocery stores in her bi-weekly Kingstonist column, Fabulously Frugal. Have any questions for Sarah or things you’d like her to investigate in terms of cost savings? Let us know! Email Kingstonist Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].

One thought on “Fabulously Frugal: do-it-yourself cleaners equal money-saving solutions

  • Fabulously frugal is fabulous. What a great job. Give that girl a raise

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