My Many Uses for Vinegar in Housecleaning

 

White vinegar is the foundational product that allows us to switch out ALL of our chemical-based cleaning products.  The acidity of vinegar makes it an effective anti-microbial and disinfectant for any cleaning need.

I’ve been buying Four Monks white vinegar.  I buy it at Costco since it comes in packages of 2 1-gallon bottles.  Also, from Costco, Scotch-Brite scrubby sponges and baking soda in 13.5-pound bags!

The Many Uses of Vinegar

Decalcify

  • Add ½ to 1 cup vinegar to tea kettle.  Fill up with water the rest of the way.  Boil for 10 minutes and let sit for ½ hour or more.  The longer, the better.
  • In the coffee maker add equal portions of vinegar and water to the water chamber and start a cycle. Turn off half way through the cycle and let sit for an hour or so.  Rinse by running one cycle through with clean water.
  • For a shower head, add vinegar full strength to a plastic baggie and tie to the shower head with the shower head submerged in the vinegar.  Leave for several hours or up to overnight.  Use the green scrubby side of the sponge to help with any left-over deposits.

Disinfect

Full strength:

  • Use in a glass spray bottle (I use Vivplex glass spray bottle and brand for most of my homemade cleaning/body products) for soap scum and hard water deposits on glass shower doors and bathroom/kitchen tile. Then I use the green scrubby sponge to scrub off, if needed.  Scrub gently when using scrubby side of sponge on glass.  Wipe off with microfiber cloths like these Amazon Basics.  More than one color is nice if you want to color code for bathrooms and kitchen.
  • Spray on wood cutting boards or butcher block and let sit for at least 10 minutes.  Then wash in hot soapy water, as usual.  You could also use lemon juice for this, but vinegar is cheaper than organic lemons which I’d rather use for making teas and homemade electrolyte re-plenisher drinks.
  • Spray outer parts of toilet, bathroom sink and countertop.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes.  Sprinkle a little baking soda wherever you need some gentle abrasive power and scrub with sponge.  Wipe up with microfiber cloths.
  • Full strength vinegar will kill bacteria and viruses like flu virus.  Spray it on everything if you have the flu going around in your home.
  • Add a cup to the toilet bowl, sprinkle on some baking soda, and let sit.  FORGET THE TOILET BRUSH!  Put on gloves and use a scrubby sponge to get rid of rings and get that bowl sparkly clean

Launder Clothes

  • Pour full strength in the rinse cup of the clothes washer.
  • Soak extra stinky clothes in a bucket of water with vinegar.  Use about 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water.  I do this for all my hand towels and wash cloths—it works amazingly!

Clean Dishes

  •  Use full strength to fill up the rinse cycle cup.
  • Pour 1 cup in the bottom of the dishwasher for each run.  I do this with my Young Living powdered dishwasher cleaner.  They work great together!
  • You can add a couple of tablespoonfuls to dish water, but it can dry out the skin, so use gloves.

De-grease Everything

  • Spray on bathtub rings, let sit, gently scrub with scrubby sponge.  Add baking soda for more scrubbing action if needed.
  • The ratio of vinegar to water depends on how heavy the grease is, but a good starting place is 1 tablespoon to 16-ounce spray bottle and add water until full.  Add more vinegar to increase the concentration as needed.  Use on granite, greasy light fixtures, cabinet doors, stainless steel—anything that has greasy dirt on it.
  • Wipe down with microfiber cloths.

Clean Windows and Glass

  • Use the same de-greaser formula to clean windows and glass.  Dry with microfiber cloths.

Wash Floors

  • Use diluted on tile floors and sealed wood floors.  I use this microfiber cloth dry mop from Homevative for the wood floors.  It has a manual spray, so no batteries necessary, and easy to spray lightly to keep the cloth just damp for wood floors.  Microfiber cloths are washable.  There are other brands that seem to get great reviews, but I this is the one I’ve tried.

Hiding That Vinegar Smell

So, vinegar doesn’t really smell that great.  Adding in some essential oils is essential.  Try adding in some citrus like lemon or orange.  Or cinnamon, clove and nutmeg.  Whatever you like, really.

Vinegar EO Recipe

Mix the following ingredients in a glass spray bottle:

For each 1 cup of vinegar or vinegar/water dilution,

Add 10 to 25 drops of essential oils of your choice

The amount of EO depends on the strength of the scent you choose and on how strong the vinegar solution is:  use more EO in undiluted vinegar, and less in more diluted solution.

Infused Vinegar for Cleaning

 

Lemon infused vinegar. This half-gallon jar was filled about 2/3 full, and I add lemon halves as I use them. Almost full and it already smells great!

Making an infused vinegar totally changes vinegar’s smell.  Add citrus peels and other herbs that will also boost the cleaning power and leave your home smelling fresh.

To a large glass jar add enough white vinegar to fill the jar about 2/3 full.  I use half gallon mason jars with a plastic lid that won’t corrode from the acid.  I buy these wide mouth Ball jars in packs of six, and these wide mouth plastic lids.

If you have enough peels to fill up the jar right away, go ahead and do that.  If you need to add the peels as you go, that’s fine too.

Once the jar is full, set it aside for a week or two (I think 2 weeks is better) in a warm or sunny spot to allow some warmth to help the process along.  Shake daily.

After a week or two, use a funnel and cheese cloth or coffee filter to strain the infused oil into a clean jar.  Always label your homemade cleaning and body products.  Trust me—it’s soooo easy to forget.

When you’re ready to use, just put it into a glass spray bottle, and use per the instructions above, either full strength or diluted 50/50 for general all-purpose cleaning.

Try Adding Some Herbs

Miss the pine-scented cleaner you grew up with?  Add some fresh sprigs of pine to the vinegar.  Or try some antibacterial herbs like rosemary, or sage.  Experiment a little—I think you’ll really love this.

Final Thoughts

My preference is for the infused vinegar because it’s thrifty and smells great.  Infused vinegars are completely mixed:  as opposed to trying to add essential oils to water-based vinegar which won’t mix completely.  It still does a good job, but I like the infusion best.

I absolutely have loved getting rid of all the chemical cleaners in my home.  It saves money, it saves space, it saves lung tissue, and it’s so easy to do!

If you’re not into DIY cleaning, or don’t want to do all DIY, I also have cleaning solutions from Young Living.  You can see that post here.

Switch and ditch!  And get ready to be amazed!

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