Having convinced myself that distilled white vinegar is the best thing ever for laundry care (if you haven’t already, please reference The Positive Effects of Vinegar on My Son’s Socks: A Case Study), I have:
v Reduced my consumption of laundry detergent to such an extent that I now only use 1/4 of the amount of detergent called for, combined with 1 cup distilled white vinegar;
v Eliminated my use of pesky dryer sheets (vinegar works to reduce static cling, and happens to be a mighty fine fabric softener as well);
v Found a new way to add an all-natural touch of scent to my laundry: while vinegar leaves the laundry smelling impeccably clean and fresh (no stinky “vinegar smell” - I promise!) one of the vendors at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market suggested I place a cupful of dried lavender in an old mismatched sock, tie it at the top, and throw it into the dryer with my clothes. The scent is subtle, aromatherapeutic, and, of course, completely natural. Yum!
But what about the effectiveness of vinegar in the rest of the home? Here’s what the experts had to say about the disinfectant power of vinegar:
“Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen references numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar—the kind you can buy in the supermarket—kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). He noted that Heinz can’t claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency. However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial. Even the CBS news show “48 Hours” had a special years ago with Heloise reporting on tests from The Good Housekeeping Institute that showed this.” You can read more about this here. (http://www.care2.com/greenliving/vinegar-kills-bacteria-mold-germs.html#ixzz1MZpgRYJM)
So, confidence bolstered, I tested it throughout my home for an entire month. The results were amazing. Rather than have to resort to bleach, ammonia, or other toxic cleaning products to disinfect and clean, I used only distilled white vinegar and baking soda in various strengths. Every site I visited recommended a spray bottle filled with straight vinegar, to be used regularly for the toilet and all other bathroom surfaces. But beyond its disinfectant capabilities, vinegar proved itself to be indispensable with tackling some of the tougher cleaning jobs in the home. Starting with the bathroom, here’s what worked:
Removal of Hard Water Stains from Glass Shower Doors: I filled an empty spray bottle with nothing but distilled white vinegar. Before really getting into cleaning the shower doors, I sprayed the vinegar on not only the glass doors, but the entire bath enclosure, as well. I let it sit for a few minutes while I cleaned the rest of the bathroom. When I got to the bath enclosure, I re-sprayed the shower doors and scrubbed them with a soft abrasive sponge, then sprayed again with the vinegar and let it sit a second time while I cleaned the tub and tile. After another scrub, I was astounded to see that even the toughest soap and mineral deposits had significantly improved – this just in my first round of cleaning with vinegar. After a month, all the hard water deposits have disappeared. No lie. For easy maintenence, I spray after each shower or bath – so far my weekly cleaning has been reduced to a quick wipe-down! The vinegar seems to have prevented any kind of soap or mineral deposit from building up in the first place. And that famous Southern California mold I used to attack with bleach and a toothbrush once a month? Non-existent.
Clean Shower Door Tracks: All I did was pour straight distilled white vinegar into the tracks and let it sit for a few hours. When done soaking, I flooded the tracks with super-hot water and tackled them with a toothbrush, and they look like new.
Scrubbing Bubbles: Maybe it’s the kid in me, but I had way too much fun adding vinegar to a sprinkling of baking soda. As it foamed and bubbled, it reminded me of all those fantastic “erupting volcano” science experiments back in Second Grade . Ahhhh. Good times. Happily, the science experiment in my tub rendered gleaming results; tub and tile are shiny and clean – without any toxic cleansing agents!
Remove Calcium and Lime Deposits on Shower Heads and Faucets: I put ½ C of straight distilled white vinegar in a sandwich bag, and secured it around the faucet so that the whole thing was completely immersed overnight. In the morning, a slight scrub with a toothbrush took care of everything.
Walls and Floors: A basic solution of 1 C vinegar to 1 Gallon hot water removed fingerprints and brought the floor to a shiny clean.
Toilet: I simply spray a straight solution of vinegar on the toilet seat and rim every couple of nights and let it sit. For deep-cleaning, several sites recommended adding 1 C of vinegar to the bowl and allowing it to sit overnight, followed by a good scrub the next day. After a month, no other bacteria, stains or other nastiness have developed.
Glass and Mirrors: Once again, my good old spray bottle filled with vinegar comes out. Mirrors and glass are completely streak free! I use newsprint instead of paper towels or rags for even better – and lint-free – results.
So, what used to amount to about $12.00 USD for bathroom cleaning supplies has been reduced to a gallon of white distilled vinegar for $3.65 / gallon, a box of baking soda at a whopping $2.00 / box, and an empty spray bottle or two. Next week I’ll tell ya’ about the rest of the house!