How to Clean with Vinegar

Follow these tips from author Michael De Jong and the Vinegar Institute

Chelsea Rice (@ChelseaRice) Home November 10, 2015

Who doesn’t want a sparkling-clean home? If you'd like to avoid harsh chemicals that can irritate your skin and eyes, why not use an all-natural cleaning product like white vinegar to get it that way?

In his book “The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing,” Michael De Jong describes his switch to using vinegar and other natural ingredients. They’re so safe for people, pets and the environment that you can eat all of them, he notes.

White vinegar, an acetic acid, acts as both a cleaner and a disinfectant. These tips for using it throughout the house come from De Jong’s book and The Vinegar Institute.

1. Cutting boards and counters

Cutting board Cutting board Photo: Anetlanda/Shutterstock

Wipe wooden cutting boards will with full-strength vinegar to clean and disinfect them.

Clean counters, laminate, Formica or Corian with a quarter cup of equal parts vinegar and water. Just don’t use vinegar on marble; it will create pits in real marble.

2. Kitchen appliances

Cleaning kitchen Cleaning kitchen Photo: michaeljung/Shutterstock

Add one cup of white vinegar in the dishwasher for one cycle a month (without dishes) to reduce soap build up.

Clean your microwave by cooking a mixture of 1/4 cup of white vinegar and one cup of water for two minutes. This loosens food buildup and makes it easier to wipe off.

Save yourself some elbow grease and prevent food buildup on the inside of your oven by dipping a sponge in full-strength vinegar and wiping the oven walls.

Clean your drip coffeemaker by running a brew cycle with full-strength vinegar. Then, run two additional cycles with only water to rinse the vinegar out.

3. Dishwashing

Dishwasher Dishwasher Photo: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

To hand-wash fine china, crystal and glassware, fill a tub with warm water and add one cup of vinegar. Dip each item in the water, rinse with warm water and air dry.

For food buildup on pots and pans, boil a mixture of three tablespoons white vinegar and two cups water in the pan until the food loosens. Then pour it down the drain and wash the pan with soap and water.

Eliminate odors and stains in jars and containers by rinsing them with undiluted white vinegar.

4. ​Drain/garbage disposal

Sink drain Sink drain Photo: IKasparus/Shutterstock

One cup of white vinegar down the kitchen drain once a week will clean and deodorize your drain and garbage disposal. Let it stand for 30 minutes before flushing with cold water. To clean the garbage disposal, make white vinegar ice cubes, then put them down the disposal and run it. After they’re obliterated, rinse with cold water.

5. ​Clothes stains

Clothes hanging on a line Clothes hanging on a line Photo: conrado/Shutterstock

Treat grass stains with a solution of 1/3 cup white vinegar to 2/3 cup water. Blot spots with a clean cloth and repeat until most of the stain is gone. Then wash the garment through a normal cycle. To get rid of deodorant stains, rub with white vinegar before washing.

Two drops of vinegar added to loads will help keep colors bright.

If your clothes are stiff with soap residue, add ¼ cup of vinegar to the last rinse cycle to remove the soap film.

When you wash plastic or cloth shower curtains in the washing machine, add a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to prevent and kill mold and mildew.

6. Washing machines and irons

Washing machine Washing machine Photo: nexus 7/Shutterstock

Put a gallon of white vinegar through an empty washing machine for a full cycle to get rid of soap scum.

White vinegar also unclogs steam vents in an iron. Fill the reservoir with vinegar instead of water and let it run on the highest setting until all the vinegar comes out as steam (don’t iron anything).

7. Sinks and showers

Showerhead Showerhead Photo: benjawan jeerawatsupachok/Shutterstock

Scour sinks and tubs with full strength vinegar to get them clean.

To clean showerheads, pour ½ cup warm vinegar into a resealable plastic bag big enough to hold the vinegar and the shower head. Submerge the showerhead and let it sit for one hour. You can secure the plastic bag to the neck of the shower with rubber bands.

8. ​Tile and grout

Washing tile Washing tile Photo:

Scrub off buildup on ceramic tiles with a solution of ¼ cup of vinegar to one gallon of water. Full strength vinegar applied to grout and scrubbed with a toothbrush will get rid of stains and mold buildup.

9. Glass

Cleaning glass Cleaning glass Photo: Svetlana Solovjova/Shutterstock

Mix 2 tablespoons white vinegar and one gallon of water (or 1 tablespoon white vinegar and a half gallon of water) and pour into a spray bottle. Use it to clean mirrors, glass and windows. Polish them with recycled newspapers for a streak-free result.

10. Bad smells

Dog mess on carpet Dog mess on carpet Photo: Olimpik/Shutterstock

Did your dog or cat pee on the carpet? Remove pet urine odor by mixing up a solution of one cup vinegar to one cup room-temperature water. Dip a cloth in it and blot the area.

Freshen the air with a half-and-half spray mixture of water and white vinegar.

If you can’t get a bad smell out of your clothes, fill your tub with hot water and add a cup of white vinegar. Then hang the clothes in the bathroom to remove the smell.

11. Your car

Car window Car window Photo: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

Don’t stand out in the cold scraping frost off your car windows. Try treating them at night with a solution of three parts white vinegar and one part water to prevent frost from forming on them. Don’t wipe it off.

If your car smells, soak a piece of bread in vinegar and leave it in a bowl in the car overnight.

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