Put Down that Bleach!!!

Scrubbing feed and water tubs

(I know I haven't been posting much lately, so here's a quick post while I start working on some new stuff...)

I’ve been experimenting with a good old-fashioned natural household cleaner/disinfectant that works better, is cheaper and is safe even if you leave some behind in the buckets. 

It’s vinegar.  Plain old distilled white vinegar that I buy in the giant size at the supermarket.  I figured that, since it works so well for bathrooms and kitchens, is recommended for cleaning fruits and veggies, and can actually be ingested on purpose, this might be the way to go.

I normally mix up individual feeds for the horses in 8 qt pails in the feed room and then dump those into the feed buckets in their stalls.  After a few days, these can get pretty nasty with feed residue, supplements and, in particular oil (I feed a liquid vitamin E supplement as well as pure wheat germ oil for some of the horses.)  Even when it was warm out and I was rinsing them daily, I could never seem to get the gunge out of them.  So, once a week I’d get out the antibacterial dish soap and scrub them. 

They still never got very clean, it took forever to rinse and I worried about leaving soap residue that might get mixed with feed.  Plus, the stuff is expensive!

So a few days ago I tried the vinegar.  Just a splash in the bottom of each bucket (I didn’t measure, but probably 1/4 to 1/2 cup) and then I filled each to the top with water and let them stand a few minutes.  Within seconds I could already see the gross stuff lifting away from the sides of the buckets and with a quick swish of the bucket brush, they were clean.  I dumped them, rinsed them quick and they’re good as new.  And the vinegar not only cuts through all kinds of residue to get surfaces clean, it also disinfects and inhibits bacteria and mold growth safely.

We’ve also got hard water at the farm and nothing seems to get rid of the stains in the automatic waterer bowls.  But since vinegar is recommended for cleaning coffee makers and sinks, etc. with mineral build-up, I thought I’d give this a try too.  I’m happy to say it works great!  In this case, I used the vinegar undiluted in a spray bottle and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping out and rinsing.  Much easier than getting out the steel wool and working up a sweat!  If you need extra help, adding salt and/or baking soda is usually all you need. 

The same also works on the slimy algae that builds up in troughs over time.  Usually people recommend using chlorine bleach not only to scrub the troughs, but actually recommend deliberately dumping some into the drinking water to keep it clean.  I can’t help it, but this just sounds like a bad idea to me.  We’ve got automatic waterers in the paddocks as well, so I haven’t tried it, but I’m guessing a little vinegar in the water will help slow the growth of slimy stuff and not be as offensive (or toxic) to the horses.  I have found that horses love the smell and even the taste of cider vinegar, so if you are worried about the horses not drinking with white vinegar, cider vinegar works the same and might be a good choice.  If anyone has tried this, let me know how it works and how much you need....


  1. Great thinking - vinegar is useful for lots of things, and how cheap and non-toxic!

  2. That's a great idea. I'm glad to hear that it cleans so well. I use it around the house for basically everything, so why not for cleaning out nasty buckets and troughs. I think this is so much safer than bleach for everybody concerned. Thanks for bringing it up.

  3. I love vinegar's anti-fungal properties. I keep a bottle of it at the barn at all times. I will have to try it on my horses outdoor water tub.

  4. We have feed tubs that go in and out of the stalls so I can let them sit in the sun every day - which helps a lot. Soak, scrub, rinse, and let the sun do its job. But I hadn't thought about vinegar as an aid to this - thanks for the great tip.

    I actually keep a spray bottle of diluted apple cider vinegar in the barn to use on hooves if it's been wet and muddy out. The horses love it and often want a spritz on the tongue too! Now I can use it on the feed tubs. :)

    And troughs! I generally use bleach one time a year and then just do the scrub and empty thing as they rotate fields. If I tip the trough in the direction it will get the most sunlight that seems to kill off anything trying to grow. Hadn't thought of vinegar to help with that either - again, thanks. A great tip that I bet the horses appreciate.

