CHEAP SPRING CLEANUP
Spring is near, and it's time to throw open those windows, let in some fresh air, and get your house in order. We've rounded up dozens of inexpensive essentials that will come in handy as you scrub, stow, straighten up, and shake away winter's doldrums — and germs. From everyday cleaning and organizational tools to air purifiers and energy-saving thermostats, we've got just about every inch of your home and yard covered.
Prices and availability subject to change.
DOWN AND DIRTY: QUICKIE HOUSEHOLD BUCKET
Price: $3.69 | Buy it at Home Depot
A home can never have enough buckets. They're not only good for mopping; they're fantastic for storing cleaning products for easy portability. Stock one with cleaning essentials and keep them ever-ready under the sink, or gather sponges, soap, wax, and cloths to create a car-wash bin for the corner of the garage.
DOWN AND DIRTY: E-CLOTH HOME CLEANING SET
Price: $27 | Buy it at Amazon
Microfiber cleaning cloths generally cost more than standard cotton towels, but even the priciest options pay for themselves over time factoring in durability and savings on cleaning products. They can clean all manner of surfaces, from the kitchen to the bathroom. In addition to a host of other benefits, they help reduce bacteria and cross-contamination.
DOWN AND DIRTY: SWIFFER DUSTING KIT
Price: $12 | Buy it at Sam's Club
It's time to clear the dust out of those nooks and crannies, but there's no reason to waste tons of time and dozens of paper towels (if you haven't switched to microfiber cloths) dusting the old-school way. A pack of 28 Swiffer Dusters and a dusting handle can help make the job quick and hassle-free. There are also clever ways to keep costs down.
DOWN AND DIRTY: MOUNTAIN FALLS 3% HYDROGEN PEROXIDE
Price: $17 for 12 16-ounce bottles | Buy it at Amazon
Commonly used to disinfect minor scrapes and scratches, hydrogen peroxide also makes a great, inexpensive multi-purpose household cleaner. There is a huge list of in-home uses for 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, including many spring-cleaning targets: cutting boards, dishwashers, and refrigerators, for example.
DOWN AND DIRTY: 20 MULE TEAM BORAX DETERGENT BOOSTER
Price: $4.47 | Buy it at Walmart
Borax is a cheap and effective natural cleaner used in many homemade laundry detergents. It can also be sprinkled in to boost the cleaning power of regular detergent and eliminate molds and fungus that leave towels smelling musty. To improve the smell in the dishwasher, sprinkle some Borax in the bottom and let it sit a few hours, then wipe down and run the next cycle as usual. Borax also does a number on pots, pans, and tough tea- and coffee-cup stains.
RODENT REPELLER: PEST-A-CATOR PLUS 2000
Price: $29 | Buy it at Home Depot
This ultrasonic rodent repeller uses a home's electrical wiring to scare off mice, chipmunks, and any other beasties that typically take up residence inside walls and crawl spaces. It's environmentally friendly and generally pet-safe. Although there are naysayers, many users say it gets rid of rodents — as well as many bugs — effectively.
BYE TO BUGS: DIATOMACEOUS EARTH
Price: $22 | Buy it at Amazon
Bedbugs, be gone! Professional extermination services can be depressingly expensive, so resist bedbug hysteria and try natural remedies before paying. Experts predictably recommend preventive cleaning measures, such as vacuuming mattresses, washing bedding, scrubbing floors with a solution of rubbing alcohol and water, and cleaning doormats regularly. For bedbugs that seem likely to have spread, Diatomaceous Earth is a natural product that degrades insects' exoskeletons.
BYE TO BUGS: TERRO FRUIT FLY TRAP
Price: $5.88 | Buy it at Walmart
Shaped like an apple, this clever trap lures fruit flies away from actual apples (or any other fruit or vegetable) without toxic chemicals or odors. A two-count pack from Amazon is one of the cheapest deals around and should last well into the summer months.
BYE TO BUGS: CATCHMASTER PANTRY PEST TRAPS
Price: $13 for four | Buy it at Amazon
Pest experts say moths tend to hibernate during the winter months, and huge spring hatchings can relaunch full-scale infestations (yuck). Traps from Catchmaster make short work of meal moths and other hungry invaders that can result in shelves full of food going to waste. Organizing the pantry now, and properly storing grains and other temptations, also goes a long way.
