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how to clean your kitchen with vinegar (microwave, sink, dishwasher, pots, pans)

Vinegar is one of the unsung heroes of the cleaning world. Seriously, there are so many things you can clean with vinegar, both in the kitchen and all around the house, and the best part is that there are no hard chemicals involved.

If you’re ready to start cleaning with vinegar, here’s what you need to know about where to use it, how to use it, and where to avoid it.

Why Is Vinegar Good for Cleaning?

Cookie Sheet CleaningMake Your Dingy Baking Sheets Look New AgainMost of us think of white vinegar as a pantry ingredient—and a great one, at that—so you might be wondering why it makes for a good cleaning agent. Without getting too technical, vinegar is very acidic, with a pH of around 2.5. This acidic nature allows it to dissolve a variety of other substances, including dirt, soap scum, glue, and more.

Plus, because vinegar’s acidity comes from acetic acid, it’s not as harsh as the chemicals in many commercial cleaners. However, there are still several surfaces you shouldn’t use vinegar on—make sure to familiarize yourself with them before you start cleaning.

8 Vinegar Cleaning Uses in the Kitchen

Vinegar is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to cleaning. Here are eight ways you can use this ingredient to leave your kitchen looking spotless.

1. Sink Drain

Clogged drain? Smelly garbage disposal? Either way, vinegar can help. Cut through tough clogs by pouring ½ cup baking soda and 1 cup white vinegar into your drain. Let it foam for a few minutes, then flush it with hot water. For regular drain deodorizing, simply pour 1 cup of vinegar into your sink and let it sit for 30 minutes before rinsing.

2. Dishwasher and Dishes

Vinegar can help leave your glassware sparkling, as it will get rid of hard water spots. Simply pour 1 cup of white vinegar into the bottom of your dishwasher, then run the cycle as usual. You can also clean the appliance itself with vinegar—just place a cup full of the liquid on the top rack and run a hot cycle to get rid of grease, grime, and musty smells.

3. Microwave

If you have baked-on food inside your microwave, save yourself some scrubbing by steaming out the appliance with vinegar. Combine ½ cup vinegar and ½ cup water in a microwave-safe container. Put the mixture in the appliance, and turn it on for three to five minutes. Carefully remove the container (it’ll be hot!), then use a sponge to easily wipe away grime.

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4. Coffee Maker

The inner workings of drip coffee makers can get clogged up with mineral deposits, which is why it’s a good idea to clean them every few months. To do this, fill the water reservoir with white vinegar, then run the brew cycle as usual—that’s all it takes to clean out minerals and oily residue. Just be sure to run water through the machine before you brew your next pot to minimize the risk of vinegar-flavored coffee. (See how to clean your coffee grinder too.)

5. Wine (and Other) Stains

Accidentally spilled a glass on wine on your carpet? Never fear, vinegar is here! Mix together ¼ cup baking soda and 2 tablespoons of white vinegar into a paste—this is a good time to use cleaning vinegar, which is stronger than the stuff you use for cooking. Gently rub the paste into the carpet, let it dry, then vacuum up any residue.

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6. Pots and Pans

If your favorite stainless steel pot has seen better days, you can get rid of burn and scorch marks with the magic combo of vinegar and baking soda. Fill the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of water, then add in 1 cup of white vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. When the fizzing stops, use a scour pad to get rid of any remaining residue.

7. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel appliances are a staple in many modern kitchens, but they can start looking a little grimy if you don’t clean them regularly. However, with a quick spritz of vinegar and a once-over with a microfiber cloth, your appliances will look as good as new! For a truly spotless shine, you can then rub them down with mineral oil.

8. Pantry

Fruit flies or moths flapping around your pantry? You can beat these pests by putting out a bowl of apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dishwashing soap. They’ll be attracted to the sweet scent and get trapped in the liquid. However, make sure you thoroughly clean out your supplies and invest in some airtight jars—otherwise, the bugs will surely be back. See more on how to prevent pantry pests.

What NOT to Clean with Vinegar

It may seem like vinegar can be used on everything, but there are a few surfaces that won’t fare well when exposed to the acidic ingredient. Keep vinegar away from:

  • Marble or granite countertops
  • Egg stains
  • Greasy surfaces
  • Waxed wood

Now go forth and make your kitchen shine!

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