With the New Year in full swing, many people are resolving to save money, “go green” or live a healthier lifestyle. One item, which is probably in your home right now, can help with all three of these goals. Vinegar is extremely versatile, inexpensive and free of harsh chemicals. We’ve always had vinegar around, but never really used it for anything in particular. After my daughter was born, I began to research and learn about all the chemicals we have in our house, and I did not like what I learned. I began to taking steps to reduce the amount of chemicals we were exposed to, starting with making my own all purpose cleaner. Slowly but surely, I have been able to replace several household items with a safer, more natural, yet just as effective substitute. If you’re looking to save money, help the environment or reduce the amount of chemicals in your home, here are some easy ways vinegar can help you accomplish your goals.
- Toilet bowl cleaner: Add roughly 1/2-1 cup of vinegar to your toilet bowl, wait 10 minutes and brush with a toilet brush. I tried this one day only because I was out of my regular toilet cleaner. After I realized how much cleaner my toilet was (seriously, it looked brand new), I never turned back.
- Toy disinfectant: The go-to for toy cleaning method for most people is “bleach water”. I have read over and over again that it is safe, but I have never been fully comfortable with my baby putting toys in his mouth that have had bleach on them, no matter how diluted it was. I was elated to learn that vinegar was also effective for killing germs, without any chemicals. Now, I soak the toys in a vinegar/water solution every so often (not nearly as often as I should since the third child came along).
- Conditioner: Yes, conditioner – for your hair! I learned about this years ago, but it wasn’t until my good friend started using it that I had the guts to go for it. Her results were amazing: shinier, more manageable hair and less drying time. To make it, just add two tablespoons apple cider vinegar to 8-10 ounces of water. I put it in a spray bottle for ease of use. After shampooing, I spray my hair, let it sit for a minute or two, then rinse. If you are concerned with the vinegar smell, don’t be! The smell does not stay on your hair after rinsing, and you can always add a few drops of essential oil to the mix. My vinegar conditioner smells like lavender.
- Fabric softener: Some experts claim that traditional fabric softeners and dryer sheets can break down the fibers of your clothing, causing them to wear out faster. Additionally, though they smell great, dryer sheets are full of chemicals, which remain on your clothes and consequently, get into your skin. Since I am trying to avoid our exposure to unnecessary chemicals, switching was a no brainier. If your washer has a spot for fabric softener, you can pour about 1/2 cup of vinegar directly into that compartment. If not, you’ll have to open the washer and add it to the rinse cycle. That takes a bit of remembering, but its still pretty easy.
- Dishwasher rinse aid: this is a super easy switch as well. All you have to do is fill the rinse-aid compartment with undiluted vinegar. I was surprised at how effective this is. I haven’t had to buy Jet Dry in years, and my dishes are spot free and sparkling clean.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are literally hundreds of household uses for vinegar, but I find when I try to change too many things at once I get overwhelmed and want to give up. These five changes are fairly simple, and a great way to ease into a healthier or more frugal lifestyle.
Do you have any tips or uses for vinegar? Will you attempt any (all) of these?