KITCHEN CLEANUP: RUBBERMAID MODULAR FOOD STORAGE CANISTERS
Price: $30 | Buy it at Walmart
Stackable containers are essential for efficient storage in small spaces. They also keep pests out of edibles and keep food fresh longer. This Rubbermaid set boasts eight pieces in various sizes, from 5 cups to 21 cups. It's also BPA-free, so it takes away some of the worry about toxic chemicals leaching into foods.
KITCHEN CLEANUP: OXO GOOD GRIPS REMOVABLE LABELS
Price: $5 | Buy it at Bed, Bath & Beyond
Knowing what's inside containers, particularly generic items bought in bulk, reduces the time it takes to find what's needed and the risk of buying double. Organize your pantry this spring using handy, water-resistant labels that can be used on microwave and freezer containers. Of course, a marker and some masking tape can also work well. Be sure to include the date.
REFRIGERATOR REFRESH: FENUGREEN FRESHPAPER PRODUCE SAVER SHEETS
Price: $10 | Buy it at Amazon
These sheets are designed to line produce drawers in the fridge and help keep fruits and vegetables fresh up to four times longer. Many consumers reviewing the product on Amazon confirm that the sheets help extend the life of produce, significantly reducing waste. Shoppers must decide if that's worth the price.
REFRIGERATOR REFRESH: BLUAPPLE FRESHNESS BALLS
Price: $13 | Buy it at Bed, Bath & Beyond
Products like Bluapples are designed to be stored in the crisper drawer of a refrigerator to help keep fruits and veggies fresh longer. The apple-shaped devices absorb ethylene gas given off by produce, which slows the ripening process. They're also organic and recyclable.
FAUCET FILTER: CULLIGAN FM-15A
Price: $23 | Buy it at Amazon
A water filter eliminates some of the microbes and other contaminants in the water coming out of your home faucet. It can also stem the flow of money to expensive and environmentally damaging bottled water. Our research has revealed the Culligan FM-15A to be one of the cheapest and best water filters available.
FLOOR CHORES: SHARK GENIUS STEAM POCKET MOP
Price: $125 | Buy it at Walmart
Do the floors need intense cleaning after months of winter wear, tear, and dirt tracked in on boots? This cheap steam mop can make short work of mud and other caked-on messes. It also purports to clear out 99.9 percent of household bacteria.
FLOOR CHORES: BISSELL CLEANVIEW WITH ONEPASS UPRIGHT
Price: $90 | Buy it at Amazon
Consumers who want to rejuvenate their carpets — and keep them clean — will be well satisfied with this vacuum. It comes equipped with suction that rivals the performance of higher-priced uprights and a proprietary brush that rotates deep into carpets, giving them a fresh, clean look. Users say it runs quietly and they like the assortment of attachments. Maintenance is easy with a bottom-empty dirt tank and washable filter.
FLOOR CHORES: SHARK NAVIGATOR FREESTYLE
Price: $96 | Buy it
This lightweight stick vacuum is a top contender for anyone seeking an inexpensive, cord-free household appliance for quick, everyday cleanup and for heavier messes confined to small areas. A motorized brush, two speeds, and enough suction to pull up stray hair and kitty litter from carpets and bare floors endear this vacuum to pet owners. An easy-empty, oversize dust cup and swivel action make this model easy to use.
FLOOR CHORES: RUG DOCTOR PORTABLE SPOT CLEANER COMBO PACK
Price: $125 | Buy it (members only) from Costco
Chances are your carpet needs a little TLC after a long winter. Freshen up without calling in the pros using this portable Rug Doctor. It has a handheld motorized brush and comes with three bottles of cleaner and one bottle of urine eliminator for those stubborn pet stains.
FLOOR CHORES: HOOVER T-SERIES WINDTUNNEL PET BAGGED UPRIGHT
Price: $105 | Buy it at Walmart
This upright is among the best bagged vacuum options available on a budget. Users rave that this Hoover tackles pet hair and dander like no other, with some reporting carpets looking shades lighter after a single pass. A HEPA carbon filter eliminates airborne particulates and pet odors, and the bag is a cinch to change (though some users say it seems small). The 30-foot cord and 12-foot stretch hose provide extensive reach.
