Life as a military wife and mother

Cleaning With Vinegar February 14, 2011

Filed under: Cleaning,Frugal living,Laundry — holdingdownthehome @ 19:26
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If I was a poet, I would write an Ode to Vinegar. White vinegar is my best cleaning friend! And at $1.99 a gallon at Wal-mart, how can you go wrong? The uses for it are endless! I’m going to share with you some of my favorites.


One myth I will disspell when using vinegar… you will not smell like salad dressing!!! Though it’s odor is strong, it dissapates at a very quick rate! So unless you pour a gallon of it on something… the smell will disappear before you know it.

Keeping Drains Clean: 1/2 cup Baking Soda followed by 1 cup of white vinegar*

*If your drain is CLOGGED try this (it’s NEVER failed to work for me): Pour in 1 cup table salt, 1 cup baking soda, followed by a kettle full of boiling water. Let sit 1 hour and rinse with cold water.

Fabric Softener: Add 1/4 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle in your washer (no it will not stink after they are dried!)

Soap scum, lime scale buildup, etc: Warm white vinegar, put in spray bottle and spray on areas to be cleaned. Leave 15 minutes then scrub and rinse. Repeat as necessary, but if you do this regularly you should really have to. For really STUBBORN  buildup, pour warm white vinegar on a towel and set on buildup for up to an hour. Scrub and rinse.

Bug repellent: Apply undiluted to exposed skin (not FACE). Works great! Use it on your pets too!

Burn Popcorn in the microwave? Put in a bowl with 1/2 cup of vinegar for 1 minute, then wipe out. Still smell like burnt popcorn in the house? Homemade air freshener: Mix 1 tsp of baking soda, with 1 tbsp of white vinegar and 2 cups of water. Put in spray bottle, shake before using.

We all know what happens when your pet goes potty in one spot on your carpet… they think it’s ok to go there all the time! Mix up 25% vinegar to 75% water and spray spot, blot, repeat until odor is gone. Test this in a hidden spot first just to make sure it won’t discolor your carpet. (I’ve never had it discolor and we’ve had A LOT of pets!)

Clean vinyl (or laminate) flooring with 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gallon water. I keep this in a spray bottle too… much cheaper than a swiffer! You can also you this to clean the front of kitchen cupboards

Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar to your dishwater to add more grease cutting power!

Stinky dishwasher? Run a cycle on the hottest, longest cycle (empty) that you can with 2 cups of vinegar thrown in there.

If you have hard water, it’s a good idea to run a quart of vinegar in your washing machine every month or so to keep drains clear of mineral deposits.

I also get mineral deposits on our teapot because of our hard water. I put in 1 cup white vinegar, fill with water and let sit over night. But Don’t Throw that vinegar out! Use it to clean the drain, or coffee pot, or shower head! (Then rinse the teapot well of course!)


Laundry 101 February 3, 2011

Ok, I only have 2 adults and 1 kid in my house but I have TONS of laundry! And having a husband who likes to work on cars and motorcycles seems to make a normal amount DOUBLE! Because of this, and the fact I can’t eat a meal without dropping something on myself, I have learned how to keep the clothes their best looking and freshest smelling. This will be a few different posts as there is LOTS of information I can share, especially when I get into different stain removals. For today though, here are some basics that we don’t always think about and some time-saving tips.


Sort your clothes! This will save you SO MUCH TIME! And you don’t need anything fancy. You can get small laundry baskets for $2 at Wal-Mart. I use a bin for Whites (that I will add a whitening agent to), one for Light colors, one for dark colors, and one for towels and sheets (even though I don’t wash these together).

Do NOT try to do all your laundry one day a week. That is crazy and actually not very good for the motors of your washer and dryer. They need a break to cool off in between. Instead shoot for 1 (or 2) loads every day. It only takes a minute to toss them in the washer then the dryer, and I can fold a load  AND put it away in under 10 mins. As Flylady says: “A Load a Day Keeps CHAOS Away.” I start a load every morning as soon as I get up, and throw it in the dryer. As soon as the dryer buzzes i take it out and fold it and put it away. If you forget and leave stuff in the washer or can’t hear your dryer buzz, set your stove or microwave timer to remind you to do it. If you work outside of the home, maybe this is something easier done as soon as you walk in the door.

When you take off your clothes here are a few things to remember to do:

  • Turn everything right side out
  • Button buttons
  • Hook bras
  • Zip Zippers
  • Tie sashes, cords, straps, etc
  • Check pockets
  • Take off pins, etc.
  • Repair tears so they don’t rip more

Doing these things will help keep yours clothes from snagging or buttons from coming off, or accidentally washing that bright red lipstick with your white jacket!

As for stains, I love using the SHOUT gel because you can leave it on for up to 7 days. So I can spot something BEFORE it goes in the laundry basket. If I don’t use that or know it’s more stubborn, I have a small bin on my shelf that I throw it into to remember to pretreat it before I launder it. ALWAYS do a fabric test when spot treating something!


There are lots of stains that are pretty common and I can tell you lots of ways to get them out! I LOVE using more natural products and things I have around the house as stain removers instead of buying a bunch of stuff. Remember to check if the stain is gone BEFORE you dry. MUCH harder getting out stains that have gone through the dryer. Here are some of my favorites:

For General Spotting, and Grass Stains: Mix one part rubbing alcohol (at least 70% alcohol), and 2 parts water in a bottle. Spray or dab on the stain. For really stubborn stain I sometimes use straight alcohol on a Q-tip (Thanks for the tip Aunt Shayne!) but test for color fastness first!

For greasy stains: Straight dawn dish detergent on the spot, leave for 30 minutes, and rinse in the hottest water allowed on the fabric care label.

Blood, milk, baby stains and sweat stains: 1 part ammonia, 1 part liquid dishwashing soap, 1 part water. Put on the spot and Flush with water. Repeat if necessary.

These are just a FEW! I’ll be sharing many more as I continue this thread.


The last thing I’ll share today is ways to get around the EXPENSIVE laundry detergent. This is really useful if you don’t coupon. A great laundry detergent recipe that is super cheap and EASY (and GREEN!) is here:

1 box of 20 Mule Team Borax

1 Box of Washing Soda (find at the grocery store)

Mix it together in a container and use 2 tbsp (Yes that’s IT!) for a large load. I especially love this for sheets and towels.

A great fabric softener is just a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle (No this will not make your clothes smell!) I use this in the summer. In the winter I need something to combat static electricity better though and I don’t like using fabric softener in the wash because our water is really hard and it sometimes doesn’t dissolve well. So here is a better alternative:

1 1/2 cup white vinegar

1 cup cheap hair condition (like V05) in your favorite scent

3 cups water

put in Spray bottle and spray on cloth (I use flannel from a ripped up pair of Matt’s old PJ bottoms) and Throw in the dryer

I DO NOT USE COMMERCIALLY MADE DRYER SHEETS! Read this article and you can see ALL THE CHEMICALS in dryer sheets that get transferred to your clothes and onto your skin (and your BABIES SKIN!)

So that is a good start for now. I will keep writing about this. I would LOVE to hear your laundry questions or tips! Leave me a comment 🙂