8 Ways to Clean with Vinegar

This kitchen staple is an all-purpose magic cleaner that's been hiding right under your nose.

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A Versatile Solution

Sure, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but sour beats sweet when it comes to household chores. Vinegar is useful for more than just cooking. It's cleaning power makes it an all-natural, multi-purpose workhorse that is also super inexpensive. Buy a large jug of the white distilled kind, fill a spray bottle and keep it under the kitchen sink for these everyday uses.

Clean Streaky Windows

You don't have to use the bright blue stuff to get crystal clear windows: A simple vinegar solution can clear just about any glass. Fill a spray bottle (or an empty glass-cleaner bottle) with equal parts vinegar and warm water. Spray the surface and wipe dry with a soft lint-free cloth (or, believe it or not, newsprint — it won't leave streaks or fibers behind). If your windows are on the grimy side add a little dish soap to the mix.

Get Rid of Grease

A stovetop is a grease trap. Treating it with a daily spritz of full-strength vinegar can prevent grimy build-up from cooking splatters and spills. Let the vinegar sit for 10 to 15 minutes and wipe away with a lint-free cloth.

Make Glasses Sparkle

Serving drinks in tumblers speckled with cloudy spots is embarrassing. Don’t let yourself get flustered in front of guests: Add vinegar to the rinse aid compartment of your dishwasher to give the detergent a boost and make glasses crystal clear. Spot clean any holdout stains by rubbing them directly with a vinegar-soaked lint-free cloth before letting them air dry.

Steam-Clean the Microwave

Before you even remove the glass plate, give your microwave a vinegar sauna treatment. Combine 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on the high setting until the liquid starts to bubble, then cook for an additional minute. Let cool for a few minutes and use oven mitts to remove the bowl. The acidic steam will loosen any splatters, making it easier to wipe clean those cooked-on spots.

Freshen Up the Kitchen

If there's something off-smelling in your kitchen, there's a good chance that vinegar will neutralize the funk. Deodorize your garbage disposal by funneling in 1/2 cup baking soda and then chasing it with 1 cup vinegar. When the foam subsides, run the disposal and flush with warm water for about 5 minutes. Your fridge can get the vinegar treatment too: Mix equal parts vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle, and spray both glass and plastic surfaces. Then use a lint-free cloth to dry the whole thing.

Scour Pots and Pans

Not all materials are equal when it comes to cleaning cooking equipment — what works for stainless steel may not for cast iron or copper. Make an all-purpose scrub that is safe for any metal: Combine equal parts salt and flour and add just enough vinegar to make a paste. Use a rag or scrub brush to work it in, then rinse with warm water and dry.

Polish Stainless Steel Appliances

Fingerprints on stainless steel are inevitable. Instead of investing in a specialty cleaner, try using full-strength vinegar to wipe away smudges on your fridge or dishwasher. Dampen a lint-free cloth with vinegar and rub into the surface following the grain of the steel, until the marks vanish.

Scrub Out Stains

Say good-bye to the brown rings in your favorite coffee cup for good! Soak a paper towel in vinegar and wipe the mug clean (wash it in soapy water if you're hankering for a cup of joe pronto; if not, just leave any excess vinegar to evaporate). This also works for stained wood cutting boards. Sprinkle a beet- or berry-stained wood cutting board with kosher salt and rub with a vinegar-soaked paper towel until the spots disappear. Bonus: The vinegar deodorizes the board too!