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If you are trying to cut down on toxic cleaners, cleaning with vinegar can really come in handy. Recently vinegar has been riding the wave of green enthusiasm sweeping the globe, but this is no new-fangled cleaning solution. It is a completely non-toxic cleaner, making it a very safe alternative to the questionable chemicals that most people have been cleaning with for years.

Properties of Vinegar

cleaning with vinegar

Vinegar definitely deserves its reputation as a super cleaner. Just have a look at its resume:

  • Solvent. That means it dissolves other things, like soap scum and grease.
  • Deodorizer. Although it has a pungent smell itself, this smell completely and quickly vanishes, and with it undesirable odors in your home and laundry.
  • Acid. Its mildly acidic nature is just what is needed in certain cleaning situations, most notably to dissolve hard water deposits.
  • Disinfectant. Studies have shown that vinegar is an effective germ killer (something people have known from practical experience for a long time.)
  • Rinses are completely clean with water.
  • It’s dirt cheap!

Using Vinegar to Clean Your House

You should use white distilled vinegar in your cleaning efforts. Save the red wine vinegar for your salad dressing. White vinegar guarantees you won’t get any staining effect and it is also probably the cheapest vinegar available. Once you start cleaning with vinegar, you’ll want to keep a large bottle always on hand.

It is very convenient to keep several spray bottles with various strengths of vinegar in them. In one, keep full-strength vinegar. In another mix vinegar and water in equal portions. Finally, add a 1/4 teaspoon or so of dishwashing liquid to the vinegar water mix for a homemade all purpose cleaner (I use this everywhere.)

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In the Kitchen

Vinegar is your kitchen’s best friend.

  • Use it full strength on countertops and cutting boards – it will completely remove any odors that may be lurking there. Just wipe afterward with a damp cleaning cloth.
  • Use the general-purpose cleaner given above for wiping down everything: appliances, tables, cupboards, and counters.
  • How to clean a dishwasher with vinegar.
  • How to clean a coffee maker with vinegar.

In the Laundry Room

Vinegar can be added directly to the rinse cycle of your washing machine. About 1 cup guarantees that your clothes will come out cleaner, fresher smelling, and softer. Learn more about vinegar for laundry.

If you want to go the extra mile, whip up some of this homemade fabric softener and toss that neon-colored, chemical soup you’ve been using forever.

In the Bathroom

You can use vinegar to clean the toilet. Spray the exterior and bowl of your toilet with vinegar, then pour some baking soda into the bowl and let things sit for a while. Wipe down the outside with a damp microfiber cleaning cloth, and then scrub the bowl with a brush. Learn more about how to clean a toilet.

Because it is only a mild acid, cleaning with vinegar may not be strong enough to eliminate hard water stains that have been gathering for a long time. However, if you regularly wipe down your faucets, shower doors, and tile with vinegar, the hard water stains will never have a chance to build up. Learn more about how to clean a bathroom.

Special Cleaning Tasks

Cleaning with vinegar is a great way to remove tarnishes. Learn how to clean copper with vinegar and use it to make a homemade brass cleaner. By using vinegar, you can probably skip more expensive and toxic cleaning solutions.

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Homemade carpet cleaner can also be made with vinegar.

Dealing With the Smell

I know that some people are going to be put off by the smell of cleaning with vinegar. It’s funny though how you will get used to it as you clean with it more and more. The odor never lingers so no one else will know that you’re cleaning with vinegar – your house will just smell clean.

You can add essential oils to homemade cleaners that contain vinegar to great effect. I like sweet orange oil, which has a traditional cleaner sort of smell that seems to marry very well with vinegar. But don’t stop there – try grapefruit oil, lemon oil, eucalyptus oil, or whatever smells clean to you.


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Mary Ann

I'm a mom of 3 and spend a good chunk of my time cleaning and organizing our crazy home. My goal is to help people keep their homes tidy in a way that saves them time and money! I hope the resources on this site are a help to you and your family.

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