Top Drawer Joyce Clark Hicks finds the best for your home and garden

Top Drawer: Clean just about anything with vinegar

CorrespondentSeptember 27, 2013 

Best uses for vinegar

Somehow, somewhere, I became obsessed with reading about cleaning methods and natural cleaning products. I’m not necessarily obsessed with cleaning, but the knowledge is there. So a post about using vinegar to clean just about everything in the home caught my eyes on the Bowl Full of Lemons blog. I’ve excerpted some of what I consider to be her top tips below. Keep in mind that it’s best to always use your best judgment – and to research or do a test run – before starting a new regimen. You can find the original post at

Dishwasher: Measure 1 cup of vinegar, pour it into the bottom of your empty dishwasher, and run it through a wash cycle.

Washing Machine: Measure ½ cup vinegar and ½ cup water and put it into your detergent drawer (for front loaders) or right into the wash basin for top loaders. Run through a normal cycle. When the cycle has completed, wipe the rubber seal with a wet cloth and leave the door open to air out.

Floors: The correct ratio of water to white vinegar is ½ cup white vinegar to 1 gallon of warm/hot water. (If you are washing your hardwood floors, make sure they are sealed before trying this.)

Stainless Steel: Mix 1 tablespoon vinegar to 16 ounces water and put in a spray bottle, spray on a microfiber cloth and wipe clean.

Coffeemaker: Fill coffee pot with equal parts water and vinegar. Pour in the water dispenser and run coffee pot as normal. Empty water and vinegar from coffee pot and run 2-3 cycles with just water. Wipe with clean, wet dishcloth until clean.

Carpet: Use an equal parts ratio of water to vinegar and rinse thoroughly. I use this in my carpet cleaning machine, and I love that there isn’t a soapy residue to collect dirt after the carpet has been cleaned.

Garbage Disposal: Pour ¼ cup vinegar in disposal and let sit for a couple minutes. Run cold water in disposal and turn on disposal to clean.

Toilets: Pour ½ cup to a cup in the toilet bowl. Let sit for a couple hours, swish and flush.

Tile and grout (sealed): Make a past of baking soda and vinegar and scrub on scummy tile. Rinse with warm water.

Designer’s best

Do you have a small bedroom where the only practical place to put the bed is in front of a window? Check out the design genius at to see how some cleverly placed drapery and window treatments can create a picture-worthy canopy for your cramped quarters.

Best bathroom freshener

Freshen up a stale bathroom with this nifty trick from the A Mum in the Oven blog. “Simply place a few drops of essential oil (I use lemongrass scent) onto the cardboard tube of your toilet paper roll – your bathroom will smell amazing until the roll is complete and you begin again!” Check out this (tip number 66) and other household tips at

Best home blog

If you’re looking for sleek, contemporary or just plain cool home design inspiration, stop by the Yellow Cape Cod blog and look around. The site is beautiful on its own. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find links to YouTube tutorials, videos, tips and descriptions or pictures that walk you through the process of creating that distressed Pottery Barn look on old furniture; adding Christmas decor with character (use your daughter’s ballet tutu as a Christmas tree skirt!); making custom window treatments; making a “privacy” window using privacy film and much more. Check it out at:

Best appetizer

Raleigh resident Memory Mitchell wrote in to share a favorite appetizer recipe. This would be a great app for Bunco, baby or wedding showers. (Just make sure no one at your event has nut allergies.)

You will need:

Triscuits or Ritz crackers

Pimento cheese spread (Top Drawer’s favorite brand is called Palmetto)

Pecan halves

Spread each cracker with pimento cheese and top with pecan half.

Toast or put under broiler until cheese melts. Serve while warm.

Seeking mom’s best tips

From cooking and cleaning to gardening and organizing, it’s true that mom knows best. What treasured advice did your mother share for keeping your home in tip-top shape? Share her tip and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a quarterly gift card. Send your tips to Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Best of the tube


This amazing assortment of homes from all over the world includes a Canadian home with lots of curves, a really skinny house in Belgium, a floating pad in the heart of London and a contemporary cottage in upstate New York. An Indonesian home is made entirely from bamboo, while a house in Los Angeles is covered in broken crockery and a New York residence is one big treasure hunt. Tune in to “Extreme Homes” at 8 p.m. Sunday to see these treasures and more.

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