Think vinegar for household cleaning

Consumer Reports News: April 19, 2011 12:27 PM

Looking to save at the supermarket? Toss a bottle or two of distilled white vinegar into your cart. Its mildly acidic attributes make it effective at removing stubborn stains, food smells, and hard-water residue from most appliances and home furnishings for far less than the best all-purpose cleaners (see the video below), dishwashing soap, or spot stain removers we've recently reviewed.

For grimy grills
Use a non-scouring nylon brush and a 50-50 mix of water and distilled white vinegar to remove stubborn stains, discoloration and corrosion on painted or or porcelain surfaces. For stainless, experts recommended a mild dishwashing soap and lots of elbow grease.

Dirty dishwashers
If you see white residue inside your dishwasher, place a container with 2 cups of distilled white vinegar in the bottom rack and run a normal cycle but without drying.

Befouled fridges
Dirty, smelly fridges should be treated with hot water and detergent, then a sanitizing solution of chlorine bleach before washing their interiors with hot water and baking soda. Still smelly? Wipe the inside with equal parts vinegar and water.

Clogged coffeemakers
Add a cup of distilled white vinegar and run it through a regular brewing cycle to clean out the dregs.

Crusty showerheads
Got a weak shower? Before calling a plumber, unscrew a grungy showerhead and soak it in distilled white vinegar to ensure it's flowing as much water as it should.

Moldy humidifiers
Humidifiers with antimicrobial finishes on tanks and wicks become scaly and moldy if not regularly cleaned. Although some parts may be washable in the dishwasher, you still need to descale them with distilled vinegar and disinfect them with bleach. Check the owner's manual for specifics on how—and how often—to clean them.

Messy wood furniture
Mix 6 teaspoons of light olive oil and 3 cups of distilled white vinegar into a 1-quart spray bottle. Blend well. Spray the cleaner onto wood, wipe over with a damp cloth, and finish drying with a clean, lint-free cloth. But be sure to use this solution only on sealed wood.

Stained wood floors
Use one cup of distilled white vinegar to a pail full of hot water to clean wood floors.

Soda-spilled carpets
After blotting with a detergent solution of 1 teaspoon of a mild clear or white dishwashing liquid—no bleach—in 1 cup of warm water, blot with a vinegar solution of one-third cup distilled white vinegar with two-thirds cup water. Then rinse with warm water. If a trace remains, dab with a mix of water and 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.

More homemade cleaners: See how other low-cost cleaners like ammonia, alcohol, baking soda, olive oil and trisodium phosphate (TSP) can be mixed into more money-saving cleaners and strippers for glass, walls, wood furniture, and wooden floors.

Gian Trotta


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