How To Use Salt, Vinegar & Lemons For Household Cleaning

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These items are a staple in cooking and baking, but they’re also a great help around the house. Here are dozens of ways you can use them, I’ve separated them into three groups for easier browsing. Enjoy!

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  • ItemsColor Brightener: Add 1/2 cup to a load of laundry (wash cycle).
  • Color Protector: Pour some in a bucket (as much as you need) then soak new garments in it to protect dyes from running.
  • Whiter Whites: Add 1 1/2 cups to the rinse cycle to whiten clothes.
  • Restore Whites: Add 1 cup to a large stock pot filled with water, bring to a boil. Remove from heat, add garments and let soak overnight. Launder as usual.
  • Preserve Linens: Add 1 cup to rinse cycle, store linens as needed–will help prevent yellowing.
  • Yellowed Items Reviver: Mix with water (1 part to 12 parts water) to revive old yellowed garments & linens and soak overnight then launder as usual.
  • Heavy Duty Pre-Soak: Add 1 cup to a bucket of water then soak heavily soiled garments in it. Launder as usual.
  • Lint Busters: Add 1/2 cup to the rinse cycle to reduce lint.
  • Fabric Softener: Add 1 cup to the rinse cycle. Also see this page for more ideas.
  • Ring Around The Collar Remover: Mix with baking soda to make a paste, rub into discolored area and allow to set for 60 minutes, launder as usual.
  • Stubborn Pots & Pans Scrub: Add enough to a mixture of 50/50 flour and salt to make a paste. Using a sponge, rub into spots then wash with hot soapy water and rinse off.
  • Oven Rinse: Drizzle some on a sponge then wipe the inside of your oven with it to remove the residue left behind by oven cleaner.
  • Glassware: To make your glassware sparkle and prevent hard water spots, add 1/2 cup to your rinse water.
  • Dish Detergent Extender: Add 3 to 4 tablespoons to liquid dish soap to make it last longer. Shake to mix. Also adds extra power to your detergent (don’t use with soaps that have bleach added).
  • Sink Taps: Soak a cloth in it then rub kitchen taps to bring them to a shine. If you have heavy deposits around the base of the tap, soak paper towels with it and stuff firmly on top of the grime buildup. After a few hours you should be able to remove it all.
  • Stained Plastic Dishes: Add 1/4 cup to plastic dishes then top up with hot water and dish detergent. Soak overnight.
  • Kitchen Drains: Combined with baking soda it will clear clogged kitchen drains (see this page for details).
  • Bring Stainless Steel Appliances To A Shine: Apply directly to a lint-free cloth and wipe down surface, follow up with a dry cloth to bring appliance to a mark-free shine (microfiber cloths work nice but a towel is fine too). See more ways here.
  • Stove Tops: Make a paste with cream of tartar (50/50) to clean stove tops, element rings and drip pans. More suggestions can be found here.
  • DIY Softscrub: Mix with baking soda and liquid dish detergent–perfect for grimy spots on appliances. You’ll find the recipe on this page.
  • Cookware Rust Remover: Mix 50/50 with water to strip buildup and rust from old cast iron cookware, then re-season (see: this page for details).
  • Laminate Flooring: Mix 1/2 cup with 1 to 2 squirts of liquid dish detergent + Bucketful of warm water (about a gallon). This is a tried and true recipe for washing high gloss laminate that will leave the flooring streak-free. See more tips here.

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Using the peels or cut wedges/halves…

  • Make your own household cleaner from the peels (so easy!), see this page for directions.
  • Remove light stains from a porcelain sink by rubbing a freshly cut half over the surface.
  • Remove fish smell from hands and cookware by rubbing with a cut wedge before washing.
  • Keep the garbage disposal smelling fresh by putting pieces of peel in it.
  • To absorb cabbage odors while cooking, place a wedge in the pot.

