Natural Cleaning - Vinegar
The second post in my series on natural cleaning is about using vinegar (the first in the series on castile soap can be found here). Vinegar is definitely not my favourite thing to clean with as I absolutely loathe the smell but it is pretty effective at cutting through grime. But it's worth putting up with the smell as I believe it's better to breathe in something natural from plant-based ingredients than something produced in a lab with lots of added chemicals and synthetic fragrances.
When I started looking into cleaning with vinegar once again I found myself overwhelmed with information - there were so many different types available and I didn't know which one to use. From apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar to balsamic vinegar - which one was it for which job around the house? The simple answer - it's distilled white vinegar and you can buy it at the supermarket. However, It's confusing as you can't find any bottles in any of the supermarket that are actually labelled as white vinegar, instead they are labelled as distilled malt vinegar and it's the clear kind you need to buy and not the brown (which will stain if you use it).
I've been using it in a few rooms in the home and I've found it works brilliantly well on glass, cleaning and disinfecting the toilet. Vinegar in non-toxic, biodegradable and extremely cheap so it's a great staple for the natural cleaning cupboard. I've been buying mine in bottles from the supermarket where it retails at well under a pound but you can find larger containers of it online if you are going to use a lot of it. I'm sticking to the largest size of glass bottle from the supermarket for now as I haven't the storage space for anything bigger. The bottle in the image above is stupidly made of plastic and I didn't even notice when I picked it up because my mind was elsewhere and choosing glass bottles that are easily recyclable is obviously a wiser option. Alternatively you can hang on to the glass bottles and use them as vases or even make them into a spray bottle for other natural cleaning recipes.
There are two suggestions below for using vinegar in your home - one is for cleaning glass and mirrors and the other is for the garden. The vinegar spray recipe that I've listed can be used as a multi-surface cleaner or in the bathroom to clean the sink and toilet etc. I don't clean my tiles or kitchen worktops with it as I prefer to use the castile soap cleaner for those tasks. I've added a few essential oils to the recipe mostly to reduce the smell but tea tree oil is also a powerful antiseptic and has excellent antibacterial properties too. A few do's and don'ts - keep the recipe free from essential oils if you have pets as they can be toxic to cats and dogs, don't use vinegar on marble and natural stone, coloured grout or on wooden floors/worktops. Do a small test area somewhere first before you use vinegar to make sure it's okay for the surface.
Vinegar spray glass cleaner -
1 litre glass or plastic bottle and trigger spray (mine came from Baldwins here)
300 ml distilled white malt vinegar
300ml tap water
20 - 40 drops essential oils - I use a combination of tea tree, lavender and lemon. (Again they came from Baldwins and you can find them here). The number of drops of oil will depend upon how much you can't stand the smell of the vinegar! For me it's the higher end of this number.
Add the vinegar to the bottle then top up with the water. Shake to combine. Add the essential oils if you are using. Spray directly onto windows or mirrors and then wipe down with a damp cloth or a squeegee. No need to rinse, instead go over where you've cleaned with a dry cloth. I use this on my french windows and they are gleaming. I used to wash them with warm soapy water and then rinse them but always found them streaky. This leaves mine completely streak-free and it's far quicker than getting out a bucket and sponge.
Natural weedkiller -
1 bottle distilled white malt vinegar + a trigger spray (again from here or recycle an old one from a cleaning product making sure it's completely clean)
On a dry day, spray the undiluted vinegar onto the top of any weeds. Saturate it well. You may need to repeat several times to kill the weed. This method is best for patios or paths as vinegar can damage your grass. The spray is pet friendly and organic. I'm using mine to kill a small patch of nettles that has appeared in my garden.