Almost everyone has a bottle of white vinegar sitting in the back of a kitchen cupboard, and some people probably don’t even know how it got there: It’s just always been there, somehow, gathering dust. Maybe you pull it out once a year to make Easter-egg dye, but other than that, it mostly sits neglected behind the vegetable oil and the salt. A lot of people don’t seem to realize that vinegar is good for a lot more than your child’s science-fair volcano, though. Vinegar is also one of the best, most versatile cleaning products in your home. I’ve touched on it before, but here are a few of my favorite ways to clean with vinegar.
Unclog Your Drain
If you have a sink that’s been draining slowly, vinegar can help you speed up the works. First, dump a half-cup to a cup of baking soda down the drain. Next, pour in a half-cup of vinegar, then quickly cover the drain with something (a plate or a wide coffee mug will do) so nothing can come up out of it. Walk away for a half-hour. Then, uncover the drain and run hot water down it for two or three minutes. This should help clear out your pipes. (If you’ve got a particularly nasty mess down there, you might need to repeat this a couple of times.)
Let the Sun Shine In
You don’t need to spend money on glass cleaner, not when you have an effective (and much cheaper) solution right in your pantry. Mix equal parts vinegar and warm water and use that to clean your windows. Not only will it get the glass clean, but this solution won’t leave streaks behind.
Go With the Flow
Have you ever noticed that after a while, the water coming out of your shower head seems to go in every direction but down? Vinegar can help fix that problem. Just pour some vinegar into a plastic zip-top bag and tie it tightly around the shower head so it’s submerged, then leave it overnight. In the morning, you’ll have a much more effective shower. While you’re in there with the vinegar, you might as well wipe down the shower walls, too, as vinegar can help prevent mildew.
A Little Bit Softer Now
Believe it or not, vinegar can even replace fabric softener. Just add it to the rinse cycle of your washing machine: It will strip soapy residue from your clothes and leave everything soft and fresh. Some moms also swear by this trick to strip residue out of cloth diapers that have become less absorbent over time.
Debugging the House
While a lot of people are big fans of vinegar, insects, especially ants, decidedly aren’t. Take advantage of this fact by spraying vinegar around the edges of your doors and windows to keep bugs from wanting to come in. (Incidentally, while white vinegar is the star of the cleaning show, cider vinegar is good for getting rid of bugs, too: If you put some cider vinegar in a glass, add a drop or two of dish soap, and leave it out on the counter. It will trap gnats.)