3 (Top Secret) Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar

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AMAZING trick for cleaning your grout using two things you probably have in your kitchen right now!

When the charter school where I used to teach decided to use vinegar– VINEGAR!– to wash the cafeteria floors each day I was completely skeptical.  After doing a little research it turns out vinegar is a healthy cleaning alternative to products with scary ingredients.  Plus, it’s cheap and safe for both the environment and the 400+ kids we were in charge of caring for each day… BUT.

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

BUT There’s that one little detail, the thing I silently wondered and was scared to ask–  wouldn’t the cafeteria smell of vinegar all day?  Because if it did, believe you me, we would hear about it from those 400+ darlings I previously mentioned.  They don’t hold back.  On anything.  EVER.

Guess what?  The smell dissipated within moments of being put on the floor.  Our school saved tons of money using vinegar to clean, and soon I was slinging the stuff all over my home, too.  It combines beautifully with other non-toxic products to clean your home naturally,  safely, and cheaply.  What’s not to love?

our kitchen– so fresh and so clean!  until the kids get home, at least.
Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!
Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!
Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

Over the years I’ve discovered a few cleaning tricks where vinegar is a star.  Since I’m always looking for new cleaning solutions, I decided to try out Heinz Cleaning Vinegar.  Here’s three ways you can achieve chemical-free cleaning, a fresh home, and good eco-karma to boot!

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

1.  Easy Grout Cleaner (a.k.a “The Grout Blaster”)

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

Our previous kitchen had large white tiles with {very dirty} grout.  When we first moved in, we’d spend hours scrubbing with a chemical grout cleaner.  Now that we’ve undergone a kitchen renovation, we only have a small section of the tile left– and it turns out cleaning it is a breeze because of this trick.  Plus, my “helpers” can get involved and I don’t have to worry about harsh chemicals!

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

1.  Sprinkle baking soda on the grout.  Use your finger to make sure it covers all the grout, also wiping away excess powder.  Use a spray bottle filled with vinegar to apply it over the baking soda. Sixth grade science project lovers unite– the {safe} chemical reaction does all the work for you!  Let it sit and bubble and scrub itself for a few minutes.  But not too long, or the dirt settles back into the grout.

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

2.  Using a grout brush, give it a little scrub to get the dirty solution off the grout.  Prepare for it to be muddy!  Keeping a cup of water to quickly rise the brush off helps, but don’t add too much water to the floor– the grittier the solution, the less elbow grease you’ll have to put into it.

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

3.  Wipe up the muddy solution (I used rags instead of paper towels, to further my green cleaning mojo).  Then, clean as usual: quickly run the vacuum to get up excess baking soda, and then go over it with a mop.

nope, this photo is not altered in any way.  it really got that clean!
Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

There you have it, clean grout with half the work, and no expensive special cleaner to buy.  I cleaned this section in under 30 minutes and it had– and I’m mortified to admit this– over 7 years of build-up.  My ‘ah-ha’ moment came when I opened the door to the bathroom, and saw this line where I stopped cleaning.  YUCK!  And yet, so cool to see how well the vinegar trick worked.

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

2.  The Sink Bomb

I call this the sink bomb because it’s just that– the BOMB!  Vinegar is amazing when it comes to cleaning sinks.  First, I sprkinkle some baking soda in the sink and then spray some vinegar and let it bubble.  The baking soda is a low-grit way to scrub the sink, and the vinegar a disinfectant.  Wipe off and rinse, your sink is now fresh and clean.  Next, if your garbage disposal is a bit stinky simply add a cup of vinegar and let it sit for about an hour.  No more s-t-i-n-k.

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

This one is the real bomb-diggity.  If your garbage disposal or drain is clogged, add equal parts baking soda and then vinegar.  Here comes that 6th grade science project again– hello, volcano!  A cleaning volcano, that is.  Rinse with warm water.  Good as new, with NO strong chemicals to worry about.

