How to Save Money Using White Vinegar to Clean Your Home

I started using homemade white vinegar cleaners when I was living alone in California. I didn’t like the fumes from the shop bought cleaners and knowing the fumes were not only strong, but toxic, I decided I needed to find something else.

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That something else was distilled white vinegar. It’s acetic acid made from fermented corn or grain alcohol. Since the white vinegar is distilled, it also means that all the minerals have been removed from the product which is what makes it such an effective glass cleaner. (The minerals are the reason other cleaners leave streaks or spots behind on surfaces like glass).

White vinegar is not a disinfectant, but does kill about 80% of germs especially food borne bacterias, so it’s plenty to keep your home clean and you can disinfect worktops and high touch areas like doorknobs, light switches, and taps with 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Do not try to be clever and mix the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide though, as you will create a toxic acid with harmful fumes that you don’t want to be breathing.

Now there’s no denying white vinegar alone has a strong scent (in a stings your eyes kind of way) but once it is diluted with water and scented with some essential oils, it’s not as offensive to your nose.

I particularly like that not only is my house clean, but the vinegar deters creepy crawlies and if you have read any of my other articles you will already know my feelings towards spiders. I’m scared of them (scared enough that I can’t even get close enough to smoosh them) so I appreciate the fact that white vinegar deters them, so we just don’t have to ever cross paths in the first place. Win, win.

Another reason I like making my own cleaning products is that it saves me money. I can buy a 2 year supply of white vinegar for a quarter of the cost of all the other products I used to use.

So let’s get to it!

You Will Need:

A Spray Bottle

A dark glass bottle will keep your product freshest the longest as it helps prevent UV radiation from getting in and breaking down the vinegar and essential oils. It’s not required though if you keep your cleaners stored in a cool dark cupboard. I use a white vinegar window cleaning bottle I bought a few years ago at Wilko’s.

It’s not as glamourous or aesthetically pleasing for a photo, but in terms of being eco- friendly, it’s one less bottle going to landfill or shipped to a third world country to not be recycled.

If you reuse a bottle try to keep it like for like in terms of the former products to what you are making and be sure to give it a good wash first to remove any residue that can lead to unwanted fumes.

Cotton Cloths

Save money and reduce waste by using cotton cloths for cleaning.

If you want to be really eco-friendly and save even more money, you will repurpose some old towels or t-shirts for the job. Use pinking shears to cut them out and you won’t even have to spend time sewing edges!

White Vinegar

If you keep your white vinegar unopened it will last 2 years in a dark cupboard and 6 months from when you open it.

You may see the mother of vinegar develop in your vinegar at some point. It’s not dangerous and can be strained out if you need to. I’m generally too lazy for this and if I have some of the mother in the bottle when I’ve mixed it, I just rinse it out once I’ve got to the end of the bottle.

Distilled/Deionised Water (Optional)

If you are using this to clean your windows or mirrors, using distilled water keeps your cleaner free of minerals that leave streaks. If I have some I use it, but I have found that tap water works just fine.

If you notice streaks on your glass, you can use just straight white vinegar or just straight distilled water. I like the spider deterrent feature of the vinegar, but if the smell gets to you, distilled water does the exact same thing in that it leaves your windows and mirrors sparkly.

Essential Oils*

Essential oils in the recipes are optional, but can help mask the scent of the vinegar and leave your home smelling any way you like. Some scents that leave a clean smell would be citrus scents and pine scents, but feel free to use anything that makes you happy.

Your cleaning product doesn’t have to smell like a cleaning product.

Possible oils you can add:

               Grapefruit Seed Extract

               Lemon Essential Oil

               Orange Essential Oil

               Lemon Eucalyptus (It’s pretty strong but is also approved by the CDC as an effective mosquito deterrent if you want to make your own bug spray for anyone over the age of 3).

*If you are pregnant or have small children like myself, you want to do your due diligence in making sure you are using safe essential oils. I have purchased an aromatherapy textbook myself to look up contraindications (aka side effects) of essential oils. Shirley and Penny Price are highly knowledgeable in the aromatherapy field as well as Robert Tisserand, Salvador Battaglia, and Jan Kusmirek.

When I was pregnant I found Christina Anthis from The Hippy Homemaker. She takes the information from the experts and makes it easier to read and understand than the textbook style information I mentioned before.

All-Purpose Cleaner

I use this cleaning product for my laminate and porcelain worktops, windows, mirrors, shower screen, shower tiles and I also spray some onto a cloth to dust non-wood furniture and all my cabinets and cupboards.

I also make a mix of this and put it into my spray mop and use it to clean my laminate flooring. One week I use the mop and the next I get on my hands and knees with a cloth and spray bottle to clean it by hand so I can get to the nooks and crannies as well as give my baseboards a quick wipe.

