It’s cheap, it’s natural, and it’s tough on bacteria, mildew, and dirt. Read on for some smart vinegar cleaning tips for every room in your home.
Refrigerator: Definitely skip the toxic chemicals where you store your food. Instead, wipe up spills with a 50-50 vinegar-water mix. You can even keep a bottle of the mixture stored in your fridge!
Drain: Pour vinegar onto a scrub brush small enough to get inside the disposal. Sprinkle the brush with baking soda, then scrub to remove odors and built-up crud, says Mary Findley of GoClean.com, a former pro cleaner and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Cleaning.
Cutting boards: Spray with straight vinegar, then rinse to disinfect.
Stained plastic containers: Coat in vinegar. Let sit. Wash as usual, says Leslie Reichert, aka The Cleaning Coach.
Toilet: Pour a cup of vinegar in the toilet. Let sit overnight. (For tough jobs, empty the toilet water first.) The next morning, sprinkle with baking soda or borax; scrub, then flush.
General bathroom disinfectant: Use straight or diluted vinegar to clean and disinfect, especially around the toilet, where it can curb urine staining and odor.
Tub or sink drain: Pour 1/2-cup around closed drain and let sit several hours. Scrub to remove buildup. Drain, then rinse.
Shower: Findley’s shower deep-clean regimen: Bring vinegar to a boil, then use it to wipe down the shower door and walls. Keep them damp by wiping them down every 5 to 8 minutes for 30 minutes. Then, dampen a nonscratch sponge in vinegar, sprinkle with baking soda, and scrub. Rinse. Bye-bye germs, mold, water spots, and soap scum!
Showerhead: Pour some vinegar into a plastic bag, and secure it to your showerhead with a twist-tie. Make sure there’s enough vinegar so the bottom part of the showerhead is submerged. Leave the bag on overnight. Remove the next morning just before showering.
Mattress disinfectant: Mix vinegar, a little rubbing alcohol, and some tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Lightly spritz on your mattress to help combat dust mites, mildew, and general odors. For a deeper clean, follow with a dusting of baking soda. Let dry, then vacuum.
As a fabric softener: Use vinegar instead of fabric softeners in laundry, Findley says. “It softens clothes and removes the static at a fraction of the cost of fabric softeners,” she says. “Just add a cup to the final wash or rinse water.”
Living & Dining Rooms
Glass: Use a 50-50 vinegar-water solution to keep glass tables or stereo cabinet doors sparkling.
Wood furniture: Use 1/4-cup vinegar mixed with 1-cup olive oil — plus a few drops of lemon or orange oil, if you wish — to clean and condition wood furniture, Reichert says.
Carpet odor and dust mite remover: Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil with some vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz lightly throughout. (Test in an inconspicuous spot first for colorfastness.)
Carpet rinse: After shampooing your carpet, rinse it using 1/2-cup vinegar per gallon of water. This lifts dirt-attracting soap residue, so carpets stay cleaner, longer.
Carpet pet odor remover: Wet spot with vinegar. Sprinkle with baking soda, and work the two together with a brush or your fingers. Let dry (ideally overnight). Vacuum.
Wood floor wash: Add ½-cup vinegar to a gallon of water to clean wood and laminated floors.
Make your own earth-friendly home cleaners on the cheap with vinegar and other natural products.
Clean all the pulp off citrus peels of your choice (orange, lemon, grapefruit, mix) and fill jars with peels. Fill Jar with white vinegar and add citrus essential oil if you like. Cover Jar and leave to sit for 4-6 weeks. Pour into spray bottle and use on glass, bathroom, kitchen, wood, etc. Enjoy the yummy citrus smell and a chemical free home!
Air freshener: Add a 1/2-teaspoon vinegar to a 4-ounce spray bottle, then fill with distilled water, plus a few drops of your favorite essential oil, if desired.
Window cleaner: Mix 1/4-cup rubbing alcohol and 1/3-cup vinegar in a 32-oz spray bottle, then fill with water. Lightly spritz on a lint free cloth to clean.
All-purpose cleaner: Mix 1-cup vinegar, 2 teaspoons borax, 4-cups hot water, 5 drops liquid dish soap, 10 drops tea tree oil, and 10 drops your favorite essential oil (optional).
Disinfectant: Use a 50-50 vinegar-water mix to wipe down telephones, doorknobs, faucet handles, and more when cold and flu season hits, Findley says.