Many homeowners strive for a healthier home — whether that means choosing eco-friendly materials for a remodel or greener products for everyday life. For me, finding healthier, more effective and budget-friendly cleaning alternatives is at the top of my list. Fortunately, effective nontoxic options have been around for centuries. Many of these cleaners, including vinegar, are already in your closet.

Meg Padgett, original photo on Houzz Vinegar is one of the most versatile and effective household cleaners. At pennies per ounce, it's also one of the most inexpensive cleaners on the market. Simply mix 1 cup of water and ¼ cup distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. This basic mixture can be used for most cleaning chores, with additional natural elements added to tackle tougher jobs. Not too fond of the smell? Don't worry, the smell dissipates as the vinegar dries.


Vinegar can be used to clean the bathroom from top to bottom.

  • Use the basic mixture on the toilet and tile floors; and on hard water stains, film and soap residue on the shower and sink. Just spray on, scrub and wipe clean.
  • To deep clean grout, combine 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, ¼ cup vinegar, ¼ cup warm water and 2 tablespoons borax. Apply, let soak and scrub with a toothbrush.

Tip: Have a clogged shower head or drain? Soak the shower head in vinegar or use this method to unclog the drain.


The kitchen is another room that sees the full benefits of vinegar — the basic mix can clean virtually every surface in this room.

  • Use the basic mix to clean and disinfect the refrigerator, surfaces, tile floors and cutting boards.
  • For sparkling dishes, pour 2 cups of distilled white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher in addition to regular dishwasher detergent and wash with a full cycle.
  • Clean and deodorize the kitchen drain by pouring 2 cups of boiling water followed by 2 cups of white distilled vinegar down each drain.


Use vinegar to soften and lift stains from clothes in the laundry room.

  • Add two cups of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle to remove soap residue and leave laundry soft and fresh.
  • Lightly sponge distilled white vinegar onto deodorant and wine stains on 100 percent cotton, cotton polyester and permanent press fabrics. Note: This must be done within 24 hours of the wine stain.
  • Deodorize your washing machine by adding 2 cups of distilled white vinegar to an empty machine and turn it on to a full cycle.
  • Remove dark burn marks from an iron plate with a paste of equal parts white distilled vinegar and salt. Rub the paste onto the cooled iron plate and wipe clean.

Living room, hall and bedroom.

These living spaces often take the brunt of household abuse; use vinegar to whip them back into shape!

  • Wash no-wax floors, woodwork, doors, walls and blinds with the basic mixture.
  • For a streak-free shine, wash windows with equal parts warm water and vinegar. Wipe dry with a soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Lift new stains from carpets, rugs and upholstery with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent, 1 teaspoon of vinegar and 1 pint of warm water. Pour the mixture onto the stain, scrub with a soft brush or towel and blot dry. Repeat until stain is removed. Note: Read your carpet manufacturer's label beforehand, and test the mixture on a small inconspicuous place.
  • Pesky water rings can be removed by rubbing a mixture of equal parts olive oil and vinegar onto the stain. Buff with the grain, and polish after stain is removed.

Have vinegar cleaning methods of your own?

Share your tips in the Comments section below!

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About the Author

Henrietta Padgett

Henrietta Padgett began writing for various websites in 2010. Padgett holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and interned for a small publisher who specialized in health and cooking articles. She enjoys writing about her favorite interests, including hair care, books, languages (especially Latin) and animals.