Greener Cleaning

It was just five months ago when my husband and I moved our family into an 1852 single-family farm home. There was so much we loved about our new home: the increase in living space, the playroom, two large bathrooms, the character that comes with an old home. We saw past the much-needed improvements, looking forward to painting rooms and re-decorating together.

What we did not expect were the struggles we would have with the hard water. For weeks I would pull out freshly-washed clothing from the washer, only to find them looking increasingly dingy. The worst, though, was our cloth diapers. (We cloth our one-year-old brute of a boy…more on cloth diapering in a later post.) It felt like a slap in the face when I’d do two wash cycles for the diapers and then still see stains and smell awfulness. Blegh. And no other diaper-stripping method worked, either. Besides being hard, the water was also beyond stubborn.

We went from one natural laundry product to another, yet the stinkiness remained. I turned to my trusty research partner (the Internet), and the answer finally came: White Vinegar.

Yes, my friends…White Vinegar. The fermented, odorous liquid sitting in our pantries turns out to have a lot more uses than just food preparation. I add a cup (along with our regular all-natural, biodegradable laundry soap) to cloth diaper loads and all of my other laundry. Everything comes out sparkling clean and residue-free, and (no fear!) the vinegar smell does not remain.

Using vinegar in my laundry led to trying it as a cleaner throughout my house, especially in my hard water-containing shower. Not only does vinegar work well in the laundry, it also leaves my bathrooms sparkling and countertops squeaky-clean. A natural, healthier, low-cost way to really clean my house…ahh, that feels good! Give it a try, and tell me what you think!

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Bess Ulrich lives in beautiful Lancaster County, Pennsylvania with her Hubby, preschooler Danae, and brute toddler Caedon. A lover of variety and to-do lists, she blogs at See Bess Run.

6 Responses to Greener Cleaning
  1. Ungira
    November 3, 2009 | 5:29 pm

    ive used vinegar to get rid of pesky ants that keep returning in my kitchen.. it worked wonders, i just had to drop it in the nooks and crannies where the ants were coming from. and I didnt have to worry about using toxic chemicals in the kitchen since its natural.

  2. LisaatEWG
    November 3, 2009 | 8:44 pm

    Hi Bess,

    Since you wrote today about greener cleaning (go vinegar!), I wanted to share with you a new report that we (EWG) just released today about school cleaning supplies.

    We tested some conventional products – and found a few (100) chemicals in them. We also tested some greener ones and include tip sheets and tools for greener cleaning at home and working with your school to “green” their cleaning products and practices.

    It’s all here:

    Hope it’s handy. Best, Lisa

  3. cheryl
    November 4, 2009 | 5:16 pm

    I’ve been using Vinegar for years and my husband always kids me about it. It is wonderful. Have also started mixing my own Oxi clean-ish liquid for extra help. Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and tsp water.

  4. Rachel McFadden
    November 5, 2009 | 2:14 pm

    I use vinegar and baking soda for everything. I found what works best on my cloth diapers to get the stink out is actually baking soda, now I keep a box by the washing machine and put a scoop in with each load of diapers, they come out smelling fresh!

  5. Jennifer Pickett
    November 5, 2009 | 3:50 pm

    Love vinegar! Dirt has been around since the dawn of time…409 hasn’t…what did they use 100 years ago? Vinegar!

  6. Rebecca (Green Baby Guide)
    November 6, 2009 | 3:32 pm

    I also used white vinegar to help wash my cloth diapers, and I didn’t even have any water issues that I know of. I use it to clean mirrors, the bathroom, the kitchen–everything! It does a good job of getting marks off of nickel and stainless steel as well.