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Parenting Tip of the Day #5- Clean with Vinegar


I like to do things inexpensively and simply.  Raising four kids is neither, which I think makes it even more important to strive for cheap and simple in other areas of my life.  Sometimes doing the natural option is expensive and/or complicated.  Sewing our own clothes?  Cheap(er), but way too complicated for me.  Buying only hobby farm happy meat?  Simple, but way too expensive.  So I love it when I can find ways to make my life more natural in ways that are simple and cheap.  I make my laundry detergent, grow a garden every summer, and I clean with vinegar.  Are you cleaning with vinegar?  You totally should be.  Here’s why:

Vinegar won’t kill you– Two years ago I had a kid push a chair up to the counter, climb up to a spray bottle of Lysol and shoot it into his mouth.  No lie.  And that was the first time I had to call poison control.  It was then that I decided I needed to find a better option than having a bunch of really harsh chemicals in my house.  If your kid drinks vinegar, it won’t be the end of the world.

Vinegar stinks– My old cleaning supplies smelled really good.  They smelled like oranges, lavender, pine, whatever.  In what shouldn’t have been shocking news to me, my kids wanted to drink this good smelling, pretty colored water.  Vinegar stinks and your kids won’t want to drink it.  (The stink does go away after the vinegar dries, so don’t worry about stinking up your house.)

Vinegar doesn’t bubble–  Bubbles are fun!  My mopping solution used to bubble.  Now it doesn’t.  Because it’s just vinegar and water.  So now I don’t have to guard the mop bucket so the kids won’t stick their hands in it (although there is the whole possibility of drowning thing, so it’s not like I leave the bucket unattended).

Kids can help–  For my older toddlers and school-aged kid, I have no problem giving them a little bowl of vinegar and water and letting them “help” wipe the floors, walls, baseboards, or bathtub.  They LOVE this and while it does create a wet mess wherever they were working, I don’t worry about the health implications.  It’s also a great way to give them a level of responsibility for keeping things tidy.

It’s easy– Vinegar is cheap and easily accessible.  You don’t have to do a bunch of super precise measuring or mixing to make it work.  You don’t have to meander through a specialty store or hunt it down online to purchase it.

Vinegar + Baking Soda = Awesome–  You can clean a lot with a baking soda paste and then washing it off with vinegar.  This is especially great in the bathroom (sinks, toilets, bathtub).  Remember baking soda volcanos from your science fair days?  It’s like a baking soda volcano every time you clean.  Be prepared to seem like the coolest mom ever to your kids.

The science is behind it–  Feel free to do your own homework on this, but vinegar does kill the yucky stuff without being really harsh.  It doesn’t kill everything, but frankly I don’t want to kill everything.  There are some interesting theories out there about the downsides of having a “too clean” environment.  Turns out we kind of need some bad stuff to train our bodies how to handle it without going nuts.  This is a very lay person’s explanation so seriously go do the research yourself and decide what’s right for you.

As for me, I’m off to clean! (here’s my friend’s website with great cleaning thoughts)

Anybody have some of their own cheap, simple, natural tips to share?

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  1. We started using Vinegar when L was a baby because he liked to lick the glass on our french doors. It still cracks me up thinking about that!

  2. How funny, I woke up this morning thinking I’d like to find out what to clean my bathroom with that would replace my harsh chemicals. Perfect timing! I don’t think I’m going to do any research… “clean enough” with vinegar and water is good enough for me! 🙂

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