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One of the best old wives tales is that vinegar is a miracle cleaner. However, there are plenty of naysayers that say this cheap cleaning product just isn’t a good and effective cleaner.
To help you better understand the cleaning power of vinegar, we have pulled together some of our favorite home cleaning hacks using vinegar. We have also broken down how white distilled vinegar works (especially when mixed with a few other pantry ingredients) so you can put this super cleaner to work.
Before we hop into the cleaning hacks on our list, let’s look at some basic cleaning mixes you can make with white distilled vinegar. Take note of each mix as we will reference which one to use with the cleaning hacks below.
This cleaner is a simple mix of 50% water and 50% vinegar. No matter if you are only mixing a cup of each or if you are doing a big cleaning session and mix a gallon of each, the measurement for this will always be the same.
The need for mixing water and vinegar is to dilute the vinegar some. Diluting it will cut down on the high acidity and give the vinegar cleaner a hydrating factor which is necessary for cleaning carpets and other hard surfaces.
If cleaning with vinegar sounds like a great idea minus the too vibrant smell, then you will want to look into making a cleaner that lessens or eliminates the vinegar smell. Fair warning, this cleaning mix needs time to mature and reduce the vinegar smell. If you can be patient, this is perfect for you.
It does need to sit for at least two weeks. When ready to use, all you will smell is the light lemon scent while still maintaining the strong cleaning effect of vinegar. This spray can keep (unrefridgerated) for 6 months or more.
Light sprays and cleaners are nice, but what do you do when you need something gritty to help you scrub? This paste mix is great for cleaning brass, scrubbing pots, and helping you clean up stubborn stains and messes.
The salt and vinegar are the main stars of this cleaning mix. The flour works to hold them together and make a paste. This is good for adhering to surfaces you can’t easily soak as well as to scrub away messes.
Great for carpets, this cleaning mix is just what you need for cleaning carpets, upholstery, and other surfaces that are easy to rinse afterwards.
The added element of Dawn dish detergent gives the basic vinegar-based cleaner an extra boosted degreasing element. It also creates a boat-like transference agent to the mixture. This means it is great for aiding in lifting dirt and other debris from carpeted surfaces.
Recall the volcano experiment from grade school? When these two products are mixed they form a non-toxic chemical reaction that is great for cleaning gunky messes.
All you need to do is sprinkle some baking soda into the targeted area and either spray (for more concentrated areas that can’t be drenched) or pour pure white distilled vinegar onto the baking soda.
One of the potentially dirtiest surfaces in the home is the floors. This is because so much is tracked in and dropped on the bottom level of the home. Take a look at how vinegar works overtime to clean the floors so you aren’t left on your hands and knees scrubbing.
For stains (old and new) as well as just a general carpet cleaning deodorizer, vinegar is great for cleaning and refreshing your carpets. If you have stains on the surface, you will want to use the bubbling cleaner to help lift the stain.
If you are giving your carpets a deep cleaning with a shampoing vacuum, you can add the bubbling cleaner instead of a bottled carpet shampoo. The vinegar will work to refresh your carpets as well as get rid of any odors in the fibers.
When it comes to hardwood floors, you will want to use liquid very sparingly so you don’t damage or warp the floors. If your wood floors appear grimey, dull, or sticky, the next time you use a mop, add the basic water and vinegar cleaner. Just make sure you don’t soak the floor. Be sure to wipe up any excess water or puddles.
Since these floors can handle a little more water than hardwood floors, you can take it up a notch and use the bubbling cleaner to really scrub away any grime from your floors. Just make sure you follow the bubbling cleaner with a clean water rinse. You want wash away all the soapy residue.
While vinegar should not be used on stone surfaces like granite, it can be used to clean porcelain and tile floors. You can also use it to clean the grout. Just make sure you are diluting the vinegar by at least 50% with water so that it is not too acidic on these surface.
The kitchen is full of so many different surfaces and areas to clean. Vinegar is the perfect versatile cleaner that can shine countertops (just as long as they aren’t granite), clean stuck on food in the fridge, and degrease the stove.
You should strive to wipe down the inside and outside of the fridge at least a few times a year. You can use a seasoned lemon cleaner to give the fridge a refreshing clean. Or, try the bubbling cleaner if you have a lot of built up gunk and food residue on the shelves.
Pour a cup of undiluted white distilled vinegar into the dishwasher and let it run empty. This will clean the inside of the dishwater. It can remove any leftover gunk and clear out any mineral buildup from hard water residue that also usually build up on shower pans.
Skip the overpriced name brand coffee maker cleaners and make your own for less than a dollar. Fill the coffee pot with the basic 50/50 cleaner (no soap!) and run a brewing cycle. One it is finished, run clean water through two brew cycles.
You can also do this with your teapots to remove any hard water buildup. Pour the 50/50 basic cleaner into the teapot, let the boiling cycle run, and let the hot vinegar water sit for 20 minutes. Run another cycle with clean water to remove any leftover residue or vinegar.
Getting the gross residue out of a microwave may seem like a too difficult task and lots of scrubbing. The secret is to heat the cleaner inside the microwave to help rehydrate and release the debris. This way, you don’t have to scrub. You can use a basic 50/50 cleaner or squeeze in a little lemon to the mix.
White distilled vinegar is an effective way to disinfect your surfaces as well as remove any gunk. You can spray cutting boards with the basic 50/50 cleaner and then wipe them clean. No need to rinse or worry about chemicals coming into contact with your food the next time you use it.
The scrubbing cleaner paste will come in handy for this task. If your pots and pans have scorch marks on them, this cleaner will help restore their shine. The vinegar based paste also works to help scrub away any stubborn residue that soaking alone didn’t remove.
