From respiratory problems to skin reactions, many people are becoming increasingly concerned over the negative side-effects certain chemical-based cleaners can cause. As they turn to more natural options, it might come as a surprise that the one gaining the most steam in recent years is something that you are very familiar with: vinegar.
Different Types, Different Uses
There are many types of vinegar available in stores, and choosing the right one is just as important for cleaning as it is for cooking. The most common type of vinegar in homes today is white vinegar, which has an average acidity of five percent. While this basic choice can be used for cleaning purposes, it isn’t nearly as effective as cleaning vinegar, which can have a concentration of up to 20%.
How to Use Vinegar as a Cleaning Agent
Using vinegar to clean your home or office is probably a lot simpler than you think. Get an empty spray bottle ‒ or better yet, pick up a couple so that you can keep one in the kitchen and in each bathroom ‒ and fill it with two parts water to one part vinegar. This spray will work great on every day cleaning tasks, like wiping down counters, disinfecting sinks, and mopping floors, and can also help to remove and prevent soap scum buildup on tubs and shower doors. If you are wondering whether or not the cleaner smells strongly of vinegar, yes it does. The smell will dissipate in a few minutes, but the addition of a few drops of essential oil to your vinegar cleaner will help mask the odor. A few good options? Lemon essential oil has antiviral and antibacterial properties; orange essential oil helps to cut grease, and lavender essential oil has antibacterial properties as well.
Other Ways Vinegar Can be Used for Cleaning
If your shower head isn’t spraying as well as it ought to, an easy trick is to add vinegar to a sandwich baggie and then secure the baggie around the showerhead with a rubber band. Ensure the showerhead is submerged in the vinegar, and leave for 12 to 24 hours to dissolve any buildup.
A solution of equal parts vinegar and water will give you streak-free windows with minimal effort. Just spray on and use a squeegee to wipe the solution off.
Microwaving a mixture of ¼ cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water in a bowl until it steams up the window will help release even baked-on messes.
Avoid chemical-laden dishwasher rinse aids and still have spot-free dishes by adding a bowl with 1 cup of vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher along with your usual detergent.
Vinegar can also help remove calcium buildup in coffee makers. Simply add a cup of vinegar to a pot of water and run a full brewing cycle, followed by a full pot of plain water.
Things You Should NOT Use Vinegar to Clean
The thing that makes vinegar such an effective cleaner, its high acidity level, also means that it should be used with caution on certain surfaces. High concentrations of vinegar can cause pitting and surface wear on certain natural stones, so it's important to dilute your vinegar accordingly and to run a patch test before cleaning these surfaces. Vinegar can also damage solid wood stains and finishes. You can instead use a one-to-one mixture of vinegar and olive oil as an effective and all-natural polishing compound to buff wood surfaces safely.
No matter how you chose to add vinegar to your cleaning regimen, always be sure to wear gloves when using cleaning vinegar as it can be mildly irritating to the skin. You should also never mix vinegar with hydrogen peroxide or bleach, as it can create toxic fumes. Otherwise, it is a completely safe and natural cleaner!