ENERGY SAVINGS: HAMPTON BAY HUGGER 52-INCH CEILING FAN
Price: $50 | Buy it at Home Depot
Looking for a home repair project? Ceiling fans provide year-round comfort and savings. Once you pick the correct size for the room, installing a fan is much like replacing a light fixture. Ceiling fans can cost thousands of dollars, but basic models can be found for as little as $50. For some, you may need to install a new electrical box that can handle the weight and vibration from the fan.
ENERGY SAVINGS: HONEYWELL RTH6350 DAY PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
Price: $49 | Buy it at Home Depot
Maintaining a steady, cool temperature in your home throughout the spring and summer months can increase comfort and cut electricity costs. And updating an outmoded thermostat with a more efficient model needn't take a lot of time or money. Thorough, step-by-step instructions make installing this budget-priced thermostat quick and easy.
ENERGY SAVINGS: LUX TX9600TS THERMOSTAT
Price: $49 | Buy it at Home Depot
This Lux model has a large, bright touchscreen that does away with all the up/down fiddling of standard programmable thermostats, making it one of our favorites. Because it lets users program each day individually, this thermostat is more versatile than many other budget models. It also earns raves for allowing more precise control over how often heating and cooling systems kick in.
ENERGY SAVINGS: EMERSON SENSI STFF THERMOSTAT
Price: $111 | Buy it at Amazon
The Emerson Sensi packs in a lot of features at a fraction of the cost of other smart thermostats. Users can connect to the thermostat remotely via a detailed, easy-to-use app, and the Sensi is compatible with Amazon Alexa, which allows voice control, and the Apple HomeKit and Wink smart-home hubs. It's also simple to install and works with a wider range of heating and cooling systems than some competitors.
ENERGY SAVINGS: LUX WIN100
Price: $39 | Buy it at Amazon
Consumers with window air conditioners welcome the versatility of the Lux WIN100, which adds 5-day/2-day programmability to these appliances wherever they may be — even in a garage — as long as there's an outlet. Some users wish it had a wider range than 45 to 90 degrees, but apartment dwellers, in particular, are just happy to be able to return to a home that's not sweltering at the end of the day.
CLEARING THE AIR: HAMILTON BEACH TRUEAIR COMPACT AIR PURIFIER
Price: $60 | Buy it at Hamilton Beach
A host of pollutants and allergens such as dust, mold, pet dander, and pollen tracked in from outside can make the air harder to breathe. This spring, consider an air purifier for some relief. The tried-and-true Hamilton Beach TrueAir continues to be popular for use in small rooms up to 160 square feet. Also, its permanent filter need never be replaced (in theory), potentially saving hundreds in filter-replacement costs over the years.
CLEARING THE AIR: HOLMES DESKTOP AIR PURIFIER
Price: $40 | Buy it at Holmes Products
This compact Holmes purifier is ideal for small rooms up to 109 square feet and comes at a rock-bottom price. This basic budget air purifier can be outfitted with any of four different Holmes AER1 filters, each individually designed to focus on dust, odors, overall air quality, or higher-level allergen sensitivity. It's also equipped with a separate carbon pre-filter to help with smoke and odor absorption.
CLEARING THE AIR: GERMGUARDIAN AC4020
Price: $45 | Buy it at Amazon
Designed to cover small rooms up to 93 square feet, this GermGuardian merges allergen- and odor-fighting powers in a combined HEPA/charcoal filter and adds UV-light technology to kill germs. The company's products have won raves for combining affordability and functionality, and they're also known for adding a bit of style.
CLEARING THE AIR: WINIX PLASMAWAVE 5300-2
Price: $136 | Buy it at Home Depot
A recent upgrade to the Winix PlasmaWave 5300 earns even more expert praise than the still-popular original. The brand is known for taking the tried-and-true combination of HEPA and carbon filters and kicking it into overdrive with patented PlasmaWave technology. The 5300-2, designed for larger rooms up to 360 square feet, sports a streamlined look and revamped controls, including a timer and an LED air-quality indicator light.
DECLUTTERING DECOR: SONGMICS UMBRELLA STAND RACK
Price: $36 | Buy it at Amazon
When the sky has opened up this spring and you're already late for work, the last thing you want to do is spend time searching for an umbrella. Solve that problem with an umbrella stand placed by the door or in the closet. With this thrifty model, practicality meets high style. The sturdy metal woven stand comes in three colors.
