These vinegar cleaning hacks are good to know if you are looking for a way to clean your house naturally. Bear in mind, though, that vinegar has its limits as a disinfectant.
Vinegar is something you may have in your kitchen pantry, but did you know that it can do much more than bring a zing to your dishes?
Food-grade vinegar is a dilute solution of 5% acetic acid mixed with 95% water. Acetic acid is a mild organic acid, which can be found naturally in, among other things, fruits and fermented grains.
As a mild acid, vinegar can react with alkaline materials found in mineral build-up. Vinegar also has anti-bacterial properties, which makes it a suitable sterilizing agent. These characteristics make vinegar a mild, eco-friendly cleaning agent that you can use around the house.
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The following section is for those who wonder if they can use vinegar to disinfect their homes.
Is Vinegar A Disinfectant?
Vinegar is excellent for cleaning many household items, but does it disinfect? Well yes, it does because vinegar is acetic acid which has the ability to destroy bacteria and viruses.
But, It’s not quite so simple as going around the house with a vinegar-soaked rag, wiping down all your surfaces, household items, and getting into every nook and cranny, then expect every germ and bacteria known to man to disappear into thin air.
Vinegar as a disinfectant is useful, but it has its limitations, and the use of commercial disinfectants would likely be more productive.
In a study carried out, it was found that 6% vinegar was antimicrobial (an agent that kills or slows down the growth of microorganisms) and reduced the existence of staphylococcus and E-coli, but not anywhere near as effective as chemical products such as Clorox and Lysol.
In addition to this, it needs at least half an hour of exposure before it begins to work.
In another study, two interesting facts came to light. Firstly, after thirty minutes of exposure to a 6% acetic vinegar, tuberculosis was effectively killed, and a 10% malt vinegar may be useful in killing flu viruses.
Because vinegar doesn’t kill 99.9% of germs, which is the level for public health standards, it can’t be certified as a disinfectant, although it does have some disinfectant properties.
What vinegar will do, and do well, is clean. Cleaning might not kill all those germs, but it will lower their numbers by removing dirt and other contaminations. The acidity in the vinegar helps dissolve and break down those greasy hard to clean spots, making them easier to wipe away.
Use on sinks by mixing one part water with one part vinegar in a spray bottle, and any other surface where you’d typically use bleach, especially where food is prepared.
Vinegar is cheap, widely available, and easy to use, but it’s not really a disinfectant. Yes, it’s excellent for cleaning, breaking down grease and grime, and it’s non-toxic. But if you’re looking for something to eliminate harmful bacterias and viruses, then you’d be better using one of the many certified commercial disinfectants available.
15 Vinegar Tips and Tricks
Here’s a list of how you can use the cleaning power of vinegar to spruce up your home:
1. Descaling kettles
Limescale can accumulate in kettles (or heating elements in electric kettles) where hard water is used. Hard water has a higher mineral content, which forms as flaky scales of a chalky deposit of calcium carbonate.
To descale a kettle, mix equal amounts of vinegar and water, and leave it inside the kettle to soak for an hour. Rinse well.
2. Cleaning the coffee machine
To remove oil and mineral buildup, mix equal parts water and distilled vinegar in the reservoir. Run the coffee maker through a brewing cycle and empty the carafe. Rinse away the remaining vinegar by filling the reservoir with water and running another brewing cycle.
3. Steam cleaning the microwave
In a microwave-safe glass measuring cup, mix one cup of vinegar and one cup of water. Put it inside a microwave, then put a wooden spoon inside the cup. This step is important to ensure that the vinegar and water mixture will not get superheated and explode accidentally.
If you don’t have a wooden spoon, a wooden splint, toothpick or skewer will do. Set your microwave for 2 to 3 minutes (depending on how strong your microwave is). The vinegar and water will produce steam that can help sterilize the microwave. When the time is up, carefully remove the measuring cup with an oven mitt. The stains will easily come off by wiping the surface with a microfiber cloth.
4. Deodorizing smelly towels and rags
If your towels are smelling a little funny, it may be due to mildew. You can remedy this with vinegar and baking powder. First, run a wash cycle with one cup of vinegar, with the hottest temperature setting.
