Cleaning with Vinegar: The Dos and Don'ts
By Laura Parker
July 13, 2023
When doing some thorough house cleaning, you might use traditional store-bought cleaning products. However, some people don't trust commercially produced cleaning solutions, many of which use toxic chemicals. Others, meanwhile, simply don't want to pay the typically high price tag associated with all-natural cleaning solutions.
Instead, many people enjoy using vinegar as an ingredient in their homemade cleaning products, primarily because it is:
- Natural and non-toxic
Not only is a cup of vinegar effective for cleaning certain areas of one's home, it is also incredibly safe, making it a viable option for households with small children and pets. In addition, it works well for families on a budget, as it typically costs a few dollars for about a gallon of vinegar, which can last a long time.
How vinegar kills bacteria
The type of vinegar we buy for our homes contains 5 to 10 percent acetic acid, which is effective at breaking down bacteria and grease. Its acidity works as a natural antiseptic solution that prevents the growth and spreading of bacteria.
Many people use vinegar as a safer alternative to bleach. Unlike this chemical, vinegar is biodegradable and abrasive, making it a helpful, environmentally friendly cleaning product.
How to make a vinegar cleaning solution
If you'd like to use a cost-effective natural cleaner around your home, you might consider making a vinegar solution from scratch. You can make a liquid cleaner, paste or scrub and polishing solution to tackle dirt and grime on a variety of surfaces.
- Eliminate dirt or spills on countertops. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and white distilled vinegar. If you have access to filtered water, this works the best. If you do not, tap water works perfectly fine. Shake the contents of the spray bottle to distribute these liquids evenly.
- Disinfect your surfaces. Combine one part lemon juice, one part vinegar and two parts water for a spray that can sanitize surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom.
- Get out carpet stains. You can use the water and vinegar solution to try to get stains out of your rugs. If this doesn't help, add a teaspoon of dish soap to the spray bottle. Once shaken, spray the solution onto the stain, leave it for a few minutes, then dab the stain out with a clean cloth.
- Clean soap scum. To take care of tough cases of grime, pour white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray this onto the dirty spot, then scrub the area with a sponge or brush and rinse the excess with warm water. This works well in toilet bowls, on shower walls and on tub floors.
- Easily wipe down your microwave. Mix an equal amount of white vinegar and water into a microwave-safe bowl and run the appliance for long enough to allow the water to boil. Once the water bubbles, let the microwave sit and cool for a few minutes before you open the door. This should eliminate any nasty odors and loosen any splattered food, making it simple for you to wipe it away with a paper towel.
- Use a natural glass cleaner. Combine one cup of rubbing alcohol, one cup of water and one tablespoon of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Mix up the solution and spray it onto glass, chrome finishes and mirrors and wipe away the smudges with a paper towel or microfiber rag. If you'd like, you can add one or two drops of orange essential oil for a fresh citrus scent.
Cleaning with vinegar can be a cost-effective and eco-friendly solution.
Pastes and scrubs
- Unclog your drains. Pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain, then add a half cup of white vinegar after. This combination will create a fizzing, which acts as a mild abrasive against a clogged drain. When the fizzing slows down, pour hot water down the drain.
- Remove carpet stains. For heavy-duty spills and stains, you can add vinegar, table salt, and Borax into a bowl. Mixing them together creates a paste that you can apply directly to the stain. Leave this paste on the mark for up to 10 minutes, then wipe it up with a towel. Then rinse the area off with water.
- Tidy up metal appliances. Mix together one teaspoon of salt, one cup of vinegar, and one-quarter cup of flour. Combining these ingredients will create a thick paste, which you can use on silver, pewter or copper. Apply this mixture on the metal surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before rinsing it off with water.
- Clean brass surfaces. Dip a sponge into white vinegar until it is soaking wet. Then sprinkle table salt on one side of the sponge. Scrub brass appliances with this mixture gently, then rinse the area with water.
Polishing solutions with oil and vinegar
Clean off stainless steel. Add a tablespoon of oil onto one side of a sponge and rub it onto stainless steel surfaces to get rid of any smudges. Then, add some white vinegar to the other side of the sponge and use it to wipe away the oil and polish off the steel.
Make a furniture polish. Mix equal parts of oil and vinegar into a large bowl. Test this solution on a small surface of your wooden furniture before applying it to the entire area just in case it causes a negative reaction to the wood composition. If it passes the test, rub the wood in circular motions to tidy up coffee tables, chairs, dressers or desks.
When not to use a vinegar cleaning solution
Vinegar's acidity is helpful in cutting through grease, grime and mineral deposits. However, this can damage some delicate surfaces, so you should proceed with caution when cleaning the house with vinegar cleaning products. You should not use vinegar when cleaning the following household items:
- Granite, marble, and soapstone: The stones might lose their shine when mixed with an acid like vinegar. Instead, use granite cleaner, which you can purchase from your local supermarket.
- Messes caused by eggs: Vinegar causes eggs to coagulate, which makes the mess even harder to clean up. Instead, use warm soapy water and a clean cloth.
- Kitchen knives: Acids can break down the knife's metal. Instead, stick to dish soap and water to scrub away any grime.
There are other items you should only clean sparingly with vinegar, as over-cleaning with this acidic material can cause damage.
These areas include:
- Hardwood floors
- Stone floors
Of course, if you'd like professional assistance with your cleaning, consider utilizing Handy's housekeeping and maid service, both of which have proven to help countless homeowners and renters keep their homes crystal clean.