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Replace products with vinegar

By on September 25, 2009

photo by wharman

Vinegar is a frugalista’s BFF. It’s not just for cooking, dyeing Easter eggs, salads or to clean out your coffeepot. It’s cheap and can replace many products in your home. Some people complain about the smell. Once you’ve used vinegar in your home for a while, you get used to the smell and will find it’s mild compared to many cleaning products you were accustomed to using. During your transition, you can add essential oil, citrus or herbs to your vinegar to cut the smell a bit. There are hundreds of uses.

How do you use vinegar in your home?

AIR FRESHENER: You don’t have to buy a variety of products to get a fresh, clean scent in your home. You can pour vinegar into a spray bottle, add 20 drops of essential oil (optional), and spritz the air. Open a window, and let fresh air in, too. If you prefer not to spray it, you can pour some into a small bowl and set it on a table. Don’t toss it out when you’re done. Use it to clean your microwave. Add some water to your bowl of vinegar. Place it in your microwave, and set it to high for 3 minutes. Once it steams, turn it off. Wipe the interior clean.

HAIR RINSE/SHINE: Removes soap buildup. Combine 3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar and 2 cups warm water. Use on your hair after you shampoo to give it shine. Once your hair is dry, you won’t smell the vinegar. One reader, Heather in Michigan, adds: “I use vinegar on my hair, and I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on how shiny it is. It keeps me from getting dry scalp (restores the pH balance), too.

RINSE-AID: Use as a rinse-aid in your dishwasher to prevent spots or as a fabric softener in your washing machine. This will help clean the soap build up in these machines, too. It can help your garbage disposal smell better or help to unclog a drain. For clogs, pour 1/2 cup baking soda and then 1/2 cup vinegar down the drain. Let stand for 10 minutes, and then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain.

CLEANER: Straight vinegar will work fine to clean your windows or eyeglasses, but for excellent results, mix 1 cup vinegar and 1 teaspoon liquid dish soap in a spray bottle and fill the rest of the bottle with water. The same mix works well as a quick spray for dirty dishes, too. Try straight vinegar on your shower, shower doors or curtains, walls or counters (will help deter ants, too), or add vinegar to your toilet bowl and let it stand for an hour. Use some baking soda to scrub. Flush clean.

SKIN APPLICATION: Before buying over-the-counter medications, try apple-cider vinegar. It often works well as a remedy for a mild sunburn, poison ivy, warts, acne, rash, mosquito bites and athlete’s foot. Simply soak a cotton ball and apply to the affected area, or add some vinegar to your bathwater. Try it as an alternative to deodorant or to remove cooking smells from your hands. Another reader, Bella in Minnesota, shares: “My husband’s uncle said that he used to suffer from terrible headaches. His mother used to soak a cloth in vinegar and place it on his forehead. Sounds a bit iffy, but he says it worked for him!”


  1. Polly

    9/25/2009 at 1:17 pm

    I always have a giant bottle of white vinegar tucked away in the cupboard, It is a fabulous mold killer used straight. I just pour vinegar into a spray botttle and spray the moldly crevices in my bathroom. I come back in an hour with a heavy duty scrub brush sprinkled with baking soda & a few drops of dish soap and just like magic the mold peels away to reveal fresh clean calk and tiles. It is amazing! No more breathing in bleach fumes.

    I also add vinegar to my beauty routine. It is fabulous for pedicures. I soak my feet in a bowl of warm water that I’ve added white vinegar to. It softenens skin, and gets my feet prepared for the pumice stone. I never have to worry about athlete’s foot, it stops it dead in its tracks.

    I’ve never tried steaming a bowl of vinegar in the microwve. The microwave is on my list to clean this weekend and I’m going to give that a go! Thanks Sara!

  2. Tammy

    9/25/2009 at 3:49 pm

    I wash my hair using a quarter cup of baking soda to a quart of water. I use a cup of this and rinse. I then used my regular shampoo, but it seemed like however little I use I have suds that won’t wash out. So I’m just going to use that and then the vinegar rinse and see how it works.

  3. Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth

    9/25/2009 at 7:09 pm

    I throw a little into smelly diaper loads of laundry to eliminate the odors.
    .-= Emily @ Under$1000PerMonth´s last blog ..I Know I’m Not That Bad of A Mom =-.

  4. Sara Noel

    9/25/2009 at 11:16 pm

    All great ways to use it. 🙂

  5. tracy

    9/27/2009 at 10:18 am

    I mix a small bottle of the cheapest commercial hair conditioner with 4 cups of vinegar and 4 cups of water in a big jug. Shake it up well and I use it for my hair and my laundry. Both come out nice and soft and smelling great. This jug will last me for months at about 1.00 a batch. I also bought 12 cheap wash cloths and soaked them in this solution over night, then hung up to dry without wringing out. Instant dryer sheets and they last about 5 or more cycles before loosing their scent. I drink a shot glass of applecider vinegar mixed with 100% grape juice every morning and I dont suffer from heartburn any more. I talked to my Doctor before starting this tho!!! Please talk to yours before starting this. I also mix vinegar with water to clean my floors. Vinegar is a girls bff!

  6. Roschelle

    9/28/2009 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve used vinegar in several of these ways and it’s amazing how well it works. This post should really be helpful to those that were unaware of Wonder Vinegar!!!
    .-= Roschelle´s last blog ..Has Your Blog Readership Increased? =-.

  7. mary

    9/29/2009 at 12:19 pm

    I put my compost scraps in a plastic bin. If I don’t empty it quickly enough, it absorbs the smells. A little vinegar and water soak, eliminate the smells completely.

  8. Michael

    9/30/2009 at 4:15 pm

    Thanks for all the great pointers. I will be back.

  9. JB

    9/30/2009 at 5:31 pm

    Here’s another use I just learned. If you mix apple cider vinegar with some dish detergent, fruitflies (drosophila melangaster) are attracted to the concoction. Takes care of a pesky kitchen issue if you’ve got a bowl of fresh but fruitfly egg-tainted fruit from the market.

  10. Sue

    1/15/2010 at 10:28 am

    I just wanted to warn everyone about rinsing sheets and pillow cases with vinegar. I have done this for about 5 months…and all was great. But, now I’ve noticed that the skin on my face is itchy and getting red blotches, almost like welts. This has never happened to me before. So…I started thinking about what I was eating and any other changes that I have made and it dawned on my that facial skin is very sensitive and white vinegar is acidic. I changed my pillow cases with some that were dried with a dryer sheet, and my red welts were gone the next day.

    Maybe I will try apple cider vinegar instead, since it is alkaline.

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