Green Cleaning Toolkit: Vinegar

image by Mattia Valerio

The next installment in my Green Cleaning Toolkit is: V for vinegar. (You can see previous posts here.)

I have already posted about some of the top uses for vinegar around the house, but as it is the one ingredient I use multiple times every single day, I think it definitely requires its own Toolkit post.

I buy my white vinegar in 4L bottles from the supermarket for about $1.50. This usually lasts me between one and two weeks, so it’s pretty good value. I’m on the lookout for somewhere I can buy it in bulk, to save on packaging, but so far I can only find it by the huuuge drumload.

Cleaning Uses:

General Purpose Cleaner – Dilute 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water and keep it in a spray bottle. You can use this and a damp cloth to clean just about everything. I use it to clean the bathroom vanity, the bath, the tiles (unless they need a heavy clean), the kitchen benchtops, the cupboard doors, the sink (unless it needs a scrub, then I use lemon and bi-carb).

High-Strength Cleaner – Keep straight white vinegar in another spray bottle and use it as a cleaner on stubborn marks like the bath ring or soap scum on tiles. Just spray thoroughly, leave for 15 minutes, wipe over the dirt with a damp cloth, rinse and dry. This is also really good to clean that greasy, dusty layer you get in the kitchen sometimes – particularly on the rangehood or the oven door.

Disinfectant/Cleaner – Spray all over your toilet with vinegar when you spray the bowl (remember the borax and vinegar toilet cleaner?) and leave it till you clean the bowl. This acts both as a disinfectant and cleaner for the loo. You can also spray your wooden and plastic chopping boards with straight vinegar, leaving it for a few minutes, then rinse and dry. This disinfects and gets rid of oniony smells.

Floor Cleaner – When we had our oiled floors laid during the reno, the floor guy told us to clean the floors using a bucket of warm water, half a cup of methylated spirits and half a cup of vinegar. That works a treat with the oil finish, but before the reno when we had floors sealed with polyurethane, I used a squirt of Morning Fresh liquid and a cup or so of vinegar in the bucket and that was really effective too. I think the vinegar cuts down on any soapy build-up and makes the floor lovely and shiny.

Laundry Uses:

Softener/Freshener – I add about a quarter of a cup of vinegar to every wash I do, with the exception of the fabric nappies (the vinegar can effect their absorbency), and it softens and freshens the laundry so much. I can tell if I don’t use it, particularly with the linen as it feels all scratchy and rough. And despite the smell of vinegar when you first put it in the washing machine, you really can’t smell it much once it’s been washed, and not at all once the laundry is dry. Apparently, adding some vinegar to the wash can help alleviate eczema in those who have skin reaction to laundry powder too. I used to wash Isla’s clothes in Lux flakes and vinegar before I discovered castile soap.

Other Uses:

Toy Cleaner – Spray the kids toys and board books with the 1:4 vinegar dilution and wipe over with a clean cloth. It lifts off stickiness and is a mild disinfectant too.

It really is just as easy as making one or two changes every couple of weeks, and before you even realise it, you’ll be cleaning greener and simpler. I can’t promise it will be any more fun though. Sorry.

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