Uses for Vinegar: Cleaning Your House

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Vinegar can improve the smell of the bathroom.

Are you ready to be astounded by vinegar's power over that grunge in your bathroom or on your hardwood floors? Believe it or not, vinegar is an extraordinary cleaning and deodorizing agent. This article includes various hints on how you can use vinegar to help clean your house. We'll start in the bathroom, which generally is among the home's toughest cleaning jobs.


A bathtub ring requires a strong solvent. Try soaking paper towels with undiluted vinegar and placing them on the ring. Let the towels dry out, then spray with vinegar and scrub with a sponge.


Once a year, dump 1 gallon vinegar into your hot tub, and run it. This will help keep the jets from clogging with soap residue.


Showerheads can get clogged with mineral deposits from your water. Remove the deposits by mixing 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 quart water in a large bowl or bucket. Remove the showerhead and soak it in vinegar solution for 15 minutes. For plastic showerheads, soak for 1 hour in a mixture of 1 pint vinegar and 1 pint hot water.

Loosen soap scum on shower doors and walls by spraying them with vinegar. Let dry, then respray to dampen. Wipe clean. If needed, reapply and let it sit for several hours. Then dampen and wipe clean again.

Shower curtains or liners can become dulled by soap film or plagued with mildew. Keep vinegar in a spray bottle near the shower, and squirt the shower curtains once or twice a week. No need to rinse.

Sometimes mildew will leave a stain on shower curtains if not promptly removed. To remove these stains, mix borax with enough vinegar to make a paste, then scrub the stained area.


Hard-water and mineral deposits around the sink and tub faucets can be removed by covering stained area with paper towels soaked in vinegar. Cover and leave on for 1 hour, then wipe with a damp sponge.


Pour vinegar into the toilet and let it sit for 30 minutes. Next sprinkle baking soda on a toilet-bowl brush and scour any remaining stained areas. Flush.

As you'll see in the next section, vinegar also can do a bang-up job as an aid for cleaning other parts of your house.


Cleaning Your Carpets and Floors

In addition to working wonders in the bathroom, vinegar is ideal for cleaning carpets and hard-surface floors.


For general cleanup of problem areas on carpets or rugs, use equal parts vinegar and water. Lightly sponge the solution into carpet, rinse, and blot dry. Let the carpet dry before using the area again.


For carpet stains, vinegar sometimes is your best bet. Here's how to remove some specific types of carpet stains with vinegar:

Ketchup: Remove ketchup from a rug by sponging a mixture of 1 cup vinegar and 2 cups water into the rug. Frequently wring out the sponge until the stain is gone.

Chewing gum: To dissolve chewing gum stuck in carpet or any cloth, saturate the area with vinegar and let it sit briefly. (For faster results, heat the vinegar first.) Carefully tug at the gum to remove it.

Chocolate: Chocolate stains can be cleaned with 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water. Sponge on the mixture, and blot the stain with lots of clean cloths until it is gone.

Coffee: Coffee spilled on a rug should come out easily with plain water if you attack it immediately. If not, mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, and sponge the solution into the rug. Blot up any excess, and rinse until the brown color is gone.

Cola: Immediately blot a cola spill with paper towels, then clean the area with 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water.

Crayon: Remove crayon stains from the carpet or any other fabric or surface by scrubbing the area with a toothbrush dipped in vinegar.

Glue: A well-dried spot of white school glue can be taken out of a carpet with 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. Just sponge on the mixture and blot. If spot is stubborn, cover it with warm vinegar and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. When glue has softened, either scrape it up by using a dull knife or blot it with paper towels.

Ink: An ink stain on a carpet or rug should be treated immediately by blotting and spraying the stained area with hair spray. Once the ink spot is gone, work a solution of half vinegar, half water into the area to remove the sticky spray.

Mildew: Once mildew gets into a rug, it lives and grows. Kill it with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Make sure the rug dries completely. You may want to use a hair dryer set on low to speed the drying time.

Red wine: Immediately blot up all moisture from the spill, then sprinkle the area with salt. Let sit 15 minutes. The salt should absorb any remaining wine in the carpet (turning pink as a result). Then clean the entire area with a mixture of 1/3 cup vinegar and 2/3 cup water.

Hard-Surface Floors

Whether it's ceramic tile, lineoleum and vinyl, or wood, vinegar can make your hard-surface floors sparkle. Here's how:

Ceramic tile: Mop with a mixture of 1 cup vinegar and 1 gallon warm water to make ceramic tile floors sparkle.

Linoleum and vinyl: Scrub a linoleum floor with a mixture of 1 gallon water and 1 cup vinegar. If floor needs a polish after this, use club soda.

Wood: Add a cup of plain vinegar to a gallon bucket of water, and mop lightly onto hardwood floors (do not saturate). There's no need to rinse. This will keep the floors shiny and remove any greasy buildup.

As you've seen, vinegar does a great job throughout the house. Give it a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

©Publications International, Ltd.