20 Household Uses for Vinegar

I’m loving my new organization method and cleaning schedule. In an effort to be even more of “that mom”, I’ve swapped out paper towels for cloth rags to clean with and I’m being more mindful of the chemicals and cleaners I’m using. One of my favorite things to use around the house right now is vinegar. It’s safe, it’s natural and best of all, it’s cheap! You might not know how useful the stuff can be, so check out my list below to discover 20 household uses for vinegar.

  1. Make a simple cleaner with it. Just mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle and you’re good to go. Use apple cider vinegar in places that have bad odors, like the refrigerator.
  2. Clean your cutting boards. Vinegar will kill germs, leaving the board sparkly and sanitary.
  3. Polish your brass with it. Just mix a cup of vinegar with a teaspoon of salt and a cup of flour to get a cleaning past eyou’ll have to see to believe. Rub it on brass or metal cookeware then let it sit for 15 minutes. Rinse clean wtih water and you’re done!
  4. Repell bugs. Most insects don’t like vinegar. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on various bug killers, grab a bottle of vinegar and enjoy the same results.
  5.  Kill fruit flies. Mix apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in a small container. Fruit fly’s will go in, bu they won’t come out.
  6. Kill weeds. Vinegar is a natural and safe way to kill lawn weeds. Just spray some on your unwantend plants, being careful to avoid the ground around them. Let it sit for a day and watch the weeds wither.
  7. Add acidity to soil. If you have plants that demand high-acidity soil, mix up a cup of vinegar and a gallon of water, then water away.
  8. Keep flowers fresh. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and sugar to your vase before adding water to keep plants fresher, longer.
  9. Make some soap scum killer. Mix vinegar, baking soda and a little bit of blue dawn. Spray it on, let it sit and wipe away the soap scum.
  10. Clean toilets with it. You can do the inside and out with vinegar. Just let it sit in the bowl for half an hour before swirling with the brush and flushing.
  11. Shower head cleaner. Fill a plastic baggie with vinegar and put it over the shower head. Secure with a rubber band and let sit over night. Say goodbye to hard water buildup.
  12. Disinfect surfaces. Full-strength vinegar makes a great disinfectant.
  13. Clean tile. Use vinegar to clean your tile or grout by mixing a gallon of warm water with a cup of vinegar, a cup of ammonia and 1/2 a cup of baking soda.
  14. Take the sting out of insect bites. Apply vinegar to the site of the sting and say goodbye to pain.
  15. Clean up pet messes. Tired of smelling pet urine on your carpets or furniture? Saturate the area with vinegar, then wash with a carpet shampooer. The smell will be gone. You can use the vinegar in the drum of your washing machine if the soiled area is on a small throw rug, blanket or other type of washable fabric.
  16. Use it in the laundry. Add vinegar to your laundry in place of fabric softener. No, you won’t smell like pickles.
  17. Clean hardwood floors with it. Apple cider vinegar and water make an excellent hardwood floor cleaner. You won’t have any buildup and your floors will look great. There is a smell at first, but it quickly dissipates, taking nasty room odors with it.
  18. Clean the microwave. Mix vinegar and some water in a coffee mug. Microwave it for 3 minutes, then wipe the inside of the microwave out with a towel. It’ll be sparkling clean and the vinegar will help trap any odors.
  19. Open clogged drains. Pour a healthy amount of baking soda in the sink or toilet that’s clogged. Add vinegar and let the reaction bubble out the blockage. Once clear, pour hot water down the drain to get the last of the clog.
  20.  Remove stickers. Heat up some vinegar in the microwave and then use a paper towel or rag to saturate the sticker in question with the warmed solution. Once saturated, the sticker will come right off without leaving any residue behind.
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Homemaking: Spring Cleaning

Spring is just around the corner, even though the piles of snow outside my door tell me otherwise. Supposing that the weather will warm up at some point, I’ve decided it’s about time to get organized for my yearly round of spring cleaning. Instead of including impossible items on my list like “clean the attic”, I’m going to keep it simple and hopefully wind up with a passably clean house that’s just a little more organized than it was a few months before.

They say that posting your goals publicly will help you keep on track, so here’s the little calendar I made for myself with daily cleaning items. Of course, the items listed are in addition to my regular cleaning, so don’t think I’m just neglecting the dishes for a month!

Speaking of dishes, I would have listed “clean the dishwasher” as the number 1 item, but I did that over the weekend. Ah, sweet progress.

Please note: This is for the month of April and I deliberately left the weekends blank because those are the days my husband is home and cleaning with a husband is a lot like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. Pointless. Plus, he doesn’t see the point to spring cleaning, even though he enjoys the benefits!