Maintaining clean is so much easier than letting it build up and having to dedicate a whole day or weekend to getting things really clean again.

1 Part Distilled White Vinegar

1 Part Distilled Water (tap works, too)

Essential oils (keep your oils around 1% of your mix e.g. 1ml (approx. 20 drops) for every 100 ml of your cleaning product)

Use a funnel to pour the water and vinegar into the bottle. Add your essential oils to the bottle. Replace the spray top and give the bottle a good shake to mix everything together.

So simple.

I make mine in 500ml batches that lasts usually two weeks. I use 20 drops of essential oils and find that’s plenty of scent despite being less than the max allowed in the recipe.

Other Ways to Use White Vinegar

Fabric Softener

30 ml of white vinegar in you washer’s rinse compartment

Ha! How easy was that. The vinegar is a great replacement for fabric softener and will not leave your clothes smelling like vinegar.

Unlike shop bought softeners that reduce your towels’ ability to absorb moisture, white vinegar can be used on towels to reduce their crunchiness.

In addition to softening your clothes you are also giving your washer a clean, too.

Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Add White Vinegar to the rinse compartment of your dishwasher and your glassware should come out sparkling.

Kettle Descaler

Fill your kettle with a 50/50 mix of water and White vinegar.

Leave the mixture in the kettle for at least an hour or as long as overnight.

Boil your kettle.

Pour out the mix and give your kettle a rinse in warm water .

Get Armpit and Collar Stains out of Shirts

My mum did this all the time for me when I was in high school. For whatever reason I used to sweat profusely then and eventually needed a prescription to fix it.

She would pour white vinegar directly on the stain and then washed as normal. 

Easy.

Carpet and Clothing Stain Remover

White Vinegar is perfect for getting the smell of pet urine out of carpet.

You can also use it for treating stains in your carpet.

First use a tea towel to soak up as much of the stain as you can. Soak the stain with white vinegar and let it sit for a couple minutes. Blot the stain with the towel. Rinse the stain with water. Repeat if necessary.

If it didn’t work make sure to wash the stain before trying another method so you don’t create toxic fumes, but typically vinegar is effective against red wine, tea, coffee, and ink.

Remove Rings from Unwaxed Wood

If you have a table surface where a careless family member or visitor didn’t use a coaster and left a stain, white vinegar can come to the rescue.

Use a 50/50 mix if vinegar and olive oil and rub the area with a soft cloth.

Before using white vinegar on wood, make sure to test an inconspicuous area first because acidic cleaners can ruin waxed finishes and leave a cloudy look.

When Not to Use White Vinegar

Even though I use white vinegar to clean almost everything in my house, there are some things you should not be cleaning with white vinegar.

Do not use white vinegar to clean:

Granite or Marble Worktops

Since both granite and marble are porous surfaces the acid can get inside and break them down.

Stone Floor Tiles

White vinegar is an acidic cleaner and the acid can cut into the stones.

Irons

Its acidity can also damage the internal parts of your iron, so you’ll want to read your user’s manual for how to properly clean it.

Waxed Hardwood Floors and Furniture

There are hardwood floor recipes with vinegar, but I have read that the vinegar can strip the finish from the wood, so I would avoid this if your wood has any kind of wax or sealer on it.

TVs and Other Electronic Screens

TVs and electronic screens; phones, laptops, tablets, etc. all come with oleophobic coating to reduce the amount of smudges and fingerprints showing up and using vinegar can break down that coating exposing layers that weren’t meant to be exposed.

Cast Iron and Aluminum Pans

The acidity of the vinegar can corrode cast iron and aluminium, so while you can clean them, do not let the vinegar soak on them for any length of time because you can damage your pans.

Broken Eggs

The vinegar can cause the eggs to coagulate and actually make trying to clean it harder

Pearls

Though I wouldn’t clean jewellery with vinegar as I have my own Homemade Jewellry Cleaner, it is worth noting that vinegar can dissolve your pearls so don’t use it.

Save Time, Save Money, Breathe Easier

I hope you have found these ways to use white vinegar in your home useful.

It’s long shelf life and effectiveness makes it perfect for cleaning almost your whole house from top to bottom whilst saving you money.

You are protecting you, your family and pets from breathing in the toxic chemicals contained in many shop bought cleaners.

And it’s also worth mentioning that because you are the eco-friendly person you are, using fewer products means less waste and less toxic chemicals being washed down the drain.

Do you have any other uses for white vinegar? Let me know in the comments below.

 

In the meantime, check out:

My 4 Favourite Zero Waste Cleaning Products

6 Surprising Ways to Use Citric Acid to Clean Your Home (especially if you noticed I don’t clean my toilets with white vinegar).

