The days are getting longer, and the weather’s getting nicer–time for spring cleaning. Sure, it’s an old-fashioned idea, but spring is a time of new beginnings. Cleaning little places that often are glossed over the rest of the year is a universal way to welcome spring and lift your spirits.
If you haven’t tried using vinegar to clean, get acquainted with this natural powerhouse. Vinegar lets you clean in an environmentally friendly way, benefiting the planet and your wallet. A gallon of white vinegar costs just two or three dollars, and if you catch a sale, you can stock up.
Plain old white vinegar is a germ-killing machine. Vinegar is an acid that penetrates bacteria’s cell membranes, releasing protons and causing the cell to die. It can kill many kinds (not all; about 80%) of bacteria and viruses, but isn’t harsh like bleach and is safe for kids and pets.
8 Cleaning hacks with vinegar
Don’t ignore your drains
Clogged drains can be messy and expensive, and traditional drain cleaners are super harsh. Wise homeowners maintain drains and prevent trouble before it starts. Dump some baking soda into the drain opening (a few tablespoons is fine) and pour vinegar slowly, letting it bubble up.
You’ll be shocked at what bubbles out of the drain. Repeat the vinegar pour a couple of times. When the bubbling gets less robust, pour a kettle of boiling water as a chaser. Voila, a bunch of gunk gets pushed through your pipes that might have caused trouble later. Note: it’s a great idea to do this monthly.
Additional read: How to clean stubborn carpet stains with vinegar
Your laundry loves vinegar
If you’ve ever noticed your clothes (and especially towels) smell less than fresh, you should know that detergent builds up over time, making fabrics harder to clean. This can also make towels feel rough or stiff, even if you use fabric softener. Vinegar to the rescue!
Pouring about a cup of vinegar into a wash load along with your regular detergent will keep build-up at bay, soften fabrics naturally without damage, and remove smells. And as a bonus, vinegar keeps the inner workings of your washer sparkling clean.
Microwaves are easy to ignore, but they get filthy
Food splats on the inside, but since the door is always closed, you might forget to clean your microwave regularly. For a fast, simple way to clean dried-on food inside the microwave, just fill a bowl with vinegar and water (measurement not necessary) and heat for three minutes. Use the hot water to dampen a rag and wipe everything down in a snap.
Trash cans are amazingly filthy
You’d think the bag lining it would keep the can clean, but most trash cans get shockingly dirty. For quick cleaning, rinse the can in the bathtub or outside with a hose to loosen the worst debris. Then spray it well with vinegar and let it sit for up to half an hour. Wipe it all down with a rag dampened with peroxide and sprinkled with baking soda, scrubbing any stubborn spots, and give it one more good rinse. Let it dry before putting it in the fresh bag. Use this trick to deep clean your refrigerator and freezer as well.
Wood furniture can get dull and scratched
Refresh it by combining equal parts vinegar and olive oil and polish with it. It will hide scratches and make the wood shine.
Stains on the carpet can make a room look dingy
Fill a spray bottle with two parts water and one part vinegar and dampen the stain with it. Cover it with a rag and iron for a minute or two. This will magically remove even old stains you thought would never fade.
If the grout in your tile looks gruesome, attack it with vinegar
Just spray directly on the grout and use an old toothbrush dipped in baking soda to scrub it. It will whiten without using bleach.
Your dishwasher is not clean
The dishwasher does nothing but wash dishes, so how does it get so grimy? Almost no one rinses their dishes enough to avoid having food particles in the bottom of the dishwasher. That food sits, rots, and causes slime mold to grow. Definitely keep an eye on all filters and traps in your dishwasher, but you can also use vinegar to help.
When you use the microwave cleaning tip above, dump the rest of the vinegar water in the bottom of the dishwasher and let it sit there till the next time it’s run to kill germs and freshen it up. For regular cleaning, turn a cup or bowl the wrong way in the dishwasher and fill it with vinegar before running. Not only will it clean the dishwasher itself, but it will also keep your glasses free of water spots.
If your dishwasher shows weird codes and doesn’t work, don’t worry! Here you can find a complete DIY guide for fixing your dishwasher.
You can use vinegar throughout your home to clean and maintain drains, furniture, clothes, appliances, and carpets. It’s easy and cheap, and you won’t harm the planet or pose a risk to your health. Add vinegar to your grocery list and schedule some time to tackle spring cleaning, so when the days warm-up, you can get outside and enjoy it.