  5. Apple Cider Vinegar is great for cleaning and also as an additive to feed. For best feeding results get the kind at the health food stores (it contains "the mother") which is the floaty looking residue near the bottom of the bottle. It's good for the gut,stimulates the appetite and helps with fly control.

    For humans the same stuff is used for many health related reasons.Google it,you will be amazed.

  6. LMTB's - you're right! i also keep a bunch of the bragg cider vinegar around for the horses to add to their feeds (i keep it in a spray bottle mixed with a little water and honey to give their supplements something to stick to.) they love it. i have never tried taking it myself though. what's the best way for people to use it?

  7. jme,

    Most people take it either mixed with water or by the tbsp.It is helpful with weight loss,blood pressure,arthritus,all kinds of applications.For those who may be skeptical about the validity of this...Google it....I was as well.
    I have alot of joint pain.I do not like taking pain meds,even Aleves and other NSAIDS as they are hard on the stomach with long term/daily

    A friend of mine who is very healthy (age 60-looks and acts 35-40)told me about this as well as some other natural health/holistic remedies.It has helped me tremendously.You need the naturally fermented kind not the heat processed stuff that is sold in most stores.I have had great success with it with the horses before I started using it myself!!

  8. well i'm sold! i am going to borrow some of it from the horses and try it myself. i've had serious lyme disease and now fibromyalgia, so i a complete mess and can use all the help i can get these days! thanks for the great info - i can't wait to try it :-)

  9. jme,

    We're getting slightly off topic but if you have Lymes and Fibromyalgia you might also want to look into Bee Pollen/Royal Jelly.My husband has Lymes and was vitamin D deficient so check yourself for that as well.Also,Red Yeast Rice is a natural statin for those of you on Lipitor or other cholesterol drugs.Both my husband and myself have pretty much had it with being "medicated" for our ailments and not feeling much better.I would be the last person to ever think natural /homeopathic herbs and dietary changes would work but we are both living proof at this point.I am on a first name basis with my orthopedic surgeon and his Physical Therapy staff. I am now off all pain meds and able to ride with much less discomfort than when I took alot of those prescribed meds. Also many of you would be amazed at how much better you will feel if you do 2 really simple things.....Drink more water and Eat HEALTHIER!Read the food labels of the stuff you eat....when you see all the additives,empty calories and no nutrient values you might be shocked.It's no BIG surprise (pun intended) that we are a country of obese unhealthy people.

    I bet all of us who read this blog feed and care for our horses,especially their diet, WAY BETTER than what we do for ourselves!! FOOD for thought....(pun intended again)!!

  10. you're right - i definitely put a lot more time and thought into the horses' nutrition and care than i do for myself!

    i will look into the bee pollen. i know what you mean about being medicated! when i was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia (after going months with lyme and no one willing to treat me!) you wouldn't believe the medications they wanted to put me on - muscle relaxers, anti-seizure meds, anti-depressants, etc. i eneded up trying cymbalta at one point, but they neglected to tell me the side effects were worse than the fibromyalgia and that the withdrawal symptoms were even worse than that. the stuff is like crack and i've had to slowly decrease my dose over months...

    anyway, i'm looking into alternative and nutritional solutions as well as things like ayurveda and chinese medicine now. there are some good drs out there, but i'm done with the ones who are basically licensed drug dealers for pharmaceutical companies....

  11. I am very much on board with Chinese/Eastern medicine practices and the herbs and therapies they utilize.Both my husband and I have been prescribed oxycontin,muscle relaxers,mood alterers and the continual pain/discomfort seems to only be addressed by being numb or
    unable to function.

    Both of us got alot of relief thru
    accupuncture,chiropractic and deep muscle massage as well as herbs and dietary changes. There are finally Western Dr.s who now value and utilize some of these practices along with their regular treatment regimens.Be vigilant about your own health care and pain management and if your current Dr's don't or won't listen replace them.

