Almost instantaneously, as soon as I knew I’d be a parent, I became hyper-aware of anything that could affect my son’s well-being. With that, having a green(er) house became a priority. So, I began a quest to find greener options by educating myself on the products I was using, how they could affect our health and the environment. My research and testing led me to an epiphany: I don’t need to buy different, expensive products for each room and each use around the house. Most things can be cleaned/treated with one simple, green product that’s probably already in your pantry — vinegar.
Yes, plain, white vinegar, is my go-to product for many uses around the house. I use it for everything from cleaning counters and floors to killing weeds. The natural acidity of vinegar makes it a powerful cleaner and also provides natural antibacterial properties. Plus, it’s amazingly cheap — you can buy a gigantic bottle at Costco for less than $3!! Shocked? Intrigued? Good! Here are my top 6 uses for vinegar.
We all know the importance of eating plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. In my house, we eat a lot of them, and that means a lot of washing produce. For many things, a rinse with water will suffice, but some things I want a little extra clean. In these cases, I use my all-purpose vinegar spray: a clean, recycled spray bottle filled with 1 part white vinegar & 1 part filtered water. Simply spray, rub & rinse fruits & veggies for an extra, green clean. Plus, if you let your produce soak in a bowl filled with the water & vinegar mixture, it will clean the produce and preserve it so it stays fresher, longer — great for things that spoil quickly, like berries.
Fabric Deodorizer/Laundry Booster
Forget to put that load of laundry in the dryer again? Have no fear, the green power of vinegar is here! Pour 1-2 cups of vinegar (depending on how many days the clothes were left in the washer) directly onto the clothes and do a presoak, then add another cup into the fabric softener dispenser in your washer and run a normal cycle. The vinegar will remove that musty odor and, don’t worry, your clothes won’t smell like vinegar — you can always add some more detergent if you want though. I also put vinegar in my softener dispenser as a laundry booster as well to brighten whites and remove iron. This also works great if you ever forget wet beach clothes/towels/toys in the back of your car. Wash the clothes & towels following the directions above and then spray that 1:1 vinegar-water mixture in the back of your car, by the time it dries, the odor will be gone.
Don’t let pesky weeds, or pesticides, cramp your style (or your HOA’s) — get out your vinegar! In this case, I use full-strength vinegar that’s not been diluted with water. Sometimes I even use the “cleaning” vinegar that’s 6% acidity, as opposed to normal white vinegar that’s 5% acidity. I spray it directly on the weeds and within a few days, they are dead. Make sure you don’t spray it on grass, or any plants you want to keep alive. The best part is it’s completely safe for kids & pets!
In addition to its antibacterial properties, vinegar is an excellent degreaser. My favorite uses for this application are my stove-top and microwave. Even the nastiest, greasiest splatter can’t stand up to my green, all-purpose 1:1 vinegar solution. If there’s a really stuck on stain, I spray it on and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping clean. This is great for a flat cook-tops too, the vinegar leaves the flat surface clean and gleaming without any abrasives or harsh chemicals.
Speaking of glass…you guessed it, vinegar is perfect for cleaning that too! The usual 1:1 spray leaves a streak-free shine on all glass surfaces without buying a separate cleaner. This also applies to stainless steel surfaces that can get dirty, dulled and covered in fingerprints. I wipe down all of my appliances with the vinegar solution for a fingerprint-free clean.
Soap Scum & Hard Water Stain Remover
Last, but not least, in this lineup is using vinegar as a green option to remove soap scum and hard water stains. If your kitchen or bathroom fixtures are starting to get that nasty white buildup, soak the fixture directly in vinegar or wrap it in a paper towel or cleaning cloth that has been soaked in vinegar. Then let it soak for 15 minutes to overnight, depending on how much buildup there is, and the white crust will wipe away (not recommended for oil-rubbed bronze finishes). This also works for hoses or outdoor plumbing fixtures that might be corroded with mineral deposits. Plus, if your glassware is coming out of the dishwasher with a white film, spray it with the 1:1 vinegar solution and wipe clean, then add vinegar to your rinse-aid dispenser the next time you run the dishwasher.
There you have it! So many uses for one simple, cheap, green and easy-to-find product! If you despise the smell of vinegar, rest assured, the smell dissipates quickly, or you can always add some of your favorite essential oils to the 1:1 mixture to mask the smell. I hope you’re able to incorporate some of these vinegar hacks to make your house a little greener! Want some more green ideas? Check out this post for more eco-friendly habits.