Sure, different cleaning products do different things, but I use distilled white vinegar as my all purpose go-to cleaner.
In the past I used bleach, windex, scrubbing bubbles and all of the toxic, horrible, products that I believed I actually needed to clean my home. I know better now. Those cleaning products are really bad for you and the environment and can lead to respiratory problems, skin irritation, reproductive toxicity, nervous system damage, and organ toxicity amongst others.
As surprising as this might sound, I prefer not to poison my body in order to keep my home clean. This is why I don’t want to use any products on my body or in my home that I wouldn’t be comfortable eating. This is exactly why I love distilled white vinegar for cleaning. It is derived from fruit, vegetables, and grains and is safe for eating. MOSTLY.
Apparently, some white vinegar that is not distilled or that does not clearly state “made from grain” is rumored to be made from petroleum, or at least made using a petroleum starter. A quote from the FDA’s website shows:
“Questions have been raised as to whether we can or should continue to consider synthetic alcohol unsuitable for food use. In order to secure more information, we wrote to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division, Internal Revenue Service. Their reply included the following paragraphs:
‘Presently, we authorize the manufacture of vinegar from ethyl alcohol synthesized from natural gas or petroleum derivatives. It is our opinion that most of the distilled spirits used in the production of vinegar are derived from natural gas and petroleum…’
When alcohol is used in the production of beverage products, our regulations require that the source of the alcohol be shown on the label except for cordials and liqueurs. Incidentally, I might add that most of the alcohol used in the production of medicinal preparations and flavors is synthetic.”
Looking into this further, it appears that it is not required for manufacturers to label whether or not their vinegar is derived from petroleum, so it is not really easy to recognize. However, the cited FDA page states that if a distilled white vinegar is labeled as “made from grains” but contains synthetic alcohol, it is considered false and misleading which could be a good indication that the product you are purchasing is pure.
When researching Heinz Vinegar, they used to write that their vinegar was “all natural, never from petroleum”, but I can no longer locate that on their page.
The best advice that I could offer is to look for distilled white vinegar that states on the bottle that it is “made from grains.” Another option? Buy Organic. A 32 oz bottle of organic distilled white vinegar runs around $6.00 and will last you a pretty long time. That is cheaper than buying a natural brand name all purpose cleaner from the store, especially if you dilute it with a little bit of water in your spray bottle. So my suggestion would be to go for the Organic if you are worried about the potential risk of using a petroleum based product, if that doesn’t bother you, buy ones that are clearly labeled “made from grains.”
Why I will continue using it: distilled white vinegar kicks bacteria’s butt and works perfectly to keeps countertops, mirrors, bathroom, tile, etc. sparkling! I use it as a stain remover, mildew eliminator, fabric softener, room deodorizer, to unclog drains, and in the rinse cycle to remove soap from clothes! Be careful using it on marble and granite because it etches, meaning the acidy of the vinegar eats away at the surface of it. Storage and usage could not be easier, I upcycled this soy sauce bottle by filling it with white vinegar and putting an old spray top on it. It works perfectly!