All posts tagged vinegar

Green alternative to oven cleaner: The (lazy) Baking Soda method

Oven cleaning is usually the toughest cleaning job in a home. Conventional oven cleaners are also one of the most toxic cleaning substances in you home, too. And the self-clean feature? This mode can fry the electronics in your modern range and many appliance sales associates don’t recommend it.

I propose this: the easiest, greenest and laziest method of cleaning an oven.

First, plan on not using your oven for 24 hours.

Get out a large bowl. Start with adding one cup of baking soda. Grab a cup of warm water and start drizzling it into the baking soda until it forms a soft paste… somewhere between toothpaste and clay and wet sand. If you’ll be cleaning the sides or top of your oven, you might have to experiment with the consistency and make sure it’s not too crumbly.

The inside of your oven will be white and chalky. No worries. Now here’s the lazy part: wait 24 hours. You can wait 12 if you’re impatient or have a baking emergency. Even if you forget about it and a week later realize you did this to your oven, no worries.

When you’re ready to clean it up, get out the large bowl again and mix 1 part warm-to-hot water and 1 part vinegar. Start by picking up the large clumps with your hands or a brush and a dustpan. While this substance isn’t toxic, it might dry out your hands a bit so wear gloves if you’re concerned. Now that you’ve removed the major stuff, do a check and see if there are any stains still present. If so, dip a rag into the water and vinegar mixture, wring it out well and using the baking soda residue, scrub that stain away. Don’t worry: you won’t harm the surface.* Scrub in a circular motion. If this still isn’t coming off, add a little more baking soda to the spot and let it sit while you clean the rest of the oven. To clean up the leftover baking soda, saturate your rag a little more heavily and keep wiping until there are no more traces of white powder. If it seems like there’s still a fine grit of residue on the surface, put some vinegar in a spray bottle, spray the whole surface and wipe down with a dry cloth. The vinegar will dissolve the baking soda¬†√† la elementary school volcano for the science fair.

The result is a clean oven without using oven cleaner and without a ton of work (in this blogger’s opinion, of course).

As a side note, I’ve tried cleaning ovens with vinegar solutions, including vinegar infused with orange peel which is usually a great grease-cutter. I think it works well on surfaces like counters but baked-on grease needed something grittier. If it was a delicate surface, I’d try Bon Ami. It’s my favorite when I need to scrub something like stainless steel or enamel cookware.

*if you have a fancy oven that’s made with a material other than the blue or black painted metal that most ovens have, be sure to test a spot first. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stainless steel or ceramic oven interior but I’m sure it exists. Baking soda, while gentle enough for fabrics, just might scratch a delicate surface.

Cleaning my bamboo floors: homemade cleaner vs store brands

bamboo floor cleaner diy natural organic homemade

So we’re pretty much done with construction and that means our whole place is FILLED with dust. And it’s a mixture of dusts: drywall, wood, particle board… you name it. Most of the time I sweep up our beautiful floors with a dry cloth but this time it wasn’t going to cut it.

Anyone will tell you mopping a hardwood floor or bamboo floor (or anything other than tile or linoleum) is not only overkill but can harm the surface. All you really need is a damp cloth. Most of the time, a damp cloth sprayed with distilled water will work just fine. But, the extra dirty messes call for something a bit stronger.

So my solution ended up being Method’s Squirt and Mop, but diluted in distilled water (and sprayed instead of just squirting cleaning solution on the floor). I read several reviews that said it left streaky marks, but I’m wondering how many people used tap water, since it can leave mineral deposits behind. If you think this sounds crazy, fill a water glass, dump it out and set it on your counter until it drip dries. If you see spots on your glass, that will then be on your floors or whatever you’re cleaning with water.

Vinegar was going to be way too pungent for my floors, no matter what kind of fragrance or essential oils I added. It’s fine when I’m cleaning a little bit of counter top or when I have a particularly nasty mess, but the surface area of my floor meant that the whole place would be stinky for a while. The Method cleaner comes in a couple of different scents and I’m liking the Lemon Ginger scent. Diluting it in water makes this last longer so I can justify the purchase a little more. I’m sure there’s a way to assemble something more homemade but considering how much I use, this seems like a good solution.

My other choice would have been the Bona cleaner, but it’s quite expensive even if I diluted it down.

Like my mop?! A microfiber cloth slung over a Swiffer?! Classy!

Like my mop?! A microfiber cloth slung over a Swiffer?! Classy!

Skip the dryer, save your clothes: the benefits of line drying your garments


Being a woman of almost six feet tall, I had a hard time over the years finding jeans that were long enough. Within the last decade it got a lot better, but even then it’s difficult to find a 35″ inseam. Even worse, most shirts and tops were on the short side due to a long torso, so I coveted all of my shirts that were on the longer side. Styles have changed and now it’s quite easy to find tops that run long, but I still like to preserve some of my favorites.

