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{DIY} Vinegar + Steel Wool Stained Crate

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset I have always had an affinity for old things. I'm terribly at yoga-style meditation, but find a sort of silence, calm and peace from perusing the aisles of antique and thrift stores in search of secondhand stories. Several years ago, I bought an antique crate from the 1800s. My Dad helped me frame it up and turn it into the most amazing piece of furniture I own.

Alas, with the rise of Pinterest, vintage crates are in high demand these days. (And I can't quite bring myself to budget hundreds of dollars for wooden boxes.) Thankfully, I recently discovered a solution. (Quite literally -- a solution.)

The recipe is simple and uses two items you probably have in your home right now: white vinegar and steel wool. (You can also go further down the exploratory rabbit hole by adding tea bags to the mix.) There are hundreds of posts that share the how/what in great detail (here's a great one), so I'm going to provide the readers digest version.

1. Get something made of wood. In my case, a $10 pine crate from Michael's. You may want to lightly sand to get rid of any sticker goo or waxy coating. 2. Add white vinegar to a sealable jar. 3. Add a puff of steel wool to the vinegar in the jar. 4. Wait 48+ hours. (Longer seems to be better. I forgot about mine, went on vacation and came back two weeks later. Results will vary based on time of "soaking" and type of wood. The photos you're seeing in this post are the product of NO tea and two-week-old stain.) 5. (Optional) Steep some black tea and apply to wood item. The tannins the tea adds to the wood will supposedly alter the color, resulting in a "blacker" look. 6. Tarp off your area. (This stain will stain anything it touches, including concrete!) Apply your stain using a sponge brush.* 7. Marvel at how virgin wood is instantly transformed and takes on the appearance of some marvelous relic that has been hanging out in a barn for the last 80 years.

*I found I achieved the best results when swabbing on semi-haphazardly. You don't want this to look like a perfect paint job. You want it to take on the look of some history. I did a rough swab job, allowed drips to remain, applied additional layers, etc. This is one of those projects that seems to suggest the less strategy, the better the outcome.

Here's where I started... Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 4.19.36 PM

Here's where I ended up... Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Tub cleaner + carpet spot remover (DIY)

Tub cleaner + carpet spot remover (DIY)

Writer Sylvia Plath once said, "There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them." As a nightly bath taker, I'm inclined to agree. As a nightly bath taker, I'm also intimately familiar with the nightmare that is soap scum and hard water stains. In fact, the ring of doom and I are in a bit of a cold war. And I've tried everything short of nuclear weaponry to help me win the battle. From bleach sprays to organic sprays, caustic powders to baking soda scrubs -- nothing seems to work.

Until last night.

The thing that finally did the trick was a DIY recipe floating around the interwebs. It uses only two ingredients, both of which cost less than $5 combined...and are probably already residing in that creepy cabinet under your kitchen sink. White vinegar + blue Dawn dish soap.

I am not sure what kind of magic they put in blue Dawn, but holy moly, I am a believer! When it pairs with white vinegar some kind of magical love connection ensues...and now I will share it with you.


RECIPE 1 part blue Dawn dish soap to 1 part white vinegar.

INSTRUCTIONS Put ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well before using. (Some recipes suggest heating the vinegar first for added oomph.) Spray mixture onto tub (be sure to thoroughly coat any extra grimy or gross spots.) Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse. More than likely you won't even have to work up a sweat with a scrub brush, especially if you use this mixture routinely moving forward.

PROS: amazingly effective - works better than any commercial cleaners I have tried, semi-natural, inexpensive, Dawn saves wildlife, uses ingredients you probably already have around the house

CONS: Takes a little more effort to rinse than some cleaners, but the viscosity it part of what makes it effective. Definitely has a soapy vinegar aroma, but I far prefer "soap pickles" to the scent of chemical cleaners.


As it turns out, the super powers of vinegar and blue Dawn don't stop at the bathroom. At least not IN the bathroom. As the proud pet parent of a rescue dog, I can honestly say there are few things on Earth I love more than Rocky. I mean, just look at that face...

Don't let the look deceive you. He's 80% adorable lovehound, 20% terror. And while he's pretty much a genius, every now and then he tips into evil genius territory (occasionally just-plain-evil). I was reminded of this last week when I started moving furniture and discovered someone had peed on the leg of chair in the living room, which had pooled under the foot on the carpet below. Initial efforts to remove the spot with my Little Green Machine proved fruitless, so I did what any normal person would do: I ordered a full-size carpet cleaner at 2 a.m. on Amazon. (It's actually pretty great.)

But I knew I'd need a spot treatment if there was a chance of getting the stain out.

While perusing Youtube for vinegar + Dawn bathroom results, I noticed that someone had recommended vinegar and Dawn as a carpet spot treatment for such purposes.

Could it be? 

Yes. It could totally be. I wish I had taken before and after photos to share. I have no idea how long that stain had been setting into my carpet, but with just a spray and blot it was barely noticable. A pass of the carpet cleaner and things were good as new.

RECIPE 1 part blue Dawn dish soap to 2 parts white vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS Spray on stain, allow to set for a minute, blot. Note: I would definitely suggest spot testing this on an inconspicuous area of your carpet before you go spraying it all over the place. While my carpeting is light, I do not have natural carpet fibers. The mixture definitely comes out blue, so use at your own risk.

Happy cleaning!