Salt and vinegar have long been recognized for their natural cleansing properties. It was usual for people to clean their houses with salt and vinegar in the 19th century. In medieval and Renaissance times salt was a major primary ingredient used for keeping teeth clean and sparkling (see reference 2) and today, as people become more environmentally aware, these common, cost-effective household products are enjoying a renaissance. Salt and vinegar, combined with other organic household products, can handle most domestic cleaning chores.
The granular texture of salt makes it good for scouring, and it won't scratch your pots and pans. Use salt to remove stubborn stains from glassware by adding to your dish water. Sprinkle it on cookware to absorb excess grease and sprinkle it on grease stains on countertops. Mix ½ cup salt with 4 liters of water, but do not boil, for light drain cleaning. Clean carpets by mixing ¼ cup each of salt, borax and vinegar. Rub the mixture into the carpet and leave for a few hours before vacuuming.
White vinegar is one of the most common, all-purpose cleaning products you will find in your kitchen cupboard. Vinegar contains mild acids which dissolve dirt and grime. It also works as a natural deodorizer, absorbing odors rather than masking them, as some commercial products do. The good news is that your house won't smell of vinegar afterwards, as the smell disappears when the vinegar dries out. You can save time by putting vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle and using it in any room which needs cleaning. You can make an all-purpose cleaner by mixing ½ cup of vinegar and ¼ cup of baking soda. This works as an effective window cleaner and will also remove water stains on shower panels, chrome fixtures and mirrors.
Salt and vinegar are natural cleansing agents which can be used to keep beloved pets clean and safe. Pour ½ inch of white distilled vinegar into an empty cat litter box to remove odors. Leave it for 20 minutes, swish it around, then rinse with cold water. Make your dog's coat shine by spraying with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar to 1 qt. water. Scrub your birdbath with undiluted white distilled vinegar and rinse well. Use a gentle eyewash solution on a cat with swollen eyes or a slight eye discharge. Dissolve ½ tsp. sea salt into 1 cup warm water. Dip a cotton ball into the mixture and wipe the area around the cat's eye.
Salt and vinegar and other common household products such as baking soda are kind to the environment and mean you don't have to buy chemical-based products which harm the environment. If used properly, they won't harm people or animals.
Just how effective is cleaning your house with salt and vinegar? Which magazine put it to the test, along with other common household products. A survey conducted by the consumer magazine found that salt dissolved in vinegar worked well as a multisurface cleaner--but the smell of vinegar afterwards was "quite overpowering." A vinegar solution "brought up an oven door excellently--but rinse well to get rid of the vinegar odor," the magazine said.
- Local Histories: A Brief History of Housework
- Gallowglass: A Selection of Dental Hygiene and Mouthwash Products from a Variety of Medieval and Renaissance Sources
- Vinegar Tips: 1001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar
- Health and Wellness Essentials: Natural Cat Health Remedies
- Eartheasy: Nontoxic Home Cleaning
Based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Elizabeth Burns began writing professionally in 1988. She has worked as a feature writer for various Irish newspapers, including the "Irish News," "Belfast News Letter" and "Sunday Life." Burns has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Ulster as well as a Master of Research in arts.