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josie's avatar

What are some ways vinegar can be used as a household cleaning product?

Asked by josie (22950 points ) November 9th, 2012

I was visiting my aunt. My late mom’s sister, and the only relative of the previous generation that I have left. I told I was moving into a new place and I was on my way to get cleaning supplies. She said “Dear, save your money. You only need vinegar and water.”

Really…

She went on to say it was the best way to clean wood floors, but then she started talking about something else, and the topic vanished.

So what are the uses for vinegar as a cleaning product? What proportions with water is the main thing I want to know. I figure the stuff is cheaper and less toxic than 409, so I am all ears.

If its all the same to, you can save the douche bag jokes for later.

Thanks from your cleaning fool, J

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20 Answers

syz's avatar

Wow, apparently there are lots of folks who use vinegr in lots of ways.

Personally, I don’t like the smell.

gailcalled's avatar

I (and my cleaning lady) use 1 part white vinegar to 5 parts water for all surfaces where I would have used Windex. Kitchen counters, all bathroom appliances, mirrors and windows.

I use a damp mop dipped into only water for my polyurethaned pine floors.

The smell dissipates within half an hour.

Things seem just as clean as in the past with the harsh cleaners, and I feel comfortable seeing Milo drink out of the toilet or the surface of the tub (not that I could stop him).

I have some dried up spackle lstuck to a shower floor; if I put a rag soaked in hot water and a bit of vinegar on the spots for 10 minutes, I can then scrape up the spackle with a plastic spatula.

Seek's avatar

Yes, wood floors! About a cup to a gallon.

Straight vinegar is antiseptic, so it’s great for kitchen counters (no chemicals on your food!) and bathroom. Just remember to NEVER use vinegar on marble. It’ll leave spots.

It’s a great once-a-week rinse for your hair. Cuts all the buildup. Just watch your eyes.

I’m also a fan of this neat trick:

Cut a lemon in half. Coat the cut end with coarse salt. Use as scrubber for sinks and tubs. Then, stick the lemon in the microwave for about a minute. All the grime in the microwave will now wipe off with a paper towel.

gailcalled's avatar

I was just searching for an efficient sponge mop online. No such animal, I guess. Stay tuned for new question on this subject.

Cupcake's avatar

I clean pretty much everything with vinegar and blue dawn detergent.

I fill about ⅔ – ¾ of a spray bottle bottle with vinegar and fill the rest with dawn (if you warm the vinegar first, the soap will not separate), spray it on anything, wipe with damp cloth, wipe with dry cloth if necessary. I keep the mixture in a handled sponge in the bathroom to clean the shower while I am in it.

I soak the shower head periodically in vinegar.

I also put some vinegar and a bit of dawn into the hot water for mopping.

snowberry's avatar

I use the cheapest white vinegar I can find to remove hard water build up from pet water dishes and aquariums. Acids will pit aluminum though, so don’t let it sit on aluminum.

Vinegar is also awesome to use anywhere you have mold/mildew. Bleach is toxic and harsh, and if used on mold, it causes the spores to explode. Vinegar seems to sort of melt mold and mildew, which is really interesting, and much healthier! You can also use it as a shower spray (although I have not tried it). I do know that the residue reduces mold/mildew growth. If you have a bag of oranges, and one of them is moldy, but the others only have mold on the rind, you can rinse the mold off the good ones using vinegar and then water. The same thing works for mushrooms that are starting to go slimy. If they are not too far gone, you can make them usable by rinsing in vinegar water, and then rinse them again in fresh water. If they still smell like vinegar after you have rinsed them, toss them out.

I also use baking soda and 20 mule team borax, I have other non-toxic cleaning tricks. PM me if you want to know.

Shippy's avatar

You can use vinegar as a fabric softer, I tried it and it works and no doesn’t smell either just smells fresh.

SpatzieLover's avatar

^ I do everything above, and I live in a hard water area.

I splash some into my dishwasher for each load to keep water spots away. To clean my dishwasher or washing machine I use two cups of cheapo white vinegar and run the machine. Works like a charm to remove lime build up and gunk in both.

If a cooking odor lingers in the kitchen. I set out a bowl of vinegar on the stove top overnight & clean the fan vent with vinegar. Fresh is all that’s left.

Drain odors magically disappear with a splash of vinegar. And, like @Cupcake I find the plain blue Dawn to be my other miracle worker.

We have old pipes that clogs easily. After snaking the drains, we run 8oz of Dawn down each drain, then follow up with hot water. They run smoothly for months.

Unbroken's avatar

All those ideas are excellent and I have used most of them. But also got a few pointers.

The problem with marketed cleaners other then the chemical’s is that they are filled with strippers, so the surfaces with natural protectant now attract dust and dirt. The surface gets really clean but then you need to reseal the surface with another product or it will literally attract dust. The same is true for your hair.

But I usually throw in some orange or lemon essiential oil, tea tree if it is in my hair. It’s antiseptic and smells good.
Yes and baking soda and salt if you need some scrubbing power.

A hydrogen peroxide for blood but it also works in a mouth wash diluted with water xylitol cinnamon or peppermint.

If you read the ingredients on mouth wash or toothpaste you will notice most contain quite a bit of sugar. Xylitol however promotes oral health.

BhacSsylan's avatar

A rather good one no one’s mentioned, cleaning a coffee machine. Make a large pot of 1:5 vinegar to water and ‘brew’ it one or two times through your machine (followed by just water to rinse), it’ll help cut calcium buildups in the inside of the machine and keep your coffee tasting better as a result.

And something else no one usually knows (though it doesn’t have to do with vinegar): clear the filter basket (where you put the filter during brewing)! Use soap though, as the problem is that repeated coffee brewing leaves oil deposits (not effectively cleaned by vinegar) which will sour and affect the taste of your coffee over time.

/coffee nut rant

Seek's avatar

^ I do my coffee pot once a month.

SpatzieLover's avatar

We only use distilled water for coffee, that way we don’t have to worry about lime build up. It lengthens the life of our coffee makers, too

Unbroken's avatar

Oh the coffee pot idea triggered my memory, you can also use vinegar to rinse your washing machine.
Put it in your detergent slot and put it on a short cycle. Also keeping the leaving the door open will prevent mildewing.

DrBill's avatar

you can also use it in the rug shampooer, it is great at removing odors especially animal smells

Ponderer983's avatar

I use it as a natural drain de-clogger. I sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda in the drain then pour white vinegar. When all the bubbling stops, I flush hot water down for a few minutes and viola! Get out all the odors too. I do this about once a month to keep my drains running clear.

And yes, as a cleaner with water mixed.

@SpatzieLover I have heard of using it in the dishwasher, but I haven’t done it yet. I get a lot of water spots and some lingering smells. How do you add it in? You said you just splash it in, but do you put in it the compartment with the soap, or just pour some generically into the bottom of the washer?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Ponderer983
I just splash (about a half cup-ish) into the bottom before I close it up & run it.

anartist's avatar

Note acid/base: both baking soda [base] and vinegar [acid] clean many of the same things, and used consecutively on the same thing, do even better.
Clean hard water white stuff [lime deposits] and mildew off my bathtub chrome fixtures.
Clean coffee pot.
Remove fabric stains.
[ahem] douche

rooeytoo's avatar

I remember mixing it with something to use as a silver polish, but I forget the exact recipe, it worked great though.

Symbeline's avatar

I’ll also chime in for the coffee maker vinegar cleaning. That’s what I do and it’s good for the inside parts you couldn’t get at without taking the whole thing apart. After that, I ’‘brew’’ again with water to rinse everything out. Works like a charm.

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