11 Things You Didn't Know You Could Clean Using White Vinegar
If you're at all into DIY-ing home cleaners, you likely already know that white distilled vinegar is super versatile and excellent for freshening up hard surfaces. It's cheap, readily available, and can be used from the kitchen to the bathroom and everywhere in between. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, here's how to recruit this pantry staple for cleaning 11 places all around your home.
Just note that you should avoid using white vinegar (or any kind of vinegar, for that matter) on porous surfaces—its high acidity can damage things like marble, granite, and limestone.
We've all let our microwaves get a little out of hand when it comes to spills and splatters, but luckily, cleaning it couldn't be easier. As Marcela Barraza, founder of NYC–based natural cleaning service MB Green Cleaning, tells mbg, vinegar is great to eliminate bad odors from the microwave.
"Place a bowl with equal parts water and vinegar [inside], and boil it for about three to four minutes," she explains. "This will loosen up the dirt and deodorize the interior." Careful—the bowl will be very hot. Afterward, simply wipe clean with a damp cloth or paper towel.
Scissors are prone to getting gunky after a while and may not work as well because of it. But with a little vinegar handy, you can get them good as new. "Dampen a microfiber cloth with vinegar, and wipe the blades," Barraza says. "They should now be clean and working great."
Want to spruce up your stainless steel? All you need is a bit of vinegar to get rid of fingerprints and streaks. Barraza notes you can dampen a microfiber cloth with vinegar to give appliances like the oven a quick refresh.
According to Jen Chillingsworth, author of Clean Green: Tips and Recipes for a Naturally Clean, More Sustainable Home, vinegar can tackle lots of bathroom cleaning too, starting with the toilet. "I clean the outside of the toilet, the seat, and the cistern with a spray comprised of distilled vinegar and water," she says. "To make the spray, use a ratio of one part vinegar to two parts water for the size of your bottle."
(For a scented bonus, Chillingsworth likes to infuse her vinegar with scents, by putting herbs like thyme, sage, and mint into a Mason jar with distilled vinegar. "Set aside for two to three weeks, then strain the vinegar into a clean jar with a lid," she suggests.)
The dishwasher washes the dishes, but what washes the dishwasher? Well, vinegar, of course. To give your dishwasher a fast cleanse, simply run it with nothing but a cup of your white vinegar in a bowl on the bottom rack.
If you've got an extra-large or extra-dirty load of laundry to tackle, Barraza says adding half a cup to one cup of vinegar to your laundry cycle will eliminate odor—and double as a fabric softener. "This is especially good when washing towels," she adds.
The shower or bathtub
To give your shower or tub a quick clean, create a solution of equal parts white vinegar and dish soap in a spray bottle. (Feel free to add one or two drops of an antimicrobial essential oil, like tea tree, too.) Simply spray around the entire tub, let sit, and rinse. If necessary, you can use a cloth or small cleaning brush to scrub any buildup that remains.
Nothing brightens up a room quite like clean, streak-free windows! And all you need to get them is a cup of water and half a cup of vinegar in a spray bottle. Simply spray and wipe down with a microfiber cloth. "It breaks down dirt and film, leaving windows streak- and smudge-free," Chillingsworth says. And they don't need rinsing afterward, she adds. "Simply go over the areas you have wiped with a clean, dry cloth."
To neutralize the odor of a furry friend's accident, Barraza says vinegar will do the trick. Just dry the spot as much as possible with a paper towel or cloth, and spray directly with vinegar. Not only will you not be able to smell it, but your pet won't either—ideally, preventing future accidents.
Here's a trick from Barraza you'll wish you'd known sooner: Vinegar is all you need to neutralize the odor of a garbage can. Simply soak a paper towel in vinegar and place it at the bottom of the can, she advises. Genius.
And lastly, for a low-touch clean of all your faucets, "Pour plain vinegar in a bag and wrap it around the faucet," Barraza says. "If your sink has a hose then bring it to a container [of vinegar] and let it soak for one to two hours." (This method works on shower heads as well!)
Convinced yet? With your supply of vinegar at the ready, everything from your windows to faucets will be sparkling in no time.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.