What I’ve discovered is nothing new. Even your hair and skin do not benefit from getting wet and then drying quickly over and over again. Think of it this way: my dryer is about 10,500 BTU’s (gas) which is 500 more BTU’s than the heater that heats my whole home. That’s a lot of heat! I never use the “regular” or “permanent press” settings on anything other than towels. It’s low low low all the way. This might seem like a lot of extra work but what ends up happening is:

  • My clothes don’t shrink
  • My clothes keep their colors longer
  • My clothes last longer and don’t pill as much
  • I use less energy by line drying

Most mid-range and cheap clothing is made so poorly these days that you have to handle them with care or they’ll be falling apart in less than a year. This is a good way to keep your clothes a little longer. It’s sad that this is the way the garment industry operates. Unfortunately, every company making consumer goods has decided that making cheap products that have a very short lifespan is the best way to keep making money. So it goes…

Denim and other cotton especially benefit from line drying. After speaking to the folks at Denim Revival in Los Angeles, they recommend dry cleaning premium denim. This can get pricey so I either use Dry Cleaner’s Secret (which has a lot of chemicals so I don’t use it very often) or spray with water mixed with some Ecover fabric softener and throw it in the dryer for a few minutes. This method is a great way to refresh almost any garment that’s not really “dirty.” If for some reason I’ve rolled around in the dirt, I will wash in cold water and hang dry.

I’ve mentioned previously that I use baking soda and vinegar in my laundry, and that certainly goes for line dried garments, too. The vinegar smell disappears when the clothes have dried, so no worries smelling like an Olive Garden salad.

The downside to all of this: time. Yes, it’s going to take the better part of a day to dry a pair of jeans, especially if you’re doing it inside. Best to line dry in a well-ventilated room. If you have outdoor space to line dry (and live in a place where people won’t complain about your laundry) then go for it, although keep in mind your local air quality. If I leave my window open for extended periods of time, a fine layer of Gross Stuff will be sitting on the window sill. If you put something wet outside, it’ll be a magnet for whatever is floating in your air.

My top 10 uses for White Vinegar, plus uses for vinegar that I avoid

uses for vinegar

This is yet another list for using vinegar… HOWEVER… these are the ones that I’ve tried and actually work and there are some that I avoid. If you were to compile all of the lists together, you could use vinegar for almost every household chore: laundry, leather furniture, carpet cleaner, sticky residues, any/all stains. But just because vinegar can do all of these things doesn’t mean it’s great at everything. It does have a strong odor and I wouldn’t recommend it for everything.

Keeping vinegar in a labeled spray bottle makes it handy to add to your cleaning routine

Keeping vinegar in a labeled spray bottle makes it handy to add to your cleaning routine

Before you get started, make the vinegar you have easily accessible. If you plan on using it as a cleaning product, put it in a spray bottle… and be sure to label it! Other members of your household might be unpleasantly surprised if they think it’s water or some other substance. I use a juice carafe for the vinegar I use in my laundry. It’s much easier to handle than the giant 2-gallon jug I get at Costco.

Keeping vinegar in a carafe makes it easier to handle rather than the large bulk size jug

I keep some vinegar in a juice carafe so it’s handy when I use it for laundry.

This list is divided into a couple of sections: The first consists of uses that call for straight white vinegar with no dilution.

Windshield Wipers: Get a paper towel, or a rag your plan on throwing away immediately, and spray it with white vinegar. Wipe off the blades. Maybe it’s just L.A. but my wiper blades have stained anything that’s touched them.

Blood: blood is tough. There are a couple of things you can use to clean off blood, but the #1 tip is time. Regular cold tap water will clean blood pretty well if you use it immediately. I’ve had good and bad results with water, but vinegar works much better. Spray undiluted vinegar on the blood stain and leave it there for about an hour. If it’s a darker or delicate fabric, spray and leave on for 20 minutes, rinse and check to see if there’s any fading in the color. If not, and the blood stain is still there, repeat the previous steps and check again.

Berry and pomegranate stains: undiluted white vinegar will take these stains off of almost anything, including your hands. As always, time is of the essence so take care of it quickly.

Sticky Residue: If you have a sticker or price tag that’s left a residue, saturate a paper towel, tissue or cotton ball with undiluted vinegar and let it sit for 20 minutes. This works fine on most plastics, but be careful with metals, delicate woods and natural stone. A lot of people use vinegar to clean stainless steel so you’re probably safe there, but use a little less vinegar on wood and don’t use at all on natural stone. Again, vinegar is a great kitchen degreaser and bathroom cleaner but it’s not great on natural stone like marble and travertine.

Laundry Softener/Stain Remover/Laundry Booster: I’ve mentioned previously how I use vinegar as a fabric softener. This sort of counts as diluting vinegar in water but you simply pour vinegar into the rinse water so it requires no prior mixing. The two main things I love about using vinegar in my laundry is that it disinfects your laundry (so great for stinky workout clothes) and makes your towels very fluffy. Over time, traditional fabric softeners will make your towels less-absorbent. Since this is the primary function of a towel, it seems like something you’d want to avoid, no?

