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white vinegar cleaner

Vinegar is a simple but highly versatile and earth-friendly ally to every household inside and out. Here are 15 ways to use it effectively for all kinds of things around the house.

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I just went to the supermarket and stocked up on vinegar, which was on sale. I use it for a lot of things around the house, but recently someone suggested I use it to get rid of fleas on my dog. It worked! Now I’m curious to explore other vinegar uses.

Vinegar is made from a long fermentation process of fruit, grains, or plants with high sugar content. The final product is a watered down solution of acetic acid. It was accidentally discovered thousands of years ago, and has been used for almost as long for cooking and cleaning.

1. All-purpose cleaner

Vinegar is antiseptic and antimicrobial, making it the perfect cleaner, especially for bathrooms, kitchens, and children’s rooms.

2. Window washing

I use straight white vinegar to wash my windows. Every recipe I have read says to dilute it 50/50 with water, but I find it leaves fewer streaks used full strength.

3. Water softening

We have very hard water in the southwest. I add two cups of apple cider vinegar to a hot bath to soften the water. This also softens my skin and makes my hair look and feel healthy.

4. Decalcifying agent

White vinegar removes the calcium deposits our hard water leaves on plumbing fixtures. It can be mixed with borax or washing soda to make a paste for scrubbing. I take the showerheads off and soak them in full strength vinegar to remove calcium build-up inside them.

5. Toilet bowl cleaner

I pour vinegar in the toilet, and leave it overnight to remove that same build-up.

6. Rust remover

Full strength white vinegar dissolves rust. You can clean your tools with it, and use it to loosen stuck screws. Clean your rusty garden tools in fall before putting them away. Full strength vinegar and a scrub brush or steel wool will clean them up. Put on a light coat of linseed oil to prevent more rust.

7. Coffee pot and cup cleaner

I wash my coffee cups and coffee pot with it. Hot soapy water and some vinegar on a sponge remove the stains, make them shine, and make the coffee taste better!

8. Drain clearer

Put 1 cup of baking soda in a clogged drain, then follow it with 2 cups white vinegar. When the bubbling stops, flush the drain with boiling water.

9. Wallpaper remover

Spray a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water on old wallpaper you want to remove. Make sure you saturate it. Let it sit, and scrape it off.

10. Vinegar in the wash

Laundry soap builds up on sheets and towels. Kitchen towels stop absorbing water, and your sheets don’t feel clean anymore. Wash your clean linens in cold water with a cup of vinegar in the wash cycle. Add a cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle. Then dry either on a clothesline (best way!) or in the dryer without dryer sheets. The vinegar and baking soda will strip out the old laundry soap and softeners, making them functional again.

11. DIY soil pH test agent

You can do a simple pH test on your soil using vinegar. Put some dampened soil in a small cup, and add a little bit of vinegar. If it fizzes, the soil is alkaline. You can lower the pH with amendments, but a complete soil test with recommendations should be done for accuracy. (On the flip side, you can add baking soda instead of vinegar. If it fizzes, the soil is acidic.)

12. Non-toxic weed killer

Vinegar is a natural, non-toxic weed killer. It will kill everything around it, too, so do not spray it. On a hot sunny day, apply it directly to the plants you want to remove. Use pickling vinegar, which is stronger than white vinegar. You can also get a horticultural grade of vinegar at a nursery or hardware store.

13. Flea cure

When I found a few fleas on my dog, I bathed him in a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and warm water. I did it again a couple days later, and the fleas were gone. I treated his bedding, too, but not with vinegar!

14. Cut flower life extender

For long lasting cut flowers, add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar to a quart of warm water.

15. Anti-ant agent

Deter ants by pouring white vinegar on their trail and in their nest, if you can find it.

How do you use vinegar?

There are dozens more uses for vinegar. It’s even good for your health, reducing blood pressure, aiding weight loss, leveling blood sugars, and as a hair rinse and skin cleanser. Let me know in the comments how you use it. And stock up!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.