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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


I like the idea of biodegradable and safe cleaning products, not only for the safety of the people in my house, but also to prevent the inadvertent poisoning of water or ground. I have long been a fan of white vinegar. It is safe and cheap (Sav-a-Lot has gallons for less than $2.00) and can be used for a lot of things. Just use your permanent marker to distinguish which jug is for cleaning and which is for eating. Below are some of our uses for white vinegar around the house.

• Vinegar is a natural acid, dissolving food on dishes that will not otherwise come off. On my baking stones (which cannot ever be cleaned with soap!) I use a mixture of course salt and vinegar to get pizza crust off the edges. Also, a bit of white vinegar in my rise compartment of the dishwasher works great as an alternative to the pricey ones.
• Having a farm, we have long battled the smell of animals on our clothes. Even washing twice does not always get the smell out. Years ago a woman who owned a Laundromat told me to use ammonia. It worked well, but is so caustic. We had to flee whenever it was added to the wash, and one time when it was dumped on the floor, we had to actually leave our home. Vinegar works great without the side-effects. As a bonus, a small amount (1/4 cup) baking soda added to the wash followed by vinegar creates an oxygenation reaction. Try this instead of the OXY products. Be careful of your amounts, and where they are mixed, especially if you use the Laundromat. There is a reason kids used to employ this combination when creating model volcanoes!
• Vinegar in the soap compartment of my carpet cleaner helps to get rid of dirt and odor without the costly mixes. It is also gentler on the carpet and the children.
• A little vinegar flushed down the drain gets rid of smells. Try to send it straight through, followed by a water rinse.
• When we were operating a car wash fundraiser in my teen years, we had a bottle of window cleaner that touted vinegar as a magic ingredient. Now, I use the bottles and mix a tablespoon of dish soap with some white vinegar (be careful to add water SLOWLY so as not to run over with suds) and it is a super window cleaner.
• White vinegar with a bit of dish soap is a super floor scrubber. It not only cleans, it is safe enough to use when hand scrubbing. (This reminds me of a story: I used to clean my bedroom on Saturdays when I lived with my parents. It worried my mother that I would scrub on my hands and knees instead of using the mop, but it was like a play for me- Cinderella, but without the stepmother. Even then I found cleaning to be a way to prepare for the future. Too bad I didn't do it more regularly! Now, my floors are scrubbed by hand. I bought a mop this year for the puddles of water that get left during the winter, but when it is being CLEANED, it is by hand)

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