This acidic wonder can wipe out tarnish, soap scum, mineral deposits, and more. Among natural cleaners, it’s the clear champ. Distilled white vinegar creates an environment that inhibits the growth of mold, mildew, and some bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella, says Jeffrey Hollender, author of Naturally Clean ($18, amazon.com).
Price: About $1.80 for a quart at supermarkets.
Use It to Clean Your…
Coffeemaker: Pour equal parts vinegar and water into the machine’s water chamber, then switch on the brew cycle. Halfway through, turn off the coffeemaker and let the solution sit for about an hour. Turn it on again to complete the cycle, then run several cycles with clean water.
Dishwasher: To disinfect the interior of the machine, pour ½ cup vinegar into the reservoir and run an empty cycle, says Hunter. Or place a small bowl filled with vinegar on the bottom rack and run an empty cycle.
Drains: Clean drains―and the pipes they’re attached to―by pouring vinegar down them. After 30 minutes, flush with cold water.
Floors: Add ¼ cup vinegar to a bucket of warm water to clean almost any type of floor except marble (vinegar can scratch it) or wood (vinegar can strip it).
Glassware: For spotless hand-washed glasses, add 1 cup vinegar to the rinse water.
Moldy walls: Spray vinegar on the affected areas. After about 15 minutes, rinse and let dry thoroughly.
Showerheads: To combat mineral deposits, pour vinegar into a plastic grocery bag and knot the handles over the neck of the showerhead, securing with rubber bands. Let soak overnight. Rinse with water in the morning.
Steam iron: To get rid of mineral deposits, fill the iron with equal parts vinegar and water; press the steam button. Turn off, let cool, empty, and rinse.
Windows: Mix ¼ cup vinegar, 2 cups water, and a squirt of liquid Castile soap in a spray bottle. Spritz windows and wipe with a sheet of newspaper.