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Vinegar: A Vegan, Eco-Friendly Essential for Cleaning Your Home

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Melanie is an avid vegan homemaker who has been researching and implementing natural home remedies for over 15 years.

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Why Vinegar? Is it Really Safe or Even Effective?

My first introduction to using vinegar to clean was with mirrors and glass. I honestly don't understand why anyone would pay for glass cleaner. Too often store-bought cleaners leave streaks behind, and they are laden with a seriously disgusting amount of chemicals. Of course vinegar is innocent on both accounts, though it may leave your house smelling like it's fermenting, but I'm ok with that.

Vinegar is so incredibly versatile and I love the fact that it's an eco-friendly and vegan way to clean my household. Of course, the other great part is that you don't have cupboards filled with various cleaners that are just taking up space, and perhaps even better you don't have to spend the money on all those cleaners. Depending on where you get it, a gallon of vinegar is about $1.50. But considering all the uses it has, I'd say it's worth the investment, even for a whopping $3.00.

Vinegar comes from the fermentation of diluted alcohol products, which yields the organic compound acetic acid. The acidity in vinegar is what cleans and disinfects surfaces, making it a household essential. The distilled white vinegar found on most store shelves is a five percent concentration of acetic acid, meaning it kills about 80 percent of germs. Stronger concentrations are available if you'd like to use it as a disinfectant, but the recipes I am providing are not meant to kill bacteria as the main purpose so don't worry about that for now.

My Favorite Uses of Vinegar in the Home

Glass Cleaner

Cleaning glass couldn't be easier and honestly you can use either white vinegar or ACV to do the trick. Some people dilute it with water, but I find using full strength vinegar does the job perfectly. I just keep a mini spray bottle under the sink filled with vinegar at all times and it works great.

Dishwasher Rinse

Just pour some regular white vinegar into the rinse compartment in your dishwasher, and stop spending crazy money on these products. Most of the time they're filled with chemicals but to be honest, it's just wasteful anyway. Full strength vinegar does the job better if you ask me and it's less packaging, less plastic, less chemicals, and way less money!

Laundry Rinse

When your laundry is on it's rinse cycle, you can add about a cup of white vinegar to a large load. Additionally, I add a couple tablespoons of epsom salts along with the vinegar to help keep the fabric nice and soft.

Washing Machine Cleaner

I recommend cleaning your washing machine every 3 months. It's just a good practice to keep germs and mildew at bay and to also remove any color stains that may affect a perfectly good load of whites.

To do this, set your washer to it's largest and hottest cycle, add 4 cups of distilled white vinegar along with 50 drops of tea tree essential oil, and 50 drops of lemon essential oil. Let the cycle agitate for about 5 minutes, then turn it off allowing it to soak for a minimum of 2 hours and no more than 3 (it has to be fairly hot). I have a top loader so after this time I just grab my scrubber and without emptying the water I scrub out the entire washer; sides, agitator, underneath the top lip, and around the top edge where the door sits. If you have a front loader you'll obviously have to empty the water prior to scrubbing, but having a spray bottle full of vinegar is handy to help rinse and wet it down, making it easier to scrub. Once you're done with this step, you can either just drain it and call it good, or you can run one more full cycle with the same ingredients for a good final rinse.

Drain Cleaner

This one is pretty simple. Anytime you have a clogged drain, clean out the hair or whatever is majorly blocking it before doing anything else. I use a wire hanger that I bent into a hook shape, but you can see what works best for you. After that step, just add about 3/4 cup of baking soda directly into the drain, then very slowly add in about 1 to 1.5 cups of vinegar until the baking soda stops fizzing. To complete the process, run hot water for a couple minutes to cleanse everything and you're done!

As a side note, many people (including myself) use baking soda in their fridge and freezer to absorb odors. When the baking soda needs to get changed, I just save the old smelly stuff and use it for this purpose, or to clean my sink or shower. I love to do it this way because it's a great way to keep recycling it throughout the house. This allows for less waste and less money spent!

Weed Killer

The same spray bottle you use for your glass can also be used for killing weeds. How great is that?! Straight up vinegar will absolutely kill those pesky weeds, but be careful not to spray the grass as it will likely die along with them.

Carpet Stain Remover

My favorite recipe for removing carpet stains I actually discovered when I needed to clean up a MAJOR coffee stain off my carpet. Keep in mind this works for fresh stains only, so you'll need to have this handy for any mishaps. The recipe consists of 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of warm water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of seventh generation dish soap. Shake it up in a spray bottle and apply to the affected area. Let it dry naturally and then vacuum it up. Repeat as necessary.

Clean a Scorched Pan

Whenever I have pot or pan that has been severely burned, I pour full-strength vinegar into the pan, allowing it to cover all the burned spots. Then I bring the vinegar to a boil for 10 minutes (with windows open) and leave it to soak overnight. After the soak, I scrub out what I can and if need be repeat the process.


© 2019 Melanie