There are a lot of ways to clean with vinegar. Specifically, white vinegar. Now, we should state right up front that the science is out on how much of a disinfectant vinegar is. It does kill germs, but probably not as effectively as commercial disinfectants.
But it is excellent at general cleaning. It breaks down soap buildup and other grim and it helps eliminate odors. It does effectively kill e. coli, salmonella, and listeria, three bacteria that cause food-borne illness. Since vinegar is edible and doesn’t hurt food, it’s great for cleaning surfaces where food sits.
As a complement to our homemade disinfectant wipes, vinegar is great to add do your cleaning routine. It’s especially useful in the kitchen, where you probably already have it. A few of these tips also require baking soda, salt, or other supplies you probably already have on hand.
You don’t need any fancy type of vinegar for this cleaning. A plain bottle of white distilled vinegar is fine.
Ways to clean with vinegar
- Countertops stay cleaner and more fresh-smelling if you wipe them down with a vinegar sponge once a day.
- Garbage disposal seals and trash cans can retain odors. Wipe them down with vinegar once a week or so to prevent this. Get more tips on removing odors from garbage disposals.
- Glasses and dishes sometimes develop a foggy looking film. Rinse them in water and vinegar to remove the film.
- Coffeemakers can develop mineral buildup inside that affects coffee’s flavor. Brew a cup of cold water with ¼ cup vinegar and follow that with a cycle of cold water to get rid of the vinegar smell (you might need to do this more than once).
- Windows and mirrors can benefit from cleaning with diluted vinegar – about 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water. This works as well as any specialized glass cleaner.
- Remove mineral deposits clogging your showerhead by removing the showerhead and soaking it in a bowl filled with a quart of water and ½ cup of vinegar for at least 15 minutes.
- Tea kettles also get buildup. Boil water and ½ cup of vinegar for 10-15 minutes to clean it up. Rinse well.
- Refrigerators can be wiped down with a sponge dipped in vinegar to prevent mildew. This is an awesome tip for an office environment where people don’t always clean up after themselves.
- Glass jars also clean up nicely with vinegar. Fill a jar one third of the way with vinegar and the rest of the way with hot water. Let it sit for 10 minutes. Empty and rinse. This is great for removing the last bits of condiments or preserves from a jar you want to reuse.
- Dishwashers can also get clogged by food particles or become smelly. Run the rinse cycle with ½ cup of vinegar inside to loosen those particles and make it clean and shiny. How often you need this depends how many dishes you wash – try twice a month.
- Clean toilets by pouring vinegar into the bowl and allowing it to sit for half an hour. Sprinkle baking soda onto a toilet brush and scour. The rest of the toilet can be cleaned with vinegar.
- Wood likes vinegar too. Wipe down cutting boards, breadboxes and wooden surfaces with vinegar to keep them clean and smelling fresh. For more intense cleaning, sprinkle some salt onto your vinegar sponge or cloth.
- The smell of bleach that lingers when you use it to clean surfaces or sinks can be eliminated by wiping down the surface with a sponge dampened with vinegar.
- Prevent discoloration on double boilers and egg poachers by adding just a teaspoon of vinegar to your boiling water.
- Squirt vinegar on mineral deposits around sinks and let it sit for at least 15 minutes, then you can easily remove the deposits with an old toothbrush.
- Clean shower curtains can be sprayed with vinegar once or twice a week. No need to wipe them off afterwards.
- Tile and grout clean up nicely with vinegar. Fill a spray bottle halfway with warm water and half with vinegar to make a 1:1 solution. Spray it on the grout and then wait for five minutes to let it do its work. Scrub with a stiff brush.
- Stainless steel faucets and fixtures look great after a wipe down with vinegar. Dip a corner of a dishrag in vinegar and wipe them down to get rid of splashes and buildup.
- Bathtub rings can be removed by applying vinegar-soaked paper towels, which you allow to dry out, then clean with a vinegar dampened sponge.
- Microwaves get splattered. They’re easy to clean if you always wipe them down when they’re still warm, but when that doesn’t happen, put a glass with 1 cup of water and ¼ cup vinegar inside and turn the microwave on high for three minutes. Remove the cup and wipe the microwave down inside with a damp sponge.
- As a fabric softener, ½ cup of vinegar can be added to the last rinse cycle of your wash. This also reduces lint buildup.
- ink clogs can be opened by pouring the following solution down the drain: equal parts vinegar, salt and baking soda. Don’t use the sink for an hour, then pour boiling water down the drain.
- Discourage ants by spraying undiluted white distilled vinegar outside doorways and windowsills, around appliances and wherever you find the pests coming in.
- Broiler pans can be rescued from that burnt-on crud they get with 2 cups of vinegar and ¼ cup of sugar poured into the pan while it’s still warm (or heat it back up if it’s cooled) and letting it soak for an hour.
- Ovens benefit from being cleaned with an equal parts water/vinegar solution. Even if you use another oven cleaner, you should finish with this solution because it helps to prevent greasy buildup in the future.
- Fryer baskets can be cleaned by sitting in a solution of equal parts hot water and vinegar. You can do this in a sink or a large shallow pan or dish.
- Greasy frying pans become easy to clean when you simmer ¼ inch of water with ½ cup of vinegar in them for 8-10 minutes.
- Porcelain sink stains come away with a sprinkle of baking soda wiped off by a sponge dampened with vinegar.
Simple vinegar is a great, affordable and safe cleaning solution for lots of materials. It makes glass, steel and chrome shine. It takes stains out of porcelain. Sometimes you need to use it with baking soda or salt, but this is easy to do.