Reclaim Your Health: Benefits of Cleaning Your House with Vinegar and Water
As part of my comprehensive plan to create a bionic immune system, I found it necessary to eliminate as many harmful environmental factors as possible. My early research indicated that household cleaners contain many dangerous chemicals that can cause serious long-term damage to our health. After reading about all the risks, my initial reaction was to vow to never clean again but the reality of a husband and two kids quickly set in. I then raced out and replaced many of my household cleaners with safer alternatives such as Seventh Generation. This was a good step, but since then I have discovered that there is an even safer and much cheaper alternative: vinegar and water! Believe it or not, vinegar can be used to clean the entire house, and there is absolutely zero danger to children or pets. Sure it can sting a little if you get it in your eyes, but it is completely safe.
What are the Dangers of typical household cleaners?
According to a study presented at Toronto Indoor Air Conference, women who stay at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than women who work outside the home due to exposure to household cleaners. Toxic chemicals in household cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than air pollution! This is no surprise since the average household cleaner is loaded with substances that are absorbed within seconds through the skin, inhaled through the lungs, or ingested when food touches the chemical residue.
Most people are aware that mixing ammonia with bleach can result in deadly fumes, but they are unaware of the many toxic ingredients in the cleaners that they routinely use. Chemicals such as formaldehyde, phenol, toluene, and xylene, found in many common household cleaners, are known to cause cancer and damage to the immune system. Petroleum distillates, found in furniture polish, can cause skin and lung cancer. Most toilet bowl cleaners contain hydrochloric acid which causes damage to the kidneys and liver. Chlorine is in so many household cleaners despite the fact that exposure to chlorine has been linked to several types of cancers. Take a minute to review the various ingredients in your household cleaners. Are these carcinogens really worth the risk when there is an easy alternative?
This part is easy! All you need is a spray bottle, white vinegar, and water. I got a spray bottle for $3.78 at Home Depot and an entire gallon of white vinegar for $2.99. Find a cloth or sponge and you have everything you need. For an initial investment of less than $10.00 you can clean your entire house.
How to clean with vinegar and water
Don't worry about the vinegar odor because it dissipates quickly. If you want a fresher smell, a few drops of essential oils can be added. Read through these tips, turn on some upbeat music, and you are ready to go!
- Stainless Steel: Spray undiluted white vinegar on every stainless steel surface and let it sit for ten minutes. Then use a soft cleaning cloth to wipe it off. It's that easy!
- Floors: Mix a half a cup of white vinegar with a gallon of warm water. Sweep and dry-mop the floor first in order to remove the loose dust and dirt. Soak the mop in the solution and ring it out a few times and you are ready to rock and roll.
- Toilet Bowl: Use a solution of equal parts water and white vinegar to clean the entire toilet. Dump in two cups of undiluted vinegar and flush it the next morning. Exciting I know!
- Surfaces: Simply spray on a 50% solution of vinegar and water, and wipe off any surface with a sponge or dry cloth.
- Glass: Use 2 cups of water and 1/4 cup of white vinegar. If it looks a little streaky it's from the chemical cleaner that was used previously not from the vinegar solution. The first time only you may have to remove the residue by adding 1/2 teaspoon of liquid soap to the mixture.
- Wall: Spray a solution of equal parts water and vinegar on any spots on the wall. Then simply wipe it clean with a sponge or cloth.
Other uses for white vinegar
Can be used to revive leafy green vegetables by soaking them in cold water with a splash of vinegar,
You can make a great air freshener by adding a few drops of essential oils to a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar and spraying it around the room.
Soaking clothing in vinegar removes stains.
Remove age spots with equal parts vinegar and onion juice.
A spray bottle with 1/4 cup vinegar and 3/4 cups of water can be used to untangle hair.
My experience cleaning the house
I have a friend that gets really excited about the latest cleaning products. She cleans constantly and seems to really enjoy the experience. I am the complete opposite so I was surprised when I felt a glimmer of excitement after grabbing my vinegar and water spray bottle to test this theory. I began with the bathrooms because with two boys and a husband they seem to need daily cleaning. I scrubbed the sinks and toilets and everything was spotless, even though the vinegar smell was pretty intense (though I prefer the vinegar smell to what was there before!). Note to self: add some essential oils next time.
Next I dashed to the kitchen, happy about my results so far. After trying straight vinegar on the refrigerator, my initial excitement quickly faded to disappointment as I stood looking at some very streaky stainless steel. It definitely wasn't as easy as the commercial cleaners! Then I remembered a tip from my research: olive oil. I wiped the stainless steel with a very light layer of olive oil, and then thoroughly dried it off, going with the 'grain' of the metal. Finally, I again tried spraying on the vinegar, waited a few minutes, and wiped it off. It looked great! In fact, I can honestly say it looked cleaner than it ever has with my chemical cleaners. Success!
Finally I mopped the hard wood floors. I first swept all the floors to remove any dust or loose dirt. Then I added a cup of vinegar to a gallon of hot water and let the mop soak and rang it out a few times. As predicted, my floors were shiny and clean. With great music and a new experiment cleaning can be fun! Do try this at home.
What to avoid cleaning with vinegar and water
Avoid using vinegar on porous surfaces such as marble or granite because it can damage the finish and stain the surface. Instead soak a cloth in distilled water and wipe down the surface. Follow with a dry cloth to polish the surface.
Vinegar and water is by far the safest and most economical way to clean. The next time you clean your house give it a try. Cheers to healthy living!!