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

3.  Amazing Tub Cleaner

I used to hate cleaning the tub.  It bothered me to think that my kids were sitting in a tub of water potentially filled with the reside of whatever I’d just used to clean it, so I’d scrub and rinse forever.  Then I discovered this tub cleaner, and it’s amazing.  Simply put equal parts blue Dawn dish soap and vinegar into a spray bottle.  Spray it on the tub, let sit for about an hour, and wipe away Then a quick rinse of water.  That’s it– NO scrubbing, and NO dangerous chemical bath for my kids.  This stuff works, friends, it’s amazing!

my re-enactment, since I ran out of Dawn right before the photo shoot!
Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

I wish I had a dramatic before and after for you, but the truth is my tubs were clean from using this method so I don’t have a good ‘before’ shot.  If you happen to have a tub that needs to be cleaned and try this out, send me your ‘befores and afters’ and I’ll put them on my Facebook page.  Trust me, you’ll have sparkling clean tubs soon!

Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

Natural cleaning isn’t just great for the environment.  It’s also great for your budget.  As you can see, instead of buying specific products for each cleaning job, vinegar and one or two other non-toxic ingredients does it all.  For waaaaayyyyy less.  And won’t clutter up every shelf, sink, and cabinet either.  As you can see from my Google+ album of my Walmart shopping trip, this is one product that will always be in my cart.  After all, it cost only $2.98 for that huge jug– an arsenal of healthy cleaning power for under $3.00 a gallon.

just an FYI: you’ll find it in the vinegar aisle, not the cleaning aisle
Top Secret Tricks for Cleaning with Vinegar-- green cleaning for grout, sinks, and tubs in minutes!

I was curious so I looked it up: Heinz Cleaning Vinegar has 7% acidity, as opposed to the original 6% acidity.  That little number boosts the cleaning power by 20%.  Yup, #HeinzVinegar is pretty perfect all around, isn’t it?!

The list of vinegar’s amazing uses goes on and on, and I’m discovering new ones every day.  What’s your favorite way to clean with vinegar?  Any tricks to share?  What other green cleaning products do you use to clean your home?  While we’re at it– what’s your least favorite thing to clean?
AMAZING trick for cleaning your grout using two things you probably have in your kitchen right now!
I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study forCollective Bias™ and HEINZ #CBias #SocialFabric

Meet Carrie Higgins

Dreamer, thinker, + lemon squeezer; you'll usually find me clutching a mug of coffee, glue gun, fandeck of paint colors, and a child at any given time. This mom of two (and wife to one) loves to share freshly squeezed ideas for home and family. Join the adventure as we learn most lemons can indeed become lemonade-- with generous amounts of sweetness, perspective, and love.

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  1. That grout shot is amazing! I’m glad we don’t have tile anymore, but if we did, I would be using this trick. Even with special grout cleaner, it takes a ton of elbow grease to get the floor that clean — if at all!

  2. you rocked this one!!! love the story and the images to illustrate it!!! Thank you for being awesomesauce!!!

  3. Great information! Pinned it! And, your kitchen is BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Love the tips!! I too use the dawn vinegar bathtub stuff…love it!!
    I am soo doing the grout cleaner. But, I might not want to know how bad it is. I just might not want to.

  5. OMG?!! I too have been really, really skeptical about the “real” cleaning power of vinegar – and a bit worried about the smell too! but I have to say you’ve intrigued me enough that I’m TOTALLY going to try this! I hate using the harsh cleaners but felt I had to, to really get everything clean. This is exciting!! Gotta go buy vinegar right now!! :-)

  6. Great tips! I need to try some of these :)

  7. Our Mom’s knew what was best – love this ‘old school’ cleaning technique!! I am using this on my grout ASAP!! Thanks for sharing these terrific tips!

  8. I’ll have to try the grout one. Our bathroom floor is a little worse for wear..

  9. I love finding new ways to clean with vinegar! Every few weeks or so I also use it to clean out my coffee maker. I put 1 part of vinegar to 1 part of water and run my coffee maker as usual. When my coffee maker is clean, I pour the solution into my tea kettle and boil the water to clean my kettle as well. Then I make a paste of baking soda, pour it down my kitchen sink and follow it up with the boiling vinegar. No more nasty smell!
    The same ratio can be used to spray post-shower to prevent mildew build-up. I also use it to clean my mirrors and windows (wiping with newspapers, of course).

    • I SO need to do that to my coffee maker. It’s amazing all the ways you can use vinegar, and I love how you’ve found a way to use it several times before disposing of it– especially since you are cleaning while you dispose of it!

