Cleaning Without Chemicals - 10 Uses For Vinegar Around The Home

I am a fan of vinegar.  There I’ve said it, and you can mock me, but I am.  In cooking I use it a lot, from dressings and pickles, to a spoonful of organic apple cider vinegar in water daily as a tonic.  And as a cleaning staple it is second to none.  I’m continuing my efforts to banish plastics and ban all but natural cleaners, from my home this year.  I know vinegar will be an essential ingredient in my quest.

From windows to scummy shower heads, vinegar is a versatile and environmentally safe alternative to manufactured cleaners, and is inexpensive too.  When combined with the our Dr Bronner’s Castile Soap it is a veritable cleaning wonder.  Although never mix the 2 directly as the vinegar (acidic) and castile soap (base) cancel each other out. 

For the tips on using vinegar in the home below you will want to use, distilled white vinegar and you’ll probably want to stock up on litres of the stuff, so look no further than STORES.  Here are 10 traditional uses for vinegar that your granny, and probably her's, used:

1.  Windows
Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a spray bottle and apply to your windows, mirrors etc.  Wipe with a clean cloth, chamois leather, or newspaper is a great lint free cloth for the final polish.  If you are doing the outsides of windows you can add a 

2.  Refrigerators
You can use the same solution (equal parts water and vinegar) to clean the inside of your fridge without worrying that you are spraying chemicals all over your food.

3.  Rinsing Fresh Produce
In our house, both store bought and fresh from the garden produce gets rinsed in the sink with a glug of vinegar.  Salad in particular benefits from a rinse in vinegar water, before I stick it in the salad spinner and whizz it.

4.  Fresh Cut Flowers
To keep fresh flowers for longer add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 teaspoons of sugar to the flower stems, and refuse those little plastic sachets at the shop.

5.  Limescale
Taps - Soak a towelling rag in vinegar, wrap it round the tap and leave it for about 30 mins to an hour.  Use the same rag to rinse the vinegar and limescale build up off.
Shower heads - soak for several hours in a bowl of one part vinegar to three parts water.  Or if you can’t get the head off, use a plastic bag (yes I know, but re-use one!) with the solution tie it onto the show-head over night.
Showers - To prevent soap scum build up wipe ceramic tile, glass shower screens or doors with a rag or sponge soaked in vinegar.
To be honest the limescale removal bit of this list could become a list of its’ own.  You can use vinegar on limescale stains in the loo, to unclog steam irons and for bath scum too.

6. Drains
I put a cup of vinegar down the kitchen and bathroom drains to clean and deodorise, then flush with running water.  A mixture of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar does the job even more thoroughly. Two tablespoons of bicarb, followed by a half a cup of vinegar and left for 30 minutes before running the cold tap to flush it through.

7. Wooden chopping boards
Wipe down with a vinegar soaked cloth, this removes odours and has a disinfecting properties, without adding chemicals to the food you chop on your board.

8. Boiling an Egg
If the shell cracks add vinegar to the water to stop the white escaping.  Ok, not actually cleaning but my granny taught me this one.

9. Dishwasher Rinse
Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher.  Wash on your regular cycle using your usual detergent and look at the sparkling results. 

10.  Washing 
So vinegar helps to break up uric acid (that lovely yellow staining on white cotton!) and soapy residues in your wash.  Adding a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle should do the trick.

I am still experimenting a bit with washing my clothes chemical free.  I have to admit I am a Fairy Non-Bio powder girl (At least it is in a cardboard box!) I’ve tried a couple of environmental friendly brands, had a brief flirt with soap nuts and been put off silver balls by a scientist friend who says they are toxic to water life.  

I live in a very hard water area, so I’ve started to add vinegar to my wash and will test out the eco friendly brands (including Dr Bronner) again with vinegar when this lot of Fairy runs out.  So, watch this space for an update.

Otherwise I’ve regularly tried all of the above.  I’ve also seen recommendations for using vinegar to clean stains on carpets and soft furnishings, kill grass, clean microwaves, as a hair rinse, on copper, brass and pewter, to clean automatic coffee machines, to soften paint brushes, remove deodorant and antiperspirant stains on clothes, the list seems endless. 

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