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Raise your hand if you have a bottle of distilled white vinegar in your pantry right now? Look at all of you with your hands up! It may make you happy to know that, not only do you have a useful cooking staple in there, you also have a powerful cleaner. See, vinegar is a potent cleaner because it’s so acidic. It contains acetic acid, which has a pH of 2.4. To put that into context, that’s almost as acidic as lemons. And so vinegar is an effective cleaner but still completely safe for many surfaces. How should you put it to work? Here are a few surprising things you can clean with vinegar. 

Greasy Ovens

Skip the self-cleaning feature and those stinky, harsh chemicals: You can clean your oven with baking soda, vinegar, and just a little bit of elbow grease. Add water to baking soda to make a paste and spread it all around the inside of your oven. Let it sit overnight and, in the morning, wipe out what you can and spray any lingering paste with vinegar. Then wipe everything down with a damp cloth.

Windows

Dirty windows will make your home look darker than it is—especially this time of year, as the season starts to turn. Give them a good cleaning (inside and outside, if you can!) with a solution that’s one part vinegar and one part water. Shake up both ingredients in a spray bottle, mist the solution across your windows, and then wipe down the glass with a microfiber cloth.

Hard Water Buildup

If you have hard water coming out of your tap, you’ll know it. Hard water has lots of minerals in it and they can build up over time. Tell-tale signs include white chalky residues left behind on glasses fresh out of the dishwasher or faucets that start spraying water a bit wonkier than usual. Luckily, vinegar can break down this buildup with little effort on your part. You can add a bowl full of vinegar to your dishwasher’s next load or soak your faucet in a baggie filled with vinegar. You can even run a cycle of vinegar and water through your coffeemaker and whirl up a cup of vinegar to clean a cloudy blender container.

Stainless Steel Appliances

Stainless steel appliances sure do look sleek—as long as they’re free of water marks and fingerprints. Stay on top of those smudges and smears with some vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz the surface as needed and wipe the vinegar off with a microfiber cloth. Just be sure to wipe in the same direction as the grain of the metal.

Hardwood and Tile Floors

Want to make your floors shine? Once you’ve vacuumed or swept, mix half a cup of white vinegar with one gallon of warm water. Use this solution as your mop water or pour it right into a steam mop. If you’re cleaning hardwood with a mop, make sure you wring your mop out super well.

Stained or Yellowed Laundry

You can treat acidic stains with, you guessed, it—vinegar. Soak a shirt with tomato stains (or coffee stains or mustard stains) in vinegar and then wash as normal. You can also add a cup of vinegar to your next load of white laundry, or spot treat yellowing tee shirts and towels.

Stain-splattered Microwaves

Wouldn’t it be nice if your microwave could clean itself? It kind of can! Fill a microwave-safe bowl with two cups of water and two tablespoons of vinegar. Zap the solution for five minutes. Then, let things sit for another few minutes. The steam will loosen up all the gunk and all you have to do is go in with a damp rag   and give the walls a wipe.

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