No doubt you’ve got a wide selection of different kinds of vinegar on your pantry shelf. It’s a versatile ingredient useful in everything from salad dressings to marinades, and there are plenty of varieties — balsamic, champagne vinegar, and red wine vinegar, to name just a few types. Whether you’re a new cook or a seasoned pro, vinegar is one of the staples of all chefs’ kitchens, and having different types on hand means you’ll never be short of this key recipe ingredient again.
But did you know that vinegar has another, “secret” talent that many folks don’t know about? It does, and that talent is for cleaning in all sorts of settings. Whether it’s scouring the bathroom or removing a stain from your carpet, vinegar is an exceptional product that helps you get your home sparkling clean. And in these perilous times, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more vital than ever that your home is super clean and as germ-free as you can possibly make it, and vinegar is a great, inexpensive tool to help you achieve that.
Plenty of reasons! Vinegar isn’t just effective, it’s safe and non-toxic. Because of its high acidity level, white vinegar in particular is an effective cleanser, and you can use it anywhere because it doesn’t harm people or pets. You can’t say that about other, traditional cleansers!
Another reason to use vinegar is that it’s so inexpensive. For a mere few dollars, you can lay in a supply of vinegar and use it one day for salad dressing, and the next day when it’s time to scrub the bathroom. Like we said — it’s versatile!
Here we outline some of the best uses for vinegar as a cleanser.
In the kitchen, clean your coffee maker, cutting boards, and counters.
Minerals build up in almost all coffee makers over time, and they cause your coffee to, eventually, taste “off” when you brew it. In order to keep your machine operating smoothly and efficiently, run equal parts water and vinegar (two cups of each, for example) through the machine. In this case, you should use plain, old fashioned white vinegar. Your machine will soon be brewing coffee as good as the cups you made when you first bought it!
After running through the water-vinegar combo, run plain water through it again a few times just to get rid of any traces of vinegar that may affect the flavor of your next pot of coffee.
By the way, you can also use white vinegar to remove those unsightly tea and coffee stains in your favorite mugs.
Wooden Cutting Boards:
Dishwashers take care of most utensils, dishes, and cutlery, but don’t put your wooden cutting board in there or you’ll ruin it! It becomes split and warped, and that means all kinds of germs and bacteria can sneak into the board. Instead, mix four parts water and one part white vinegar and let your cutting board soak in the solution for several minutes. Rinse, dry it with a clean towel and voila! A disinfected cutting board ready for use!
The same mixture can be used for any wooden implement in your kitchen, like salt and pepper grinders. Don’t soak them, however; just wipe them down with the solution. Avoid using it on any metal parts of your grinders and mills, and just let them sit to air dry for several minutes before refilling them.
Even a small number of crumbs collecting on your counter while your cooking will, before you know it, attract ants and bugs. Eeew! Pour some vinegar into a spray bottle and use it to deter these critters and disinfect your counters. Or simply pour a little white vinegar on the counter and wipe it down with a cloth.
A caution, however: vinegar can cause marks on a granite or stone counter and even cause them to lose their luster, so we advise using a more traditional cleanser if you’ve got counters made of those materials. But elsewhere in the kitchen — the sink and taps, the shelves in the pantry — vinegar cleaning gets rid of germs and leaves surfaces sparkling clean.
In the bathroom, clean your toilet, shower, and mirror.
Germs collect like crazy in the bathroom, particularly in the toilet. You can either spray a vinegar solution on the rim and into the bowl or just pour some in straight from the vinegar bottle at full strength. It gets rid of all those nasty germs that build up every day in the toilet. Let the vinegar rest for a few moments in the bowl before scouring. Then, wipe all the toilet surfaces down and scrub the bowl. Flush, and it will be sparkling and free of germs. Even the most unsightly stains come out if you let your toilet soak in vinegar for several minutes.
If your shower head is clogged, chances are the water comes out erratically. Maybe the flow has lessened because it’s all plugged up with minerals. Vinegar saves the day!
First of all, simply wipe away any loose debris you can see around the showerhead. Then, mix about one cup of solution that’s half water and half vinegar, and pour it into a plastic bag. Wrap the bag snugly around the showerhead and tie it tightly with an elastic or twist tie. Let the showerhead soak in the solution for about 20 or 30 minutes, then remove and wipe off all the loosened mineral deposits. Run the hot water tap through the showerhead and you’ll be astonished by how well it’s now running. Just like new!
