Tag Archives: vinegar

4 Green Ways to Unclog a Drain

When facing a clogged drain, many people go straight for the harsh chemicals. It’s pretty understandable – you want that clog gone! But have you thought about where those chemicals are going? There are better ways to clear a drain.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

This is my favorite way to unclog a sink once the water has drained. Pour about a cup of baking soda down, and follow it with a half cup of vinegar. Let it work for several minutes then pour down a pot of boiling water.

This unclogs drains much of the time. I like it because it’s cheap, doesn’t have that chemical stink, and you aren’t using anything dangerous to your family. No need to keep those chemicals out of reach of children other than to avoid a mess.

Washing soda is another good choice in the place of baking soda if you have it available. It’s stronger.


A Zip-It is a little strip of plastic with teeth on it. Put it down the drain and pull back up. It will bring hairs and all kinds of gunk up with it on the teeth. This only works for clogs near the drain, as it’s not very long. It also has to have something to catch, so greasy clogs are out of its league.

The one trouble is that the manufacturer considers it a single use item. Not a fun thing when it’s plastic.

Plunger or Auger

Sometimes the baking soda and vinegar just don’t cut it, or it’s a toilet clog where they really can’t get down to the mess. You still don’t need to reach for the chemicals. You can attack the clog directly with a plunger or plumber’s snake.

To use a plunger, put it over the drain with the best seal you can manage. Work it up and down to see if it can push the clog through. Especially if you’re unclogging a toilet, give the plunger a rinse after by flushing the toilet and holding it in the middle of the water.

A drum auger can take a bit of extra work. You put the end down the drain and turn a crank to help it work its way down the pipe. This can be hard to do, and it takes a bit of work to get around bends sometimes. But if you can reach the clog, a snake does an excellent job. Just be prepared for a little frustration if you aren’t used to using an auger, and sometimes even if you are.

Clean Out the Trap

There’s nothing saying that you can’t just get under a sink and clean out the part that’s probably clogged anyhow. Have a large pan or bucket under where you’re working to catch any water that comes out. This takes some effort, but no chemicals and you might be amazed at what’s caught in there.

Finally, don’t forget to take precautionary measures if you have a drain that tends to clog. Pour a little vinegar and baking soda down the drain regularly, let them work, and rinse. Better to stop a clog before it gets serious.

Still Playing with Washing My Hair with Baking Soda and Vinegar

I’m still trying out washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar. The first day didn’t go great, but things have improved since then.

I rewashed and rinsed my hair with the baking soda and vinegar, this time using the full tablespoon of baking soda in a bit less water, and a bit heavier concentration of the vinegar too. This time my hair feels much better.

I don’t use products in my hair very often anyhow aside from shampoo and conditioner, so I can’t say that there is much excess residue to come out from anything. No old hair spray or whatnot. But I am definitely noticing that my hair feels just a little lighter. It’s soft in a slightly different way from how it feels after using shampoo and conditioner, but definitely soft.

A big difference is that it feels to me as though the natural oils are moving further down the hair shaft between washings. Maybe I’m imagining it, but that’s how it feels, and I don’t mean that my hair is looking more oily right off the bat. It does seem that using this method I may need to wash my hair a little more often than I did with shampoo and conditioner, which I had down to every 5 days or thereabouts. When I shower without washing my hair it just goes up in a knot. I don’t even use a shower cap. Long hair has its advantages!

Washing My Hair with Baking Soda and Vinegar

I finally got around to trying a baking soda wash with a vinegar rinse for my hair, as I said I would at the start of the month.

Most places I read about it said to use 1 tablespoon of baking soda in warm water, although others said to make a paste of it. I used probably a half tablespoon to try things out as some people found the full amount made their hair really dry. With hair as long as mine I tend toward the cautious side of things.

The mix is applied to the scalp, not the length of the hair. Overall I think I used too little, but I could definitely tell when the oils by the scalp started loosening up and moving. There was a definite change to the feel of my hair as I scrubbed it. Can’t say lathered it, as obviously there’s no lather with baking soda.

The vinegar rinse was made in the same way, one tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of warm water. That was applied to the length more so than the scalp.

First try, I’m not ecstatic. I’ll try using a bit more baking soda next time and maybe a bit less water and see if that helps. The hair near the scalp was left just a bit too oily.

The Wonderful World of Vinegar

By now you probably know that vinegar is pretty useful for cleaning around the house. The smell isn’t always the best, or so my husband says, but it fades away quickly as the vinegar dries, so I really don’t consider it to be a problem.

