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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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.

We use apple cider and

We use apple cider and white vinegar white to scrub floors and everything in the house we also use white in rinse cycle in washer it softens clothes so dont have to use fabric softener we use apple cider in chicken water and dog water, we take a teaspoon of it in warm water with a teaspoon of honey almost every day it also helps in the heat for all critters in there water

great uses and cheaper than

great uses and cheaper than the other cleaners..and apple cider vinegar will kill weeds without harming pets....

We adopted a puppy 2 years

We adopted a puppy 2 years ago from our local humane society to have as an indoor dog, she chewed everything but when she chewed a hole in our carpet we just had installed not even a month prior I was upset but insistent on finding something that deterred dogs from chewing because we love her so but couldn't have her chewing everything. In alot of research I come up with vinegar! Put 3 part vinegar to 1 part water in a spray bottle and spray everything (couches, shoes, she was completely broke from chewing in a matter of a couple weeks, but be persistent with it. I went through our house at least 3 times a day. My family couldn't stand the smell of the vinegar but knew if we were going to have an indoor dog that something needed to be done so they quit the complaining and was happy after those couple of weeks, no more chewed shoes, toys, ect...and we had a great indoor dog.

I use vinegar to clean my

I use vinegar to clean my parrots cages everyday. This disinfects their cages without the harmful smell of bleach.I keep a spray bottle in each room.Wipe down the cage every morning part of my routine for more than 20 years now.

We keep a gallon jug of water

We keep a gallon jug of water in the fridge, with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in it. We use this water to fill the water dishes of our cats and dog, and it keeps fleas off of them! I actually saw this on the Farmers Almanac post on Facebook, and we have tried it this whole last month, and I can't BELIEVE how well it works! Our animals used to always have fleas bad, even with flea meds from the vet, I think we live in a flea bad area, but this year they are nearly flea free! We still see one or two on occasion, but they have mostly dissapeared! It is SO nice! Even the Animals seem grateful! Thank you Farmers Almanac! (p.s. I wouldn't use white vinegar though, as someone on facebook said it was made from grapes, and grapes are bad for dogs, but the apple cider vinegar works great, and the dog has no problems with it, I think it actually is clearing up her dry skin conditions, and making her coat shiny too!)

A quick check on the grape

A quick check on the grape ingredient in white vinegar reveals there are no grapes used in the making of White Distilled Vinegar, only grains such as barley, oats, corn, rice, etc., depending on the manufacturer. There is such a thing as a White Grape Vinegar, but that would be listed on the label as such. I would NEVER take the word of what some random person on Facebook said as factual information.

Might want to use organic

Might want to use organic apple cider (Bragg's is excellent) for everyone in the home including humans, several documented medicinal benefits! Research the benefits if there's any doubt. Good luck!!

Thank u for the Apple Cider &

Thank u for the Apple Cider & Water tip for keeping fleas at bay. My daughter's cats & dog get fleas something terrible. The one car actually is allergic to flea collars, so this will be a great way to eliminate fleas. Thanks again

Thanks. We have 4 dogs and 1

Thanks. We have 4 dogs and 1 of them is very allergic to advantage. We have tried tree tea oil, baking soda baths...the list continues. I will definitely try this! I also use a Apple cider vinegar for heartburn. 1 medicine dosage cup full of Apple cider vinegar straight followed by a glass of water to wash the taste away. Works instantly!

use apple cider vinegar on

use apple cider vinegar on sunburn..just pour some on a cloth or cotton ball and put on the sunburn and it takes the burning and pain away as soon as you apply it... I do it all the time works great!!!

It kills spiders. I had

It kills spiders. I had Black Widow spiders by my patio and outdoor swing area. With children outside, I was concerned about using a toxic spray, but more concerned about the spiders. White vinegar killed the spiders. I fill an empty dishwashing detergent bottle with white vinegar and spray streams around the stone patio and swing area. It has worked for over 2 years!

What concentration of White

What concentration of White vinegar is necessary to kill spiders? Thank you for sharing this--my patio has been taken over by spider for years--no one can sit and enjoy our backyard it's so bad!

Does the vinegar harm the

Does the vinegar harm the plants? I see solutions of full strength and 1 for 1 with water. What works best? I have a large wood pile in the basement and want to know what mixture works best for the bugs in the wood and spiders. Thanks

Fruit flies! Larvae will wash

Fruit flies! Larvae will wash off produce and wind up maturing in sink drains.Instant infestation. Boiling water, cut by half with white vinegar and poured into drains will end the reproduction cycle. Sinks, bathtubs, shower drains are all targets. Once a week will get it started. Thereafter it depends on how often rinsing veggies etc. is done. I hate those little ANNOYANCES. They LOVE to swan DIVE from the RIM of my Wild Turkey GLASS into my BOOZE. Homie don't PLAY that! BOIL the bastards.

Just making a comment to

Just making a comment to Jack's post

Use vinegar full strenght on

Use vinegar full strenght on weeds. Just spray or pour it on. the weed is dead in hours. the plant does not like the acid in the vinegar. Works great!!

Note that when you pour

Note that when you pour vinegar onto weeds and hence into soil, nothing will grow in that soil for years.

Weed Killer 1 gallon White

Weed Killer
1 gallon White Vinegar
2 cups Epsom Salt
1/4 cup Dawn (concentrate) Dish Soap
Mix in a spray or squirt bottle. Spray on the weeds or what ever u want dead. The soap helps to keep the vinegar & salt solution in the the plants u want to eliminate

I use vinegar to open clogged

I use vinegar to open clogged drains,pour a couple of tablespoons of baking soda on top of your drain, pour 1 to 2 cups of boiling vinegar onto this, it will fizz and bubble,keep on until all the baking soda is gone, let sit for about 10 minutes, then pour very hot water down the drain, this works great, safe on septic tanks. I've been using this for years, and never have had a clog I couldn't break with this. Use it in all drains.

Thank you for this info!

Thank you for this info! Will put it to use.