As a companion piece to last month’s article on baking soda, this month we are going to learn about plain ol’ vinegar and how amazingly versatile it is, both alone and with baking soda. I know many people on their quest to a chemical free life who use only vinegar and baking soda as home cleaning agents. I have worked with some sensitive clients that cannot tolerate anything and usually do just fine with vinegar and baking soda. Along with vinegar being a cost effective solution, it is also as good, if not better, than many of the natural product lines out there. 

For the purposes of this article, we will discuss white distilled vinegar, although many other vinegars such as apple cider vinegar have wonderful benefits as well. 

Vinegar has been around since 5000 B.C. where Sumerians, an ancient civilization of Babylonia, used vinegar first to pickle and preserve food. By 2000 B.C., making homemade vinegar was being phased out and vinegar production was largely a commercial industry. In 400 B.C., Hippocrates himself prescribed vinegar to heal many ailments. Fast forward to 1986 and the International Vinegar museum was opened in Roslyn, South Dakota. That is vinegar passion! 

Then in 2013, a white distilled vinegar with a higher acidity specifically for cleaning was introduced into the mainstream market. 

The uses are endless! To get you started, here are several suggestions. Although I don’t like to recommend certain products, there is a new vinegar out there from a company called Four Monks that is “aroma-controlled” and is also food-grade so you know it’s safe. Also, you can always add some drops of your favorite essential oil to your vinegar spray bottle to curb the strong scent. But to start, just grab the bottle that is probably under your sink somewhere and get going! 

Household cleaning uses: 

Stainless Steel Cleaner – Use your spray bottle of vinegar and spray all appliances. Then wipe clean in the direction of the grain with a soft cloth and a gentle touch. 

Dishwasher Rinse Agent – Make sure you rinse out the chemical agents you might have been using before you switch to vinegar. Do this with every cycle. Bonus tip: every month put vinegar into the main detergent compartment and run a cycle. It will clean and disinfect your dishwasher beautifully. 

Fruit and Vegetable Wash – Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar. Spray on your fruit or vegetables, rub it in gently, then rinse. The acid in the vinegar kills the bacteria, helps to dissolve the wax, pesticide and fertilizer residues found on the skins. 

Removing Mineral Deposits – Fill a small plastic bag with vinegar and place it over your shower head or faucet with a rubber band. Leave the bag on for an hour or two. Then remove and brush with an old toothbrush or rag. 

Laundry Booster – Simply add 1 cup of white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle. It is one product that can replace a host of others because it will whiten whites, brighten colors, eliminate static cling, remove dye in new clothes, soften laundry and more. So effective and simple! 

This is just a sampling of my favorites to get you started. 

Enjoy! 

— Sara Lemons Vaules is the founder of Lemon and Light, which offers consulting, products and strategies for moving with ease into an organic, chemical-free lifestyle.