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Natural Cleaners: Cleaning with Vinegar

Updated on March 24, 2011

Maintaining a clean and healthy home is very important for the well being of your family and pets. While a variety of products abound in the cleaning aisle today, the chemicals used to “clean” your home may be doing more harm than good. We can be so tempted to grab the newest disinfectant spray or wipe to keep our family and pets healthy, but safer, all-natural alternatives do exist which are available at a fraction of the cost. In the first part of this series on natural cleaning products, we will examine the many uses of vinegar.

Cleaning Properties of Vinegar

Many forms of vinegar, such as apple cider vinegar, are available. However, only distilled white vinegar will be used in this article. A 50/50 solution of vinegar and water (one part vinegar to one part water) kept in a spray bottle is an effective all-purpose cleaning product to keep on hand. This solution can be used to clean many surfaces, including kitchen counter tops, sinks and bathtubs. However, it is important to note that, because of its acidic nature, vinegar can cause harm to natural stone such as marble and granite. Material-appropriate cleaners should be used on such surfaces.

Diluted vinegar also makes an excellent wood cleaner. Mix about ½ to ¾ cup distilled white vinegar per gallon of warm water, depending on the strength you prefer. This solution can be mopped on hardwood floors and used to clean cabinets and woodwork throughout the house. However, as the type of finish on woodwork may vary, always test a small, discrete area first to ensure the safety of the finish.

As an alternative to a chemical glue removal product, a cloth dipped in undiluted white vinegar often easily removes adhesive residue from glass and ceramic. If the adhesive is particularly difficult to clean off, try a cloth dipped in vegetable (or other cooking) oil, allowing the oil to soften the adhesive for a few minutes, before following with the vinegar cloth.

Vinegar as a Disinfectant and Deodorizer

Whether full strength or diluted, vinegar is also a natural disinfectant and deodorizer. To freshen a stale room, pour ¼ cup of white vinegar into a small bowl and place in the room, uncovered, for a few days. While there will be a smell of vinegar at first, the odor and scent of vinegar will dissipate. If the odor is stronger, place a few small bowls out at a time, or empty and refill one bowl every couple days for a week.

To remove the unappealing smell of a litter box, completely empty and wash the box at least once a month with diluted vinegar. Frequent cleaning will both deodorize and disinfect the litter box. Vinegar is useful in the laundry as well. Pouring ½ cup into the washing machine with towels or clothing soiled from working outdoors will disinfect and refresh the fabric.

A Plethora of Other Uses

While many uses of vinegar have been discussed, this post barely scratches the surface. For more information on how to use vinegar in everyday life, visit the “1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar” web page.


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    • DON BALDERAS profile image

      DON BALDERAS 5 years ago

      This is a good contribution to the propagation of earth-friendly ideas which we kindly need for a healthy earth.

    • Double E profile image

      Double E 6 years ago

      @ The Dirt Farmer

      I have used vinegar in laundry for years! I usually only add it to loads with towels or dirtier than usual clothing, but it does a fantastic job of freshening the fabrics. I have yet to branch out and use it on windows, but I hear it comes highly recommended. =)

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 6 years ago from United States

      Didn't know about adding vinegar to laundry! Good advice. My grandmother always used it for cleaning windows. Nice article! Thanks.