Vinegar is my favorite cleaning companion! While I haven’t always loved the smell, (I admit it has grown on me over the years) I have always loved the versatility of this very inexpensive, age-old product. I gave up buying conventional cleaning products over a decade ago. Not only are they costly, they are full of chemicals! Furthermore, it occurred to me that it really isn’t necessary to use a different product for each area of the house. Why do I need an entire shelf dedicated to cleaning products? Do I really need one product to clean the toilet bowl and another to clean the rest of the toilet?
This is when I began to experiment with using white, distilled vinegar to clean instead. I have found that it's a fantastic cleaning agent that costs next to nothing, especially when compared to conventional cleaning products. When I recently compared the cost (for the purpose of this blog) of using conventional cleaning products vs. a bottle of vinegar to clean the bathroom, I was shocked! I knew I had been saving money all these years, however I didn’t realize how much. I looked at 3 common products: a toilet bowl cleaner; a cleanser for the tub/shower; and a glass/window cleaner to be used on the mirror and shower door. These 3 products (all made with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce) would have cost me $11.75. A 4L bottle of vinegar only costs $1.97! If for no other reason, that difference in price is reason enough to switch to vinegar.
Vinegar can be used to clean almost anything and it’s safe to use, because it’s non-toxic and environmentally-friendly.
To begin cleaning with vinegar, you will need a good quality spray bottle. Fill it ½ with vinegar and ½ with water, then label it. That’s it, that’s all you need! If you don’t like the smell of vinegar or it hasn’t yet grown on you like it has with me, add a few drops of an essential oil to your spray bottle to help eliminate the vinegar smell. I like to use lemon, thyme or peppermint; however, your options are not limited to only those essential oils.
My Favorite Ways to Clean with Vinegar
Glass and Windows - If you're still buying conventional glass and window cleaners, let today be the day you stop. They are loaded with chemicals including ammonia, surfactants and perfumes. Each time you spray that brightly colored blue stuff, everyone in your household (including your pets) inhales chemicals. Instead, use the 50/50 mixture in your spray bottle. Equal parts vinegar and water is all you need to have an all-natural glass and window cleaner that won’t leave streaks.
Faucets - The easiest way to shine up your faucets is to use vinegar and water. Simply spray with your 50/50 mixture and wipe with a dry cloth. Voila! Shiny and clean.
Wash the Floors – No need to purchase yet another product to clean your no-wax floors when you can use vinegar and hot water.
- mix equal parts vinegar and water (I like to use very hot water when cleaning the floors) and you instantly have floor cleaner
In the Kitchen:
Fridge – I love a clean fridge. Well truth be told, I love a clean anything! I like to clean our fridge once a month and for years now I have been using nothing more than good old-fashioned vinegar and H2O. (As an added bonus, every time you clean the fridge, it's a great opportunity to get rid of any old food that has been forgotten about)
- start by clearing all the food from the fridge
- mix equal parts vinegar and hot water in a cleaning tub
- using a soft cloth, wipe down all the shelves and walls with your vinegar/water solution
Vinegar, with all its wonders, is also a natural deodorizer. Using vinegar to clean your fridge on a regular basis, keeps your fridge clean AND deodorizes it as well.
Coffee/Tea Stained Cups – There’s nothing worse than the unsightly stain that lines the inside of your favorite cup. Here’s an easy way to get rid of it.
- add 1-2 Tbsp of vinegar to your stained cup, then fill to the top with hot water
- let it sit for at least an hour, it may need a bit longer for more stubborn stains
- then wash as usual
Coffee Maker – When I used to make coffee every day, I cleaned my automatic coffee maker once a month with this method to keep it free from mineral deposits that naturally build up from water.
- fill the reservoir half-way full with vinegar and allow the coffee maker to go through a brewing cycle
- discard the vinegar and then brew a few cycles of water to thoroughly rinse
Microwave – It’s rare that we use our microwave, however when we do and bits of food end up splattered inside it, this mixture cleans up the mess.
- ¼ cup vinegar + 1 cup of water mixed in a glass bowl
- place the bowl in the microwave and turn it on for a few minutes so that the water comes to a boil
- then remove the bowl (carefully as it will be hot) and use a wet cloth to wipe the inside clean, any stuck-on food will easily slide off onto your cloth
In the Bathroom:
Toilet – Forget about using a conventional toilet bowl cleaner and then yet another chemical-filled product to clean the rest of your toilet, you don’t need them!
- pour about ½ cup of vinegar into your toilet bowl
- let stand for a few minutes, then use a brush to clean
You can also use the 50/50 mixture that you have in your spray bottle to clean the rest of the toilet at the same time.
- after you’ve poured vinegar into your toilet bowl, use the spray mixture to spray all other areas of your toilet, allowing it to sit for a few minutes as well
- after cleaning the toilet bowl, wipe the areas you’ve sprayed with a dry cloth
And while you’re at it, use that same spray to clean your bathtub, bathroom sink, faucets, vanity and mirror.
Fabric Softener - Get rid of conventional fabric softeners once and for all! They are chemical concoctions that do way more harm than good. The chemicals used to make liquid fabric softeners and dyer sheets end up coating the fabric of your clothes. When you put on that freshly washed shirt, you are also wearing the chemicals that have become attached to it from your fabric softener. Those chemicals can then end up being absorbed by your skin. Yuck!
- to replace liquid fabric softener, add about a ¼ cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle or to your washing machine's fabric softener dispenser
Your clothes will not only be softer, but cleaner too! Vinegar will effectively soften your clothes AND it will help to remove any soap residue that’s left on your clothing or in your washing machine. And don’t worry, you won’t smell like a bottle of vinegar.
If you are currently using dryer sheets, ditch them and invest in wool dryer balls. Adding a few drops of an essential oil to them will give your laundry a light, natural scent (My favorite essential oil for towels and sheets is lavender). Your clothes will dry faster, be static-free and won’t be chemically-coated. Or, if you can, dry your clothes the old-fashioned way ~ outside on a clothesline. This will eliminate static-cling and it will also save on your energy bill!
Additional Tip – Rather than use paper towels for cleaning, repurpose old t-shirt’s by cutting them into manageable cleaning-sized pieces. They work especially well when cleaning windows or glass. You can also use old face cloths, dishcloths or towels (cut into manageable cleaning-sized pieces) for all other general cleaning. Repurposing these materials for cleaning saves you money and it saves our landfills.