Pungent odor aside, plain distilled white vinegar is a powerhouse when it comes to getting things clean. This natural acid makes a fantastic natural alternative to harsh, chemical-laden cleaners. Here are some uses for it that I've stood by for years.
Vinegar as coffee descaler
Whether you have a Keurig or a traditional coffeemaker, you can use plain old vinegar to clean it. It's a lot cheaper than buying a descaling solution, and it works just as well. Just fill the water reservoir with vinegar instead of water and run several cycles to flush out impurities and stray coffee grounds.
White vinegar is also great for cleaning other kitchen appliances. For the microwave, just add a bowl of water with a few teaspoons of white vinegar, then microwave for a few minutes and wipe everything down. To get your dishwasher back to its original sparkling state, run an empty wash with a cup full of vinegar.
Vinegar as toilet cleaner
For years, I searched for natural solutions to dropping potentially harmful bleach tabs into the toilet—and I finally found it with white vinegar. Before I pour it in, though, I add a mixture of baking soda and some clean-smelling essential oils (think eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon) and scrub the bowl. After it sits for a while, I add a few cups of vinegar and watch the solution erupt like a volcano. I give it another scrub, and I'm left with a much cleaner toilet, without all the chemicals.
Vinegar as food washer
As strong as it smells and tastes, white vinegar is relatively easy to rinse off. That's what makes it such a great option when cleaning fruits and vegetables. Just add a splash of distilled white vinegar to a bowl filled with water, then add whatever you're washing. Swish it around and let the solution sit for about 10-15 minutes, then rinse. The sediment found on the food should sink to the bottom of the bowl. I do this with green beans, grapes, strawberries, and much more.
Vinegar as meal saver
We've all no doubt had times when we've oversalted food or put too much sugar into a recipe. Interestingly, white vinegar is a quick natural fix for these situations because it both balances and heightens other flavors. If you add too much salt to a recipe, just add a splash of vinegar to cut some of the salty taste. The same goes for too-sugary recipes. Just add a teaspoon of either distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (a natural powerhouse in its own right) to reduce the sweetness.
The bottom line
Make sure to always keep a bottle of distilled white vinegar in your pantry. A big jug costs less than $5, and it can seriously—and naturally—deep clean virtually every corner of your home in just a few steps. It's one simple way to incorporate natural living into your life.