By now, you've probably heard that vinegar is an all-purpose wonder product, right up there with coconut and olive oil. But of all the things you can do with vinegar, using it to clean is at the top of the list.
For me, the smell of white vinegar still evokes memories of coloring Easter eggs. Back in the old days, when I was a kid, it was one of the ingredients of Easter egg dye. My days of coloring Easter eggs are far behind me, and I now associate the smell of vinegar with... cleaning.
Vinegar is such a wonderful, economical and environmentally friendly cleaning product. It's available by the gallon and is cheaper than smelly, harsh chemical-based cleaning products. It deodorizes, cuts grease and soap scum, and dissolves mineral buildup. Plus, it acts as a disinfectant because its acetic acid content kills odors and most mold, bacteria and germs.
vinegar cleaning 1
vinegar cleaning 1
Here's just a sampling of what vinegar can do.
1. Clean mineral deposits on chrome sink faucets
Do you live in an area with hard water? If so, like me, you're constantly battling mineral deposits on your faucets.
Soak a paper towel or an old cloth in distilled vinegar and wrap it tightly around the calcified area. Tie a plastic bag filled with 1/3 to 1/2 cup vinegar around harder-to-wrap faucet spigots. Leave it for two or three hours. Then, use an old toothbrush to scrub off the loosened deposits. For stubborn, tough to remove areas, scrub with a paste of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar. Rinse off with clear water.
2. Cleaning barbecue grills
Warmer weather and outdoor grilling will be here in the blink of an eye. Along with the great cookouts comes the yucky job of cleaning the grill.
For a clean grill with no chemical residue, spray a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar onto a warm (not hot) barbecue grill. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Then, spray full-strength vinegar onto a piece of wadded-up aluminum foil. Scrub the grill vigorously. You may need to repeat. Rinse.
3. Tile scum and film
vinegar cleaning 2
vinegar cleaning 2
Get rid of stubborn bathtub grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door by wiping it down with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Scour more stubborn areas with an inexpensive tile cleaner solution of 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 cup ammonia to a gallon of warm water. (Be cautious of possible harmful fumes from the ammonia.) Rinse with clear water.
Glass shower doors can be sprayed with full-strength white distilled vinegar after squeeging the glass or before stepping in and turning on the water. This helps release the hard water deposits so they don't remain on the glass.
4. Smoother, cleaner steam ironing
Does your steam iron leave ugly brown stains on your clothes? Does the scorched bottom of the iron plate stick to fabric when you're ironing? Vinegar can help with that
To unclog your steam iron, pour equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water into the iron's water chamber. Turn to the "steam" setting and iron a soft rag to clean out the steam ports. Leave the iron on for 5 minutes in an upright position. Then unplug and allow it to cool. Empty the water to remove any loose particles. Repeat the process with clear water, then thoroughly rinse out the inside of your iron.
vinegar cleaning 3
vinegar cleaning 3
To clean a scorched iron plate, heat equal parts white distilled vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rubbing this solution onto the cooled iron surface should remove dark or burned areas.
5. For baby
Wiping down toys with chemical cleaners means your baby might be sucking off chemical residue. Swap it out for vinegar.
Clean and disinfect baby toys by adding a good-sized amount of white distilled vinegar to warm, soapy water. Clean toys thoroughly, using an old toothbrush for those hard-to-reach places. Rinse with clear water and dry. Vinyl baby books and larger toys can be wiped clean with distilled vinegar on a damp cloth. Toys are always in the mouths of babies and toddlers, so clean them frequently.
6. Cleaning gold jewelry
Use vinegar to easily restore sparkle to gold.
Pour vinegar into a small jar, drop in your gold jewelry and twist the lid tightly shut. Let the items soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Shake the jar gently for a few seconds. Remove each piece of jewelry and scrub carefully with a soft toothbrush. Rinse under hot water. Repeat if there's sludge under the stone. Dry with a clean, soft cloth. The final results should be sparkling!
Warning: Don't use this process on opals and pearls.
Originally published January 2012. Updated March 2017.
7. Clean vases caked with mineral deposits
I love keeping fresh cut flowers around the house. I hate, however, when my favorite clear glass narrow-necked vase becomes marked with calcium deposits.
Pour undiluted white distilled vinegar into the glass vessel for a few hours. Then, use a bottlebrush, or add some sand or rice as an abrasive and shake vigorously to loosen the stains. Repeat if necessary and then rinse with hot water when clean. Do not toss the sandy water down the drain.
BTW: To keep those cut flowers fresh longer and reduce the chances of getting "stinky" water, place the flowers into a solution of 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar per quart of warm water.
8. Washing clothes
Vinegar is kinda stinky, so most of us never think of tossing vinegar in the wash, but it can actually help your clothes come out fresher smelling — and clean your washing machine in the process.
Adding 1/2 to 1 cup distilled vinegar to the liquid fabric softener dispenser in your washer (top off with tap water if necessary) will not only make your clothes smell fresher, but also act as a fabric softener and reduce static cling. This eliminates the need for a liquid fabric softener in the wash and chemical fabric softening sheets in the dryer and is more economical and better for the environment, as well.
To freshen up your washing machine, clean the hoses and unclog soap scum, make it a monthly habit of pouring one cup of vinegar into the machine and running a normal cycle without clothes.
9. Clean the microwave
Mix 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl, then bring to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Remove the bowl and wipe the microwave clean of loosened foods.
10. Clean and deodorize the toilet bowl
Substitute vinegar for the abrasive bleach usually used to clean toilets.
Pour one cup of white distilled vinegar into the bowl and let sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.
11. Clean and kill germs on doorknobs
Spray full-strength distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe dry.
12. Clean fireplace glass doors
Mix a solution of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 2 parts water. Spray or wipe on, then wipe clean of dirt and soot using a dry cloth.
13. Clean a can opener
Use distilled vinegar and an old toothbrush to clean the wheel on a can opener.
- Do not add vinegar directly to materials containing ammonia; this could produce harmful vapors.
- Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface.
How do you use vinegar to keep your home clean? Tell us in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Use all tips, hints and ideas here at your own risk.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.