White vinegar, while great for cooking, is also a handy addition to the household cleaning arsenal. It should be noted, however, that many people mistakenly think that vinegar will clean and disinfect, which it will not do. Instead, it’s best used to shine and remove hard water minerals and do a bit of deodorizing around the house. It’s not the miracle cleaner some websites claim it is, but it certainly has its place when scrubbing down a home.
Here, then, is a list of some of the things you can do around the house with vinegar as a tool instead of an ingredient.
- Remove mineral build-up: Be it in a kettle, humidifier, coffee maker or steam iron, vinegar is an excellent way to help break down mineral deposits in many small appliances – though you should always double check the owner’s manual before using any of the following techniques. To remove mineral build up in a kettle, fill the kettle with equal amounts vinegar and water and let it sit for up to two hours. Rinse with clean water, boil clean water in the kettle and discard the water before using it again. For humidifiers and steam irons, use equal amounts of water and vinegar and allow to soak for an hour, then rinse several times. For coffee makers (unless otherwise indicated in the manual), use equal amounts of vinegar and water and allow to soak one hour. Run it through twice and then run clear water through twice. For your dishwasher, put a cup or two of vinegar in the bottom and run the dishwasher through a rinse cycle.
- Beyond small appliances: You can also remove the mineral deposits on some glassware. For a vase, use equal parts vinegar and water and allow to sit for 15 minutes before washing with a soft brush and warm soapy water.
- Windows and mirrors: A combination of vinegar and water is a great -- and green -- solution for cleaning windows and mirrors. The vinegar helps to eliminate mineral build-up and residues left by commercial cleaning products. Using a micro-fibre cloth or a squeegee will give you sparkling windows and mirrors in no time.
- Rinse those linoleum floors: A little vinegar in the rinse water after washing some floors is often helpful. But be careful about the type of flooring you use it on. If you’re not sure, check with the manufacturer. You generally shouldn’t use vinegar on hardwood floors.
- As a mild deodorizer: Used diluted vinegar to rinse out refrigerators and freezers after a more thorough cleaning.
- Deodorizing after cleaning pet stains on carpets: After first cleaning with an enzymatic carpet cleaner (except on silk or wool area rugs and carpets), use diluted vinegar in rinse water, then blot well.
- Freshen walls: Rinse walls with very dilute vinegar and water to remove dust and freshen.