Household Uses for Vinegar

Cleaning, Removing Stains, and Natural Remedies

By The Old Farmer's Almanac

Here are some of our favorite household uses for vinegar. From cleaning shower curtains to relieving insect bites, vinegar has a multitude of uses!

(Note: In this article, “vinegar” refers to “distilled white vinegar” unless otherwise noted.)

Cleaning with Vinegar

Vinegar is a common ingredient in countless homemade cleaners and is especially helpful for cleaning household appliances.

  • Bring a solution of one-cup vinegar and four tablespoons baking soda to a boil in teapots and coffeepots to rid them of mineral deposits.
  • A solution of vinegar and baking soda will easily remove cooking oil from your stovetop.
  • Clean the filter on your humidifier by removing it and soaking it in a pan of white vinegar until all the sediment is off.
  • Saturate a cloth with vinegar and sprinkle with baking soda, and then use it to clean fiberglass tubs and showers. Rinse well and rub dry for a spotless shine.
  • For a clean oven, combine vinegar and baking soda, then scrub.
  • Clean and deodorize your toilet bowl by pouring undiluted white vinegar into it. Let stand for five minutes, then flush. Spray stubborn stains with white vinegar, then scrub vigorously.
  • Clean windows with a cloth dipped in a solution of one part white vinegar and 10 parts warm water.
  • To clean drip coffeemakers, fill the reservoir with white vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly by brewing two cycles with water before using.
  • To remove bumper stickers from car chrome, paint on vinegar and let it soak in. Next, scrape off the stickers. Decals can be removed similarly.
  • Rid your refrigerator and freezer of bad odors by cleaning the insides with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, then wiping dry.
  • To remove smoke odors on clothes, hang them above a steaming bathtub filled with hot water and a cup of white vinegar.
  • To prevent mildew, wipe down surfaces with vinegar.
  • Use a sponge dampened with vinegar to clean shower curtains.
  • To loosen a stuck jar lid, hold the jar upside down and pour warm vinegar around the neck at the joint between the glass and the top.

You’ll notice that baking soda is often used as a sidekick to vinegar. Find helpful household uses for baking soda here, and see a list of more natural household cleaners.

Remove Clothing Stains with Vinegar

  • Vinegar naturally breaks down uric acid and soapy residue, leaving baby clothes and diapers soft and fresh. Add a cup of vinegar to each load during the rinse cycle.
  • To remove chewing gum, rub it with full-strength vinegar.
  • Soak paint stains in hot vinegar to remove them.
  • To remove salt and water stains from leather boots and shoes, rub with a solution of 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 cup water. Wipe over the stained area only, and then polish.

See our page on how to remove stains for more tips.

Natural Remedies with Vinegar

  • For brunettes, rinsing hair with vinegar after a shampoo makes hair shinier. Use one-tablespoon vinegar to one-cup warm water.
  • Apply full strength vinegar to mosquito or other insect bites to relieve the itching. (Caution: Do not do this if the affected area is raw.)
  • Place a vinegar-soaked brown bag on sprains to ease pain and aid recovery.
  • Rub apple cider vinegar on your skin to repel insects.
  • Apple cider vinegar can be used to make a refreshing summer drink known as switchel or Haymaker’s Punch, or a remedial cold-weather tonic called fire cider.

Explore another page about vinegar and its impressive versatility. We could keep on listing vinegar uses for pages! If you know of one we missed, tell us about it in the comments below!

Reader Comments

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Yes, works for about 48 hrs. They'll be back though. Professional landscaper here.

vinegar on dandelions

saw a post saying spray on dandelions to kill them, please don't, the bees need them to survive

Vinegar on Dandelions:

Bees do like Dandelions; Birds also use Dandelion seeds (tufts); to line their nest; (esp. Hummingbirds:); I keep one Dandelion area for the Bees and the Birds; if anyone gets a Butterfly or Bee stuck in the window; put water on an area of plain paper; then slip the paper on the window; the Butterfly Bee or moth will "find the water then stay on the paper; gently lift the paper to the open window"; Butterfly flies away!!;

For people with cats: the

For people with cats: the best and safest stuff to clean the litterbox with. Hot water and a couple of glugs from the white vinegar jug is all you need. Let it soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Neutralises ammonia and odours. A diluted solution in a spray bottle is great for the litterbox area to kill fresh odours between litter changes, and the vinegar smell dissipates quickly. Non-toxic for your cats.

I Make hot pepper vinegar

I Make hot pepper vinegar with it

After getting sunburned, pour

After getting sunburned, pour equal parts of cool water and white vinegar into a bowl. Add a few ice cubes and throw in a wash cloth. Ring out the cloth so that it is slightly damp, unfold it, and apply to the burned area. Leave the cloth on the skin until it becomes warm to the touch. When its warm, dip the cloth back into the bowl and repeat. It not only helps to relieve the pain of the burn but it also helps the skin to tan quicker.

Does anyone know if vinegar

Does anyone know if vinegar will kill bedbugs

Though vinegar can help

Though vinegar can help relieve the itch of bedbug bites, it is not a solution for getting rid of them.

must use 91% isopropyl

must use 91% isopropyl alcohol...kills on contact.spray directly on bugs.will not stain carpet,bedding ,cloths.ventilate room because of smell..regular 70%alcohol won't careful..91% is EXSTREMELY FLAMMABLE.any drug store/food store has it.91% is the key

I scorched some rice and the

I scorched some rice and the bottom(inside)of my pan was horrid! It was scorched black, rice was stuck to it... I put some baking soda on it added water, boiled it while scraping bottom w/wooden spoon. It was scraping clean before it even began to boil!! I heard you can also add vinegar to and it works well. Depending on the severity of the scorched pot, u may need to do this twice.

