August 23, 2010

Cleaning with Kids: Ode to Vinegar

Our theme this week is CLEANING! I know how it sounds, but I swear I'll make it fun. And to be honest, it's necessary. Our house is small, our possessions are many, and if the girls don't start pitching in more, Mommy will need to be put in a padded room.

I recently discovered this website which gives hundreds of uses for white vinegar. I'm sure you already know that white vinegar can be used to clean, but the website reveals just how miraculous a liquid it really is. One of the reasons I love using white vinegar is that - unlike most household cleaners - it's safe to use around kids.

The easiest cleaning activity for preschoolers is windows, mirrors, and plastic toys. I fill a spray bottle (plastic plant spray bottles give a great mist) with half white vinegar and half regular ol' tap water. Sometimes I'll also include a few drops of tea tree oil to cut the smell of the vinegar. Then I hand them the bottle and a couple washclothes. The plant spray bottle gives a mist too fine to drip, so they can spray to their hearts' content without causing any large puddles of water. White vinegar is cheap, so I'm not worried about wasting money and it's safe for them to handle. They literally beg me to clean their play kitchen or our glass doors, and I'm happy to let them help!

They also love cleaning their bath toys. I set them outside with their bath toy basket, washclothes, a towel, and a plastic wash bin with warm soapy water and a splash of vinegar. They'll spend an hour scrubbing the toys and laying them on the towel to dry.

They even devised a little assembly line where A pulled out the toys and handed them to E who washed and set out to dry. It turned into an alphabet lesson when they got to the foam ABCs!

Max Cleans Up (Max and Ruby) by Rosemary Wells

Max Cleans Up (Max and Ruby)I love these books. E is every bit as bossy as Ruby, and A is just as mischievous (and adorable) as Max. In this adventure, Ruby insists that Max clean up his room. Ruby puts everything in its place, while Max puts his treasures (a year-old Easter egg, runaway ants, a melted popsicle) in his front pocket. The story is classic Max and Ruby, but the illustrations include some mixed media elements that heighten the interest of this particular book. It's a great little story to introduce the topic of cleaning up with your kids, and to remind yourself to keep some perspective while cleaning with preschoolers!


  1. We adore Max and Ruby. Kids covered in vinegar, I'm not so sure about - but I could certainly use some help with the cleaning :)

  2. My kids love their spray bottles for cleaning too. I am also a big fan of vinegar. I recently started using it in place of fabric softener!

    My daughter loves Max and Ruby and that book is one of my favorites to read with her.

  3. B loves to help clean - he's especially thrilled if he gets to use the swiffer! (with a regular 'ole baby wipe in place of a cleaning cloth) He likes Max and Ruby too, we'll have to scout for this one at the library!

  4. Vinegar is amazing as a cleaner....when the smell dissipates. I hope the kids had fun cleaning! Teaching them now will make your life a lot easier.

  5. I mop with vinegar and use it occasionally to clean the toilets, now to check out the list you've provided.

  6. We LOVE vinegar at our house! (i should say i love to clean with it- the rest of the family does not appreciate its initial smell...) I use it to spray down the shower doors daily to keep that pesky soap scum away- we also use it for our toilets, tubs, and mirrors. Yup, you'll always know when it's cleaning day at our house because it smells like a giant jar of pickles has been opened!

  7. An hour?? They will sit and clean for an hour? I need to get myself a little girl!

  8. We really are long lost sisters...our house is drenched in vinegar. Most people think it's crazy, but I love it.


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