Let the paste sit on the pans for about 10-15 minutes before you begin to scrub it away with a bristles brush or a sponge.
The top of the stove is a magnet for crumbs, spills, and grease buildup. Vinegar is great because it doesn’t need any added ingredients to cut through these tough and sometimes stuck on messes. A basic cleaner is powerful enough to clean your stove. If possible, spray the cleaner on the difficult to remove grime and let it sit for a few minutes before you wipe the range down.
Before you complete cleaning your kitchen with vinegar based products, you have one more great hack you can use to keep the kitchen smelling fresh longer. Pour some vinegar down the drain to help deodorize your pipes. You can also freeze vinegar with a little cut up lemon in freezer trays and drop the ice cubes down into your garbage disposal.
How can something that is highly acidic and tough on grease be gentle enough to use on your clothes? White distilled vinegar is going to be your go to when you are dealing with your laundry and for good reason too! Check out these great laundry hacks to help move your cleaning along.
If it is good enough to clean cutting boards, then this natural disinfectant is perfect for tossing into the washer when you have soiled linens or when you’ve been sick. The vinegar will work to remove germs, strong odors, and unsavory stains from your clothes.
If you are in a rush and don’t want to separate your darks from your lights, you can toss a cap full of white vinegar into the washer to make sure that your red shirt doesn’t bleed into a light green shirt.
The first time you wash any of your clothes, you should toss in a cup of white vinegar. This will help lock in your colors so they don’t fade after the first wash. After the first vinegar wash, you don’t need to add it in any more. With all the benefits and no negatives, we always toss in a cup with our laundry.
If the ink pen in your shirt pocket leaks or if you get a penmark on the sleeve of your light colored shirt, a vinegar and milk soak will lift and remove the ink from your nice shirts and clothing. Just make sure you treat and remove the stain before you launder and dry the stain. The dyer is notorious for setting in stains.
Just like the dishwasher, you should plan to run vinegar through the drum of your washer to clean it. Fill an empty washer with water and pour a cup or two of white vinegar into the washer. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before you let the cycle run through.
Cleaning your bathroom just got easier thanks to this mixture. Now, the grime is cut through power and disinfecting strength of vinegar. Due to the small space you will want to make sure the window is open or that the fan is on to help dilute the strong vinegar smell. Or, you could opt to use the lemon cleaner.
These hair products can easily become built up with gunk and stuck on residue from hair products. It is wise to wipe them down once every other week to make sure your styling tools stay clean.
To wipe them down, wet a rag with the basic 50/50 cleaning solution. Make sure your styling tools are turned off and cool. Wipe the metal plates and parts to loosen up and remove any stuck on residue.
Use a basic 50/50 cleaner to spray down your windows, mirrors, and even glass shower doors. Skip using a paper towel and instead wipe the surfaces with old newspaper to get that coveted streak free shine.
Vinegar is acidic enough to clean mold and mildew from surfaces but it doesn’t completely kill all of the spores. However, when you used pure undiluted vinegar to wash and scrub the area, it deters mold and mildew from returning.
Spray your showers and tubs down with the Lemon Cleaner then let it sit for 5 minutes before you scrub down the tub and tiles. Letting it sit will allow the cleaner to loosen up grime and stuck on soap scum so it is easier to wipe down.
Even the best rain shower heads can build up with calcium, lime, and rust. The water is sprayed and it doesn’t always dry properly. Soaking your shower head in a basic 50/50 cleaner for up to 30 minutes will eat away at any residue and allow you to rinse or rub the shower head clean.
Especially in showers and tubs, drains can clog up easily. Remove as much hair and debris as you can from the drain cover and then sprinkle baking soda down the drain. Pour vinegar into the drain and then close the drain or cover it with something heavy. That makes the reacting products go down the drain instead of up.
For a non-toxic way to clean your little ones’ toys, you can soak them in a basic 50/50 cleaner for 5 minutes. Rinse them and return to your little one.
If you are redoing the interior of your home and have to deal with the dreaded wallpaper, let this great vinegar hack make it easier for you. Using the basic 50/50 cleaner, simply spray the wallpaper. It should peel off easily once damp. Afterwards, you can simply paint it a new color for a fresher look.
Make the scrubbing paste cleaner and apply it to your metals that need cleaning. Let it sit on the surfaces for 15 minutes. Rinse the metal with clean water and follow up with a quick polish by using a dry cloth.
Mix olive oil and vinegar. Dip a cloth in the mixture. Rub it with the wood grain, not against it. Next, take a clean and dry soft cloth to buff the area and wipe up any excess mixture.
If you have little pests flying around, pour a little bit of apple cider vinegar and a few drops of Dawn dish detergent in a small cup or bowl. The dish detergent will create a slippery surface so gnats can’t escape easily. The apple cider vinegar is not good for cleaning since it draws in fruit flies but it is perfect for luring them into a trap.
A basic 50/50 cleaner is all you need to restore your bricks and remove any smoke or grime that can build up on them. Spray the bricks down and then wipe them down with a cloth. If you have any stubborn grime or little crevices that a cloth wont reach, you can use a bristled scrub brush instead.
Vinegar also works to dissolve gum. You can dilute it or use straight vinegar, depending on which surface you are cleaning from. Try to get as much gum up as you can and then soak the surface with vinegar to loosen up the gum and remove it.
These hacks are great for helping you clean on a budget. They are also good to create a pet and kid safe cleaning environment. Just make sure that when cleaning with vinegar you follow these rules.
Lauren Moldvay is a freelance writer from Virginia and the mother of one (not always) sweet little girl. She specializes in trying to help others find easier ways to clean, manage the home and save money with DIY projects.