How to save the world with vinegar

Mar 21, 2014

By Ashlee Christian

Given that you are a freelancer, I know that you are a trailblazer. You are someone who is squarely in charge of your own destiny, and someone who cares about things that are local, sustainable, and just plain good because you are a Quiet Revolutionary. Way to be awesome!

I too care about these things, which is why I made the switch to natural cleaning. My main reasons are as follows:

  • Better for the Earth
  • Better for my body
  • WAY better for my bank account

If you couldn’t tell from the title of this post, I love vinegar. It’s a real and true love that borders on obsessive. It is unbelievably cheap, and far and away the meanest and greenest way to clean. Conventional cleaners are not only wildly expensive, but if you have ever really looked at the myriad of mysterious ingredients, you would find that they are just as toxic as they are unpronounceable.

A few quick notes:

  • All of the following recipes should be made with distilled white vinegar (which has a 5% acidity).
  • Many of the recipes use baking soda in conjunction with vinegar to help loosen dirt and grime (my love for baking soda also knows no bounds).
  • The vinegar smell disappears once the solution has evaporated off of whatever surface you are cleaning, however, you may add a few drops of essential oil to your solutions to mask the smell while cleaning.
  • As much as I am totally down with reusing, as far as spray bottles go, buy a new one for your adventures with vinegar. Don’t use any that have previously had other chemical cleaning solutions in them.

Vinegar and baking soda -- it's magic!

1. Mirror and Window Cleaner: Fill an empty spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar and clean with crumpled newspaper (paper towels or microfiber cloths work as well, but the newspaper thing will blow your mind).

2. Shower and Tub Cleaner: For mildew and soap scum build-up, spray undiluted vinegar on walls and curtain and let sit, no scrubbing needed. For cleaning the tub, sprinkle about a cup of baking soda into the tub and spray with undiluted vinegar (it’s like a tub volcano!). Let it sit for about 30 minutes and then scrub mixture and rinse with warm water.

3. Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Sprinkle bowl with baking soda, spray with vinegar and scrub down with toilet brush.

4. Sink and Faucet Cleaner: Make paste using two parts baking soda to one part vinegar, apply to sink and faucet, and wipe down with sponge. Make sure to take time to marvel at how shiny your faucets are (the shiniest!).

5. Drain Cleaner: This is great for your shower or kitchen drains! Pack about a cup of baking soda into drain, pour on about ½ cup of vinegar and cover drain. Allow mixture to do its thing for 30 minutes to an hour, and then flush with the hottest water possible for 3-5 minutes.

6. Stove Cleaner: Basically the same thing that you do for your tub, you can do for your stove. Sprinkle with baking soda, spray undiluted vinegar and scrub.

7. Microwave Cleaner: Combine two parts water with one part vinegar in a microwave safe dish. Heat until boiling and then carefully remove and wipe down microwave with paper towel. The vinegar solution will not only loosen foodstuffs but it will also neutralize odors.

8. Fabric Softener: Trust me on this one; replace your fabric softener with vinegar during the rinse cycle. It softens fabrics, gets rid of odors and helps get rid of static (and don’t worry, your clothes will not smell like vinegar).

9. Kitchen Surface Cleaner: Use undiluted vinegar to wipe down kitchen counters and cutting boards. Vinegar is even great for getting rid of odors and disinfecting wooden cutting boards! Also, as a bonus, cleaning your kitchen with vinegar deters ants.

10. Stain Cleaner: Blot stain with sponge or paper towel, spray stain with equal parts water and vinegar, let sit for 2-3 minutes and blot with paper towel. Repeat as needed.

11. Odor Neutralizer: For persistent room odors leave bowl of vinegar in the room overnight.

Vinegar and me.

Freelancers, what are some environmentally-friendly cleaning tips you’ve come across?