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Adventures with vinegar

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the wonders of vinegar and soda bicarb for eco-friendly cleaning, but if you’re anything like me you’ll have filed it under ‘must try that one day’ and never actually got around to it.

First off, when an own brand bottle of multi-purpose cleaner is only about £1.50 (and I’ve amassed an impressive stash of products in my cupboard), the financial argument wasn’t especially compelling.

Still, I do believe that we use too many unnecessary chemicals without knowing the long-term effects on human health, not to mention the documented effects on the environment.

So. I gathered an old plant spray bottle (plastic, bought in Homebase about a million years ago before I realised that any plant that needed anything as delicate as ‘misting’ was not going to survive my care), my vinegar (clear, not the brown malted stuff), soda bic and my box of essential oils.

Here are my findings:

Two parts vinegar to one part water makes a decent multi-purpose cleaner. I used it in the kitchen and bathroom (sinks, worktops, stove top, extractor hood) to good effect. However, it does smell of vinegar (well, duh), although the smell fades really quickly once you’ve finished.

To counteract the smell (and for added antibacterial properties), I added a few drops of tea tree oil. This turned out to be a mistake. It smelled, to be frank, like vomit. So, my advice is to lay off the tea tree (unless ‘parfum de up-chuck’ is your signature scent).

The next batch of cleaner involved a splash of washing up liquid as a degreaser. This improved the smell a bit and, since I use Ecover, I didn’t feel too bad about adding it. Incidentally, switching to Ecover washing up liquid a few years ago dramatically improved the dry skin on my hands. Just so you know.

Vinegar makes a brilliant substitute for fabric softener. I sloshed some in the appropriate compartment of my washing machine and it definitely did the job. It didn’t smell (I promise) although you might miss the floral scent of your fabric conditioner until you get used to it. You can add essential oil, apparently, but after my tea tree debacle I was too frightened to try it.

If you sprinkle soda bic in the bottom of the bin before putting in a new liner, it seems a bit less stinky.

A paste made with soda bic and water is good for cleaning taps and plug holes and old toothbrushes are fabulous for getting into all the grungy nooks and crannies. Mmm.

You can clean your kitchen waste pipe by chucking down a couple of tablespoons of soda bic followed by a slosh of vinegar (not too much, it froths) and a chaser of just-boiled water.

That’s all I’ve tried so far (I’m a bad housekeeper) but tune in next month when I tell you all about my new steam mop. Don’t say I’m not good to you all.

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3 comments on “Adventures with vinegar

  1. Helen
    July 23, 2012

    Ha! Brilliant Sarah. We aren’t on mains sewage so have a tank in the garden. We have to be really careful with chemicals and last week my grandmother introduced us to the delights of vinegar. It really works. (And my steam cleaner mop arrived a few days ago!)

  2. Sarah
    July 23, 2012

    Ooh, another steam cleaning/vinegar-using person – yay! I’m really impressed with the vinegar, but I definitely need to source a cheaper supply…

  3. Pingback: Bea magazine « Sarah Painter

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2012 by in Bea Family, Bea Money and tagged , , , .
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