      • Hi there, thanks for posting. I’m sure you know by now, but vinegar is cheapest at Costco. $3.54 for 2 huge bottles !! I’m also going to try sprinkling baking soda before I spray the cleaner in the bottom of the tub get a deep spring clean. Have you tried? Dawn and vinegar is the only cleaner I use in my house on. Have you found the perfect dishwasher, window cleaner, or laundry homemade cleaners yet? Thanks again

  10. Lorenda says:

    Straight vinegar on weeds poking up through concrete, bricks, any place that you aren’t growing anything other than weeds, is amazing! Over the next 24 to 48 hours, it will kill the weeds but not your wallet or the environment! Win, win! (BONUS! This is a “chore” the little ones LOVE to help with!)

  11. Jeri Niksich says:

    I have a bottle of grout cleaner in my garage for day when I finally get down to it. After seeing your post I (literally) immediately went to kitchen grabbed the baking soda, spray bottle & vinegar then went to husbands man cave & informed him we were going to do an experiment……THANK YOU!!! The soda & vinegar won HANDS DOWN!!! Now I need to do the rest of the room & foyer….that will be the hardest part of the job making myself do it but I’m sure not dreading it like I was before this is a BIG SCORE for me.

    • YAY! That’s awesome to hear! It’s crazy how well such simple ingredients can work, and they’re safe for your home. I still have a section to clean still, perhaps we can motivate each other to do it!

  12. can the solution be used to clean kitchen cabinets? I have cabinets that are about 50 years old . The house was built in 1948. I want to renovate not ge rid of them HELP ME clean them!!!t

  13. Does it need to be Dawn or can you use any dish soap?

    • That is a great question, and I’m so sorry it took me so long to see it! I’ve only used Dawn, but I bet another name-brand detergent would work too. If you give it a try, let me know!

    • There is something about Dawn in particular that works well for cleaning other than dishes. When I’ve seen tips with cleaning that use Dawn, they are specific to that brand, so I’d say that if they chose Dawn, that it really means to use Dawn and not other types of dish washing soap. Not that you couldn’t try using other brands, but it’s like Avon’s Oil of Olay and keeping mosquitoes away, there is just something about Oil of Olay that works where other oils of that purpose do not work.

  14. This works like a charm for porcelain and ceramic tile. For Marble, Limestone, Travertine or Granite tiles the vinegar will damage the edges of all your tiles.

  15. Great post! Been reading a lot about cleaning with vinegar. Thanks for the info here!

  16. Jo Orta says:

    You mentioned that Heinz cleaning vinegar is 8% strength as opposed to the regular 6% of ‘regular’. I found this surprising because I’ve been buying 9% strength for years. Our local grocery store in San Antonio and much of South Texas is called HEB (we say it by the letters, not rhyming with ‘web’) and their store brand comes in regular and 9%. I used it on my coffee pot (before I started using filtered water – our water is very hard) and it’s always worked beautifully. Why wouldn’t a “cleaning” vinegar be at least 9% since it is readily available, I wonder?

  17. Would this work on the walls of my shower grout? Im thinking the baking soda would fall right off..but there has got to be a way!

  18. Jill Pastula says:

    Good tips. I’d love to know the shade of gray on your kitchen walls,

  19. I tried baking soda on the chrome bumpers, mirrors and running boards on my pick em up truck. It does the same thing to chrome fixtures in the bathroom and kitchen. as a matter of fact I recently did a face lift in my bathroom. The shower fixtures were so old I couldn’t find one to replace it. I had no choice but to keep the old one. I rubbed some baking soda on the old one and it looks as good as the day it was new. Love vinegar AND baking soda.

  20. I had a mold-growing-on-the-wall problem (gross, I know) and tried various different things, from bleach to vinegar. And vinegar wins hands down. It kills the mold, AND keeps it from coming back. If anyone ever has this problem, I would definitely recommend using vinegar. First use it to help clean off the wall, then spray the wall and let it dry on there to keep it from growing back.

  21. Mrs. Seifert says:

    My mother was an avid user of vinegar for everything.
    She kept a small glass of 1/4 cup vinegar with 1 cup water flavored with honey on the cupboard all the time. She would just sip on it during the day. She drank it for her arthritis.
    She used it to clean under her arms to kill odor.
    If we had athletics feet, she would warm water, vinegar and salt on the stove and we would soak our feet in it for 20 to 30 minutes every night for a week. It would usually kill the fungus.
    When we were coming down with a cold, we would soak our feet in the warm water, vinegar & salt at nite.
    Amazing stuff. And she was doing this back in the 60’s.

