It’s surprising the things you can clean with vinegar around the home. It’s white vinegar that can help keep everything hygienically clean – the key is to dilute it with water and any other natural extracts or essential oils to add a lovely scent.
'Vinegar is made from acetic acid,' says Lucy Searle, Global Editor in Chief for Homes & Gardens. 'So this makes it a natural disinfectant for so many germs including salmonella and E Coli. It can be great for some kitchen surfaces and appliances, as well as in the bathroom. It’s a brilliant product to have in the store cupboard and avoids using store-bought abrasive cleaners. A word of warning, though – undiluted vinegar can damage natural stone and wood, so always check – or dilute really well – before using vinegar for cleaning.'
Here are our top cleaning tips for using vinegar to get a sparkle back in your home.
Cleaning with vinegar
If you use store-bought household cleaners, you are probably already cleaning with vinegar, since it's made with acetic acid, an ingredient in some cleaning products. Vinegar is very effective at cleaning precisely because of the acid, which will break down grease, grime and dirt easily. Be warned though, it can damage some surfaces so always check – or test patch – before you use vinegar, especially neat vinegar, for cleaning.
1. Clean windows with vinegar
Our windows can look really dirty really quickly but all they need is a homemade vinegar and water solution to get them sparkling in no time.
Mix equal parts of white vinegar and hot water and add a splash of liquid soap to help remove any streaks. Martha Stewart (opens in new tab) says that the best time of day to clean is when the sun isn’t shining directly on the windows:
'Using a sponge, wet (but don’t drench) the window with the DIY window cleaner solution and rub the dirt away, being sure to keep the solution from touching the window frames,' she advises. 'Next, wet the squeegee and starting at an upper corner, draw it down in a straight stroke. Return to the top and repeat, slightly overlapping the first stroke. After each stroke, wipe the rubber edge of the squeegee with a sponge or lint-free cloth. Finish by pulling the squeegee across the bottom of the window, and dry the sill with a sponge or cloth.'
Cleaning a front door fitted with glass panels? You can tackle these in the same way as windows.
2. Clean a microwave with vinegar
Looking for kitchen cleaning tips? Many of us forget to give the microwave a good clean every now and then and it can quickly become a bit stinky if we don’t. Again, combine equal parts water and vinegar – this time in a large microwaveable bowl. Pop the bowl into the microwave and set it for about five minutes. The steam created will loosen any food debris, which you can simply wipe away.
3. Clean floors with vinegar
Floor cleaning products can be pricey and strong smelling, so you might want to clean tile floors using vinegar – although do test this first if you are cleaning encaustic tiles or cleaning stone floors.
Take your equal parts vinegar and water solution and mop. It not only lifts off grease and dirt but the diluted solution stops the floor from being damaged by the acid of the vinegar. For her go-to kitchen cleaner, TV presenter Denise Wild (opens in new tab) fills a spray bottle with about 50 per cent vinegar, 30 per cent water and 20 per cent lemon juice. 'Then I add eucalyptus oil (for the smell) and tea tree oil (because it’s antibacterial),' she says.
4. Clean a stove with vinegar
These can become so greasy and sticky, especially when you’re cooking for the family once or twice a day. Vinegar is great for this, as its acidity cuts through grease in an instant. Simply spray your vinegar and water mix onto the cooktop, leave it for about 10 minutes then scrub with soapy water using a non-abrasive scouring pad.
5. Clean a kitchen sink with vinegar
Your 1:1 diluted vinegar and water solution is ideal for the kitchen sink, too. Simply spritz it onto all areas of the sink and rinse with soapy water afterwards.
6. Clean kettles and coffee makers with vinegar
To get rid of that horrible limescale inside your tea kettle or coffee maker, pour the water and vinegar solution directly into the appliance or water reservoir. Boil the kettle or run it through the coffee maker, followed by a few water-only run-throughs to rinse the taste and odor away. If you’re cleaning a humidifier, a vinegar solution can get rid of buildup in the tank in the same way.
A word of warning: check the manufacturer's instructions before cleaning a coffee maker with vinegar – they may advise against it, in which case, take heed.
7. Clean pots and pans with vinegar
Vinegar is an option when you want to get rid of burnt-on marks on pots and pans. Again, use a vinegar and water solution, adding enough to the pan to cover the stain completely.
Bring the solution in the pan to the boil and continue boiling for about 5 minutes. Allow the liquid to cool in the pan, before tipping it out and using a sponge suitable for the material the pan is made from to remove any remaining marks.
Note that vinegar could also be used for cleaning cast iron that‘s become rusty. If that’s the case, soaking it in a vinegar and water solution can help to remove the rust.
8. Clean food processors and blenders with vinegar
Want to clean a blender? Blitz your diluted vinegar and water solution in the food processor or blender then wash as normal.
A word of warning: check the manufacturer's instructions before cleaning a food processor or blender with vinegar – they may advise against it, in which case, take heed.
9. Clean plastic chopping boards with vinegar
This is one area where you really need to be ultra-hygienic to prevent cross-contamination of raw meats. Once you’re finished prepping the evening meal, disinfect it in your water and vinegar solution then wash in soapy hot water.
10. Clean wine glasses with vinegar
It’s so annoying when the glassware gets all cloudy. This is often caused by hard water, so to combat this, soak them in the sink with some non-diluted white vinegar for a few minutes then wash as normal.
11. Clean a dishwasher with vinegar
A great cleaning hack is to pour a cup of vinegar onto the base of the dishwasher inside the main cavity then run an empty cycle without any dishes or detergent in, to free-up any mineral deposits.
A caveat, though: a dishwasher can be one of the things not to clean with vinegar as it can damage some rubbers used for parts of the dishwasher. Check your manual.
12. Clean a refrigerator and freezer with vinegar
Have a good sort out by using up any food that’s near its use-by date and give the refrigerator and freezer a thorough clean with your diluted water and vinegar solution.
13. Clean a showerhead with vinegar
Vinegar can also be used as a cleaning product in the bathroom too. Clean a showerhead by pouring some white vinegar into a plastic bag and secure it around the showerhead with an elastic band. Leave overnight and wake up to a sparkling shower!
14. Clean a bathtub with vinegar
To clean a bathtub with vinegar, simply mix it with warm water and begin scrubbing the surface of your problem area. If the stain persists, mix vinegar and baking soda and let sit for a few minutes before vigorously scrubbing.
15. Clean a toilet with vinegar
No-one likes cleaning the loo but for great results, pour a cup of undiluted vinegar into the bowl and leave overnight. The next day, sprinkle with baking soda and scrub. Finally, flush the toilet and you’re all done.
What should you never clean with vinegar?
You should never clean natural stone, especially granite and marble, with vinegar. This means being extremely cautious with kitchen countertops and stone floors. Be careful, too, with wood, whether countertops or when cleaning hardwood floors – undiluted vinegar can damage all these.
Hayley is an interiors journalist, content provider and copywriter with 26 years experience who has contributed to a wide range of consumer magazines, trade titles, newspapers, blogs and online content. Specialising in kitchens and bathrooms, she has twice won the CEDIA Award for Best Technology feature. Hayley writes for H&G about kitchens, bathrooms, cleaning, DIY and organizing.
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