DECLUTTERING DECOR: WOVEN WOODEN TRAY
Price: $12 | Buy it at Hobby Lobby
When a coffee table is strewn with a remote control, books, and candles, it can make the room feel cluttered. Create a focal point with this rustic woven tray, gathering all the objects into a stylish vignette.
DECLUTTERING DECOR: OVAL WILLOW BASKET
Price: $13 | Buy it at Target
Turn a simple, earthy receptacle into tech central. Keep all your chargers in one basket — literally — and be ever ready to juice up your phone, iPad, camera, and other electronic devices. There's no need to overspend for sacrifice classic styling.
DECLUTTERING DECOR: MADRAS RECTANGULAR BASKETS
Price: Starting at $25 | Buy it at World Market
Store anything and everything in spacious, attractive baskets. Keep favorite magazines for posterity, or collect paper recycling indoors. Perhaps a designated bin for exercise gear would help keep summer shape-up plans on track. Fill one with freshly laundered T-shirts, yoga pants, and other essentials to make the "I have nothing to wear" excuse a thing of the past.
DECLUTTERING DECOR: DELTA CHILDREN TOY ORGANIZER
Price: $37 | Buy it at Amazon
Parents, is the playroom such a mess that you just want to scream? A colorful toy organizer is an easy, bright, and affordable solution for taming the turmoil. This one is a best-seller on Amazon for a reason: It's simple to assemble and relatively sturdy, and offers storage space for kit and caboodle of all kinds. It might even encourage the kids to pick up after themselves. (We can dream.)
OFFICE ORGANIZATION: SMEAD EXPANDING FILE
Price: $9 | Buy it at Amazon
Spring meanstax season, and it sets many in mind to start keeping better track of bills and financial records to try to avoid some of the hassle next year. This Smead file organizer features an indexed pocket for each month of the year, so you can file bills away and keep on top of those finances once and for all.
OFFICE ORGANIZATION: IKEA PALLRA MINI CHEST
Price: $15 | Buy it at Ikea
While many people opt for a quick text or email to send birthday greetings, congratulations, or invitations, there's something charming about a handwritten missive. When the urge hits to take pen to paper, have all the supplies at the ready. Gather cards, paper, stamps, and some pens and create a correspondence station with a cheap but sturdy three-drawer mini chest.
Related:The 35 Best Finds at Ikea
MEMORY PRESERVATION: PIONEER PHOTO ALBUMS PHOTO STORAGE BOX
Price: $5 | Buy it at B&H
Yes, digital photography rules these days, but many families have shoeboxes full of old snapshots. It's fun to pull out those photos every so often, so be sure they stay in good condition by transferring them to archival-quality storage. A photo storage box from Pioneer Photo Albums is made of acid-free materials and holds more than 1,000 4-by-7-inch pictures. It has a metal plate for labeling and divider index cards inside.
DOCUMENT SECURITY: STEELMASTER FIRE-RETARDANT SECURITY BOX
Price: $24 | Buy it at Amazon
Could you quickly find your birth certificate, passport, car title, or Social Security card if asked? Unfortunately, not everyone can say yes, and it's best not to risk the headache of replacing such important documents. Avoid that scenario by securing papers of prime importance in a fire-retardant, steel security box from Steelmaster. It comes with two keys, in case one gets lost.
CLOSET CLEANUP: IKEA BUMERANG HANGERS
Price: $4.49 | Buy it at Ikea
Whip that disorganized closet back into shape this spring. A good place to start is by buying some high-quality hangers. Sturdier than their plastic or wire counterparts, solid wood clothes hangers are a closet staple built for a lifetime of use. Ikea also offers eight-packs in black or white for $1 more.
CLOSET CLEANUP: WHITMOR OVER-THE-DOOR SHOE RACK
Price: $24 | Buy it at Amazon
Many people have more shoes than they know what to do with. Some lucky ones have walk-in closets with designated slots; the rest of us struggle with pair after pair spilling out of the closet. Avoid that with a 36-pair, coated metal shoe rack that latches to the top of a closet door and offers 12 rows of organizational bliss.