Using the juice…

  • Mothball odors can be removed from drawers by rinsing with a strong solution of juice and water.
  • Remove rings inside the toilet bowl by applying a paste of borax and freshly squeezed juice (first flush toilet to make the surface wet). Allow to set for 2 hours then scrub.
  • A cloth dipped in juice will lift discolorations on aluminum. After application, rinse the utensil in clear water and wipe dry.
  • Cut through grease buildup on kitchen surfaces by washing with lemon juice.
  • Remove stains from kitchen counter tops by making a paste with it and cream of tartar. Apply, set for 15 minutes then wash off and dry.
  • So easy! Make the inside of your microwave sparkle and look new again, see this page for instructions.
  • Cut in half then squeeze the juice in the water which eggs are to be poached in, will help prevent the whites from separating and floating.
  • Freeze in ice cube trays, once frozen pop them out and seal them in a freezer bag. Add these cubes as needed when cooking, equals about 2 tablespoons.
  • Wash hands with it to remove fruit or vegetable stains.
  • Heartburn Relief: Add 1 teaspoon to half a glass of water and drink.

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  • Enamel Cookware Stain Remover: Stir a handful in cookware filled with water. Soak overnight. The next day boil for about 20 minutes then dump and wash in hot soapy water.
  • For Ovens: Mix 1/3 cup with 1 cup baking soda + Water. Spray oven well with water. Mix together the dry ingredients then sprinkle over the water. Spray again with water. Leave overnight. Wipe out the next morning and scrub oven with hot soapy water. See more recipes here.
  • Natural Pesticide Spray: Add 2 tablespoons to 1.5 gallons warm water and stir to dissolve, allow to cool to room temperature. Helps with spider mites, caterpillars, cabbage worms and chewing insects. More tips found here.
  • Fern Plants Reviver: To revive “sick” ferns, add 1/2 teacupful to six pints of lukewarm water.
  • Weed Killer: It makes an effective weed killer, but keep in mind that significant amounts will cause damage to surrounding soil as well. It should only be applied in places where you want no plant growth (like driveways, sidewalk cracks, underneath decks and patio blocks, around the foundation of the house, etc.). To use, a ratio of 1 part salt to 2 parts water should do it. You can also drizzle it directly over weeds. More suggestions are on this page.
  • Cast Iron Cookware: Use it as a scouring powder when trying to remove stubborn bits.
  • China & Teapots: Mix 50/50 with household vinegar, apply to stains. Allow to soak then wash.
  • Cracked Eggs: If you’ve ever dropped an egg on the counter or floor, you know what a sloppy, slimy mess it is to wipe up! Next time try drizzling salt generously over the egg, wait a few minutes until it’s dry–then the mess sweeps up easily. *ETA: Careful not to leave this sitting too long, especially around metal parts. I had a reader send in a note that it affected a metal piece underneath kitchen carpeting.
  • Wicker Furniture: To keep wicker from turning yellow, scrub with a stiff brush moistened with warm salt water.
  • Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Wash: Add 3 tablespoons to 1/2 cup vinegar. Mix to dissolve then add to sinkful of water (stir to mix). Soak fruit and veggies for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove, pat dry.
  • Rust Spot Remover: Mix with an equal part of cream of tartar, will remove rust spots. Wet the spot and spread the mixture on thickly, then place the material in the sun.
  • Blood Stains On Laundry: Make a batch of cold, salty water and soak garment overnight. General guideline is mixing 1 tablespoon per 2 1/2 cups of water. Launder as usual.
  • Remove Yellow Underarm Stains: Mix 4 tablespoons with 1 quart warm water, soak garment.
  • Freezing Clothes: An old-timers tip to prevent clothing from freezing on the line during cold weather is adding a little salt in last rinsing water.
  • Remove Grime From Hands: Make an easy, all-natural scrub by pouring a bit in your hand, add some water then rub gently into skin for a couple minutes before rinsing off.
  • Kill Ant Nests: Bring water to a boil, mix in salt to make a strong solution and pour down nest. Repeat over three days (and pour over surrounding area as well to prevent ants from rebuilding in the area).
  • Grout: Mix together with baking soda and vinegar (equal parts) then rub into grout with a sponge, leave for a minute and wash.
  • Bathroom Mold Remover: Add 1/2 cup to a half cup of vinegar. Mix ingredients in a spray bottle, shake well before use.
  • Put Out A Stove Top Grease Fire: Pour a box over a small fire to suffocate the flames. Turn off the heat as soon as it’s safe to do so without being burned.
  • Copper: A paste made with lemon juice will clean copper.
  • Brass: Sprinkle over a vinegar soaked cloth then gently rub into brass object to a shine.

