20 Ways to Clean with Vinegar

After I hit “post” on the pet messes blog, I realized that I hadn’t fully shared my love of vinegar with you clean geeks. Remember my giant jug of vinegar and jumbo bag of baking soda? Those definitely aren’t because Molly was never housebroken!

I am never without a trusty spray bottle filled with equal parts distilled white vinegar and water. You can add different ingredients to this solution or use plain vinegar with other ingredients to clean just about anything. Don’t worry, the smell dissipates after a few minutes; and, hey, maybe it will inspire you to eat more salad!

So here we go, 20 things you can clean and care for with vinegar (and a few other ingredients).

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1. Pet messes

  • I know we just covered this a couple of weeks ago, but since it was the inspiration for this post, I figured there’s no better place to start!

2. Your fridge

  • Spray shelves, walls, drawers and everything else with your vinegar/water solution. Wipe with a dry cloth.

3. Your bathroom

  • Spray full-strength vinegar on sinks, tubs and shower surrounds. Wipe with a damp cloth. You can also pour vinegar into your toilet bowl to deodorize and help scrub away stains. Spray on stubborn areas and let sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.

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4. Your extra-stubborn bathroom. (Hey, it happens to the best of us!)

  • If you find your soap scum resistant to plain vinegar, sprinkle a coating of baking soda over the mess first, then spray vinegar and let the foaming action help break up the gunk. You can also create a paste of vinegar and baking soda to scrub vertical surfaces.

5. Weeds

  • Pour full-strength white distilled vinegar on the weeds growing in cracks of your driveway or sidewalk. You need to saturate the roots, so don’t be afraid to pour a lot. I’ve found it works best early on a sunny day when the sun can also help bake away the weed. Not recommended for areas where you want to grow things in the near future.

6. Your nails

  • Wiping your nails with a cotton ball dipped in vinegar before applying your polish will give them a deep clean to help the polish stick better, longer.

7. Fruits and vegetables

  • A solution of 2 tablespoons white vinegar in one pint of water will help you better remove grime and pesticides. Rinse thoroughly before cooking or serving.

8. Brighter Easter eggs

  • This is an old trick I remember using with my mom. Mix 1 tsp vinegar into the hot water before you add dye or food coloring, and be amazed at your bright eggs!

9. Windows and mirrors

  • Add about a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol to your vinegar and water mixture for a cheap, streak-free glass cleaner. Works well on the inside of car windows, too!

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10. Drains

  • Pour a cup of baking soda down a clogged drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Enjoy the volcano action for a few minutes before following up with boiling water.

11. Garbage disposals

  • Make vinegar cubes by freezing a mixture of a cup of vinegar with enough water to fill the tray. Run several cubes through the garbage disposal, then flush with cold water. Follow up with some citrus peels to add a pleasant smell to your deodorized disposal.

12. Coffee pots

  • Run a full cycle of your coffee pot with half vinegar, half water. Works on traditional pots and on one-cup machines. For the latter, you may want to brew a couple of “cups.” After the vinegar cycle, thoroughly rinse your pot or reservoir, then run a full cycle (or another few cups) with plain water.

13. Plastic containers

  • Wipe down plastic containers with a cloth dampened with white distilled vinegar. It will help eliminate the funky old odors those can attract over time.

14. Hard floors (not waxed!)

  • Add ½ cup of vinegar to a half gallon of warm water in place of soap or other detergents. You can add 2 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol to help the mixture evaporate faster if you find your floors end up a little streaky.

15. Smelly dogs

  • Run out of dog shampoo the day before your pet rolls in the mud? Wet your dog with warm water, removing as much gunk as possible. Rinse with mixture of ½ cup white vinegar and 1 gallon water, rubbing it in if necessary. Rinse with warm water for a clean, smell-free friend.

16. Fresh flowers

  • When you’re adding sugar to your vase of water, also add 2 tablespoons of vinegar for each quart of water.

17. Steam irons

  • Pour equal parts water and distilled white vinegar into your iron’s water chamber. Turn to steam and leave it sitting upright for about 5 minutes. Empty the remaining solution.

18. Potatoes

  • Cutting a bunch of potatoes at once? Add the cut pieces to a bowl of water with 2 teaspoons of vinegar while you finish the rest of the pile. Drain before cooking.

19. Microwaves

  • Microwave a bowl of ¼ cup vinegar and 1 cup water for about two minutes, or until boiling. Let it sit for a few minutes before easily wiping away the splatters.

20. Your hair

  • Once a week or so, spray your hair with a mixture of 1 part warm water with 1 part apple cider vinegar (the raw stuff is best, but the regular kind will do in a pinch) in place of conditioner in your shower routine. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing as normal. It will help strip away built up product, help prevent dandruff, and make your hair magazine-shiny.

As always, test new cleaning methods in an inconspicuous place. Vinegar is very gentle on most surfaces, but you can never be too careful!
This is definitely not a definitive list, so tell me, clean geeks, what do you use it for? What have I missed?