Refrigerator cleaner/deodorizer: Next time you need to clean your fridge, spray a little bit of white vinegar on a damp cloth and wipe down the shelves and sides of your fridge. Don’t worry: you won’t have a stinky fridge. In fact, the vinegar will clean up the mess and take care of any lingering odors you might have. Baking soda is great for the air in your fridge, but vinegar helps deodorize the places where the scents have stuck.

Room deodorizer: A shallow dish (like a ramekin or a pie plate if it’s really bad) in a room will get rid of almost any strong odor, including smoke, garbage, cigarette smoke, paint fumes and body odors. And if you ever have a run-in with a skunk, soaking your clothes overnight with vinegar will supposedly cure your clothes of the stench. Luckily, I haven’t had to test this one but it’s probably the first thing I’d try.

Fill the dish about three quarters of the way with undiluted vinegar. The more surface area, the better. If it’s a larger room, place a couple of dishes out and keep the room well-ventilated if possible.

Weed Killer: This is a case where the traditional remedy can be less expensive than the home/eco-friendly remedy, but I’d much rather put vinegar into the ground (and eventually the ground water) than a strong pesticide or herbicide. Spray undiluted white vinegar in the cracks in the sidewalk where the weeds are growing. Focus on the roots. This will hold for 1-2 weeks. If it rains, you’ll have to repeat.

The following are vinegar cleaners that involve diluting or adding things to it, like water, essential oils etc.

For cleaning glass and plastic laminate surfaces: Two parts distilled water, one part vinegar and a few drops of dishwasher rinse aid (or dish soap if you don’t have any, but rinse aid works better). While Windex and other glass cleaners give you that streak-free shine, vinegar solutions take an extra minute or two to de-streak themselves. So if you’re wiping down a mirror and there’s streaks everywhere, be patient and it will eventually disappear.


Stuck on food on pots, pans and glass baking dishes: I’d start with 1/4 vinegar and enough water to cover the stain. In the case of pots and pans, go ahead and let the solution boil for a few minutes. Simply using water here will work on most stains, but vinegar is especially helpful on acidic foods like tomato sauces. For glass baking dishes, I put a little vinegar in them, plus some water, and set the oven to about 200 degrees. Be careful not to fill it too much as a baking dish filled with water is tricky to handle and you don’t want to scald yourself. If you don’t trust using the oven for this, simply use the vinegar and add boiling water and soak.

So while vinegar is great for the aforementioned uses, these are some that I avoid:

Dishwasher Rinse-Aid: I’ve heard of people using vinegar for rinse aid in their dishwashers. There’s a couple of reasons I don’t do this. First, vinegar doesn’t do well sitting inside something metal for a long period of time. A quick Google search will uncover people who have weird rust stains coming out of their rinse aid dispenser when using 100% undiluted white vinegar instead of traditional rinse aid. While chances are that your rinse aid dispenser is made of plastic, there are still metal parts inside and they can rust over time. In general, vinegar is good as an additive to another substance like water or soap, but it can be abrasive on its own. There are a few natural rinse-aids available if you want to stay green.

Fruit fly traps: I’m not a fan of traps in general. I’d much rather repel the pest from the get-go than have something that brings more pests inside. The vinegar trap is usually a jar with some plastic wrap covering the top and a few small holes poked in the top. You then place a piece of fruit inside and the bugs get trapped inside. I’ve used the trap a few times and it works much better with a piece of rotten fruit than it does with vinegar.

Orange and citrus peels soaked in vinegar: I’ve done this a couple of times and while the results are good, I can’t seem to eat enough citrus to justify the time and hassle of making this kitchen cleaner. In order to make it worth my while, I need to make a ton of it. And in order to do that, I have to eat enough oranges for a family of four. Since there’s just the two of us, I’m holding off on this one for a while. It works just as well as making a 1:1 vinegar and water solution and adding a few drops of orange essential oil.

What are your favorite uses for vinegar that you’ve tried and use regularly?



Baking Soda and Vinegar in my laundry (and a tiny bit of soap)

It’s like a school science project volcano in your washing machine.

I used to be addicted to some of the more popular brands of detergent. And when they came out with scents like Vanilla Lavender, of course I bought the detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets. I started to notice my work out clothes weren’t really doing their “stay dry” job and then did some research.

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Green Cleaners: The Homemade Shower Spray

A few years ago I started making an effort to buying green cleaning products. The thing is, most conventional cleaning products by themselves aren’t that bad. It’s OK to have one or two conventional products in your cleaning arsenal. But when you look at your home as whole and realize the amount of things under your sink could probably create a bomb, it’s time for a change.

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