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Published: September 1, 2008
Updated: September 11, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
19 Comments to “How To Use Salt, Vinegar & Lemons For Household Cleaning”
  1. Lynn says:

    I have used Vinegar with Lavender essential oil in my laundry since April of ’08, my husband never noticed the difference of not using fabric softner. Our clothes came out just as soft and fresh smelling.

  2. Tim says:

    Great tips. I never knew it vinegar had so many uses! Thanks.

  3. aidan0105 says:

    other than cooking vinegar is so useful in other ways..thanks for this

  4. Beverly says:

    I like #8, never heard that vinegar in rinse water helped to keep down lint!

  5. toothfairy says:

    Well I’m off to Costco to buy a mega size bottle of Vinegar!

  6. warner says:

    WARNING: DO NOT MIX VINEGAR AND CHLORINE BLEACH!!!

  7. Mad Jayhawk says:

    I used to have nasty lesions all over my body where my clothes were. I was miserable. I went to the doctor and he prescribed creams etc. that did nothing. I read somewhere about how bad fabric softeners were (full of cancer causing chemicals) and that that vinegar was a good replacement for it. Vinegar costs way less than a bottle of skin cancer enhancer, er, fabric softener. Shortly after I began using vinegar in our wash, the lesions began disappearing. It was almost miraculous. We use vinegar for everything now. Washing machine and drier are cleaner too without the buildup of softener and soap residue.

  8. emily randall says:

    I found a bag of clothing in my basement, what if anything can be used to get the moldy scent out.

  9. bathroom tiles says:

    vinegar is great. I use it to clean the kitchen. I also make my own laundry soap

  10. Laura says:

    Does this all work with hard water? Many things don’t, especially since ours is very hard water.

  11. Tracy Wood says:

    I have “RING ROUND THE WASHING MACHINE”! After each wash, I have heavy, really bad water, and guess this is from the leftover from the soap lather when the wash drains; but, still it’s just ridiculous. The is amount is such that I have to wash the washer, before each load!! I thought of using Vinegar – maybe it is just from the washer being so dirty it is coming out a little at a time?

    I truly don’t have an idea as to why this is happening. Do you know what I should do or what I should try?

    Thank you for your attention to this as I have no where else to look!

    Happy Holidays!

  12. Carolyn says:

    To soften new jeans, add a cup or two of white vinegar to the wash cycle.

  13. Christy says:

    I use white vinegar all the time for everything!!! I have used baking soda with vinegar to clean my sink drain..

  14. joan says:

    I have 40 yards of demin to set the color in, I know I can use vinegar in the washing machine, how much for each load and do I rinse it after the soak, please let me know as soon as possible. thanks

  15. dearcat from Maine says:

    Hi Everybody. I am in my late 70′s and have used vinegar, salt and lemons all my life as did my mother and grandmother before me. I have never bought a fabric softner nor drier sheet in my life. I have my mother’s iron frying pan and it looke just like it did when she used it. I have only had to “try” three times in 50 yrs. and then only because different homemakers washed and scrubed it with a Brillo or some other stupid thing.

    Vinegar with warm water is also good for gargling if you have a sore throat. Salt and water is also used for ths purpose.

  16. Selva says:

    You can get :apple vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar,…does it make a diffence what type I use?
    Thank for all your wonderful ideas and tips!
    Selva

  17. ashleydf86 says:

    i am tempted to try vinegar and lemons on my clothing when washing.

    however, am afraid to have vinegar or strong smelling clothes.

    please explain to me has anyone had problems with vinegar smelling clothes when using in the wash

  18. carole says:

    White vinegar took the smoke odor out of my clothes after a house fire.


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