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OxiClean Dishwasher Detergent: Where Have You Gone?

While our goal is always consuming less, making more things from scratch and recycling as much as possible, there is one convenience I will never give up and that’s my dishwasher. With a family of 5, the mechanical marvel is one aspect of modern life I absolutely love… and loathe.

When it’s working properly, I love it. The dishes go in dirty, come out clean and save me a lot of time, effort and chapped hands. It’s great. I’ve recently gotten new pans and those don’t go in the dishwasher, but nearly everything else does.

Unfortunately, our water is hard and our dishwasher is picky. I can’t get the bargain-brand dishwasher detergent in liquid form, pour it in and come back to sparkling dishes an hour later. Oh no, that would be much too convenient. Instead, I had to go through painstaking hours of trying different detergents and rinse aids to find one that works for us.

The winner? OxiClean dishwasher detergent. It’s the best for glasses. Other detergents leave a foggy film behind, but OxiClean didn’t. Couple that with vinegar in place of rinse aid and we had a winning dishwasher combo for a long time. 

Unfortunately, I went out this weekend to replenish my dishwasher detergent stores (I buy like 5 bottles of it at a time, typically with coupons) and to my amazement, there wasn’t any. I thought that other savvy shoppers in the area with hard water and cheap dishwashers just figured out what I’d known for so long and had simply cleared the shelf of detergent, so I went home and ventured to a new store the next day. That store didn’t have any either. Now I was confused – there hadn’t been any OxiClean coupons out lately. Why were the shelves bare?

I searched for the shelf marker indicating where the OxiClean should be in vain. It seems it had been removed from the store’s inventory. Confused, I went back to the first store. No longer on the shelf there either…

So, late last night I sent an email over to the folks at OxiClean to find out if they have discontinued the product. I’m not willing to pay the prices on Amazon (5 times retail), so hopefully it isn’t gone and they can point me in the right direction. Until I hear back, I’ll be looking up DIY recipes for similar detergent and hoping for the best. Nothing else on the market can really compare.

Housekeeping: Monday Madness – Bathrooms Edition

Today is Monday and that means I get to tackle all the nasty from the weekend. Having all the kids home plus the husband puts a big strain on the house and the result is not pretty. This past weekend, my husband ventured out into the frozen tundra that is the backyard and managed to track back in a combination of decaying leaves, dirt and snow. The result is seriously nasty floors and even worse looking bathrooms, since he always makes a beeline to wash his cold, dirty hands.

So, this Monday we’re going to focus on the bathrooms. We’re talking a deep clean. However, I don’t want to spend all day on the bathrooms, so I’ve created a process that will let me really clean both bathrooms in under an hour. Here it is:

Step 1.) Take EVERYTHING out of the bathroom. (5 minutes) Toss the rugs in the washer, pile toothbrushes and everything else on a nearby surface. Throw out the trash. Do this for both bathrooms.

Step 2.) Spray & wipe down all surfaces with an all purpose cleaner (10 minutes). That includes counters, sinks, cabinet fronts and the base of the toilet. Quick clean the toilets.

Step 3.) Clean the tub and shower (10 minutes). Get the shower and tub wet, then sprinkle with Comet or another abrasive cleaner. Scrub them down and rinse well. A removable shower head makes this job way easier, but a cup will work in a pinch. Wipe down the fixtures too. Note: This will take longer if you don’t do it regularly and the shower or tub is in really bad shape.

Step 4.) Clean the mirrors (5 minutes). Use window cleaner and a non-lint towel.

Step 5.) Wash the floors (10 minutes). I use my amazing spin mop, which makes the process super easy and ensures that the floors get clean rather than just pushing dirty water around.

Step 6.) Put everything back on the counter or away. Wipe sides of soap dispensers, etc. as you replace them. (5 minutes)

Total time: About 45 minutes for 2 bathrooms.

Homesteading 101: 5 Common Household Items to Always Reuse

A big part of homesteading is learning to find creative new uses for old items. That helps you become more self-sufficient while putting less strain on the environment. If you’re like most modern homesteaders, you still visit the grocery store and participate in mainstream life, but that doesn’t mean you have to participate in the modern phenomenon of living a disposable lifestyle. Our not-so-distant ancestors would save everything, from paper scraps to bits of strings, to reuse later. While that may be a bit extreme for most people, there are a few commonly discarded items that can easily find a new purpose on any homestead.

compost

1.) Food scraps. All of your vegetarian foods and eggshells can be used to make dense plant compost. All of the trimmings and peelings you acquire while making your evening meal should be collected in a container and brought outside to a compost station. Remember to add some type of paper and some yard waste for the best blend. Mix it every once in a while to evenly distribute the nutrients and keep it from smelling. The compost can be used to beef up your garden, yielding even more vegetables and home grown goodness.

