All-natural vinegar is a great way to add big flavor to your cooking, but did you know it’s also a powerful household cleaning agent? The mild acids in vinegar give it lots of cleaning oomph, and because it’s non-toxic, you can use it without worrying about the nasty chemicals that are in so many cleaners. Before commercial cleaners and detergents were available, vinegar was the standard (just ask your grandmother!). Nowadays, many of us have forgotten that this natural wonder can do so much heavy lifting around the house. After the jump are eight of our favorite ways to put vinegar to work. What about you? How do you use vinegar to clean your house?
Clean and Disinfect Kitchen Surfaces 1 of 8Use a vinegar-soaked cloth to wipe down your sink, faucet, and counters for a naturally disinfected and fresh-smelling kitchen.
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Image: Photographs by Gnangarra, commons.wikimedia.org
Clean Produce 2 of 8Make sure your produce is clean by dipping fruits or vegetables protected by a skin (such as citrus, tomatoes, apples and pears, root vegetables, tropical fruits, blueberries, stone fruits or squash) in a mixture of 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 gallon water.
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Image: Jack Dykinga, USDA
Clean Your Drip Coffee Maker 3 of 8For coffee pots, swirl straight white vinegar in the pot, soak for a few hours, and wash. For the coffee maker itself, run a mixture of 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts water through the machine as though you are making coffee. Next, allow the mixture to sit in the coffee maker for 15 minutes. Run it through two full cycles of plain water, then wash the coffee pot and basket, and use as normal.
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Cut Through Grease on Surfaces 4 of 8Straight distilled white vinegar works wonders on greasy kitchen surfaces like stove tops, ovens, cabinet doors, and the top of the refrigerator. Just dip your sponge or cleaning rag in undiluted vinegar and go to it!
Image: Dwight Burdette
Clean the Microwave 5 of 8To get the inside of your microwave squeaky clean, combine 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwavable bowl. Set inside the microwave and heat to a rolling boil for several minutes. Carefully remove bowl and wipe down microwave with a sponge. Use straight distilled white vinegar on any leftover tough stains.
Remove Odors and Stains from Kitchen Containers 6 of 8Lunch boxes and reusable plastic containers, water bottles, and mugs can all get a little funky over time. To refresh all of your reusables, wipe lunch boxes down with distilled white vinegar, or soak containers in a diluted vinegar solution overnight. For my stainless steel water bottles, I always give them a quick rinse with 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1/4 cup water to remove any soapy film after washing.
Remove Mineral Deposits 7 of 8Glassware, shower doors, and coffee makers can all be prime targets for tough mineral deposits. For glassware, soak in straight white vinegar or wrap glasses with a vinegar-soaked towel for 2 hours and then wash as usual. For shower doors, spray with straight white vinegar, let sit for a half hour, and then wash as usual.
Image: Derek Jensen
To Clear and Clean Drains 8 of 8Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then 1 cup of hot vinegar, and let sit for 15 - 30 minutes, then flush with boiling water (just use hot tap water if you have PVC pipes). If used regularly, this method can prevent clogged drains, and keep your drain clean.
Image: Sissel Karlsen
Image: iStock Photo