Most of us think of it as little more than a delicious condiment to add to our fish and chips, but vinegar is also an effective all-purpose cleaner that is perfect for use around the home. In fact, records show that vinegar has been produced commercially and used for all kinds of cleaning from as early as 3000 BC! Remarkably versatile, antibacterial and safe, vinegar is a simple, eco-friendly option that is great for regular use. Today we’re going to look at how it can be used in the kitchen: kitchen surfaces and items are used on a daily basis, and their role in food preparation means that it is highly important to keep these areas hygienic. There is no end of its uses there, from dealing with soap build-up in dishwashers and microwaves, to tackling food containers that have been stained and scented by strong foods and liquids. With a few of these quick and easy solutions you can make the most of this miraculous product and keep your kitchen and cooking implements free of germs and unpleasant odours.
So, here are 6 reasons that prove vinegar is the ultimate cleaning product:
Green and Economical
Vinegar is a valuable eco-friendly alternative to many chemical cleaners, as it is an effective yet gentle solution for many everyday cleaning tasks. The level of acetic acid in white or distilled vinegar is strong enough to cut through grease and grime, without being corrosive to skin or releasing fumes that are harmful to breathe in (the vinegar that is available for household use does not normally exceed five per cent acetic acid).
Cleans and Deodorizes
Vinegar is great for dealing with the various odours that crop up around the home. Keep things fresh by using a gentle solution that deodorizes while it cleans, whether that be for food containers, bins or dishcloths. Vinegar also works well when combined with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda): if wooden surfaces need deodorizing after cleaning, for example, you can sprinkle them with bicarbonate of soda and spray on some vinegar. Let it foam for a couple of minutes, then rinse with clean water.
Cuts through Grease
Tackle grease marks and splatters on surfaces around the home with a cloth dampened in a solution of equal parts white wine vinegar and water: not only will it get rid of the grease, the vinegar will also remove any lingering ‘fatty smells’. Too much accumulated grease in a grill pan can smell when you next heat the grill up, and it is also a fire risk, so dealing with this will help keep your cooking area safe.
It’s common for mugs to become stained through regular use, and vinegar proves to be an effective antidote to this. Equally, preparing soft fruits can leave your hands – and food preparation surfaces – stained. Washing surfaces, bowls and hands with white vinegar and rinsing well with water afterwards will remove such stains.
An Effective De-scaler
If you live in a hard-water area you will be only too familiar with the sight of limescale build-up in kettles and coffee-makers, on drinking glasses and on showerheads. Vinegar can help shift lime and mineral deposits, and restore things to their sparkling clean selves.
The Familiar Culprits
To keep food preparation areas safe and hygienic, here are some simple, handy tips on cleaning those everyday kitchen items, appliances and surfaces.
- Cutting Boards: clean down wooden and plastic cutting boards, as well as non-marble counter tops, with undiluted white vinegar before and after use.
- Grill Pans: a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm water should help against odours and bacteria. If it’s really greasy scrub the pan with neat vinegar or a paste of vinegar and salt or bicarbonate of soda.
- Can Openers: immerse in undiluted white vinegar and scrub the mechanism with a re-cycled toothbrush.
- Stained Cups and Mugs: scrub with equal parts vinegar and salt followed by a rinse in warm water.
- Cloudy Drinking Glasses: soak for 10–15 minutes in a solution of equal parts hot water and white vinegar, and scrub with a soft bottle brush to restore them to a sparkling standard.
- Plastic Food Containers: wash in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water, and then rinse clean. Store with the lids off. If odours persist, place a slice of bread soaked in white vinegar inside (lid on) overnight.
- Vacuum Flasks: fill regularly with warm water and 120 ml/4 fl oz/1⁄2 cup white vinegar and leave to sit for a couple of hours. ‘Scour’ away any residue by adding a small handful of uncooked rice: put the lid on the flask and shake well, then rinse and leave to air-dry.
- Dishcloths: Cleaning a surface is useless if the dishcloth, sponge or brush is itself dirty! Soak after each use in neat white vinegar and hot water for a few minutes, then rinse and let dry.
- Fridges: clean both inside and outside the fridge with equal parts of white vinegar and water. Undiluted white vinegar can help with any mould and mildew inside the shelves and drawers.
- Kettles: boil up enough white vinegar to fill it to 3⁄4 full for 5 minutes. Leave the vinegar in overnight then rinse out with cold water.
- Dishwashers: once a month, pour 120 ml/4 fl oz/1⁄2 cup white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher unit, or place in a bowl on the top rack. Run the machine on full cycle without dishes or detergent.
- Microwaves: steam clean and deodorize with a shallow bowl of equal parts vinegar and water, set on high for 5 minutes. When cool, use the solution to wipe away splatters from the inside surfaces.
As part of our House & Home range, our book on Vinegar covers its myriad uses: in laundry, health, appearance, DIY home improvements, pet and odour control, entertainment, as well as its benefits as a cleaner in the kitchen, bathroom, living areas and garden. This handy guide is available to order from our website, or from Amazon.
- Have a look at our previous blog on the general uses of vinegar.
- Vinegar has long been used as a preservative, cleaning product, condiment and even for the purposes of health and personal care. Explore its rich history here.
- For a whole lot more ideas and advice on the best cleaning products for every situation, check out Jen Reviews.
- Read more on the relationship between bicarbonate of soda and vinegar here.