Some other uses include:
Animal feed. Chickens and pigs love vegetable scraps
Cleaners. Citrus peels make great garbage disposal deodorizers and orange peels repel cats.
Cleaning solutions. You can also turn citrus peels into all purpose cleaners to use all over the house.
Root vegetable ends, like onions or carrots, can be frozen and used later for stock making.

If you eat a lot of bone-in meat, you can save the bones and freeze them for stock. Remember that store-bought stock costs at least $2 a container and is loaded with sodium. Homemade stock is free if you use meat, bone and vegetable scraps to make your stock, the cost is zero, you’ll have no packaging waste and you’ll enjoy a much more flavorful meal.

2.) Glass jars. Every time you empty a jam, peanut butter or other type of glass jar, keep it, along with the lid. Wash them thoroughly and set them aside. They’re perfect for storing dry goods or mixing homemade salad dressings in. You can even keep leftover soups in them.

Some people use them to store arts and crafts materials, screws, or other small objects. Glass jars are great because they are safe for use with food, they’re easy to clean and they’re readily available.

3.) Plastic food containers. You can use plastic food containers a lot like you would use a glass jar. You can store leftovers in them like you would Tupperware, or you can use them for craft pieces, office supplies and more. Just remember that you can’t microwave them!

4.) Wine corks. Real cork is 100% recyclable, and some retailers have collection bins for recycling. If you don’t have one of those nearby, you can use the corks in other creative ways. You can create coasters, trivets and other useful household items or you can add a magnet to the back for a quirky kitchen addition. There are even wire cork savers to turn your collection into a display piece.

5.) Plastic grocery bags. If you’ve switched to reusable bags, congratulations. However, don’t feel bad if you haven’t. Plastic grocery bags can still be useful around the home and there are plenty of facilities available to recycle them. I personally use them as trash can liners in the bathrooms.

You can also use them for cleaning out the litter box or to hold wet items like swimsuits. If you mail things frequently, you can load the box with plastic bags rather than packing peanuts. You can even use the plastic bags to make your own reusable grocery tote.

Remember that homesteading means something different to each person. Whether you’re striving to live a more sustainable life or to get off the grid and be entirely self-sufficient is a personal decision. Hopefully these tips help you think about places in your own home where you can reuse or repurpose something that you might have otherwise thrown out.

Rant: Facebook Yard Sale Site Bums

I have to go on a little mini-rant here and it’s about a topic that probably irritates everyone: bums on the Facebook yard sale sites.

You see, I recently posted some baby bottles. For free. We’re talking name-brand, high-end bottles that I hardly used. I thought hey – I don’t want to go through the hassle of trying to set up a pickup plan, haggle over price, etc., so I’ll just post for free and stick in a bag on my front porch. No biggie, right?

WRONG!

I got a taker pretty quickly, which is great. After all, I wanted them out of my house. Unfortunately, it happened to be No-Car Nancy. Here’s what I had posted:

FREE bottles. Located near Walmart. Pickup weekdays, before 6pm.

My pickup preference was because 1.) It’s still light at 6pm, so no creepers and 2.) My husband is a grade-A hoarder. He hates when I give things away. He thinks used bottles are worth $30 IF I must sell them, but that I shouldn’t sell them because we *might* have another baby in a few years, even though I’ve said I’m done having kids. If they’re out of my life before 6pm, he doesn’t have to see and he doesn’t have to know. It’s a win for everyone.

With that in mind, here’s the conversation that followed with dear Nancy.

Me: Hi Nancy, when would you like to pick the bottles up?

Nancy: My friend lives near you and she said she could pick them up for me tomorrow. What is your address?

Me: **gives her my address**

Nancy: Oh, that’s not far from her.

Me: Great, what time will your friend be coming by?

Nancy: She gets out of work at 8 and can be there by 8:30. Is that too late?
Me: 8:30 in the morning?

Nancy: No, at night.

Me: …I can only do pickups before 6pm.

Nancy: Can’t you leave them out, in a bag or something?
Me: No. Can your friend come on her way into work instead of on her way home?

Nancy: No. She lives by you in the house with the gazebo.

I’ll spare you the rest, but dear Nancy wants me to drop the bottles off at her friends house, since I, “probably drive by it all the time” (I don’t). Nancy doesn’t have a car and I guess I can’t find out what her friend’s name is. I’m supposed to drop the bottles off on her front porch.