  22. we keep vinegar in a spray bottle and use it full strength when one of the dogs pees on the carpet. Keeps it from staining and removes the odor too.

  23. I am kicking myself in the butt for not taking before and after pictures. I will the next time. Let me just say that this worked!!! The bathroom tile floor… 7 years of nasty buildup– gone. I didn’t think it worked at first, the magic happened after I did the clean up. I returned to the bathroom to set things back up and wow- the grout appears brighter!!! Tub: now my tub is gross. I not sure way but the commercial cleaners weren’t doing the job. We take multiple showers daily = a lot of build up. Build up gone, although it took some scrubbing on my part, I didn’t mind, considering the tub was in such a poor state. Sink: Although, my sink wasn’t a complete disaster, the bomb gave it a sparkle!! I’m done with commercial cleaners on so many levels. Thank you!!!

  24. This solution is the best! I went a step forward and put the baking soda in a parmesean cheese dispenser and taped all but one row of holes shut. It makes dispensing the baking soda a lot easier with less waste!

  25. The vinegar and Dawn solution is fabulous. However, even better for cleaning soap scum on shower doors, floors, walls and bathtubs is vinegar, Dawn and cornstarch. Warm a cup or two of vinegar in the microwave. Stir in a tablespoon or two of Dawn. Pour into a clean, empty spray bottle. Add a tablespoon or two of cornstarch, replace sprayer tightly, and shake vigorously. Immediately spray areas needing to be cleaned, making sure to cover all surfaces with the spray. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Rinse and wipe with a damp cloth and BE AMAZED!! No scrubbing is necessary. The cornstarch keeps the vinegar and Dawn adhered to the dirty surface so that they can do the work — not you! This has been a game changer for me! Do not use on marble or other porous stone, as the vinegar will etch it. Safe — and amazing! — on chrome.

  26. Just a note:
    I went crazy cleaning my kitchen, coffee pot, appliances, etc with vinegar and baking soda. Everything was fresh and wonderfully cleaned!
    It hadn’t rained for a few days so the vinegar went straight to the yard and garden (drain field) killing my smaller Japanese maple tree and several other plants.
    Vinegar makes a great weed killer! lol Along with everything else it gets to…

  27. Christina says:

    I ran across this blog just today, YAY! So I thought I’d share something I learned not to long ago. Everyone gets stains on their mattresses, yeah? Just the other day I spilled a cup of tea on my bed (/facepalm.. it was one of those mornings… nothing worse than tea on a white mattress!) Of course it went right through the covers and the mattress “protector” and left a nice stain on my mattress. I immediately thought of baking soda to absorb the liquid from the tea and sprinkled it on the mattress and let it sit for a few hours to continue to draw out any liquid, once it was dry to the touch I was going to vacuum it off but the stain was still there so I thought why not spray on some vinegar?
    Sure enough the vinegar started bubbling away and you could physically see the stain lifting away. I then gently blotted with an absorbent towel to find that the majority of the stain was completely gone. There was still some slight discoloration but it was very faint, much better than the great big brown spot that was there!
    As the final step I let the mattress dry completely and vacuumed it top to bottom.
    I also discovered side benefits, my mattress immediately felt and smelled much fresher, you really don’t notice the odor of a mattress until it’s no longer there lol.
    I also discovered that baking soda kills dust mites, so for any allergy sufferers/ dust sensitives use baking soda on your mattress once a month, leave on for 15 mins and vacuum off. You notice the difference right away!

  28. Sandra Barnett says:

    If any family members have trouble with allergies, vinegar and the combinations you have mentioned, works wonders. Though it smells very strong at first, there’s not chemicals to irritate the allergies. I have had problems for years and I’m not young, and using this has made more difference than anything, including shots. I add Essential Oils for fragrance and they also will help clean.

  29. Suzanne Grimes says:

    I ran across your blog today and I can hardly wait to try the vinegar for cleaning. I don’t have a garbage disposal but I do have a tub drain that keeps clogging. I don’t like using drain cleaners and I’m at my wits end. We have a septic system which they don’t recommend using a lot of chemicals. Do you have a solution for tub drain?????????

  30. Marny CA says:

    I always buy the largest white vinegar available and/or on sale.

    I use it to clean showerheads (put some in a baggy and tie it over the showerhead so the head is in the liquid, and faucets, too. Windows, drains, add to laundry, to name a few more uses.

