For some, cleaning is nothing more than an obligation, a chore. For others, it’s a stress-reliever or perhaps even an enjoyable pastime. Whichever category you fit into, it’s important to be mindful of the products you’re using when tidying up and disinfecting, as many can be dangerous to you and your family (and your pets).
Many of us assume our typical household cleaning products are safe—particularly ones that are advertised as “green” or “natural.” But even those with such labels may contain harmful ingredients that may cause health problems. Others may even be flammable or corrosive. The good news is that there are alternative options.
One great non-toxic and eco-friendly household cleaner is distilled white vinegar. Most of us already have this at home, and if not—it’s super cheap to buy (and a gallon will last you months!). Vinegar is acidic and will break down dirt, grime, and grease. It can also kill some types of bacteria. From cleaning surfaces to coffee makers, there are several ways you can use this natural substance around the house. It may take a little time to get used to the smell, but you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to mask it. You can also dilute it with water. Just add it to a spray bottle, grab those rubber gloves, and get to it!
Here are 13 vinegar cleaning hacks:
- Clean surfaces (with the exception of granite and marble).
- Clean the kitchen sink (also good for any drain gunk or odors).
- Clean windows.
- Clean the coffee-machine. Pour it directly into the machine and run normally. Then run it with water a few times to get rid of the vinegar smell.
- Clean the dishwasher. About once a month, put one cup of vinegar in the dishwasher and turn it onto the highest heat setting. This will give the inside a deep clean with very little effort from you.
- Clean the inside of the refrigerator. It’s food-safe and great at breaking down grease and grime build-up.
- Wash your towels. Add towels to your washing machine with a 1/2 cup of vinegar and no detergent. Set it to the highest temperature and wash. This will pull out all the detergent residue and other gunk that builds up in your towels, as well as restore the color, remove stains and odors, and make them softer!
- Clean the microwave. Mix a 1:4 solution of vinegar and water into a bowl. Put it in the microwave and turn it on for five minutes. After it’s done, let it stand for three minutes (it will be extremely hot). Open the door and wipe down the inside with a cloth. The vinegar will have loosened the gunk in the microwave, making it super easy to clean.
- Clean carpet stains. Mix one tablespoon of dish soap, one tablespoon of vinegar, and two cups of warm water into a bowl. Apply it to the stain with a sponge and blot until you see results.
- Revamp your plastic containers and Tupperware. Soak your containers in vinegar for a few minutes (or up to an hour) and then wash as normal. It’ll help with any discoloration and stains.
- Clean the bathroom. Go after your countertops, sink, toilet, bathtub, and even your shower-head. Pour vinegar into a plastic bag and tie it over the shower-head so it’s soaking. Let it soak overnight and in the morning, give it a good scrub and rinse.
- Clean your mattress. Mix vinegar, a few drops of rubbing alcohol, and tea tree into a spray bottle. Spritz it all over your mattress, but do not soak it. This will help kill bacteria, bed bugs, and any odors. Let it dry, then vacuum it.
- Clean your garbage can. With a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water, wipe your trash can with a cloth. This will remove odors and break down grease and grime build-up. Let it dry before adding a bag.
While vinegar has many great uses, keep in mind that it’s not the best choice for some cleaning projects. Avoid using vinegar to clean:
- Granite and marble countertops (it can wear down the shiny finish).
- Hardwood floors.
- Digital devices (it can ruin touchscreens and other coatings).
- Stone tiles.
- Dropped egg (it can harden the egg, making it difficult to clean).
- Knives (it can wear down the sharp edges).