Thursday, March 17, 2011

A "Green" Cleaner for St. Patrick's Day--White Vinegar

Today, when I emptied the dishwasher, I noticed that there was a bit of film starting to develop on some of them.  Some people would say that means it is “Jet Dry time” (although, I guess they changed their name to “Finish”.  I could be wrong.  I never use the stuff!), but, in my house, that means it is vinegar time!  I just fill the “Jet Dry dispenser” with white vinegar and run it like normal usually.  However, this time, when I opened the dispenser, I noticed a lot of rusty looking hard water deposit on the interior of the compartment, so I decided it was time to do a rinse of just the dishwasher, without any dishes in it.  Don’t want to get any of that orange junk on something we are going to eat off of!

This isn’t the only wonderful, money-saving thing I use white vinegar for of course.  I’ve mentioned in other posts how I use it to help clean toilets, declogging drains, prevent mold in freezers, and dislodge lice nits from hair, but white vinegar has many, many more uses!  Here are some of the other things I’ve used it for:
  • Degreasing the oven and vents of the oven hood:  Just wipe down with a half and half mixture of vinegar and water.
  • Erasing crayon from carpet.  Dip a toothbrush in the vinegar and scrub.  I did notice though, that if the carpet gets too saturated with vinegar, it loses effectiveness.  If this happens, like with a really deep solidly colored purple crayon mark, take a break, let it dry, and then start again.
  • Get rid of mineral deposits around sink faucets:  Apply undiluted vinegar to the deposit and let sit at least 15 minutes, then scrub away with a toothbrush.
  • Disinfect countertops and cutting boards:  Wipe down countertops at least once a day and cutting boards after each use with undiluted vinegar to kill any nasties that might be trying to set up housekeeping.
  • Destickify wood:  Whether it be a breadbox or a chair, wiping it down with vinegar can freshen up the surface.
  • Prevent mildew in the shower:  Who needs one of those fancy (toxic) automatic shower cleaners?  Just keep a spray bottle of vinegar in the shower and do a quick spritz around when you get out of the shower.
  • Wash windows and mirrors:  Some people swear by vinegar on newspaper, but I never have newspapers around, so I have to use a cloth rag, but I still get that streak free shine (at least until the kids start doodling on steamy mirrors again!).
  • Dissolving old glue:  Whether the kids glued something they shouldn’t or I’m trying to take something apart to fix it, letting some vinegar soak into it can make the job easier.
  • Fabric softener:  I don’t do this one often (because I don’t pay enough attention to what cycle it is on), but adding ½ cup to the last rinse cycle will soften clothes.
  • Weed killer:  Kill weeds in the cracks of sidewalks and driveways with a mixture of 1 quart boiling water, 2 tbsp salt, and 5 tbsp vinegar.  Pour directly on the weeds while the mixture is still hot.
  • Cleaning out icky coolers:  I know I’ve forgotten to empty out coolers in a timely fashion after a family outing on more than one occasion.  To get rid of the mold or mildew that tends to spring up, wipe down with vinegar.
  • Change the pH of something for canning:  To make sure my tomatoes and tomato sauce are acidic enough to can safely without a pressure canner, I add some vinegar.
  • Demold cheese:  If cheese becomes moldy, wipe the mold off with some vinegar on a paper towel.  This should also help inhibit future mold growth.
  • Stripping cloth diapers:  If diapers still smell after washing, there may be a detergent buildup in them.  To get rid of this, wash again without any detergent and check for suds in the rinse.  If there are still suds, rinse again.  Repeat as needed to get rid of any residual detergent buildup.  To make sure the smell is really gone, add a cup of vinegar to the final rinse.
There are many other uses for vinegar that I haven’t tried, so if you know of any others, please share in the comments.  If you’d like to learn more, I recommend the following books:

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