Here are some of the many ways you can use vinegar around the house. Please feel free to share any further ideas you have.

1. Clean the microwave

Water can do this pretty well too, but it lacks the deodorizing capabilities of vinegar. Just heat a cloth that you have dampened with vinegar for 15 seconds or so. Once it’s cool enough to touch again, wipe the inside of the microwave clean with the cloth. The moisture should have helped to loosen some of the splatters.

2. Clean and unplug a showerhead.

Especially if you have hard water, your showerhead may get somewhat gunked up at times. Vinegar can do a slow but good job of cleaning it up.

Fill a plastic bag with vinegar. Put it over the showerhead and attach with a twist tie. Allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.

The vinegar may still be used after for other cleaning projects. Might be a good time to finish off cleaning the bathroom while you have it there!

3. Kill weeds

This can be a bit slow, as it kills the leaves but doesn’t touch roots. Spray it on the leaves and repeat as necessary. Eventually the plant will stop regrowing if it can’t get energy from its leaves.

4. Make soil more acid

On a gentler note, vinegar is good for adding a bit of acid to garden soil for plants that love acid soil.

5. Clean up pet urine

After cleaning up the mess by soaking up the liquid and then cleaning with water, pour vinegar on the area, blot out the excess and allow to dry.

6. Hair rinse

Rinse your hair with vinegar after shampooing. It removes the last of the shampoo nicely. Some say it helps with dandruff also.

7. In the laundry

Vinegar also helps to get the soap out from the laundry. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.

8. Afraid colors might run?

Soak brightly colored clothing in a mix of vinegar and warm water before washing. You’ll soon see if dye bleeding might have been a problem. I don’t know if this works with all dye types, but it’s been amazing what comes out of some red clothes.

9. Tenderize meat

There’s a reason why vinegar is so often used in marinades. The acid in it help to make the meat more tender.

10. Clear a drain

This one takes baking soda too, but it’s wonderful! Pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain, follow with a half cup of vinegar. Allow to work for 5-10 minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain. Repeat if necessary, but I’ve never had it be needed.

11. Deodorize the air

Spray vinegar in the air to control odors, or set a small pot of vinegar and water to boil. The vinegar smell will fade away.

12. Clean windows

Use vinegar as you would any other glass cleaner. Wiping with newspaper is highly effective too.

13. Use in the carpet cleaner

Vinegar can be used mixed with water at about 1 cup of vinegar to a gallon of water. Not terribly strong, but nice for a general cleaning.

14. Remove water rings from wood furniture

A mix of olive oil and vinegar can be rubbed on wood furniture to get rid of the white rings caused by leaving a wet glass on the wood.

15. Clean the garbage disposal

Make a few vinegar ice cubes. Put down the garbage disposal and run it while running cold water down the disposal as well.

16. Clean the dishwasher

Pour a cup of vinegar into the empty dishwasher, and run it.

17. Clean the coffeemaker

Your owner’s manual may even tell you about this. Pour a cup of vinegar into the reservoir and run the coffeemaker. Run it twice more with just water in the reservoir to rinse.

18. Soothe a sunburn

Apply vinegar to the sunburned areas with a cloth.

19. General cleaning

Use vinegar to clean hard surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen. It works well on tile and many other hard surfaces. You can dilute it with water for mopping as well.

20. Toilet bowl cleaner

That includes the toilet bowl. Pour 1 cup into the toilet and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes before flushing. This won’t get the areas out of the water, of course.

Easy Floor Cleaner

Cleaning floors is not one of my favorite things. Somehow my kids always manage to make it just a little pointless, generally by getting particularly dirty in the back yard later that day or the next, and tracking in tons of dirt, chalk and/or mud. They’re talented that way. And I love it.

They’re some of the big reason why I love making my own floor cleaner rather than buying it. No nasty chemicals, cheap, and I can even make my kids use it if they mess things up too quickly.

Here’s my basic formula for tile. Just as easy as mixing something bought at the store.

Basic Vinegar Floor Cleaner

Add about a half cup of white vinegar per gallon of water. My husband hates the smell of vinegar, so I add a bit of lavender essential oil to cut the vinegar scent until it dries. Mop as usual.

This mix is generally safe for tile and wood floors; just make sure that you don’t get the wood excessively wet. Your mop should be just damp. Some people like to add some vegetable oil to give wood floors a bit more of a shine.