Okay, everyone talks about how certain common household items have multiple purposes. I’m no different. If something that I would normally have in the house can do a job other than the one I originally purchased it for, it’s a bonus because it will save both money and storage space (and who couldn’t use more of those!). Additionally, since I am physically sensitive to many chemical-based cleansers and perfumes, if that product is naturally-based, I feel that it will be better for me to use and less harmful to my family and pets.
Vinegar is one of those multi-purpose items that I love having around; you can tell this from the variety of types I have in the kitchen for culinary use. However, the best one to have for multiple uses is distilled white vinegar. Not only is it great for culinary use, it is very inexpensive and is one of those naturally-based workhorses for taking care of your whole home.
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- Descaling Just About Anything: Being an acid, vinegar works wonders on lime scale. I have had better luck with using vinegar than I have had with most of the proprietary brands of descalers. I use it in the bathroom to remove lime and calcium deposits from shower tiles, faucets and the toilet by either spraying it on or by soaking a cloth and applying it to the surface. Vinegar also removes deposits from glassware and can be used to clean deposits from coffee makers. Just follow the recommendations provided by the manufacturer.
- Slow-Flow Showers: Another bathroom trick can improve the quality of your shower. If shower flow is compromised by a clogged shower head, pour vinegar into a plastic quart-sized bag, submerge the showerhead within, close the bag as much as possible and tie it using a sturdy rubber band (if you remove the shower head, you won’t need the rubber band but you will need to use plumbers’ tape when reattaching it to the wall — watch our video “How to Replace a Showerhead”). Let it soak for a few hours or overnight, rinse, and the power should be back in your shower.
- Freeing up Slow-Moving or Clogged Drains: If you’re familiar with the concept of the baking soda volcano that some kids do as science fair projects, then you already know the reaction that comes from mixing baking soda with vinegar. What you may not know, however, is that this reaction between acid and base works really well on cleaning out slow-moving or clogged drains. Just pour a good amount of baking soda into the drain, making certain that it goes down as much as possible (I will either wiggle the stopper or use the stopper-lift mechanism to shake the soda down further). After the baking soda is in the drain, slowly pour in the vinegar. Stand back as you pour the vinegar – you don’t want to be hit with anything that might bubble – or explode -out of the drain (trust me, it can be really gross). Let the concoction do its job for a couple of hours, then pour a pot of boiling water into the sink to wash everything down and to break up any last remaining bits. Your drain should be clear at this point, but depending upon the clog, the procedure may have to be repeated. An added bonus is your drain will be deodorized! A personal note: the only time this technique did not work for me was for a clog caused by a penny that somehow made it down the drain. Still not sure how the penny made it into the drain, but it was very shiny when it came out!