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Cleaning/Disinfecting with apple cider vinegar during FLU season?!

Posted by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 5:24 PM
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1 mom liked this

This or That: Bleach vs. Vinegar to Kill Germs

bleach is an effective disinfectant solution, but it's hard on your lungs and bad for the planet. Is vinegar a better alternative?


Pros: The vinegar you buy in stores, whether apple cider, balsamic, white, or another kind, contains 5 percent acetic acid, which does have antimicrobial properties. Various studies have found that vinegar, usually in combination with table salt or hydrogen peroxide, can inhibit the growth of some strains of E. coli. It's also an effective mold killer. Its production doesn't take such a toll on the environment, and while it can be pungent, a whiff of vinegar cleaning mix won't sear your airways.

Chlorine Bleach

Cons: The production process for chlorine bleach is pretty nasty; it releases cancer-causing dioxin as well as brain-damaging mercury into the air surrounding chlorine plants. If you have kids in the house, you need to take precautions: According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, chlorine bleach poisoned 14,400 children under age 6 in 2007 (the last year for which data is available).

When it comes to your immediate health and the health of the planet, vinegar, a natural disinfectant, is probably strong enough to handle most germy tasks, and when it doesn't work, resort to hot soapy water.

Use vinegar as a produce wash. Susan Sumner, PhD, a food-safety scientist at Virginia Tech, has researched the effectiveness of vinegar since the late ’90s. She found in one study, published in the 1997 issue of the journal Food Microbiology that spraying vinegar and then spraying hydrogen peroxide on produce killed a majority of E. coli, Salmonella, Shigella, and Listeria bacteria. You can also mix it up, using hydrogen peroxide first, just as long as you don't mix the two together (they're less effective that way). Let the produce dry before you eat it.

Use vinegar as a mold killer. The EPA actually recommends against using chlorine to kill mold, since it may kill the mold on the surface but not its root system deep behind the wall. The most effective way to control mold or mildew growth is to find the source of the problem, such as the crack in your bathtub grout. Vinegar will function in the same way as chlorine; so if you need a surface-mold killer, opt for the natural disinfectant that won't burn your lungs (chlorine is also hard on building materials, and causes them to break down faster). Spray vinegar on surfaces and leave it there to dry.

Replace your sponges—for good. Sponges can harbor more bacteria than any other kitchen tool. Rather than soak them in bleach, switch to an alternative that you can throw in the wash, such as dishcloths or reusable wipes.,2

All-Purpose Cleaner

Never waste your money on "antibacterial" cleaners and soaps whose active ingredients have been linked to thyroid damage, water pollution, and the emergence of drug-resistant superbugs like MRSA. Instead, kill germs with this all-purpose vinegar solution. It'll only cost you about 20 cents!

Make It!
9 parts water
1 part white vinegar

Mix ingredients in a spray bottle and clean away!

For particularly nasty messes, such as a countertop after you've handled raw meat on it, squirt straight white vinegar on the surface, and follow with a squirt of hydrogen peroxide to knock out virtually all germs. (Remember to do a spot test first to make certain the surface doesn't discolor or otherwise react.)

Tile Cleaner

Common tile cleaners are laced with dozens of contaminants, including chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive damage, and hormonal harm. A 2009 analysis even detected formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene—components of gasoline—in the popular cleaner Comet. To clean greener, make your own scrubbing paste.

Make It!
½ cup baking soda
Liquid soap (we like Dr. Bronner's peppermint or detergent)
5 to 10 drops of pure essential oil of lavender or rosemary, or tea tree oil (optional)

Place baking soda in a bowl; slowly pour in liquid soap, stirring until it looks like frosting. Add optional essential oils. Scoop onto a sponge, scrub, and rinse. You can also try cutting a lemon in half and using that as a scrubber.

Oven Cleaner

Avoid polluting your indoor air with the harsh ingredients that are often found in store-bought oven cleaners by using this homemade cleaning mix.

Make It!
2 cups hot water
1 Tablespoon natural dish liquid
1 teaspoon borax

Mix the ingredients, spray on a spill, let sit for 20 minutes, and wipe off with a clean cloth. For handling an extra-greasy mess, wipe off as much loose goop as possible with crumpled newspaper first, then use the spray.

Multi-Surface Cleaner

If you need an all-purpose cleaner with a little more grit than our vinegar/water solution, try this natural cleaning concoction. (Always spot-test before trying it on a new surface.)

Make It!
2 teaspoons borax (borax is naturally mined from the earth, BTW)
1 teaspoon washing soda (not baking soda)
Hot water
4 Tablespoons vinegar
½ teaspoon natural liquid soap
¼ teaspoon tea tree oil
8 drops rosemary oil
8 drops tangerine oil
8 drops lavender oil

Dissolve borax and washing soda (find them in your store's laundry aisle) into 2 cups of very hot water, strain the mixture through a very fine sieve, and funnel it into a 1-quart spray bottle (or forget the sieve and just pour it in slowly, leaving behind any undissolved powder). Add the rest of the ingredients and shake to blend. Top off with more hot water and shake again.

Basic Laundry Powder

Many laundry detergents are loaded with questionable foaming agents and even migraine-inducing fragrance chemicals. Who would want to pay for a headache? Instead, save money and your health by making this laundry powder designed for warm-water loads.

Make It!
½ cup soap flakes or grated plain bar soap
½ cup borax
½ cup washing soda

Combine ingredients well and store in a jar with an airtight lid. Use ½ to 1 tablespoon per load.


by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 5:24 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 5:29 PM
I love using vinegar! Not only does it clean as well as bleach or a household cleaner, I don't have to worry about my kids drinking it.
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by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 5:31 PM

Quoting YzmaRocks:

I love using vinegar! Not only does it clean as well as bleach or a household cleaner, I don't have to worry about my kids drinking it.

I feel the same.  Underneath my sink I have several "cleaners:"

  • ACV (apple cider vinegar)
  • Lemon Juice (mix with water and I clean all of my windows and shiny surafces)
  • Baking Soda (mix with water to make a paste and I scrub my sinks non-abrasively and my toilets)
  • Soap "nuts" (they're truly a dried nut with natural saponin for doing my laundry)
  • Tea Tree Oil (an essential oil I mix with hot water to do my wood floors)
  • Olive Oil (on a rag for dusting)

by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 5:34 PM
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ive been drinking ACV daily - my son and i are pretty much all better now. :)

by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 5:49 PM


by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 5:50 PM

Although my OP was about cleaning with ACV, not drinking it, I have heard of some positive health benefits of drinking ACV, in moderation.

Quoting LucyHourglass:

ive been drinking ACV daily - my son and i are pretty much all better now. :)

by on Jan. 14, 2013 at 6:19 PM
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We are In the process of going complelty cleaning chemical free I have a huge thing of windex that I got from Sams that I still have to use up . All the other stuff is gone. I make my own laundry soap too.
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by on Jan. 15, 2013 at 10:24 AM
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Anyone else on the crunchy band wagon, too?

by on Jan. 15, 2013 at 10:35 AM


by Ruby Member on Jan. 15, 2013 at 10:37 AM
1 mom liked this

 We clean our home with white vinegar and baking soda.

Always have.

 We never, ever use bleach or any other harsh chemicals.

by on Jan. 15, 2013 at 10:43 AM
Does anyone know what to clean marble floors with? What about wood floors?

I hate streaky floors and can never find anything that doesn't streak the marble.
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