DRAWER DO-OVER: REAL SIMPLE HONEYCOMB DRAWER ORGANIZER
Price: $10 | Buy it at Bed Bath & Beyond
For sock drawers that look like the cat just finished playing in them, opt for a handy honeycomb organizer. Eight snap-together pieces create up to 32 compartments and can be cut to customize the shape to fit most any drawer. They can also be used to tidy up rolled ties and underwear. Or move beyond clothing to organize accessories and any other small items that could benefit from a little compartmentalization.
BED & BATH: ACRYLIC COTTON SWAB DISPENSER
Price: $7 | Buy it at Amazon
Spend a few minutes (or more) cleaning out the medicine chest top to bottom. Check all expiration dates and keep only what you really use. When putting everything back in, use a few small bath accessories, such as an acrylic cotton swab dispenser, to keep things neat from now on.
BED & BATH: FIRST AID ONLY ESSENTIALS KIT
Price: $15 | Buy it at Amazon
A well-equipped first-aid kit is essential for any household. For those just-in-case moments, purchase a case with all the essentials needed to clean and patch up minor wounds. It's also good to have another kit stowed in case of weather emergencies that contains household medications and medical devices if you're shut in or forced to evacuate.
BED & BATH: OPEN-TOE WAFFLE WEAVE SLIPPERS
Price: $3.45 | Buy it at Amazon
Simple slippers come in handy when padding around the bathroom or any area of the house. (In some cultures, family members and guests immediately remove shoes when entering a home.) It's worth buying several cheap pairs to keep dirt, germs, and allergens from being tracked inside. Super-cheap, cloth slip-ons can often be found at dollar stores.
LINEN CLOSET CLEANUP: SODYNEE FOLDABLE CLOTH STORAGE CUBES
Price: $19 for six | Buy it at Amazon
Towels and sheets never seem to stay in neat piles. Instead of living with an untidy mess, pick up a few cloth storage cubes with handles and designate each for a particular use: towels (rolled up), sheets and pillowcases, stacks of washcloths.
LINEN CLOSET CLEANUP: LYNK CLOSET SHELF DIVIDERS
Price: $14 for two | Buy it at Amazon
Another thrifty solution to keep items organized in the linen closet are shelf dividers. Heavy-gauge steel dividers from Lynk slip over the shelf and help create cubby-like spaces for neat piles of towels, sheets, and more. Pair these with storage cubes to make a tidy home for boxes of tissues and backup supplies of shampoo, soap, and toothpaste.
BEDDING UPGRADE: LUXURY COTTON 4-PIECE SHEET SET
Price: Starting at $37 | Buy it at Overstock
A good night's sleep on a clean, comfortable set of sheets can go a long way toward making you feel utterly refreshed. This spring, pack away the flannels and replace frayed and faded sheets with crisp new cotton ones. This 400-thread-count set works in all seasons, fits mattresses up to 15 inches thick, and comes with two pillowcases.
BEDDING UPGRADE: MAYFAIR HOTEL COLLECTION EGYPTIAN COTTON SHEETS
Price: $68 (queen size) | Buy it at Amazon
Recreating the ultra-soft bedding of 4-star hotels is all about using sheets made with high-quality cotton. Opt for bright white sheets, like those in a luxury resort, or a range of darker colors that will hide stains for years of home use.
BEDDING UPGRADE: BRIELLE TENCEL COTTON SHEET SET
Price: $48 (king size) | Buy it at Jet
This type of cotton sheet is designed to keep skin dry and comfortable on warm nights. Using extra-breathable 300-thread-count cotton sheets during hot and humid weather can help keep the air-conditioning bill down without sacrificing comfort.
BEDDING UPGRADE: MODERN LIVING ORGANIC COTTON SHEET SET
Price: Starting at $55 | Buy it at Bed, Bath & Beyond
This elegant sheet set, available in several colors and patterns, is made from 300-thread-count organic cotton. Buyers will sleep easier knowing that their sheets are as easy on the Earth as they are on the eye.
BEDDING UPGRADE: SIMMONS BEAUTYREST LATEX MEMORY FOAM PILLOW
Price: Starting at $39 | Buy it at Walmart
Pillows accumulate dust, dead skin, sweat, drool, and germs. The buildup of these particles in the place where you rest your head every night can cause repeated allergy flare-ups. Latex foam pillows are hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, mildew-proof, and dust-mite-resistant. This pillow is also designed to ease neck and shoulder stress.
