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Cleaning with vinegar

Vinegar is amazing. I’m finding it’s just about the only ingredient I need for cleaning. It’s safe, inexpensive, green and less obnoxious than scented cleaners or harsh chemicals like ammonia.

Dish of vinegar next to cleaning towel

In these tips, “vinegar” means distilled white vinegar unless it says otherwise.

  1. Garbage disposal seals and trash cans can retain odors. Wipe them down with vinegar once a week or so to prevent this.
  2. 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).
  3. Tea kettles also get buildup. Boil water and ½ cup of vinegar for 10-15 minutes to clean it up. Rinse well.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Sink 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Porcelain sink stains come away with a sprinkle of baking soda wiped off by a sponge dampened with vinegar.
  11. Countertops stay cleaner and more fresh-smelling if you wipe them down with a vinegar sponge once a day.
  12. 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.
  13. Prevent discoloration on double boilers and egg poachers by adding just a teaspoon of vinegar to your boiling water.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Tile and grout can be cleaned with apple cider vinegar.
  18. Burnt-on crud on broiler pans can be rescued 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.
  19. For regular cleaning of glass, tile, sinks, and countertops and toilets, you need only a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Stubborn mineral deposits and stains can often be treated by spraying them with vinegar, leaving them to dry, then coming back to wipe them down to more vinegar later.
  20. Clean shower curtains can be sprayed with vinegar once or twice a week. No need to wipe them off afterwards.
  21. Bathtub rings can be removed by applying vinegar-soaked paper towels, which you allow to dry out, then clean with a vinegar dampened sponge.
  22. 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.
  23. As a fabric softener, ½ cup of vinegar can be added to the last rinse cycle of your wash. This also reduces lint buildup.
  24. Discourage ants by spraying undiluted white distilled vinegar outside doorways and windowsills, around appliances and wherever you find the pests coming in.
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