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Top 10 Ways to Use Vinegar for Cleaning Purposes

Danielle Dent-Breen's picture
Vinegar for cleaning

When it comes to natural, green cleaning, it’s hard to beat plain old white vinegar. Because it is technically a FOOD and not a CLEANER, vinegar is safe for use around kids, pets, and food prep areas. It’s also extremely affordable, costing only about 5¢ per ounce. Due to a pH of 2.0 and the acetic acid content, vinegar is an inhospitable environment for many microorganisms, so it is the perfect cleaner for your home! Vinegar is proven to be an effective disinfectant against E. coli, staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, and influenza, and also a very effective natural deodorizer.


The most commonly used vinegar in green cleaning is distilled white vinegar, which is readily available in gallon size containers at your grocery store. Read on for our top 10 ways to use for vinegar for cleaning.


1. Clean the fridge. Use a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water to clean up spills, wipe shelves and walls, and to clean storage drawers. Rest assured that you are not using toxic chemicals to clean the area where you store your food.

2. Wash your produce. Fill a large bowl with a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water and soak all your produce in this solution for at least 5 minutes when you come home from the grocery store to kill micro-organisms and remove pesticide residue that might make you sick. As a bonus, washing produce with vinegar will kill mold spores on the surface of your fruits and vegetables, extending their shelf life.

3. Make your sinks and countertops shine. Cleaning sinks and kitchen counter-tops with white vinegar is simple: Just spray onto your surface, then wipe away with a warm, wet rag. However, be sure to avoid cleaning countertops with vinegar if you have a granite or marble surface. The acidity of the vinegar can etch natural stone.

4. Steam away a microwave mess. Fill a small bowl with equal parts hot water and vinegar, and place it in the microwave on high for 5 minutes. As the steam fills the microwave, it loosens the mess, making clean up a breeze


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5. Refresh your showerhead and restore water pressure: Put vinegar in a plastic bag and tie the bag around the showerhead to remove natural mineral deposits and hard water buildup. Let the bag sit overnight, and rinse the showerhead with water in the morning.

6. Clean that stinky toilet: Vinegar naturally neutralizes the ammonia odor present in urine as it disinfects your toilet. Use a spray bottle with full strength vinegar to spray around the rim and under the seat (and behind the toilet, and on the walls) to clean up after even the messiest of boys in the bathroom. A helpful bonus: because vinegar is non-toxic, it’s safe to use for teaching young boys to clean up after themselves in the bathroom. As a boy-mom, let me just say, trust me on this one. Teach them young. You can also pour 1 cup undiluted vinegar into your toilet bowl and let it set overnight to make scrubbing away toilet stains a breeze.

7. Daily shower maintenance: Spray full-strength vinegar onto your shower floor after your morning shower to kill and prevent the highly-contagious fungus that causes athlete’s foot. A quick daily mist around shower door tracks and tile grout will prevent mold and mildew growth. Do not use vinegar if your shower tiles are marble or granite, however, as the acidity can damage natural tiles.

Around the house:

8. Loosen a rusted screw: Pour a little vinegar directly onto the screw, let it sit for a minute, and it will easily unstick.

9. Sanitize pet accidents and stop them from returning to the area. If your dog or cat has an accident indoors, you can remove the stain―and smell―of your pet’s accident by mixing ¼ cup vinegar with a quart of water and blotting the mixture onto the mess with a washcloth. Continue dabbing until the spot is gone. The vinegar will neutralize the ammonia in the urine and will discourage your pet from returning to the area to re-soil it.

10. Remove gum from everything. To remove gum from fabric, carpet, or hair, heat a small bowl of vinegar in the microwave. Pour the warm vinegar over the gum, saturating the area, and watch the gum dissolve.

We all want to create a safe, healthy environment for our families. One way to reduce the number of cleaning products you bring into your home is to clean with products you already have. People have been using vinegar for cleaning for a long time, and it really is safe and effective. If you attack the germs and grime in your home with this natural cleaner, you will find that you can spend less money and have fewer harsh chemicals to worry about.