I love having a clean home. One of my favorite things to do in the morning is come down the stairs and take in the sight of my lovely, clean, home before my children wake up and take the opportunity to redecorate it with their toys and shoes and books.
But the chemicals commonly used for cleaning freak me out. Even with gloves on, the fumes make me nervous. Luckily for me, a friend introduced me to cleaning with vinegar a few years ago, and I’ve been sold ever since. I use it to wipe down counters, sinks, windows (mix it with water and a few drops of old fashioned blue dawn dish soap, and it will keep it from streaking), woodwork, you name it. I still clean with the heavy stuff, too, but my every day cleaning, for the most part, is done with vinegar.
Over the years, though, I’ve been enlightened to the many used for vinegar outside of cleaning. You can put it in your pets drinking water to help their coat shine. You can use it to ease the pain out of wasps and jellyfish stings (but not bee stings, use baking soda for that), and to sooth a sunburn. It is a good deodorizer for trash cans and diaper pails. It is a good hair conditioner, and skin toner. It is an excellent disinfectant for cutting boards and dishes. Remember that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the father keeps telling everyone to use Windex to cure all of their aches and pains? I am getting pretty close to telling everyone to put use vinegar to cure their problems in every realm. And if it doesn’t work, no love lost, because it’s about $3 a gallon. No joke.
It seems that I’m always learning new ways to use vinegar, and this month was no exception. Our ten year old nephew has been staying with us for a few weeks, and he’s not accustomed to removing his shoes when he comes in from playing. He’s getting better about it, but for a week or so, my carpet got more shoe traffic than it has in the entire time we’ve lived here. Thankfully, I remembered this pin, about using a vinegar solution to clean stains from carpets (even old, set in stains). I took photos of my carpet, but you can’t really appreciate the spots in the pictures, so trust me, they were there. Just dusky, dirty little spots from shoe tread. Enough to drive me crazy, though.
So, I got to work with this magic carpet cleaning regimen. All you need to do is sprinkle your stains with baking soda or corn starch, and let it set for a few minutes (If you are treating a new stain, blog up what you can first with a white cloth; I used a clean cloth diaper pre-fold, which is another awesome thing to have around the house). I just poured the baking soda and rubbed it into the carpet, hoping to absorb any oils in the stains.
While you are letting that set on your stain, you can get to work mixing vinegar, original blue dawn dish soap, and water (my favorite multipurpose solution, by the way).
I keep this solution in a spray bottle lying around the house, but the concentration mentioned in the source blog was rather specific, so I mixed a new batch just for this. You’ll mix 2 cups warm water, 1 tablespoon Dawn, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
I just mixed mine in a regular old kitchen bowl. It’s nontoxic, so no worries.
I then vacuumed up the baking soda, and marked the concerning areas with glass beads (because that’s what I had handy). That helped me to remember what areas I needed to treat, since they weren’t glaringly obvious.
Then I dipped a white cloth (diaper) in the vinegar/soap mixture, and applied the solution to the stained areas, blotting up all of the excess liquid with a dry cloth. Then I covered them with another dry white cloth, so that no one (the cat) would step on it overnight, and I went to bed.
The next morning, I assessed the dry carpet, and I gotta tell you, this simple solution really does work. I’d post a picture, but you won’t be able to tell the difference in it, but I promise you, it was magical. I poured the leftover solution from the bowl into a generic plastic bottle, and put it with my cleaning solutions to have on hand in the future.
And I needed it within the week, when my (grown up) little brother passed out bowls of blackberry cobbler to the kids in the living room (shame, shame; he doesn’t have children yet, but one day, he’ll learn), and the morning after he left, I noticed a dime sized purple stain on the cream carpeting.
I wish I’d taken a photo, but I panicked and went straight for my magic solution, not expecting much, but still, ever hopeful. I even skipped the baking soda step, and just doused it in the solution, and it erased all hints of that cobbler with very little elbow grease at all.
So if you have a hopeless looking stain on your carpet, give this solution a try. The ingredients are cheap, you may even have them in your house already, and you won’t have to worry about your kids playing on the floor while it’s drying because it’s nontoxic.
And that’s not all I’ve learned about vinegar this month! Stay tuned! But in the meantime, do you have a natural cleaning tip that you can pass along?