DIY: Spring clean your way to more green

By Julia Dilworth, 24 hours Vancouver

DIY 'cost savings' with tips from frugal living expert Erin Huffstetler. (FOTOLIA)

DIY 'cost savings' with tips from frugal living expert Erin Huffstetler. (FOTOLIA)


Evidently, cleanliness is next to frugalness.

Thanks to these tips from Erin Huffstetler of, you, too, can tidy your way to some sweet savings. Huffstetler, an experienced penny-pincher, said thrifty living isn’t depriving yourself of the things you want, nor is it about being cheap.

“I like finding ways to save money on the things that I need, so I can afford to spend money on the things that I want,” she said.

“This lifestyle empowers you to do more and to make big dreams a reality.”

So here you have it: five smart spring-cleaning suggestions that will also save you money.

Make it yourself

“Forgo the toxic oven cleaners in favour of a gentler approach,” said Huffstetler.

Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the oven; spray it down with water or vinegar, and let it sit for several hours. Then, come back and scoop out the baking soda — all of that stuck-on mess should come right out with it.

Save a doomed shower curtain

Mildewy shower curtain? Stick it in your washing machine, fill the tub with warm water (on the small load setting) and add one cup of white vinegar, suggested Huffstetler. Let it soak overnight, then toss in two towels and run it through a cycle. The vinegar will kill the mildew and the towels will help scrub the curtain clean.

Don’t forget the lint vent

“The lint that gets caught in your dryer vent kills the efficiency of your machine and poses a serious fire hazard,” said the frugal expert.

“Invest in a dryer lint removal kit, and use it to clean out your vent twice a year,” she said. “While you’re busy tending to that, drop your lint trap in some warm, soapy water and let it soak.” This will help to remove fabric softener buildup that contributes to slower drying times.

Cool (fridge) runnings

Be sure to vacuum your refrigerator condenser coils. “Dusty condenser coils cause your refrigerator to work a lot harder than it should,” she said. “That means higher energy bills and a shortened lifespan for your fridge.” Take a few minutes twice a year to vacuum the coils (unplug the fridge first), so the refrigerator continues to run at peak efficiency. If you have pets, you may want to make this a quarterly or monthly task.

On dishwasher duty

“Extend the life of your dishwasher by giving it a thorough cleaning each spring,” she said. Unplug it from the wall, and examine the sprayer arms to see if any of the nozzles are clogged (use a soft brush to remove clogs).

Then, clean out all of the food and debris from the drain or disposal at the bottom of the unit.

“This will help to eliminate odours and ensure that your dishwasher is draining properly,” said Huffstetler. Finish by placing a cup of vinegar on the top rack and running your dishwasher on its hottest setting (for most units it’s the sanitize setting).

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