One of the best products you can get for your house might already be in your pantry: vinegar. Beyond being a popular kitchen ingredient, there’s a long list of household uses for it. How is it such a versatile household product? Thanks to its high acidity, vinegar can get rid of stains, cut through crud, and be used in the garden. While there are many different types of vinegar, white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are the best choices for being a potent cleaner without damaging surfaces. Not convinced just yet that you can replace your chemical cleaners for a bottle of vinegar? Read on for 20 ways you can use vinegar around the house.
Control Insects in the Garden
Create an earth-friendly insect trap by filling a closed container with a cup of apple cider vinegar. Add in small slices of banana peel and 1 cup of cold water, and then shake. Poke holes around the top and place it on the kitchen counter near a fruit fly infestation. You’ll be catching critters in no time. Discard the trap and replace it with a new one when it gets, um, too gross.
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Wash Your Dishwasher
Your dishwasher washes all the food off your dishes. But who washes the dishwasher? You can, by pouring 1 cup of vinegar into the bottom of the tub and running it through a cycle without any dishes. Doing this once every month or two will remove built-up soap residue and keep it in squeaky clean shape.
Clean Your Shower Heads
Got a clogged shower head? Put boiling water in a bowl with a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Soak the shower head for 10 minutes and watch those clogs disappear. If you can’t remove the head, partly ﬁll a plastic bag with full-strength vinegar and tape it over the fixture. Let it sit for an hour and remove, and you’ll be shower-ready!
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Clean Your Wood Floors
Wash your hardwood or pre-finished floors the old-fashioned way. Add a 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of hot water and mop or scrub as usual (make sure to barely wet your mop or cloth). Dry the floor completely with a towel afterward—standing water is the enemy! Don’t try this technique on waxed floors because it will strip off the wax finish. To lessen the smell of vinegar, add a drop or two of essential oil to your mix. Lemon- or lavender-scented oils are excellent options.
Save a Dried-Up Paint Brush
Don’t throw that synthetic brush away just because it’s caked with dried paint. Soak it in a cup of vinegar until the bristles loosen up. Then wash it in warm, soapy water. Still stuck together? Boil it in vinegar for 10 minutes and follow up with another soapy water bath. Your brush should return to its old pliable, useful self.
Remove Smoke Odors
Tar and resin from cigarette smoke can stick to furniture and leave an odor long after the smoke evaporates. To break through and eliminate that icky residue, spray orange-infused vinegar onto hard surfaces, let it sit and then wipe it down with a dry cloth. You may need to repeat the process a few times if the situation is super stinky. Avoid spraying onto fabrics.
Clean Ceramic Tile
Make your own cleaning solution to freshen up dingy tiles around tubs and sinks. Just add a 1/2 cup vinegar, a 1/2 cup ammonia, and a 1/4 cup borax to a gallon of water. Scrub ‘em up, and let ‘em shine! Rinse thoroughly with water and allow to air dry.
Related: 8 Ways to Mildew-Proof Your Bathroom
Test Your Soil
You can do a quick and cheap test for excess alkalinity in your soil by putting some dirt in a container and pouring about a 1/2 cup of vinegar into it. If it ﬁzzes or bubbles up, it’s too alkaline. Simply add peat moss or sulfur to make your soil pH more neutral.
Unclog a Drain
Clear a clogged drain by pouring a 1/2 cup of baking soda into it, followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. It will bubble and foam, and once that stops, flush the drain with hot water. About 5 minutes later, rinse with cold water. This approach is effective, non-toxic, and less damaging to your pipes (and wallet!) than commercial drain cleaners.
Sanitize the Cutting Board
Unlike your plastic cutting board, you can’t just stick your wooden cutting board in the dishwasher; the soft surface will warp from the hot water. To properly clean a wooden cutting board spray it with undiluted white vinegar, let it sit for no more than five minutes, and then wipe it off with a damp cloth.
Extend the Life of Flowers
Enjoy fresh-cut flowers for as long as possible with this hack: add equal parts white or apple cider vinegar and sugar—two tablespoons is good to start with for an average-sized vase—to the water to extend the life of flowers. The vinegar lowers the pH levels of the water and prevents bacteria, while the sugar is food for the flowers.
Clean the Coffee Maker
Because of mineral and coffee oil buildup that can harm the taste of your coffee, you need to clean you coffee maker every three to six months. Luckily, it’s not a hard job. Fill the water chamber with equal parts water and white vinegar and start the brew cycle. Halfway through pause the cycle to let the vinegar work its magic cleaning and disinfecting. After 30 minutes let it complete the cycle and cool.
Refresh Your Towels
Are your towels starting to feel grody? Laundered towels can develop an odor from bacteria left behind after showering and a buildup of laundry detergent. To get them smelling fresh again run them through a cycle replacing the detergent with one cup of distilled white vinegar.
Clean the Windows
Clean the Microwave
Spills and splatters are inevitable in the microwave. Before you get scrubbing, make cleaning the mess easier for yourself by loosening up the grime. Fill a bowl with equal parts white vinegar and water, and pop it into the microwave for five minutes or until it boils. Once the time is up leave it inside for another three to five minutes to allow the steam to soften things up. Then you can grab a cloth or sponge to wipe it away.
Clean Stainless Steel
Stainless steel looks sleek until you start noticing fingerprints all over the fridge. To get rid of the prints and any other residue, spray stainless steel surfaces with vinegar and then wipe down with a microfiber cloth. Finish off with a small amount of mineral oil to make the stainless steel shine.
Related: How To: Clean Any Appliance
Deodorize the Washing Machine
The detergent and water cycling through your washing machine doesn’t cut it when it comes to cleaning the appliance. Get rid of funky smells from the washing machine by deodorizing it with vinegar. Add four cups of white vinegar to a top-load machine or two cups to a front-load model and run it on the hottest cycle. When the agitator has mixed the vinegar and water, turn the machine off and allow it sit for 30 minutes. Once the time is up, turn the washer back on and allow the cycle to finish.
Remove Carpet Stains
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