One of green cleaning’s top secret weapons: white vinegar

25272862_MYou’ll recognize its smell immediately. It’s unmistakable! And no, it isn’t just for dying Easter eggs and Grandma’s famous pickles. What are we talking about? Distilled white vinegar, of course.

At the heart of our commitment to green cleaning is the use of natural products, whenever possible. Vinegar, one of our favorite secret weapons, is conveniently inexpensive, non-toxic, safe for the environment, and easily found at just about any grocery store. Did we mention it’s also super versatile? Perk up a simmering roast, put a little pep in your favorite dressing, or de-scale your shower head, all with the same bottle. Amazing, right? Read on to learn more about one of Maid to Clean’s favorite household green cleaning products.

Distilled vinegar versus white: Is there a difference?

This is a great question, and knowing the answer could make a difference in how you use white vinegar. Distilled vinegar is made by introducing oxygen into grain alcohol, which causes bacteria to grow, forming acetic acid in the process. It is this bacteria that gives vinegar its distinctly sour taste.

The main difference between the two vinegars is that distilled vinegar is a milder liquid with about five percent acetic acid. Its counterpart, white vinegar (not distilled), has a much higher acetic acid content, about 25 percent. White vinegar is typically used for cleaning, as the higher acidity isn’t ideal for cooking. Distilled vinegar can be used in both cooking and cleaning, due to its mild acidity and neutral taste.

Green cleaning with white vinegar

While there are many ways to cook with vinegar — poaching, pickling, baking, dressings, frostings and impromptu buttermilk-making — we aren’t exactly a catering business. So for the purpose of this blog, we’ll share some of the easiest green cleaning applications of white vinegar in the home.

  • Make an all-purpose cleaning spray. Simply combine 1 cup of white (or distilled) vinegar with 3 cups of filtered water and pour into a spray bottle. For variety, add 1-2 drops of an essential oil of your choice. The non-toxic spray can be used on windows, countertops, tiles, and most appliances. An additional green cleaning use is to spot-treat pet accidents on the carpet. The acidity of the vinegar will not only neutralize the smell of pet urine, it will also act as a deterrent against your pet using the same place to repeat their business. Something to keep in mind; if you plan to use the spray on a white or light-colored surface, be sure not to add anything that will color the liquid.
  • Get your coffee pot’s sparkle on. Missing that fresh-out-of-the-box sparkle your coffee pot used to have? In addition to following the manufacturer’s instructions for care, try using vinegar to dissolve the build up of coffee oils and minerals that darken the carafe. Fill the water chamber with distilled white vinegar and allow the machine to run through a full cycle, then repeat a second time with water only. If needed, a third cycle can be done to rinse away any remaining vinegar.
  • Don’t forget the tea kettle. The same hard water minerals can build up in your stove top kettle or electric kettle. Pour a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water into the kettle and bring to a boil. Rinse the kettle thoroughly before using. If there is a lot of build up, you may need to repeat the process. You can also try adding lemon oil or lemon juice to the vinegar mixture.
  • Banish the “mystery film” from the microwave. Super quick and easy, this is one of our favorite green cleaning tips to make a dramatic difference in the kitchen. You know that questionable sludge that builds up in the microwave? Simply place a microwave-safe cup or bowl inside with a 1:4 ratio of vinegar to water. Set the microwave to run on high, until the liquid begins to boil and steam covers the glass. Allow the microwave to cool for a bit, then wipe away the gunk with a clean cloth.

At Maid to Clean, we love to do our part to make the world a happier, healthier, cleaner place to be. Visit us online to learn about our commitment to green cleaning and the environment.