Ok, folks. I wouldn’t pass any of this along unless it was tried and true, and I was a serious believer in the results. When it comes to the cleaning and disinfecting power of distilled white vinegar, consider me a bona-fide believer. So far I’ve replaced everything in my arsenal of cleaning chemicals with a gallon of vinegar, a big box of baking soda, a bottle of dishwashing detergent, and some wood cleaner. That’s it.
In today’s Great Vinegar Experiment: Part 3 (In the Kitchen) we tackle the KITCHEN. It goes without saying that any of the cleaning techniques I used in the bathroom will work just fine for the kitchen, so I won’t spend the time repeating them. I’d much prefer to get right into sharing all these exciting new KITCHEN-RELATED cleaning techniques!
Descale (Remove Mineral Deposits from) Your Coffeemaker
This is a pretty well-known trick but for those who don’t know, simply add a cupful of undiluted white vinegar to the water chamber of your coffeemaker and allow to run its full brew cycle. Then re-run with plain water. NOTE: NEVER NEVER NEVER RUN THIS SOLUTION IN AN ESPRESSO MAKER. These machines will absorb the flavor of the vinegar (just like they’ll absorb the essence of flavored coffees), which will ruin your machine and your coffee experience.
Disinfect and Deodorize Drains and Garbage Disposals:
I’ve always used lemon rind to deodorize my garbage disposals, but never really felt like it did that much to really clean them. Vinegar to the rescue! I poured 1/2 C of baking soda into the disposal, followed by 1/2 C HOT white vinegar. After letting this sit for about 5 minutes, I flushed it out with a full kettle of boiling water. Voila! And for daily maintenance, I froze a bunch of full-strength white vinegar into cubes and stuck them in a gallon freezer bag. I just pop one in after the nightly dishes are done, and grind it up in the disposal. Done! (Though I still love the smell of lemons down the drain – now they just smell even better!)
Clean and Deodorize Your Microwave
I know this is everyone’s least favorite job ever. How do I know this? Because it’s my least favorite job. I’d rather clean out a refrigerator than a microwave any day of the week. Go figure. And while I’m dropping hints and offering bribes and waiting patiently to see if anyone will take me up on tackling the smelly food-nuker, I’m noticing a complete flatline on the action counter. Not a sign of life anywhere. Furthermore, I can guarantee you that in employee lounges across America and beyond, the microwave looks like a medical experiment gone awry. But there’s hope. Simply put 1/2 C distilled white vinegar and 1/2 C water in a microwave safe bowl, bring it to a rolling boil, and let the resulting steam do all the work. Splattered nastiness will simply wipe away, and the offending odors will disappear. Pardon me while I giggle with delight.
Disinfect Cutting Boards and Work Surfaces
After washing your cutting boards and work surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water, dry and then spray generously with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Leave overnight. In the morning, rinse off the cutting boards and allow to dry.
The Cure to the Funky Lunch Box
(Oh, how I wish I’d known about this when my kids were little. ) When the lunchbox stays at school over the weekend, and comes home filled with unfinished sandwich leavings and moldy apple cores (eeewwwww….), do not despair. After you don your industrial- strength rubber gloves and remove the hazardous waste from the lunchbox, wash it thoroughly with hot soapy water and spray with full-strength white vinegar; allow to dry. Then soak a piece of bread in white vinegar, place it in an open container inside the lunchbox, and leave it overnight. The lunchbox will smell as good as new. NOTE: Vinegar also works to remove odors from plastic food containers – spray vinegar on the inside surfaces and replace the cover; allow to sit for a few minutes before rinsing.
Clean Glassware and Fine Stemware
There’s nothing worse than setting out wine glasses (or any other type of glass, for that matter) with water spots on them. Just kills a beautiful table. To get rid of those pesky water spots and make your glassware sparkle and shine, add 1/3 C distilled white vinegar to hot soapy dishwater. Rinse and dry immediately. Be careful, though! Vinegar will remove any hand-painting or color-coating applied to your specialty glassware. Before using, be SURE that your colored stemware is dyed and not coated with a colored film!
Disinfect and Deodorize Your Dishwasher
Once a month, add 1 C undiluted distilled white vinegar to your empty dishwasher, and allow it to run its full cycle. This will not only clean and disinfect, but it will also get rid of that musty smell that develops.
Renew Sponges & Dishcloths
My kids were famous for washing the car and leaving the sponge to get slimy in the bottom of the wash bucket. But even dishcloths and such can get a little funky after time. Round ‘em up, fill up your sink so that it just covers the sponges and such, and add 1/2 C distilled white vinegar. Let it sit overnight. In the morning, set them out in the sun to dry. (This is also a great way to refresh your bath scrubbies and loofahs, as well!)
Quick-Drying Floor Cleaner
This is awesome for quick spruce-ups when you need to have the floor dry – quickly. In an empty spray bottle, simply add 3 drops dishsoap + 1 C white vinegar + 1 C water + 1 C alcohol. Spray on your floor and wipe up – it’s super-convenient, and the alcohol will help the floor to dry a bit faster than normal!
The list of successes in the Kitchen was so long, I decided to do a separate post about how I’ve used vinegar in the rest of the house. Watch for it next week!
And as a sidenote to my earlier entry concerning the use of vinegar in the laundry, there’s been a surprising added benefit:
All of my laundry actually looks newer and brighter after having used vinegar for over a month now. I didn’t post this potential benefit, because I hadn’t actually seen it with my own two eyes. But during my initial research, I learned that the “recommended quantities” for detergents far exceed what’s necessary to get your clothes clean. On top of that, the detergents build up in your clothes and make them look dull, and the buildup from the detergents actually attracts dirt and oils. (Liquid fabric softeners seriously compound this buildup, and can even reduce the absorbency of your bath towels!) Vinegar gently dissolves the detergent buildup on clothes, the same way it dissolves soap scum in the bathroom. Now, after a month and a half, I can personally vouch for the fact that my wardrobe looks newer and fresher than it did when I was only using detergent! I am a super-happy camper!