  12. well it is frustrating, but i'm glad you both found something that works for you. i'm looking forward to being completely off the meds (my head's already feeling clearer) and starting over with a more natural program. i've even started taking a little of the cider vinegar!

    great chatting with you about all of this. i appreciate the advice and it's nice to know there are other people out there who have dealt with the same things....

  13. Just stopping by to wish you and the horse a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year!

  14. Just popped in from another blog when I read the tag. I am going to give the vinegar/water tank a trial this summer for sure. Ours is 100 gallons and dumping and cleaning that is a major undertaking. I am so appalled at the wonder drugs they are pushing now. Seems to me the cure is worse than the disease!!! Thanks for the information.

  15. thanks for stopping by! let us know how the vinegar works for you :-)

  16. I use cider vinegar to spray on the 'crud' that appears on my horse's rear legs every summer. It's the only thing that keeps it under control--and I have tried many things. As a bonus it also works as a fly spray. I tried putting the organic unfiltered cider vinegar in the water trough to help a horse with chronic loose poop, but it was too expensive to keep up. I drink it though, and I love the benefits.

  17. i've started drinking it too and so far so good :-) i'm definitely going to try it on crud and scratches - nate had a horrible time with both this year and it took forever to clear up. neem oil helped in the end, but i think i will try the cider first next time. thanks!

  18. Best wishes for this year! for horse lovers

  19. Your post reminds me of Heloise's Helpful Hints. Thanks for the reminder that the simplest solution is often the best.

  20. I love this post. I'm seriously going to give this a try- just as soon as we get out from under 3 + feet of snow! Vinegar has got to be one of those really great barn necessities, like duct tape! It's also a great rinse after bathing the horse and is great to flavor water for traveling. White vinegar is way cheaper than real cider vinegar, though.

  21. thanks :-) wow, 3 feet of snow!?! and i thought we had it bad here :-\ hope it melts soon!

    i will have to try it as a rinse - i imagine it would help repel flies (and maybe ticks if we're lucky!) i read on one of the cider vinegar sites that roman soldiers used to add vinegar to their drinking water while on the road to make it safe and improve the flavor, so it makes sense for horses who are picky drinkers at shows... if we ever get back to showing i will try that trick too!

    i've been taking it once a day for the last few weeks and i am noticing a difference in my fibromyalgia symptoms right away! so i'm a believer now and i've started to add it to feeds to see if it helps the horses who have had lyme and the two who now have pssm. fingers crossed :-)

  22. jme,

    AHA...I told you it would help!!Are you surprised? What are the differences you have noticed so far?

  23. LMTBs-

    you were so right! thanks :-) i've also added the raw honey to the mix, so we'll see how that goes...

    so far with the cider vinegar i am noticing about 95% reduction in my usual and near constant muscle and nerve pain (yay!) even though i stopped taking the cymbalta (which didn't help anyway and had nasty side effects.)

    also, i haven't needed to take antacids at all, which is amazing - after i got lyme i was even on prescription antacids for a while, and it wasn't unusual for me to need them throughout the day. i thought drinking vinegar would kill me, but it's been the opposite! i guess it is more alkaline than it seems...

    anyway, thanks so much for the suggestions. it is making a huge difference and i've even convinced my dad to give it a try :-)

  24. Happy to have shared some useful info.I'm glad you are feeling better. If you are using the raw honey you will feel alot better due to how nutrient dense it is. Honey/Bee Pollen has many health benefits and many people consider it the best food/nutritional source.I'm not just referring to people with ailments.I have several friends who are hard core runners,hikers and climbers. They all use it daily as well as the ACV.They are really fit and healthy and both these natural foods help them with staying fit and/or managing joint and muscle pain.

  25. wow! i will certainly keep it going then! i need all the help i can get trying to get healthy and fit again ;-)


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