Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Vinegar – the Nectar of the Gods

Okay, so maybe not the nectar – but the cleaning agent, definitely.

When we bought our new house, I decided that I was just going to buy a bunch of vinegar and a bunch of baking soda instead of stocking up on 409, Windex, and bleach. We’re trying to get rid of the amount of artificial junk we have in our house (I say as I’m eating Flavor Burst Goldfish – DH bought them – it wasn’t me!). We already started washing with soap nuts, and now it’s the only thing I use in my laundry (except for a little vinegar and baking soda).

Vinegar is effective at killing bacteria and mold (perhaps more effective even than bleach). And your kid could drink vinegar and be safe. Bleach on the other hand... Once I realized how effective vinegar is, I had to start cleaning with it. Granted, my house smells a lot like vinegar on my “deep cleaning” days, but it’s better than a bleach smell.

And I used to have to cart around 5-6 different spray bottles to do my cleaning.

Now my cleaning looks something like this:

For a regular load (one with no peed on sheets, etc), I use my bag of soap nuts and 1/2 c. baking soda. I’m going to try out borax one of these days (probably next week, since I need to get some borax for a preschool activity we’re doing tomorrow). So far the soap nuts with the baking soda has been working great, and I can get the baking soda dirt cheap in bulk at Winco.
For towels and for loads that have V’s pee-soaked sheets (still having a hard time with nighttime dryness, but he’s getting there – he is only 3 1/2 after all), I add vinegar to the rinse cycle to make sure to get all the urine smell out, and I run it through an extra rinse.
I still use Shout for a stain remover, but I am going to start trying a soak in a borax solution. I soak stained clothes anyway (I keep a few dish pans in the laundry room for this purpose – you could use dish pans, an old bucket, or a gallon ice cream pail – I used those for a while).

After reading an article recently about cleaning tile floors, I decided that from now on I am going to wash my floors the old fashioned way – down on my hands and knees. I just bring along my handy dandy spray bottle full of white vinegar, and a rag, and spray, wipe, spray, wipe (with an occasional scrub when there is a spot that doesn’t just wipe away). It takes only slightly longer than using a mop and bucket, but I’m not using water so I don’t have to worry about little feet walking across my freshly mopped floor. Another advantage? I can actually see the floor, so I can make sure I’ve mopped up everything – even corners and edges (which are easily missed with a mop).

For the bathrooms, I do a “swish and swipe” every day, which involves spraying the sinks/counters with my vinegar bottle and wiping them down, then pouring a little splash of vinegar in the toilet and cleaning out the inside of the bowl. This keeps the bathrooms in guest-ready shape, and I don’t have to worry so much about my “deep cleaning” bathroom days. On those “deep clean days” I wash the entire toilet bowl (inside and out) with vinegar from my spray bottle and a rag. I mop the floor in the bathroom the same way, and the tiles in the tub, and the tub, and the faucets, and the mirror... basically all I need is that one spray bottle of vinegar. And a few rags – I always use a different rag for the toilet than I used on the counter, or I do the counter first and then the toilet. For obvious reasons. I usually use a paper towel on the mirrors so I don’t leave fuzz on them, but the vinegar doesn’t really streak, so that’s good. Bye-bye Windex.

A little vinegar/water solution in a spray bottle is perfect for this job, too. I can’t believe how good at cleaning some vinegar is. It’s nuts.

I read the other day about using vinegar to spray down your cutting boards and letting them sit out over night (so the vinegar smell can dissipate). I might try doing that, because I hate nasty cutting boards. I also use it on my counters after cutting meat, or dividing up the 10 lbs tubes of ground meat I buy on sale for the freezer.

The only thing I haven’t tried with vinegar is cutting grease, but I also read that a borax and/or washing soda are good at that, so I might need to try that out. I did buy one spray bottle of 409 when we moved in, just to make sure I could clean everything. It’s kind of my last resort tool. In case nothing else works.

Well, there you have it – why I clean with vinegar and only vinegar.

What is the staple of your cleaning products? Do you think you could switch to vinegar and sodas if you haven’t already? How about mopping? Think you could do hands-and-knees mopping?


  1. just a brief note, if you are going to spend any decent amount of time on your knees mopping, get something to pad the knees. You think you're fine, but even with padding getting down on your knees and moving around can really destroy them and quick time. But i like the idea of Vinegar, they use it extensively over in Asian countries!

  2. Thanks for the tip - I was actually thinking about that the other day when I was cleaning. Mostly I was worried about wearing holes in the knees of my good jeans (forgot to change into grub clothes when I started cleaning...) - but saving my knees is of utmost important, especially since I love to run (which probably destroys them enough by itself).

  3. I clean a lot with vinegar and baking soda, but my husband isn't convinced that it actually "cleans" anything. I also have some lemon essential oil that I put in my water/vinegar mix. I've been reading up on essential oils and oregano essential oil of all things is supposed to be the wonder cleaner. I bet it costs a whole lot more than vinegar and baking soda!


"To be sent greeting... by... the word of wisdom...

Given for a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints...

All wholesome herbs [or plants] God hath ordained for the consitution, nature, and use of man-

Every herb [or plant] in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving...

And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings... shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones...

And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint."