The Many Household Uses for Vinegar

Cleaning, Removing Stains, and Natural Remedies

February 9, 2019

Here are some of the many household uses for white vinegar—from cleaning to stain treatment to relieving insect bites. Vinegar is a “wonder” product. Discover its common and surprising 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.

Here are some of the more uncommon uses:

  • Coffeepot: Bring a solution of 1 cup of vinegar and 4 tablespoons of baking soda to a boil in teapots and coffeepots to rid them of mineral deposits. 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.
  • Stovetop: A solution of vinegar and baking soda will easily remove cooking oil from your stovetop.
  • Oven: For a clean oven, combine vinegar and baking soda, then scrub.
  • Dishwasher: Use as a rinsing agent to get your glasses and plates clean. Once a year, pour a cup of white vinegar into an empty dishwasher, then run it for a short cycle to get rid of the lime and soap build-up.
  • Humidifier: Clean the filter on your humidifier by removing it and soaking it in a pan of white vinegar until all the sediment is off.
  • Tubs and Showers: 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.
  • Shower Curtain: Use a sponge dampened with vinegar to clean shower curtains.
  • Toilet Bowl: 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.
  • Windows: Clean windows with a cloth dipped in a solution of one part white vinegar and 10 parts warm water.
  • Fridge Odors: Rid your refrigerator and freezer of bad odors by cleaning the insides with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, then wiping dry.
  • Clothes Odors: To remove smoke odors on clothes, hang them above a steaming bathtub filled with hot water and a cup of white vinegar.
  • Prevent Mildew. Wipe down surfaces with vinegar to clean and to prevent mildew. 

When NOT to use vinegar:

  • Do not use vinegar on granite or marble countertops.
  • Avoid using vinegar where there is unsealed grout.
  • Do not use vinegar on wood surfaces or hardwood floors (or no-wax vinyl floors).
  • Never use vinegar on your cell phone or computer screen! 

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.

Car Care

  • Remove Bumper Stickers:  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.
  • Wipe down windows with diluted vinegar in winter to keep them frost-free.

Remove Clothing Stains with Vinegar

  • Clothes: 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.
  • Chewing Gum: To remove chewing gum, rub it with full-strength vinegar.
  • Paint Stains: Soak paint stains in hot vinegar to remove them.
  • Shoes: 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 Home and Health Remedies

  • Insect Bites :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.)
  • Insect Repellant: Rub apple cider vinegar on your skin to repel insects.
  • Sprains: Place a vinegar-soaked brown bag on sprains to ease pain and aid recovery.
  • Shiny Hair: For brunettes, rinsing hair with vinegar after a shampoo makes hair shinier. Use one-tablespoon vinegar to one-cup warm water.
  • Loosen Jar Lids: Hold the jar upside down and pour warm vinegar around the neck at the joint between the glass and the top.
  • Garden Weeds: Spray directly on plants that you want to kill, especially weeds in cracks in your driveway! Spray on a dry, sunny day.
  • Dogs: Clean inside of dog’s ears with clean washcloth or rag dipped in a white vinegar solution (4 tablespoons water: 1 tablespoon vinegar) 

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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My household uses white

My household uses white vinegar and Dawn (just enough to tint the liquid blue) and water in a spray bottle. It's our disinfectant cleaner (as effective as bleach) great on urine accidents from pets, cleans everything from, counters, floors-wood, tile, linoleum, brick. Laundry and bathroom use...shower curtain, shower and toilet, use vinegar and baking soda for clogged drain or smelly drains.
This vinegar, Dawn and water mixture can virtually be used on any cleaning surface. We threw out out our smelly chemical laden cleaners!

Using vineagar to clean with

What are the portions for the vinegar and water and dawn soap

A cup or two of vinegar in

A cup or two of vinegar in the washing machine with regular amount of laundry detergent removes the sweat smell from clothing.

Spray full-strength white

Spray full-strength white vinegar with a couple tablespoons of dish soap on dandelions on a sunny day. They'll be dead by tomorrow.


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

The Editors's picture

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

The Editors's picture

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,

The Editors's picture

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

The Editors's picture

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?


Sprinkle cinnamon wherever you see them, follow where they go and sprinkle there too. You will never see them again