If you scorch a pan, make a

If you scorch a pan, make a paste of baking soda and let it sit anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours. Then wash your pan in hot water with dish soap. Should come right off. No need to boil.

We have a water trough for

We have a water trough for the horses that is constantly getting algae growth, sometimes has to be cleaned out every day. We have mosquito fish in there, and I wonder if dropping a small amount of white vinegar in the trough would kill the fish? it's pretty big, don't know the gallons, but maybe just put in a cup or so?

No... do not add vinegar to

No... do not add vinegar to the troughs. .. vinegar will repel the horses bcuz of the smell and it's likely to cause them to dehydrate. Unfortunately I've never found anything other than a drain plug at the bottom of the water trough and clean with plain water and elbow grease once a week depending on how many horses share each trough. When I had only the 2 horses I only cleaned the tubs once a month. But if you live in an area such as Western Washington then you're likely to be fighting the algae and bugs more than monthly. Any chemical including natural is not a good idea.


Some use an ozone generator. It is not expensive to do. You can go to ebay and buy the ozone tube for under $25. you will notice the tube has a nipple on each end. You connect an air pump to one end (similar to one you use to air up air mattress or inflatable raft) and a clear 'plastic' tube with a check valve and put that end in the water tank. Place the check valve above water level. Check valve can be from Walmart in aquarium supplies. You can probably do this all for less than $50

I had a formula for vinegar +

I had a formula for vinegar + for prevention of bugs on apple tree; but unable to find it. Any formula suggestions would be appreciated.

spray for apple, peach, pear trees

I had trouble with Japanese beatles and etc. on my fruit trees , mix
in a spray bottle 2 dropper full of peppermint essential oil fill with water and 2 tablespoons vodka to seperate the oil and water,
shake and spray on leaves. this keeps them away but does not kill them. Can get the oil thru Vita Cost online one bottle goes a long way.
hope this helps you.

We've had a large potted

We've had a large potted plant on the front porch for years.
We want to move it and there is a white calcium stain on the
concrete. We have hard water.

Please advise on how to remove using vinegar.

Thank you

Depending on how long the

Depending on how long the stains have been there, you should be able to remove using vinegar. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar. Spray the stains, making sure to completely saturate all areas. Let the vinegar set in for several minutes, then scrub with a hard/rough brush.

For all bugs: I warm 2C.

For all bugs: I warm 2C. Vinegar ~ 1/2C. Ep. Salt ~ Warm just to dissolve salt, then add 16-18 drops of Essential Oil Peppermint is The best oil, it keeps bugs out, away, kills, and also smells good. You can mist your carpets, vents, bed etc. Mist your duster too wipe walls, leather, and wood, (you don't want to leave salt marks)! WORKS GREAT FOR ALL BUGS (they don't like peppermint)

Does anybody know if white

Does anybody know if white vinegar works as a centipede repellent? I've been getting centipedes almost every night, I have a cat so I don't want to use chemicals. I've tried using a dehumidifier but I'm still getting the centipedes. I tried spraying the baseboards in my apartment, and around windows and doors, to try to deter them. Has anybody else tried this, and does it work?

We're not sure about vinegar,

We're not sure about vinegar, but have you tried drops of tea tree essential oil mixed with a little water? Spray around windowsills, thresholds, etc., but keep away from areas your cat goes, in case she might be allergic. (And don't spray on fabric.) You can also try yellow sticky traps in out of the way corners etc. Keep up with the dehumidifier--centipedes like moisture. They are out after other bugs, so sealing cracks around the home might help deter both them and the prey they are after.

I have a problem with

I have a problem with raccoons eating grapes as they ripen each year. For the past 3 years we have hardly had any grapes for our consumption due to these pests.
I have heard that spraying the grapes (ripe) with white vinegar will deter them from eating the grapes. Will the vinegar harm my vines? Thanks!

Use a 1 to 3 ratio of vinegar

Use a 1 to 3 ratio of vinegar to water. This should not harm your grapes.

I used 1 part water, 1 part

I used 1 part water, 1 part vinegar in a spray bottle to kill ants.

Annagail when you used the

Annagail when you used the vinegar and water was that for indoor or outdoor. Where did you put it?

I was on the boat when my dog

I was on the boat when my dog fell into the water. Getting her back on board resulted in several deep scratches on my hand and arm. I had nothing on board but a bottle of white vinegar which was to clean the mildew on the boat. I washed the wounds with the vinegar and they not only did not get infected but healed much quicker than would be expected. (ps I'm a nurse practitioner so know about wounds and infections).

I use white vinegar & hot

I use white vinegar & hot water to wash my floors and then empty the water on any weeds that have popped up. Standard remedy for clogged or slow drains and if shower head is funky I tie a baggy filled with white vinegar around it and give it a good soaking. We have hard water in Arizona & sometimes it takes 2 fixings.

I put white vinegar in a

I put white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray shower stalls and shower doors. Let set a short while and rinse and dry. Removes water spots and soap residue.

I have a problem with my

I have a problem with my Hostas that I bring inside after Summer. I get "white flies" on them, the leaves get so sticky. I have sprayed them with vinegar, or garlic/water. During the Winter, I keep 3 of them in the basement--no problem, but the beautiful green and white leaf one, that I keep in my sun room is always affected with them. Those flies are terrible, makes even the windows sticky. It's my favorite Hosta, from Florida. Thank you for an answer. Dorothy

Put vinegar on a cotton ball

Put vinegar on a cotton ball and rub on dry skin. Within a few uses skin will be soft.

Pour vinegar on head to remove pimples on scalp. Do not get into eyes.