The little pumps out of a soft soap or hand lotion bottle work well too. Both for brake fluid and also can be used for setting the fork oil level, either cut off to the correct depth, or add a little tubing or straw to make it the right length.A turkey baster, very handy for doing brake fluid changes and saves you from having to pump the whole reservoir full of old fluid through the lines. Use to suck the old fluid out of the reservoirs without getting air in the lines.
I'd not consider using alternatives as cutting corners.When it comes to working on bikes, I don't tend to cut corners. Bought a set of real JIS screwdrivers for the few 'phillips' screws that we have. Use Plexus on the windshield, high quality ceramic 'coating' for wax, no Harbor Freight tools on anything I need to rely on. Mother's Stainless Polish for stainless. Actually have an electric vacuum pump and catch tank that I use for clearing out master cylinders. I maintain a stable of scooters, bikes, and cars, so most of the products and tools are used on most of the vehicles. Growing up, never saw a decent tool, was always scrambling, then when I left home couldn't afford many tools, likewise. So now I buy good (but not great) tools, use the proper chemicals and treatments. There is a difference between being frugal and being cheap. My brother is cheap, regales me with stories of spending hours getting something to work that is not really intended to work in that fashion. Used to ride with him, but his bikes usually broke down about once an hour, although he usually had the necessary duct tape and baling wire to get them back on the road. Used some heavy-duty generic degreaser on one bike, and it started to soften the coating on the cases. For ever after, I use the car-type engine degreaser, works about as good and is paint-safe. Using the right stuff might cost a hundred dollars a year. I think I can swing 30 cents a day.
I wonder if I could tell the difference between using Pledge or Plexus. I suspect I could. An aircraft owner tried to tell me they were the same. Didn't seem like the Pledge did as good a job softening the bugs, protecting the plastic from scratching while cleaning, or left quite as good a protective shield on the plastic after. I'm not a polymer chemist, so I could be wrong. I also use the Plexus on plastic headlight covers and tallight lenses on bikes and cars as well as faceshields on helmets.. Seems to do a good job keeping the plastic from fogging or yellowing, and the surface does not dull, but remains quite glossy. Even after 15 years. I go through 2 cans in three year. I can afford it. Good thing is, we all get to make our choices. I use car wash soap for washing painted vehicles, some use dishwashing soap, even though most manufacturers recommend against it. In the short term, maybe not much difference. But again, the paint is still glossy after 15 years. Pretty much all my stuff is old, but it still looks fine. I plan to keep it that way.I'd not consider using alternatives as cutting corners.
I wonder if you could tell the difference if a windscreen was cleaned with $28 a can Plexus or a $4 can of Pledge. I know I can't.