Perhaps I’ve been influenced by my very Southern mother, or maybe it’s just from spending too much time glued to Pinterest, but I use vinegar for everything. Ev-er-y-thing. I keep all types of vinegar – white, apple cider, red wine, tarragon – stocked in my cabinets. It’s handy for cooking, cleaning, and what most of my friends refer to as “weird voodoo home remedies” (a spoonful of vinegar a day keeps the doctor away!).
One of the best things about keeping vinegar in your home is that it’s so cheap. You can usually get a big bottle of white vinegar for under a dollar, and not too much more for apple cider vinegar. On top of that, it’s edible – no harsh toxins, no lingering chemical smell – making it the perfect cleaning solution if you have children or pets.
1. Wash the windows. Combine 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup vinegar and a dab of liquid dish soap in a spray bottle. Spray directly onto window and wipe down with a clean, soft cloth or crumpled newspapers. Also works for glass tables and mirrors.
2. Mop the floor. Fill a bucket with hot water, a cup of vinegar, and dish soap in place of a harsh floor cleaner. You can also put this mixture in your refillable spray mop container. Mix a water and vinegar solution only to add more safe cleaning power to your steam mop.
3. Clean the washing machine. Run a cycle with hot water and one cup vinegar to rid the washer of bacteria and soap scum. Repeat monthly.
4. Unclog the drain. Dump half a box of baking soda directly into the drain, then follow the baking soda with 1/2 cup of vinegar. Immediately stop up the drain (an old rag or cloth will work). Let sit for 30 minutes, then clear it out with boiling water (be careful!). Repeat if necessary. Also effective for clearing a clogged hose.
5. Make your dishes sparkle. Rinse your dishes in a mixture of water and vinegar. Polish silver with undiluted vinegar for a crystal clear shine.
6. Clean the microwave. Fill a bowl with water and vinegar, then stick in the microwave for 5 – 10 minutes, then wipe clean.
7. Clean wood cutting boards. Wipe down the surface with vinegar and a paper towel.
8. Get rid of fruit flies. Fill an empty jar or bowl about halfway with apple cider (balsamic or any sweet vinegar will work), then swirl in a few drops of liquid soap. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (you may need a rubber band or tape to keep it closed) then poke a few small holes in the plastic wrap – just big enough for the fruit flies to pass through. Put it out of reach of children and let the trap do its work. In a day or two, you should notice an accumulation of flies inside the trap.
9. Keep your cat out of the window. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and water, then spritz the areas you want to keep Kitty out of.
10. Get rid of that annoying sticker residue. Soak the item with vinegar and hot water for a few minutes or dab vinegar directly onto the sticky area. Wipe clean.
11. Sanitize children’s toys. Fill up a clean bucket (or bathtub) with hot water and a cup or two of vinegar. Let the toys soak, then lay out on a towel or cloth and let air dry.
12. Make wood floors shine. Spritz a solution of warm water, a few teaspoons olive oil and vinegar onto the floor, then polish with a soft cloth.
13. Keep colors from fading. Keep your colors bright by adding a cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle.
14. Get rid of soap scum and lime buildup. Soak your showerhead overnight in a vinegar-water mixture. Use the mixture on the shower walls and curtain as a daily shower spray.
15. Get that plastic smell out of your new coffeemaker. Set up your coffeemaker, then brew about 1/2 cup of vinegar for every four cups of water your machine holds (so for an 8 cup coffee maker, brew seven cups of water and one cup of vinegar). You may have to repeat the process a couple of times before the smell completely vanishes. Use the “brew” monthly to clear coffee residue.
BONUS: Get that smell out of practically anything. Leave laundry in the washer for too long and now it’s got that mildew smell? Fill the basin with hot water, add a cup of vinegar and let soak for at least 30 minutes. Add detergent and wash normally. Also works with musty dishes – add 1/2 cup vinegar to your soapy water or dishwasher. Cook a hearty meal, but can’t get the smell of garlic off your hands? Dab vinegar onto a cotton swab or cloth, then wipe off your fingertips.
What other ways do you use vinegar? Tell us in the comments below, and find out other ways to use this versatile cleaner here: