The Role of White Vinegar in My Home


I know I do not use white vinegar to it’s full extent. To be perfectly honest, it isn’t my favorite cleaning agent because I do not like the smell. I know some folks add essential oils and water to their vinegar to change the smell, but oils don’t get rid of the acidic vinegar smell, they only change it slightly. However, I reason that I have used cleaning chemicals in the past that are so strong, I had to hold my breath while I scrubbed; then leave the room periodically to get a gasp of air. White vinegar might stink, but it isn’t doing my body harm, it isn’t going to cause birth defects or hormone disruption, and is so safe, I could drink it. So, I can get past the temporary smell in light of vinegar’s good traits. And since vinegar seems to clean, and deodorize effectively, it is my current choice to do certain jobs.
These are the ways white vinegar comes into play in my home:

Shower, Tubs, and Sinks: I use white vinegar in combination with baking soda to clean areas in my bathroom that get a buildup of soap and minerals. I have dealt with hard water stains, and other than getting a good water softener system, I do not know of a natural method to remove those stains.

  1. Start with a wet surface, either just after the shower has been used, or I spray/wipe down the walls with water to get them wet, this moisture allows the baking soda to adhere.
  2. Dust the shower walls and sinks with baking soda. The soda can be left for a time to absorb any hard stains.
  3. Spray the baking soda dusted shower and sink with vinegar. A slight fizzy action should occur. The reaction between the two agents softens soap scum and breaks down the hard water stains allowing me to gently wipe the walls down with my long handled shower scrubber or a cleaning rag.
  4. Rinse out the shower and sink with hot water.
  5. To disinfect, finish off with a spray of hydrogen peroxide.

Appliances: Most manufacturers recommend maintaining appliances such as a washer and dryer with regular cleaning cycles. Products can be purchased to do the job, or it can be done by adding two cups of white vinegar or bleach to an empty cleaning cycle (check manufacturing instructions to confirm). My washing machine and my dishwasher both recommend using vinegar, and they both have a self-clean setting which I also engage. I usually clean both my washer and dishwasher at least once a month by adding vinegar to an empty cycle.

Laundry: Vinegar breaks down long set orders in clothing. If a garment is harboring an unwanted odor, even after a regular wash, an overnight soak in white vinegar is the cure. Then I just throw it in a regular load of wash to get rid of the vinegar odor. It comes out fresh.

Wrinkle Removal: While working as a seamstress in a tailoring and alteration shop, I learned that a spray of white vinegar works magic on removing stuborn creases and fold lines left from lengthening garments. So, I spray a little on garments when needed to help remove tough wrinkles or unwanted folds.

Pet Oder Neutralization: This is a role that I recently discovered about vinegar. We have a cat. He spends the night inside a shed and the days outside in the sun. The shed took on a peculiar odor since he moved in there. Even after I cleaned the cat litter, the odor remained. I found by spraying the walls and floors with white vinegar, the odor disappears. I also soak anything with cat odor in vinegar, and find vinegar eliminates the animal smell. So, vinegar is effective at neutralizing pet odors.

I do not use vinegar as an all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner, or disinfectant. I do not find it does those jobs suitably on its own. In my post, “Household Cleaning on the Cheap, Practical, and Natural,” I discuss the various products I use to keep my house clean. Vinegar does have its vital role in my home and I am grateful for it.