Clean Your House for Less Than $5

Cleaning with vinegar: It's cheap, it's natural, and it's tough on bacteria, mildew, and dirt. Read on for some smart vinegar cleaning tips for every room in your home.

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Kitchen

Refrigerator: Definitely skip the toxic chemicals where you store your food. Instead, try surface cleaning with white vinegar. Wipe up spills with a 50-50 vinegar-water mix. You can even keep a bottle of the mixture stored in your fridge!

Drain: Pour vinegar onto a scrub brush small enough to get inside the disposal. Sprinkle the brush with baking soda, then scrub to remove odors and built-up crud, says Mary Findley ofGoClean.com, a former pro cleaner and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Cleaning.

Cutting boards: For cutting board surface cleaning with white vinegar, spray with straight vinegar, then rinse to clean. 

Microwave: Surface cleaning with white vinegar isn't limited to countertops. Get at hard-to-clean mircowave stains by placing 1/2-cup vinegar and 1/2-cup water in a glass bowl. Microwave 2-3 minutes, or until it boils. Wipe buildup away with ease!

Stained plastic containers: Coat in vinegar. Let sit. Wash as usual, says Leslie Reichert, aka The Cleaning Coach.

Countertops: Cleaning kitchen countertops with white vinegar is simple: Just spray onto your surface, then wipe away with a warm, wet rag. However, avoid cleaning countertops with vinegar if you have a granite or marble surface.

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Bathroom

White vinegar makes quick work of cleaning bathroom surfaces. Try our top uses for white vinegar in the bathroom, including cleaning tile surfaces.

Toilet: To clean a toilet with vinegar, pour a cup of vinegar in the bowl. Let sit overnight. (For tough jobs, empty the toilet water first.) The next morning, sprinkle with baking soda or borax; scrub, then flush.

General bathroom cleaning: Use straight or a diluted vinegar cleaning solution to scrub away bacteria, especially around the toilet, where it can curb urine staining and odor.

Tub or sink drain: Pour 1/2-cup distilled white vinegar around closed drain and let sit several hours. Scrub to remove buildup. Drain, then rinse.

Shower: Findley's shower deep-clean regimen: Bring vinegar to a boil, then use it to wipe down the shower door and walls. Keep them damp by wiping them down every 5 to 8 minutes for 30 minutes. Then, dampen a nonscratch sponge in vinegar, sprinkle with baking soda, and scrub. Rinse. Bye-bye germs, mold, water spots, and soap scum!

Showerhead: Pour some white vinegar into a plastic bag, and secure it to your showerhead with a twist-tie. Make sure there's enough vinegar so the bottom part of the showerhead is submerged. Leave the bag on overnight. Remove the next morning just before showering.

Tile surfaces: Mix 1/2-cup white distilled vinegar with a gallon of warm water. Mop floors or scrub countertops with the solution and allow to air dry.

Bedroom

Mattress disinfectant: Mix distilled white vinegar, a little rubbing alcohol, and some tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Lightly spritz on your mattress to help combat dust mites, mildew, and general odors. For a deeper clean, follow with a dusting of baking soda. Let dry, then vacuum.

Laundry

White vinegar uses extend to fabrics and textiles, too. 

As a fabric softener: Use vinegar instead of fabric softeners in laundry, Findley says. "It softens clothes and removes the static at a fraction of the cost of fabric softeners," she says. "Just add a cup to the final wash or rinse water."

Living & Dining Rooms

Glass: Use a 50-50 vinegar-water solution to keep glass tables or stereo cabinet doors sparkling.

Wood furniture: Use 1/4-cup white vinegar mixed with 1-cup olive oil -- plus a few drops of lemon or orange oil, if you wish -- to clean and condition wood furniture, Reichert says.

Floors

Cleaning floors with vinegar is a natural, chemical-free way to remove dirt and grime.

Carpet odor and dust mite remover: Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil with some distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz lightly throughout. (Test in an inconspicuous spot first for colorfastness.) 

Carpet rinse: After shampooing your carpet, rinse it using 1/2-cup vinegar per gallon of water. This lifts dirt-attracting soap residue, so carpets stay cleaner, longer.

Carpet pet odor remover: Wet spot with vinegar. Sprinkle with baking soda, and work the two together with a brush or your fingers. Let dry (ideally overnight). Vacuum.

Wood floor wash: Add 1/2-cup vinegar to a gallon of water to clean wood and laminated floors.

General

Make your own earth-friendly homemade cleaning products on the cheap with vinegar and other natural products. Surface cleaning with white vinegar is both affordable and green.

Air freshener: Add a 1/2-teaspoon vinegar to a 4-ounce spray bottle, then fill with distilled water, plus a few drops of your favorite essential oil, if desired.

Window cleaner: Mix 1/4-cup rubbing alcohol and 1/3-cup vinegar in a 32-oz spray bottle, then fill with water. Lightly spritz on a lint free cloth to clean.

All-purpose cleaner: Mix 1-cup vinegar, 2 teaspoons borax, 4-cups hot water, 5 drops liquid dish soap, 10 drops tea tree oil, and 10 drops your favorite essential oil (optional).

Disinfectant: Use a 50-50 vinegar-water mix to wipe down telephones, doorknobs, faucet handles, and more when cold and flu season hits, Findley says.

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