I have mentioned in the past that I use the Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner to automate my housekeeping. Before that invention, I would dread cleaning the shower. It would take me at least 7-10 minutes a week. However, since I'm Lazy, I'd wait two weeks and then scrub away for about 10-12 minutes. At that rate, I would spend nearly 5 hours a year cleaning a shower. The bright side is that I could use a few gallons of very cheap bleach a year. I never measured the amount of bleach, but I'd estimate that it would cost me around $6.00 for the year.
The biggest problem with the Automatic Shower Cleaner is that the refills tend to cost $4-5 a piece... and they last only 3 weeks. I was talking with my mother about this and she said she never uses hers simple because of the cost. I don't blame her. At the price of refills it would cost around $75 a year before factoring the cost of batteries.
They say that necessity is the Mother of Invention. I think the combination of being both Lazy and Frugal is the father of invention. I stopped and thought, "there's got to be a way to make this cheaper." It turns out that it's simple to refill the Automatic Shower Cleaner. It takes a little bit of force, but I grab a towel and unscrew the cap. The first time you do it, it's particularly tough, but subsequent openings are easy.
The question is what do you fill it with? There are a number of options. I've heard that people go to the dollar store and buy some Tilex (or a generic version). I have decided to pick up a gallon of Zap. It's a very concentrated cleaner - the label recommends diluting the cleaner with 20 parts water for every part cleaner for maintenance cleanings. For less than 2 ounces of Zap and some tap water, I can refill the 32oz. container.
There's no question that $50 for a bottle of cleaning liquid sounds expensive. However, a 128oz gallon will last me for 64 refills. That's going to cost me 78 cents for three weeks of cleaning. If each refill lasts three weeks, I'm going to need to fill it 17.3 a year. That is going to cost me $13.49. It looks like it's more than twice as expensive as my bleach. It gets more expensive though. I need to also buy AA batteries. While I prefer to use rechargeable ones and could save some money and the environment that way, it's easier to do the math this way. An $8.00 pack of batteries should last me the year. At a total cost of $21.49, this is now much more expensive than my old system of using bleach and elbow grease.
So if I'm paying $15 more a year, why am I writing this article? It saves me about 4.5 hours of cleaning. I'm effectively paying $3.33 for an hour of my time back. That's an extreme small price to pay to avoid a chore that I deeply dislike doing, I think that's a great investment.
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