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Natural "green" cleaning with vinegar and baking soda

Green cleaning with natural products - A safe, frugal way to maintain a clean, child safe home

Article written by Kelly Smith

For more tips, follow our Best Green Natural Cleaning Products board on Pinterest.

When I took my son to our family doctor when he was six for an in-grown toenail, I was shocked when the doctor didn't prescribe antibiotics.

After the physician's assistant looked at it with wide eyes and said, "Ooh, that looks angry," I was a little worried. With the way my son's toenail looked, I half expected the doctor to give him a shot immediately and send us home with a large, expensive prescription for antibiotics.

Much to my surprise, the doctor didn't say antibiotics. He said white vinegar.

Yep. That stinky liquid I only bring out when I'm making cucumber salad or some other sort of random recipe that calls for it. "White vinegar, huh?," I said with a tone that almost screamed, "You're a whacko!"

That was when the doctor explained to me that white vinegar is a natural antiseptic. He said if we soaked my son's toe in a solution of white vinegar & water (1 part white vinegar to 2 parts warm water for 5-10 minutes twice a day), his toe would likely heal the infection on it's own and no other action would be necessary unless it became recurrent.

When we got home that day, I ran some warm water into a large bowl in the tub and poured in the vinegar. My son (begrudgingly, of course) soaked his foot for about 5 minutes and then he was off to play with his Lego's again.

We did this routine twice a day for about a week and believe it or not by day 3 his toe was starting to look a LOT better. That's when it clicked.

If white vinegar can heal my son's toe because of it's antiseptic/disinfectant properties, what else can it do?

As a child safety advocate, I was surprised I hadn't thought of this before. Hundreds, if not thousands of children are injured and killed each year due to ingesting some sort of poisonous substance in the home. Many times these items are the household cleansers we use on a daily basis.

I was inspired by the thought of being able to replace these chemically poisonous substances with natural, safe products. I took the evening and Googled "white vinegar". I couldn't believe the amount of information there was about cleaning with white vinegar.

Here are just a few tips I learned about white vinegar and other natural products (don't worry about the smell of vinegar. It disappears as soon as it dries):

  1. White vinegar Spray: undiluted white vinegar using a spray bottle onto windows and mirrors and wipe with a clean, soft cloth for sparkling windows. I've heard that newspaper also works well to wipe, but I can't bring myself to try that. I'll stick with my cloth.

  2. Place 2 cups vinegar into toilet bowls. Let sit for 10 minutes then scrub using a toilet brush. Bowl will be sparkling clean and deodorized.

  3. Place a solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water into your coffee maker and let it cycle through. Any build up in the coffee maker will be gone and coffee will brew faster. Just be sure to run another cycle of plain water through to rinse out the vinegar before you brew your next pot of coffee.

  4. Vinegar can also be boiled on the stove (1 part vinegar to 4 parts water) to neutralize food, pet or smoke smells from the home.

  5. Ants don't like vinegar. Use vinegar in a spray bottle to repel ants around doors and windows.

  6. Carpet stain removal - as soon as something hits your carpet, hit it with vinegar.  It'll keep the stain from setting, even if you can't get to it for hours.

  7. Garbage disposal deodorizer - make vinegar ice cubes and run them though the disposal. Rinse with cold water.

  8. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant - use it on your countertops, cutting boards, refrigerators, etc.

  9. Spraying vinegar on mildew and letting it set for 20-30 minutes will help remove stains.

  10. Natural grass killer - spray on driveway cracks or anywhere else you want to prevent grass from growing. I've also heard that salt will work, too.

  11. Stains from deodorants on clothes can be removed by rubbing with vinegar then washing as usual.

  12. Vinegar is also a natural fabric softener. Add 2 cups to the rinse cycle.

  13. Use vinegar to remove mineral buildup in steam irons.

  14. According to The Vinegar Institute (http://www.versatilevinegar.org) vinegar is also helpful in soothing bee or jellyfish stings, relieving sunburn, as a soak for dry, itchy skin, dandruff, burns, sore throats, warts and as a bug repellant.

I now use vinegar for many purposes and I've also found that I can replace many of my other household cleaners with baking soda.

  1. Baking soda has mildly abrasive properties which make it great at getting tough grease off the stove and stains out of the kitchen sink.  I also use it to deodorize the garbage disposal. Just be careful not to scrub anywhere that could be scratched - check in an inconspicuous place first if you're not sure.

  2. Use baking soda on a damp cloth to clean stove tops, inside ovens, and coffee pots.  Baking soda is, hands down, the best thing to clean a stained coffee pot.  Try it!

  3. Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and vacuum about 20 minutes later for super fresh smelling carpet.

  4.  Place half a small box of baking soda into the kitchen disposal drain, add a little bit of vinegar. When fizzing stops, rinse with cold water for a clean, great smelling drain.

  5. Clean porcelain tubs and fixtures with baking soda on a wet cloth. Rinse well to remove any film from the baking soda.

  6. Add baking soda to the toilet bowl and scrub with a toilet brush.

Check this out

  • Vinegar and baking soda can replace most cleaners in your home
  • They are green and frugal choices for cleaning
  • Both are non-toxic for children, pets and adults alike (with no chemically fumes)
  • Vinegar is a great fabric softener and odor remover
  • Nothing cleans a coffee pot better than baking soda