Being a young married couple and recent first time home buyers, Chet and I try our best to live on the cheap and take care of our new, cute little investment we call our home. With that, I find myself cleaning and maintaining more than ever and with two cats and a dog running around (who get into everything), no chemicals means a happy, healthy house. All-natural cleaning is a habit I think everyone needs to get into. It’s as simple as choosing one product over another and can save you money and the environment and prevent you and your family from potential illness. It’s a no brainer, thus I dedicate this post to the wonder that is vinegar.
First of all, what is vinegar? Vinegar is the natural by product of vegetables, fruits and grains, as well as fermented alcoholic liquids like wine, beer and cider. It is all-natural, edible and biodegradable so there’s no harm to the enviroment. Because of its high acidity it’s able to kill bacteria, cut through grease and break up mineral deposits. Since bacteria, grease and grime are common in households, vinegar is a great multi-cleaning solution for basically every room in your house!
If you already have a pantry full of chemical-heavy products, take them to your local hazardous waste facility to have them properly disposed of. Please do not just throw them away because their chemical properties are harmful to the surrounding environment if simply tossed into a landfill. For some more information on household hazardous waste (HHW) and disposal options, click here to go to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) HHW homepage.
Okay, now onto the fun stuff! Here are eight of my favorite household uses for vinegar:
1. Produce Wash
Combine 1 cup white vinegar with 3 cups cold water in a large bowl. For smaller produce like berries, cherry tomatoes and limes, bath them in the vinegar water solution for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water for 1 minute, then store. For larger produce, put the solution in a spray bottle and spray the outside until damp. Wipe with a cloth to remove dirt, then rinse under cold water and store. The vinegar kills any bacteria on the outside of the produce, preventing mold from forming and keeping those nasty fruit flies away! If you’re interested in learning how to preserve other types of produce check out my How to Keep Your Produce Fresh post from a few weeks ago.
2. Glass Cleaner
Mix equal parts white vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Spray your windows, mirrors and other glass surfaces with this solution and wipe down with a clean rag. Another option other than a rag is to use a wad of newspaper. The newspaper helps prevent streaking and doesn’t leave any leftover fibers like rags sometimes do.
3. No Wax Floor Cleaner
Combine 1/2 cup white vinegar with 1/2 gallon (8 cups) of warm water in a large bowl or bucket. Dunk your mop into the solution and wipe down floors that aren’t treated with wax like kitchen and bathroom tile or linoleum. The vinegar will break down dirt and grime and any other residue on your floors. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell won’t last long!
4. Remove Sticker Residue
Nobody likes peeling stickers or price tags off of, well, anything. Next time you find yourself scraping off a label until your fingernails hurt, grab a rag and dab some vinegar on it. Rub the sticky residue with your rag for 1-2 minutes. You’ll notice right away the residue starts to ball up and peel off. Wipe until all residue is gone. Don’t use this on items with a treated finish like painted or polished wood because it might remove the finish with it. This is best used for taking labels off of jars, stickers off of glass, etc. Also, be sure to use a rag and not a paper towel or other paper product. The rag can withstand the scrubbing better than a paper product.
5. Remove Odors from Stuff that Stinks
Every so often, something stinks; your water bottle, tupperware, glass jar or coffee pot. Fill your stinky item with equal parts white vinegar and water, let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with water. Got stinky clothes? Add 2 tbsp of white vinegar to your load of stinky laundry to remove any harsh odors, including mildew. Sink stinks? Fill an ice cube tray with equal parts water and vinegar, freeze, then drop a cube down your garbage disposal to kill any odor. Fridge stinks? Leave an open glass with 1 cup of vinegar in your fridge to remove any odor. Remove when the odor has gone, usually less than a few hours.
6. Spot Cleaner for Your Carpet or Rug
Combine 1 tsp vinegar with 1 tsp liquid soap and 1 cup warm water. Pour into a spray bottle or small glass jar. Cover the stained area on your carpet or rug and let the solution sit for 2 minutes. Once absorbed, blot with a clean rag. No more stain! Spilled something on your shirt? Saturate the stained area/s on your clothes with vinegar before you throw them into the wash to break down and remove stains like wine, dirt and food. It’s like a mini miracle.
That’s it! You’re ready to fight some of the most common household spills and smells with one all-natural, super cheap ingredient! Boo-yeah!