Very unsightly stains and marks can develop on mirrors, and getting them off can be tough. Not anymore! Vinegar does the trick, and removes just about any stain on your mirrors and leave a lovely shine with no streaks.
Simply mix equal parts water and white vinegar, spray it on the mirror, and wipe it off. Once again, the surface will sparkle and be germ-free instantly. (Be sure to wear rubber gloves when you’re using vinegar, as it’s acidic and can be hard on your hands.)
In the living room, clean your window, carpet, and leather furniture.
Clean windows make a home look great, don’t you agree? Simply mix warm water and vinegar into a spray bottle, mist the solution on your windows, and watch it remove all kinds of dirt and grime. You can use it on plastic blinds, too, to make the windows look truly marvelous.
Cleaning the outside windows, which are more susceptible to stains from passing traffic and birds may take a little extra “elbow grease” but the vinegar works here just as well. Spray the solution on, let it sit for about five or 10 minutes, then wipe it off with a sponge. No stains, no streaks, and sparkling clean windows are your reward.
Baking soda and vinegar is a popular solution for carpet stains, but you may not realize just how much vinegar you need to get good results. The trick is this: let the stain sit in a little pure white vinegar for a few moments. Then sprinkle on baking soda, and vacuum it all up — the stain will be gone, totally.
A caveat, however: you must consider the material the carpet is made of before putting vinegar on to clean it; some fabrics shouldn’t have it on them, like silk and wool. If you’re unsure what your carpet is made of, do a test spot somewhere out of sight and see how the carpet reacts to the vinegar solution. You don’t want to damage your carpet!
Leather can look dreadful if a spill or stain isn’t treated immediately, and cleaning with vinegar can do wonders for your leather chairs and sofa.
Here’s the trick to ensuring liquid doesn’t stain: dry it completely first. Then mix a solution of white vinegar (one part) and flaxseed or linseed oil (two parts). Using a soft cloth or clean rag, apply it lightly to the leather in large, circular motions. Not only will the leather come clean, but it is also renewed by the mixture, so it won’t crack or dry out.
In the bedroom, clean your clothes and jewelry.
You can use a mixture of vinegar and warm water to clean just about any surface in your bedroom, like night tables and dressers. And you can use it to clean your clothes, too! Never pour vinegar right onto your clothes because it’s acidic, but you can use it instead of detergent that’s filled with chemicals that are definitely bad for the environment.
If you’ve got stains to get out of a piece of clothing, just dilute the vinegar first — a gallon of water and one cup of white vinegar is the best recipe. Pour a little directly on the article of clothing, then wash your clothes as you normally would. Doing laundry with a vinegar cleaning solution is an effective, environmentally friendly way to get your clothes clean.
Silver jewelry, in particular, gets tarnished and dark with age. That’s because all silver has a little copper in it, and copper has sulfur, and that’s what makes it go dark, even black. But these unsightly stains do come off, with two very common household products that, when combined, make for a powerful jewelry cleaner.
Mix half a cup of white vinegar with two tablespoons of baking soda. Stir or shake the container well, to truly mix them together. You will see the mixture begin to bubble up.
Soak the piece of silver jewelry in the container for about three hours, depending on how dark it is. Then rinse the jewelry thoroughly under cold water, which gets rid of any residue from the mixture. It will look like new!
Gold jewelry can also be cleaned with a water and vinegar solution. But in this case, it’s apple cider vinegar you want, not plain white. Place one cup of apple cider vinegar in a jar or bowl large enough to hold the piece of jewelry. Submerge the item in the bowl, and be sure it’s covered by the vinegar. Wait about 15 minutes, then wipe it down with a dry, clean cloth.
Just remember: don’t let the item rest in the vinegar for too long, because it might damage the gold. Also, best to use a different kind of jewelry cleaner if the gold jewelry has diamonds, for example, or other precious gems.
Using vinegar to clean jewelry whenever you can is absolutely the most eco-friendly way to keep your bling sparkling! You’ll find every kind of vinegar you need at the grocery store, and it’s inexpensive and versatile for all kinds of cleaning projects.
Vinegar is one of Mother Nature’s best cleaners but remember: it does lose its punch and flavor over time, so don’t keep a huge number of bottles on hand. Keep enough, and keep a variety, but don’t stock up so much that you have to pour some out after a few months.
Vinegar is a cleaner’s best friend, and right now cleanliness is more important than ever! Vinegar kills germs, cleans the surface, helps you do laundry, and can keep your jewelry dazzling. Who could ask for more in a pantry shelf staple?