BEDDING UPGRADE: MAINSTAYS 100% COTTON EXTRA FIRM PILLOW SET
Price: Starting at $8 for two | Buy it at Walmart
Many experts say that pillows should be replaced yearly and cleaned frequently, given their tendency to collect dust mites and other detritus. Cotton and polyester pillows are the most common and least expensive pillow types on the market. Although both are hypoallergenic, polyester pillows are more susceptible to dust mites. Another reason to go with cotton: They tend to be more breathable and offer cooler sleeping conditions.
BEDDING UPGRADE: LAUREN RALPH LAUREN DOWN ALTERNATIVE LOGO PILLOWS
Price: Starting at $8 | Buy it at Macy's
Cheap down alternative pillows are a good choice for people with allergies who like to sleep with a soft pillow. This particular line has long been a hit with users who love the Ralph Lauren brand and find these inexpensive pillows extremely comfortable. They come in king and jumbo standard sizes, with various firmness levels, and have 200-thread-count cotton covers. The whole pillow can be machine-washed for easy maintenance.
STACK & STOW: CLOSETMAID PANTRY CABINET
Price: $70 | Buy it at Target
Many people have designated containers for Christmas decorations, but what about other holidays? Easter table accents, Fourth of July flags, and a Thanksgiving cornucopia are around ... somewhere. This ClosetMaid Pantry Cabinet has four shelves for stashing away centerpieces, holiday linens, and more in a corner of the laundry room, basement, or attic.
STACK & STOW: STERILITE FOOTLOCKER
Price: $21 | Buy it at Walmart
Who hasn't had the lights go out and had to fumble for a flashlight? Unpredictable spring weather can bring storms that cause power outages and more. Keep your family prepared with a designated box filled with emergency essentials such as flashlights, batteries, candles and matches, and a transistor radio. The plastic construction of this Sterilite Footlocker helps prevent water damage.
STACK & STOW: HDX SHELVING UNIT
Price: $40 | Buy it at Home Depot
Shelving can transform a disorganized garage, workshop, or basement. Buyers without a lot to spend might consider a durable, ventilated HDX shelving unit. Each of the five heavy-duty plastic shelves supports up to 150 pounds, and many users say the unit is sturdy and easy to assemble.
STACK & STOW: HDX 27-GALLON STORAGE TOTES
Price: $8 | Buy it at Home Depot
Tame clutter just about anywhere with versatile plastic storage bins. These are stackable, and there's something clean and cheerful-looking about the yellow lids, which snap securely. Smaller and larger bins are also available.
STACK & STOW: RUBBERMAID OUTDOOR STORAGE SHED
Price: $163 | Buy it at Lowe's
If you have a lot of garden tools but no garage or full-size shed, consider a relatively inexpensive Rubbermaid outdoor storage shed. The compact but roomy unit is made of maintenance-free resin and offers 18 cubic feet of storage space for gardening gear, pool supplies, or even patio furniture cushions.
OUTDOOR CLEANUP: POWERSTROKE PS80931 PRESSURE WASHER
Price: $323 | Buy it at Amazon
If the deck or siding is looking dingy, a good blasting from a pressure washer might do the trick. Its 25-foot high-pressure hose and 12-inch wheels allow for easy maneuverability, while its beefy engine provides more than enough muscle.
OUTDOOR CLEANUP: KRYLON WOOD STAIN SPRAY STAIN
Price: $7.31 | Buy it at Amazon
Wood furniture can change drastically when left outside without occasional cleaning and restaining. If it's about time to revamp your wood patio furniture after a hard winter, get some sandpaper and a can of spray stain in a preferred shade. The process is pretty simple: Sand, wipe clean, and stain.
OUTDOOR LIVING: BEST CHOICE PRODUCTS DOUBLE HAMMOCK
Price: $58 | Buy it at Walmart
Spring is a beautiful time of year to hang out in the yard and relax in a hammock with a good book. While some hammocks must be tethered to trees or posts, a budget-friendly Best Choice Products model comes with a weather-resistant steel stand and allows up to two adults to cozy up anywhere in the yard. So stretch out, enjoy the spring weather, and bask in the beauty of your newly cleaned and organized home.