Awesome.

Nancy is a real winner. I’m not going to go out of my way (and waste gas, time, etc.) to drop off free bottles to someone. Nope. Not going to happen. Not to mention that I looked on Nancy’s Facebook page and she doesn’t even seem to have a baby. Me thinks she’ll be flipping those bad boys for profit. Double no!

So Nancy, I’m going to not drop the bottles off. I don’t have time for this. Someone else (who can read and follow directions) can come pick them up. I assume if they make the effort to get them, it’s because they actually want to use them. What a thought.

Homesteading 101: The Origins of Spring Cleaning

Do you ever feel pressured to pull on a pair of rubber gloves and get down and dirty in the springtime? For many people (mostly women), spring weather means it’s time to thoroughly clean the house from top to bottom. However, do you know how the ritual cleaning routine started?

Spring cleaning is something unique to cultures that developed in climates with cold winters. Historians have traced the practice back to the Iranian Norouz, the Persian new year, which happens to fall on the first day of spring. In Iran, residents continue the tradition by practicing “khooneh tekouni” which translates to “shaking the house”. During this time, everything is thoroughly cleaned, including the drapes and furniture.

The Scotts have similar traditions around their new year holiday, which is called Hogmanay and happens on December 31st. The practice is widespread in Ireland, New Zealand and even North America.

While most historians agree that the practice was started by Iranians, some think it was actually ancient Jewish people that began the tradition during the memorial feast of Passover, which happens in the spring. During the holiday, there are strict regulations on eating and drinking anything ermented with yeast. They are also expressly commanded to rid their homes of small remnants of chametz, which is any type of leavened foodstuff. Therefore, observant Jews must carefully go through their house removing all chametz crumbs. This practice may have been the beginning of spring cleaning.

The ritual of spring cleaning continues in North America and northern Europe where it adds value to the life of inhabitants because of their wet climates. In America, before the invention of the vacuum cleaner, March was known as the best time for dusting because it was warm enough to open windows and doors, but not warm enough for insects to be out. The winds common in the spring season helped to carry dust out of the house. Modern homeowners also enjoy cleaning in March because airing out cleaning fumes is made easier when insects aren’t a problem.

So now that you know the history of spring cleaning, you can go forth in your quest to rid your house of clutter and dirt knowing that your urge to purge has a purpose other than to make you dread the spring.

Homesteading 101: Bringing Back the Chicken Cam

chickies

This winter was brutal. With temperatures consistently below freezing, for weeks on end, my husband thought of a way for me to check on our hens during the day without suiting up and trekking out into the snow.

He created what I lovingly refer to as, “The Chicken Cam” with an old iPod that had a cracked screen, some duct tape and a power cord. He connected the iPod to the power cord and then duct taped it to the wall of the coop so that the camera was just above the nesting boxes. The power cord ran out through a side door on the coop and down to the plug that we use for the heat light.

By downloading an app called Presence on the old iPod and our iPhones, we were able to remotely log into the camera on “The Chicken Cam” and watch what was happening in the coop, in real time. That means I could check on the chickens at any moment. Because the camera was positioned across from the nesting boxes, it was easy to see if anyone had laid and if I needed to run out and grab an egg.

Just like that, there were no more unnecessary trips to the coop in freezing cold winter weather!

The Bachelor: The Next Bachelorette is…

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard by now that the next bachelorette is going to be… Britt AND Kaitlyn.

That’s right, there’s going to be 2 bachelorettes. Confused yet? Well, according to Chris Harrison, the night is going to start out with both ladies trying to finagle the attention of 25 men. Whomever the men like best will stay and be the next bachelorette. The other lady? Well, she gets another knotch on her bedpost of rejection.

Seriously though, that’s going to suck. First, Chris the farmer turns you down. Next, 25 random men turn you down. That’s A LOT of rejection all at once. A LOT. Nervous breakdown territory for most women. I’m curious how the loser is going to recover from that. I mean, if 25 random men desperate enough to compete with each other on national television for your attentions don’t even want you, who will?

So who am I rooting for? I can’t decide. Honestly. It could go either way. On one hand, you have Britt, who ABC desperately wants you to believe is prettier than Kaitlyn. But, she’s also only in it for the fame. Come on, she was in a music video prior to being on the bachelor and she conveniently didn’t mention that. She also just irritates me. Anyone that falls in love that quickly and is that much of a flip-flopping mess is probably just faking their entire existence. I want her off the TV, ASAP.

