Cleaning with Vinegar: 10 Tips for your Outdoor Living Areas

cleaning with vinegar

Long before corporations convinced us that only their chemical-laden products could get our houses clean, our ancestors were cleaning just about everything with natural products like vinegar. Now that folks are becoming more aware of the hazards of using harsh chemicals and are focusing on living greener, healthier lifestyles, the use of vinegar is making a comeback. People are now using it for everything from sanitizing their kitchen counters to removing wayward candle wax.

While there are lots of well-known uses for vinegar inside the house, fewer people are using it outdoors, but it is just effective in your outdoor kitchen and garden as it is in your indoor kitchen and laundry room.

As you read through these 10 ways to use vinegar outside, keep in mind that distilled white vinegar is most popular and usually cheaper, but you can also use apple cider vinegar for most of these purposes.

1. Use vinegar as glass cleaner.

Mix distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle for an inexpensive, all-natural glass cleaner to clean windows, landscape lighting, the glass insert in the door of your patio wine refrigerator, or any other glass you have in your yard or outdoor entertaining areas. If you have previously used commercial glass cleaners, you will need to add just a couple of drops of liquid dish soap to the mixture the first one or two times you clean your glass with this natural option. This is because commercial glass cleaners leave a residue behind, which will cause streaking if you do not add the liquid dish soap to remove it.

2. Use vinegar as a natural weed killer.

If you are tired of pulling weeds and using chemical-laden herbicides to control the weeds in your yard, it might be time to give vinegar a try. A spray bottle filled with distilled white vinegar is all you need to kill weeds naturally. All you have to do is spray the vinegar directly on the leaves of the unwanted weeds. You may need to repeat this treatment two or more times before the weed completely dies. Keep in mind that vinegar is an indiscriminate killer, so be sure to avoid spraying it on or near the leaves of desired plants. You will have better luck killing weeds with a stronger vinegar with 20% acidity, which you can purchase at garden centers or home improvement stores.

3. Use vinegar to clean and disinfect pet restroom areas on artificial grass.

If you have dogs that use your artificial grass lawn as a restroom, you will need to regularly clean and disinfect the area. This will keep your grass clean and help to avoid unwanted odors that can occur when pet restroom areas are not properly cleaned. While you should be regularly picking up solid waste and rinsing down these areas with a garden hose to keep your grass clean, you should also incorporate spraying pet areas with a mixture of equal parts water and distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. If the areas are used on a daily basis, you may want to do this as often as once per week to give the area a little extra cleaning, disinfection and odor removal.

4. Use vinegar to clean and disinfect surfaces in your outdoor kitchen.

Vinegar works just as well outside as it does inside when it comes to cleaning surfaces. Use a mixture of water and distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle and a rag to clean and disinfect your outdoor refrigerator, counter tops, cutting boards, tables and other surfaces in your outdoor kitchen. Keep in mind that you should not use vinegar on natural stone surfaces or other surfaces that could be etched or otherwise damaged. Always use cleaners specifically designed for natural stone when cleaning natural stone.

5. Use vinegar to remove mineral deposits.

Clay pots are a great choice for container gardens but, over time, mineral deposits can turn their beautiful terra cotta color into a crusted, whitish mess. You can remove these deposits by soaking the pots in equal parts water and vinegar for about 30 minutes. Then, take a scrub brush to remove any loosened mineral and salt buildup. For particularly stubborn residue, you may need to repeat this process. You can also use vinegar to remove mineral deposits on planters made from other materials, fountain and pond pumps, birdbaths and fountains.

6. Use vinegar to help plants that thrive in acidic soil.

Some plants, such as hydrangeas, rhododendrons, gardenias and azaleas, love acid and can actually do better with the help of a little vinegar. Mix one cup of vinegar for each gallon of water, fill your water can and give your plants a little boost next time you water them.

7. Use vinegar to keep cats out of your flowerbeds or vegetable garden.

Cats do not like the smell of vinegar, which makes it an effective, natural way to keep them out of your flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. Spray or lightly pour vinegar around the border of your garden beds or flowerbeds to deter felines. Be careful to not get the vinegar on the leaves of wanted plants, since that could kill the leaves.

8. Use vinegar to clean the rust off of garden tools.

If your shovels, hoes, trowels or other garden tools have gotten a bit rusty, you can remove the rust by soaking them in undiluted distilled white vinegar in a bucket or sink. If they are only lightly rusted, you may be able to simply spray them or soak them in vinegar for a few minutes to remove the rust. You may need to leave them overnight – or even longer – to remove more extensive rust, but this is a natural, chemical-free way to restore them to their formal glory.

9. Use vinegar to clean and disinfect your patio furniture.

Mix distilled white vinegar and water in a spray bottle, grab a rag, and wipe down plastic, metal or painted wood patio furniture to remove dirt and dust while disinfecting it. This is much less expensive than commercial cleaners and is an all-natural solution for cleaning patio furniture in your outdoor living areas.

10. Use vinegar to clean fruits and vegetables from your backyard garden.

Fruits and vegetables purchased from grocery stores should always be washed with a vinegar-water solution to remove waxes, pesticides and bacteria. But even your home-grown produce that is organically grown could have bacteria, so washing it with vinegar and water prior to consumption is still a good idea. If you have just harvested a lot of fruits or vegetables, you can fill your sink with a mixture of three parts water to one part vinegar and soak your produce for about 10 minutes before rinsing with water. You might also want to keep a spray bottle with the 3:1 mixture in your kitchen for cleaning individual fruits or vegetables.

Your Turn…

What are your favorite ways to use vinegar in your garden and outdoor living areas?