How I Save £202 a Year Making My Own Cleaning Products With Only 4 Ingredients!

When I started making my own deodorant and body butter in 2013 it was because I became aware of what ingredients I was applying to my body. I wanted to make sure I was only using ingredients that were found to be safe and natural.

It didn’t take long for me to connect this to my cleaning products.

I usually cleaned my house once a week and it was pretty quick and easy to do as I lived alone, but even then I knew the strong chemicals I was inhaling was not going to be good for me as time marched on so I  looked to DIY cleaning products for a natural cleaning replacement.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. See full disclosures below.

Don’t Expose You and Your Family to Toxic Chemicals

Think about just disinfectant cleaners for example, ones that contain bleach also known as sodium hypochlorite.

It’s on the EPA’s list of proven disinfectants however, bleach can have negative respiratory effects, can damage your vision, and cause damage to your skin.

Have you ever cleaned with bleach and felt lightheaded? That is the toxic fumes from the bleach.

Is that really what you want to clean your house with? Especially if you have children or pets around?

Well I didn’t want to expose myself to those kinds of toxins then and even more so now that I have two little girls in the house.

What’s even scarier is I came across this article outlining a negative effect we probably didn’t think about when Brexit went through and that’s chemical regulations.

Right now the EU has very strict guidelines and the man power to check and test chemicals and their toxicity to humans.

I used to use benzoyl peroxide to keep my acne clear and when I moved here I couldn’t find it anywhere. Turns out it is a banned chemical in the EU, but not the US. That scared me a lot. What did the EU know that I didn’t?

If the UK is now handling our own chemical testing with less man power, what kind of ingredients will get approved now? Will they be safe?

All the more reason to make your own eco-friendly cleaners.

Not only am I able to dictate exactly what ingredients my family is exposed to, but I save over £200 a year in cleaning products.

The bonus to my switch? Less waste sent to landfill and less toxic chemicals sent into our water supply to be filtered out.

What are these 4 homemade cleaning ingredients?

White Vinegar, Sodium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, and Hydrogen Peroxide. Yup that’s it.

Three of the ingredients are common cooking and baking ingredients and the hydrogen peroxide is an oral antisceptic. Yeah, safe to go in your mouth- not for swallowing though!

Though I still wouldn’t leave any of this in reach of my girls, I feel a whole lot better when Penny literally does stupid things like lick the floor or bathroom mirror, knowing that I only used white vinegar to clean them

Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar is fermented ethanol or sugar that turns it into acetic acid. The acidity of the vinegar is what makes it such a useful cleaning product. It’s also handy to have as a cooking ingredient for things like pickling and salad dressings. The vinegar is what give the tangy taste to ketchup and hot sauces and mayo.

It is so versatile as a cleaner, too

White vinegar is ace for cleaning windows, mirrors and glass. The distillation process removes and minerals from the liquid that are responsible for streaks and spots.

I knew of a man that owned a Ferrari and he cleaned it with nothing but distilled water and a cloth diaper. Because the water was distilled (also known as deionised), there were never spots or streaks, just water removing all the dirt and whatever else was on his car.

When diluted with water, vinegar becomes a great all-purpose cleaner for a variety of floors and worktops. It also works as a fabric softener, descaler, weed killer and removes urine smells from carpets (pet owners anyone?).

One of my favourite parts? It’s a spider deterrent.

I know, I know, the spiders in the UK aren’t poisonous, but I grew up in California where not only are there spiders that can kill you, they have no problem biting your face when you sleep!

When I clean my house weekly with my vinegar mix, I see maybe a half a dozen spiders a year as opposed to a week during the warmer months. In fact, I notice less creepy crawlies in my house in general.

Please note that vinegar is not a disinfectant. To be classed as a disinfectant your cleaner needs to kill 99% of germs, white vinegar is somewhere around 70-80%.

There are several surfaces you will want to avoid cleaning with white vinegar like waxed wood and granite so make sure to check before you go on a cleaning frenzy.

Sodium Bicarbonate (aka Baking Soda)

Sodium bicarbonate is a type of salt that is used often in baking as a leavening agent that mixes with more acidic ingredients and make bubbles and gas that makes batters light and fluffy.

For a household cleaner, sodium bicarbonate can be mixed with water and used as a gentle scrubbing powder for your bathtub, bath mats, shower screen, and shower curtains. It is also useful for cleaning ovens, stove tops, BBQ grates, and your washing machine.

Though it is great for cleaning metals and tubs, do not use it on aluminium as it breaks down the protective layer on the aluminium.

Sodium bicarbonate is a great deodorizer. Use it to remove unwanted scents from plush toys, shoes and gym bags, clothes, wardrobes, bins, and your refrigerator.

