Vinegar is an acidic liquid made by a fermentation process involving acetic acid. The high concentration of acid in vinegar gives it power to fight bacteria, and the best part is that vinegar is much less expensive versus popular cleaning products. Vinegar, when mixed with water, baking soda, or salt has been used in household cleaning as a safe alternative to harsh chemicals, and food grade vinegar is non-toxic, even after having been used to clean an area. Given the cost of a gallon of bleach is, in my area, in the $4.00 range, and the cost of vinegar is half that, I stand to save quite a bit of money by switching to vinegar, and we all know bleach is toxic, so there's an added bonus on the side of vinegar.
Carpet Cleaning with Vinegar
Remember the old science fair stereotype of creating a volcano eruption using vinegar and baking soda? You can apply this same science to your carpets in tough stain areas. I used the following method to clean tough stains and pet stains from the light tan carpet in my house with great success:
First, vacuum the area thoroughly, from multiple directions to bring the carpet fibers up and apart as much as possible. In high traffic areas, use a rubber brush that you'll find marketed to help with pet hair to "rough up" the carpet and help give you better access to the fibers.
Next, cover the affected area with a liberal dusting of baking soda.
In a container you can pour easily from, like a refillable water jug, mix vinegar and hot water. I used a mix of four parts water to one part vinegar, roughly. Pour this mix over the baking soda, starting from the outside of the stain inward. This mix will get into the stained area, and will get down into the carpet padding as well.
Let the area rest for a few minutes, then use a carpet brush to scrub the area thoroughly.
If you own a steam cleaning machine, use that to suck up the liquid, then follow up with a rinse of the area. If you do not own a steam cleaning machine, you will need a few towels to soak up the liquid before rinsing, and then a few more towels after you've rinsed. You want to leave the carpet damp, and it will take time for the carpet padding to dry.
Extra tip: To dry your carpet and the underpadding, try using a handheld hair dryer. You'll look silly while you're drying the floor, but using a hair dryer will help you get to the underpadding and let you see whether the stain came out fully.
Cleaning with Vinegar in the Kitchen
Is your coffee tasting a bit stale and too bitter? You may have deposits in the carafe or elsewhere in your coffee maker that simply running hot water through will not remove. Try filling the reservoir of your coffee machine with a mixture of half hot water, half vinegar, then run the coffee maker as normal. Dump out what comes out, then run a cycle or two of water to make sure the coffee won't taste like vinegar in the morning.
Pour two cups of vinegar into your dishwasher and set it up on a full cycle while empty to clear your dishwasher of lingering odor but also to clean residue from soap or rinsing agents from all the surfaces and hardware inside your dishwasher.
To clean your microwave easily and quickly, fill a bowl with equal parts vinegar and water. Set the microwave to run for 10 minutes and when it is done, anything caked into the walls or base of your microwave will be soft, and food odors will be gone. Then just wipe your microwave clean with a moist cloth or sponge. As an added bonus, pouring the super hot vinegar mixture down your garbage disposal drain and letting it sit for five minutes or so, then running hot water through your disposal will help keep your disposal clean and cut any grease there as well.
You can even use vinegar to clean china and glass, keeping these precious heirlooms and dishware from other more abrasive cleaning methods by adding a cup of vinegar to warm water and hand-washing with a soft cloth.
Other Household Cleaning Methods Using Vinegar
Take newspaper, or unwaxed circulars from the junk mail, and use it to wipe down your windows with a bit of vinegar for a streak-free shine.
Use a couple cups of vinegar in an empty washing machine cycle to clear up odors and rinse away soap residue just like in your dishwasher.
Make an abrasive paste using cream of tartar and vinegar to clean grout and scrub away lime deposits on your faucets and in your bathroom.
Clean the base of your windows with equal parts vinegar and water to keep out mold and deter ants and other crawly bugs from coming through those slight cracks.
Your air conditioning unit can be cleaned with vinegar and water and wiped dry, this will freshen up the air in your house as well as air travels through the system.
Deodorize your shoes by soaking a sponge in an equal mix of vinegar and water, wringing the sponge out until it is just damp. Leave the sponge in your shoe overnight, and by morning, no more sweaty foot smell.
Spray undiluted vinegar on your grill and scrub with a wadded up piece of aluminum foil for a clean that won't rough up the grill.
How to Get Rid of the Vinegar Smell
After cleaning most things with vinegar, if you have a lingering vinegar odor, fill a bucket with warm water and a very small amount of hand soap. Wipe down surfaces you cleaned with vinegar, and let air dry. The vinegar smell should disperse fast. The odor usually disappears after a short time on its own with good ventilation - a good day of cleaning may be a good excuse to open your windows and let in some fresh air anyway.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on August 31, 2012:
I use vinegar to clean out the humidifier unit in my central air annually. But I keep forgetting how useful it is for regular household cleaning. Thanks for the reminder, I'll have to try some of these things too. Great hub with lots of useful ideas. Voted up.
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on May 25, 2012:
vinegar, hot water & newspapers - how I made money as a lad
CassyLu1981 from Spring Lake, NC on January 30, 2012:
I've always got Vinegar in my house!!! You put some ideas in your hub that I had not known about yet. Thanks so much for the great ideas!
Thanks for SHARING :)
glad2behere from Virginia on January 19, 2012:
I have always touted vinegar as a good all-around cleaner, and now I am justified! My sons will no longer make fun of me for using vinegar...I'm in good company!
Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on December 15, 2011:
I mix 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water and then add a few drops of lemon extract in my floor cleaner. Works like a charm. Informative hub earning you a vote up and useful.
Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on December 06, 2011:
Hey Joe! Hope Gamergirl Fan #0001 is doing awesome. ;-)
Yep, vinegar'd have done the trick, m'friend. Next time, keep it in mind.
Joseph Addams from Standing right behind you! on December 06, 2011:
Hey, gamergirl, long time, no read. Thanks for the carpet tip. In my office we have light brown wall to wall carpeting and guess who spilled a half cup of black coffee on it? If you guessed, me, you'd be correct. I made it even worse by using a chlorine-free bleach and water solution. Wish I'd thought to try vinegar first.
Next time, though!
Garrett Mickley from Jupiter, Florida on December 05, 2011:
Yeah but I REALLY hate the smell of vinegar. I can't get near it.
Kiz Robinson (author) from New Orleans, Louisiana on December 05, 2011:
Like I said, if you follow up the vinegar cleaning with proper rinsing, and airing out of the room in question, the vinegar smell disappears naturally in a short period of time. :)
Garrett Mickley from Jupiter, Florida on December 05, 2011:
My old roommate used to do this, and I can't stand the smell of vinegar. We didn't work out as roomies.
Sondra from Neverland on December 02, 2011:
Vinegar is a great way to clean anything from the floors to the toilet and it disinfects, but that smell! I love that you mention to open the windows and get some fresh air in :) I DID learn that vinegar can be used for carpet stains...a blessing for me since I have 3 kids and a dog and TAN carpet!! Thanks for a great informative hub