    When making tuna or salmon salad, the tart taste is what I crave sometimes instead of mayo.

    When making sweet/sour pork chops, I use vinegar as the sour and a tiny amount of sugar into the sauteed onions. Then I put the browned pork chops back into the liquid, cover and let it cook until tender.

    I love the ‘gravy’ on mashed potatoes as well as with the pork chops!!

  31. Thanks for sharing your tips, Carrie! I use it on my bathroom grout that gets moldy–great stuff!

  32. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  33. Yellowcatface says:

    Tried the vinegar and baking soda mixture on my kitchen floor grout. Fantastic! The floor looks new. I can’t believe it thanks for this amazing tip.

  34. We also use white vinegar in the carpet cleaner. you will have a vinegar smell – only until the carpet dries. takes the stains right out of the carpet.

    I use white vinegar as a fabric softener in the washer – keeps the towels absorbent.

  35. I use Dawn too but unfortunately I’m pretty sure it is full of harsh chemicals…. I wouldn’t call it natural.

  36. Annette Kearney says:

    I use vinegar and bicarbonate soda for all my cleaning also in the laundry as fabric softener and dark coloured clothes do not pick up fluff in the wash.

  37. Hi! Thank you for the great cleaning tips. I will try it tomorrow!! By the way, I love your beautiful kitchen. What is the name of the paint on the walls? The grey color looks terrific!

  38. I love the grey colour in your kitchen! Do you have the brand and colour name?

  39. Just an FYI – This past month I had to have my entire shower (only 12 years old) completely re-grouted & cleaning with vinegar was in large part the problem. I always try to use natural cleaners & used vinegar and Dawn for the past 7 years or so until my grout started to become discolored & mildew spots began to appear. The grout guy told me that vinegar is an acid & consistent use will eventually eat away at your grout sealer and will create air pockets in your grout. Once the grout gets air pockets it will begin to crumble, moisture permeates the grout and the mildew grows from within the grout. It was very expensive to repair so I caution everyone against using vinegar too much on grout (but I use it everywhere else!)

    • Thanks for the update! I only use the vinegar once in awhile to clean the grout (once a year, max) and after reading your advice I’ll start wiping it down with water afterwards.

  40. I just found your site and am excited about all your ideas. I was particularly interested in the grout and tile cleaner idea with the vinegar and baking soda. Will this affect the color of the tile if you just are cleaning the grout? Thanks and I will be waiting to hear from you. Merry Christmas to you.

    • Hi Sue! I can’t promise it won’t impact the color, but I can tell you that it didn’t affect my tile color at all. When in doubt, spot check a small area first. And Merry Christmas right back to you!!!

  41. Hi there. I use plain white undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle which I then spray onto my carpets as I vacuum. It settles the dust and freshens the carpet.
    I spray undiluted white vinegar onto my windows and wipe down with old newspaper. That’s it. Also on mirrors.
    Regards Frances from Sunny South Africa

  42. Maggie Simpson says:

    The vinegar and baking soda for grout cleaning is great, but here are two extra tips:
    1. If you use an electric toothbrush like Braun with a small round head – you guessed it – use it to scrub the grout lines. It works wonders and no sore hands/arms from manual scrubbing. Just be careful to label the toothbrush head that you use as your household cleaning brush!

    2. To avoid having your grout wear out over time, try applying Grout Renew, a colored grout sealer that is mildew resistant and available at stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot and also online. I used it on my kitchen and bathroom tile floors, applying with a baby sized toothbrush, and it is amazing! A bit of a pain to apply, but you only have to do it once. You can choose a color to match existing grout or actually re-color your grout. And no, I am not affiliated with the company in any way! :)


  1. […] My friend “baking soda” is missing from the photo.  I hope she’ll forgive me.  I use her for everything from cleaning grout to scrubbing my sinks. […]

  2. […] 5 seconds and have any stains magically disappear.  Which is fine, because it turns out I have the perfect secret trick for cleaning grout that takes very little time and effort.    But the floors around the grout cleaned like a dream when I used the Large Cleaning Brush.  […]

  3. […] by using mostly natural items like baking soda and vinegar. You saw the dramatic results with my all-natural SUPER CHEAP grout and tub cleaner– why would I go back to paying top dollar for toxic chemicals when natural solutions work so […]

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