On the other hand, Kaitlyn also irritates me. The first thing she said to Chris when she stepped out of the limo was something about plowing her field. Classy. The fun continued when she took her bikini bottoms off on one date and constantly said some ridiculously dirty things to him on the Kimmel date. I’m sorry, but the entire nation doesn’t need to know how easy you are. That’s great that you’re into casual sex – please leave it in the fantasy suite. Kaitlyn made me glad I watched when my kids were asleep – I did NOT need my 5 year old repeating anything that came out of her mouth. Definitely not a lady.

Given that the 2 bachelorettes are my #1 and #2 least favorite contestants from the season, I’m not sure that I’ll be watching. Hopefully the next bachelor is better.

The Bachelor Recap: Women Tell All (Prince Farming)

I know I’m jumping into this game a little late, but honestly, until last night I hadn’t thought to blog about the shenanigans going on in the bachelor.

Last night was the “Women Tell All” special and despite all the hype, I really didn’t think it was that remarkable. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • Even after watching the show, Britt still thought Carly was her friend in the house. Seriously? Did she not see the lipstick hand puppet? Some people are calling Carly a bully, but was she? Since when was calling someone out for being a hypocrite considered being a bully?
  • Speaking of Britt, someone give that girl an acting gig. I don’t believe for a hot second that she was in love with Chris, but apparently most of America did. He’s a farmer from Iowa and she’s a born and bred L.A. girl. Look how much makeup she wears. Look at cows. Look how much attention she needs. There’s only 500 people in Arlington, Iowa – that’s not nearly enough to keep her ego properly stoked. You can see how this wasn’t ever going to possibly work out. Her portion of the show was spent crying on the couch to Chris Harrison about how much she loved Chris, blah blah blah. Oh, and for the love of God, quit it with the garish red lipstick and glittery eye shadow.
  • Jade came up with that painted-on red dress and talked about how she thinks the photos were the reason she was sent home. They were. The man is a farmer in Iowa – he does not want to be married to someone with nude pictures all over the internet. I’m sorry Jade, you seem like a lovely girl now, but your past has severely limited the number and type of men that will want to be with you long-term. Crotch shots on the internet equals a life spent with a bartender, a DJ, a reality TV star or a Hollywood wannabe. Let that be a lesson to the young girls out there. Oh, and can we please stop calling it “nude modeling”? It’s porn.
  • Ashley (the crazy one) had a turn on the couch talking to Chris Harrison. She brought him an onion. That was a little strange, but apparently she grows them now. Good for her. He offered her a spot on the Bachelor in Paradise and she did that thing where she stares off into space. I’d rather not watch her incoherent babbling again, so I hope she declines the invitation.
  • Kelsey also got a chance to share her piece. Something seems off about her. It seemed off when she was on the show and it continued last night. I don’t get the impression that there was any great love lost between her and Sanderson. Maybe she’s looking at their marriage through rose colored glasses now that he’s gone, but she didn’t seem like she lost a man that she had a deep and loving connection with. I don’t think she realizes she comes across as cold as she does. Her segment was capped with a fake apology for offending anyone.
  • Ashley (the Kardashian one) didn’t really get a chance to talk, which surprised me. There were a lot of faces being made, but not much else. She’s entertaining to watch, but I can see why he didn’t pick her. She’s definitely not farm material, even if he does spend most of his time traveling to conventions and seeing to the business side of things rather than working the land.
  • Kaitlyn did some talking about how she didn’t know why he kicked her off, blah blah blah. I was waiting for them to announce her as the next bachelorette (even though I’d rather watch Carly or Britt, even) and that never happened. Chris had no closure for her, so I’ll tell her why she got kicked off. You’re too vulgar. Chris seems to be taking into consideration his mom and sister’s opinions when making his decisions and it’s clear that Kaitlyn isn’t the type of girl they would like. Right off the bat she made a joke about him “plowing her fields”. Which he did. In the fantasy suite. Humped and dumped. She was never one of my favorites. Between the bad rapping and the unlimited locker room jokes, I mostly just felt uncomfortable watching her.

Overall, the night was pretty uneventful. The girls that didn’t like each other in the house still didn’t like each other at the reunion. There was crying. Chris had a hard time forming a sentence under pressure and he sweated a lot.

Lets bring on the final episode and watch him pick Whitney.

Like most bachelor romances, I don’t see this one lasting. Why? It has nothing to do with Arlington and everything to do with the memories that she is going to have of the show. She was never the front-runner until the very end. Looking back, she’s going to remember Chris making out with Britt, giving Britt the rose, giving most of the other girls roses first, etc. etc. Their relationship has already started out on the wrong foot, which is going to make it really hard for it to last.