One of my favourite uses it to wash fruit and vegetables. Running your produce under the tap can wash away dirt but not pesticides.

Filling your sink with water and 4 tablespoons of sodium bicarbonate is enough to remove most pesticides from your produce after a 2 minute soak, more if you leave it 12-15 minutes. Give your produce a rinse and it’s ready to eat.

Another fun use is cleaning tarnish off of silver using sodium bicarbonate and a piece of aluminium foil.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is naturally derived from citrus fruits and is a common ingredient in shop bought cleaners as well as foods like candies and soft drinks, bath bombs and indigestion tablets. Read labels and you’ll see how often it shows up towards the end of the list.

As a cleaner it is another mild acid (but stronger than white vinegar) and is effective for descaling the kettle, coffee machine and dishwasher. It is a great replacement for toilet bleach especially if you have that ugly brown ring that won’t go away for anything. Throw some citric acid and leave it overnight and the next morning you have a clean toilet.

You can also use citric acid as a stain remover. Discovering this was like a miracle for me. The way the solution magically removed chocolate from the girls’ clothes was just the best. It doesn’t work on all stains (I found it’s only about 50/50 on pasta sauce and doesn’t work on pen ink) but between these 4 ingredients and maybe some table salt, you still have what you need to effectively remove most stains.

Failing that, a sunny day works beautifully, too.

Hydrogen Peroxide

I mentioned above that white vinegar is not a disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide is.

It is on the EPA’s list of effective disinfectants. It is an oxygen based bleaching agent that is usually the active ingredient in colour-safe bleaches and whitening toothpastes.

The shelf life is not great on this especially once opened so don’t buy it in bulk. That being I go through these small bottles fast enough that I can get though a bottle a month to beat the expiry date.

Wash the surfaces that need disinfecting (worktops, door handles, taps) with dish soap and water first to remove germs. Dry with a clean towel. Then spray hydrogen peroxide on the clean surface to kill any remaining germs. Then let it air dry. Done. Easy. And no toxic fumes.

Do not mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar as the reaction can create toxic fumes and that is what we are trying to avoid.

Since it is a colour-safe bleaching agent, hydrogen peroxide is also effective at removing carpet stains which is useful if you have kids.

Keep this stored in a safe place because although it can be used as an oral antisceptic, it is not safe for ingesting accidentally.

Safe Usage and Storage

As with any cleaner, even though the white vinegar, sodium bicarbonate and citric acid have uses in food, doesn’t mean they are safe for ingesting in large quantities and can sill have negative effects like hurting your little one’s eyes or causing vomiting. So make sure they are stored in a safe place out of reach of your kids and pets.

Your hydrogen peroxide also needs to be stored safely away. I leave mine in the child proof bottle and fill a little spray bottle as I need it and then keep them both stored away in a high medicine cabinet.

Keep your cleaners in a cool, dark cupboard and they should have a long enough shelf life for you to use them before their expiry date.

Putting it All Together

Using these 4 ingredients you have enough to replace most of your household cleaners.

Here’s a list of the products I replaced in my home (but there are even more you can replace depending on what products you used to buy):

  1. Barkeepers Friend
  2. Carpet Stain Remover
  3. Clothing Stain Remover
  4. Floor Cleaner
  5. Bathroom Cleaner
  6. Disinfecting Wipes
  7. Window Cleaner
  8. Oven Cleaner
  9. Fabric Softener
  10. Stainless Steel Cleaner
  11. Toilet Bleach
  12. Spray Bleach
  13. Air Fresheners
  14. Washing machine cleaner
  15. Fruit and Vegetable Wash

Not only did I replace 15 products, I replaced the countless chemicals in each of those products that my family is no longer inhaling.

4 ingredients more than 15 uses and I still have a clean house.

Now the cost.

Those 15 products over the course of a year used to cost £265. My 4 ingredients over a year? £63.

For More Ways to Save Money Check Out The 4 Step Beginner’s Guide to Zero Waste 

Make the Switch

Taking the time (seriously 2 minutes) to use these ingredients to make your own cleaners you save time, money, space, and most importantly protect your health and your family’s health.

Making the change is easy, as you run out of your previous cleaners don’t replace them. Make the switch. I saved my white vinegar spray bottle from Wilko and have been using it for a few years now for my vinegar cleaner. A dark glass spray bottle is perfect for your hydrogen peroxide.

I hope you found this information useful and if you check out the specific recipes, you will find that you genuinely only need these 4 ingredients. Happy Cleaning!

 

You may also be interested in:

My 4 Favourite Zero Waste Cleaning Products

How to Save Money Using White Vinegar to Clean Your Home

6 Surprising Ways to Use Citric Acid to Clean Your Home