Looking for an eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemical cleaners? Look no further than your kitchen cupboards. Grab a handy-dandy bottle of vinegar (yes, vinegar!).
Vinegar is more than just the go-to for dressing salads and mixing up marinades. Because it’s nontoxic, eco-friendly, and cheap (cha-ching!), vinegar is the perfect solution for all your household cleaning needs.
Keep reading to learn how vinegar is about to rescue you from harsh, environmentally unfriendly multipurpose cleaners and become the cleaning agent of your dreams.
Giving COVID-19 the side-eye
While it’s a great natural disinfectant and can banish bacteria, vinegar isn’t recommended as a defense against viruses, including the new coronavirus. Vinegar hasn’t been found to kill viruses or other microbes.
Acetic acid is the secret sauce
Vinegar is made from acetic acid, an organic compound that’s also found in most cleaning products. Acetic acid gives vinegar the cleaning power to defeat grease, dirt, grime, mineral deposits, and even bacteria.
Common types of vinegar are:
- distilled white vinegar
- apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- white or red wine vinegar
- balsamic vinegar
Best vinegar for cleaning…
Even though there are a bunch of different types of vinegar, distilled white vinegar is your best bet for cleaning. Its 5% acidity level is closest to those of most multipurpose cleaners.
Distilled white vinegar is also great because it won’t stain any surfaces or items, unlike a darker vinegar (we’re looking at you, ACV).
Smell ya later
Vinegar stinks. Literally.
Thankfully, the scent only lasts for about an hour. And you can easily give that vinegar smell the boot. Simply add a few drops of your fave essential oil to mask the smell. Some popular options are lavender, peppermint, and citrus (orange or lemon).
You can also choose to use ACV, which has a somewhat sweet smell. But be sure to dilute it with water, because its darker color could stain.
Vinegar is great for cutting through dirt and grime on floors, particularly floors made of tile or no-wax linoleum.
DIY vinegar floor cleaner
Mix 1/2 cup of vinegar into 1/2 gallon of water to create your floor cleaner. For floors that need a gentler cleaner (think ceramic tile), use a mixture of 1/2 cup of vinegar and 1 gallon of water.
Warning! Don’t use vinegar on your hardwood or natural stone floors. Its acidic quality can strip the finish or cause surface pitting.
Vinegar can get rid of nasty soap scum buildup in your dishwasher.
DIY dishwasher cleaner
For a machine that keeps your dishes sparkling, simply add 1 cup of vinegar to your dishwasher’s rinse compartment and run it for a whole cycle.
Try this solution on both the inside and outside of your appliances. It even works on stainless steel!
DIY appliance cleaner
To keep your appliances in tip-top form, whip up a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.
Spray down your appliances with this magic mix and wipe it away with a soft or microfiber cloth for a streak-free clean.
Need to get rid of stubborn fabric odors or stains? Try distilled white vinegar!
DIY laundry detergent
Simply add 1 cup of vinegar to the wash cycle and voila!
Pro tip: Avoid dark vinegars, which could stain your clothes.
Vinegar can help rid your toilet bowl of stubborn rings and gross odors.
DIY toilet cleaner
All you gotta do is pour 2–3 cups of undiluted vinegar into the bowl. Wait up to 3 hours, give it a good scrub with a toilet brush, and then flush these trouble spots away!
Undiluted white vinegar can help remove stubborn soap scum and meddlesome mildew in your shower and tub. Spray it on, let it sit for a few minutes, and wipe the gunk away.
DIY bathroom cleaner
Spray vinegar directly, let it sit for a few minutes, and wipe away.
Have tough grime to tackle? Mix some baking soda with your vinegar to make a paste that will scrub that grime right off.
When calcium deposits or hard water stains build up on your faucets and showerheads, a combo of vinegar and salt can save the day.
DIY faucet cleaner
Mix 2 teaspoons of vinegar with 1 teaspoon of salt and scrub your faucets until they shine.
For more challenging buildup, spray the mixture on your faucet or showerhead, tie a bag around the fixture, and let it sit overnight. In the a.m., remove the bag, scrub, and rinse.
You can buy glass cleaners with vinegar already mixed in, but you can also save some dollars and avoid the extra chemicals by whipping up your own vinegar glass cleaner.
DIY glass cleaner
For a streak-free finish, use a mixture of 1 part water and 2 parts vinegar on your glass surfaces. Spray it on and wipe it away!
Vinegar’s a natural disinfectant, so it’s a great choice for cleaning the surfaces where you prep food.
DIY countertop cleaner
Wipe down your countertops with a handy mixture of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water. (Power up: Add a few drops of Dawn dish soap for a boost when cleaning tough stains!)
Vinegar can help keep your countertops fresh and remove odors — plus, it can be a great pest deterrent.
Warning: If you have granite or marble countertops, vinegar isn’t the option for you. Its acidic properties can dull your countertop’s luster, so stick to cleaners meant for natural stone instead.
Is your microwave starting to develop a certain stink?
DIY microwave cleaner
Say “sayonara” to the smell by combining 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water in a bowl and microwaving it for a couple of minutes.
This is also a great way to loosen any stubborn stains or caked-on gunk in your microwave.
ACV has become all the rage as a home remedy for maintaining digestive health.
Some possible benefits of ACV include:
- Reducing bloating: Bloating is often due to low levels of stomach acid. ACV can help relieve bloating by raising these levels and improving digestion.
- Fighting acid reflux: it’s thought that ACV can balance the stomach’s pH levels to neutralize stomach acid and improve gut health.
- Flushing toxins: ACV may help to naturally rid your body of toxins, as well as help with constipation and weight loss.
You can create a refreshing ACV elixir by mixing 1 to 2 teaspoons of ACV into a large glass of water.
Be sure to use organic, unfiltered ACV (with “the mother”) for the best benefits, and drink no more than one glass a day to avoid eroding tooth enamel.
Want to keep that beautiful bouquet lookin’ good longer? Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of sugar to 1 quart of water in a vase before arranging your flowers with freshly trimmed stems.
Be sure to change the water every couple of days or whenever it becomes cloudy.
A vinegar rinse can help remove product buildup to keep your hair silky and shiny.
Start with a mixture of 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 cup of water. Based on your hair type, you can adjust the amount of vinegar to best treat your tresses. Use more vinegar for oily hair and less for dry hair.
Pour on the mixture, massage it into your scalp, and rinse with clean water. While ACV is the hair care darling ATM, you can also opt for distilled white vinegar.
In some cases, cleaning with vinegar isn’t the answer you’re looking for.
Avoid using vinegar when:
- Cleaning surfaces like marble, soapstone, or granite. Vinegar’s acidity can cause pitting and dull the shine of these surfaces.
- Cleaning up eggs. While vinegar is egg-cellent (dad joke!) in many cleaning scenarios, using it on an eggy mess can change the consistency of the eggs and make them harder to clean up.
- Cleaning solid wood furniture or hardwood floors. Vinegar can strip away the wood’s finish.
With its eco-friendly and nontoxic properties, vinegar is more than just a culinary staple. It’s also a cheap and easy way to meet most of your cleaning needs.
To use vinegar as a cleaning agent, just mix it with some water (and a few drops of essential oil for fragrance) and go to town on the dirt and grime in your home. Tossing in a bit of baking soda or salt can make a scrub for those harder-to-clean surfaces, like shower tile and grout.
While it’s great for many applications, you should avoid using vinegar on some surfaces, including granite and wood. Always proceed with caution.