Many commercial household cleaning products — glass and window cleaners, for example — routinely come in a bottle with a handy sprayer. And we love that, as long as they work the way we expect that they should, which they often don't.
First, there's the problem of a bottle design that makes it impossible to spray out every last bit of product because that tube doesn't go all the way to the bottom. Or the mother of all frustrations: when the nozzle clogs up or the thing just refuses to spray for some other reason. Grrrrr!
There's no way to fix that bottle design, but with a little diligence you should be able to get the sprayer unclogged and working again for at least long enough to finish the job (hot water, a paper clip to clear the nozzle, taking it all apart).
The sad truth is the nifty sprayer that comes with that window cleaner or all-purpose cleaner is meant to be disposable. It was designed to die about the time you need to buy more cleaner. Think of these sprayers as you do cottage cheese containers and screw-cap soda bottles. They're considered single-purpose, one and done. Know this going in and you'll save yourself a lot of frustration.
The solution is to stop relying on cheap disposable sprayers. Understand the difference between disposable and quality spray bottles, and then choose to buy a few of the latter.
Reliable spray bottles are available in most home improvement stores and online. I've tested lots of them and narrowed the field to only relying on these two.
HARRIS PROFESSIONAL SPRAY BOTTLE. This is the closest to perfection I have found in a plastic spray bottle. The bottle itself is 32 ounces, which is large enough for any use but can be used for small jobs as well. The bottle has ounce measurements printed right on the side. It comes with a pressurized sprayer, which means it's always at the ready. Once it's pressurized upon first use, I don't have to pump several times to get the thing going. The nozzle is adjustable. This is a heavy-duty plastic bottle designed to handle chemicals and harsh solvents.
Best of all, the trigger on a Harris Professional Spray Bottle is large enough for four fingers. That makes repetitive spraying so much easier. I get Harris Professional Spray Bottles online in a three-pack for about $15, less than $5 each.
AMBER GLASS SPRAY BOTTLES. I use smaller 16-ounce amber glass bottles for essential oils, cleaners that contain hydrogen peroxide (needs to be shielded from light, and the amber makes for a dark place) and various other kinds of health, beauty and cleaning solutions. This is the bottle I use for Nok-Out when I have a small odor-elimination issue. It's handy that way.
The spray tops that come with these amber glass bottles work great — more like flawlessly! So far, and after years of use, I have not had one fail, or even a clog.
Because it is difficult to see inside, I mix products in another container and then fill the spray bottles. That's not a problem, really, just a heads-up tip. My favorite amber glass spray bottles come in a two-pack with handy labels. They're so lovely I have used them for gifts, which should get your creative juices flowing (only six months until Christmas)! They cost about $13.
Need resources for these specific spray bottles? Just go to EverydayCheapskate.com/spray.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.