Once the cycle is done, leave the towels in the washing machine for a few minutes. Then do another wash cycle, this time with half a cup of baking powder. Once done, dry the towels thoroughly in the dryer, or under the hot sun in a clothesline. You can use the same method for rags that are smelly and do not absorb water effectively.
5. Disinfecting wooden cutting boards
To disinfect wooden cutting boards, wipe with white vinegar after each use. The acetic acid in vinegar can kill harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus, Salmonella, and E. coli, which can get into the wood when cutting raw meat. If the cutting board needs to be deodorized as well, sprinkle some baking soda on the surface first, rub and rinse. Then spray some vinegar. Let it for about five minutes, then rinse with water and wipe dry.
6. Removing pet odor from carpet
Unpleasant smells can be removed from the carpet by putting some vinegar on the affected spot, followed by a sprinkling of baking soda. Rub the two together with a finger or a brush. Let dry and vacuum.
Baking soda is also good to neutralize odors. To find out more check 25 things you can clean with baking soda.
7. Cleaning glass
To remove water spots on glass, mix together equal amounts of water and white vinegar. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle. For persistent water spots, spray the solution in the glass and leave it there for a few minutes. Then wipe it off using an old newspaper or a paper towel.
8. Cleaning tile surfaces
Mix half a cup of white vinegar with a gallon of warm water. Use this mixture to clean tiles, mop bathroom floors, or scrub kitchen countertops.
9. Unclogging showerheads
Mineral buildup can affect water flow in showerheads. To fix this issue, pour one cup of white vinegar inside a plastic bag. Position the showerhead in the plastic bag in such a way that it is submerged in vinegar. Leave it overnight. In the morning. run the shower to rinse.
10. Cleaning soap scum off sink and bathtubs
Mix one part vinegar with one part dish soap, then add water to dilute. You can change the amount of water, depending on how potent you want your solution to be. Put some of this solution on a sponge or cleaning rag, and wipe on the surface. Finish with a water rinse.
11. Clearing clogged pipes
Start by first pouring some boiling water down the drain, followed by a mixture of equal parts water, baking powder, and vinegar. Plug the drain and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Finally, flush it down with boiling water.
12. Polishing copper, bronze, brass or silver
Make a paste by combining together 1 teaspoon of salt, half a cup of white distilled vinegar, and some flour. Apply this to the metal and let it stand for about 15 minutes. Rinse with water and polish with a soft, dry cloth.
13. Cleaning yoga mats
Yoga mats can become a hotbed of bacteria as it can get covered with sweat. For this, you can prepare an antibacterial solution that you can spray after each use. Mix the following: one cup distilled water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 15 drops of tea tree oil, and 10 drops of another essential oil of choice (for example, lavender, lemongrass, or eucalyptus).
Transfer the solution into a glass spray bottle. A plastic spray bottle can be used, but put only a small amount at a time as the essential oils can degrade the plastic if left too long.
14. Restoring yellowed clothing
To remove yellow stains from white clothes, soak overnight in a solution made up of one part vinegar to 12 parts water. Wash in the morning.
15. Removing stickers
Brush the surface of a sticker with a cloth or paintbrush dipped in vinegar. Spread it carefully until it is soaked through. Do this very gently when dealing with sensitive materials such as laptops or electronics. Leave it for about five minutes, then slowly peel or scrape the sticker away.
Other useful cleaning tips:
What no to clean with vinegar
Vinegar is a versatile cleaning agent. It’s cheap, easily accessible, and safe to use. However, there are some materials that you should avoid using it on.
The acetic acid in vinegar can react with certain metals, like iron or steel. For this reason, you should avoid cleaning kitchen knives with vinegar.
Another thing to remember is to never use vinegar on marble, granite, or soapstone surfaces. This can cause the natural stone to pit and lose its natural shine.
Although vinegar is a good natural cleaner, some people shy away from it because of the strong smell. f you are bothered by the smell of vinegar, you can mask the odor by adding lemon to the solutions suggested above.
Adding essential oils, like tea tree oil, lavender, or citrus can also help neutralize the smell without making the vinegar lose its anti-bacterial property.
In other instances, adding baking powder can help remove residual vinegar by reacting with it. It can be rinsed off with water afterward. Otherwise, try airing the room quickly to diffuse the aroma. Good ventilation can cut the period of smell.
More tips to help you to clean your home:
If you would like to contribute more vinegar cleaning hacks, leave a comment below.