The Many Household Uses for Vinegar

Cleaning, Removing Stains, and Natural Remedies

May 14, 2021
household-uses-vinegar

Who knew that white vinegar could do all of this? Here are some of the many household uses for white vinegar—from cleaning to stain treatment to relieving insect bites. Vinegar is a natural “wonder” product. Discover vinegar’s versatility but also when NOT to use vinegar.

There’s a cheap, safe, and effective product that has hundreds of uses! It’s white vinegar! Let’s explore all the ways vinegar is useful from the uncommon to the common.

White Vinegar in the Garden

  • Garden Weeds: Spray directly on plants that you want to kill, especially weeds in cracks in your driveway! Spray on a dry, sunny day. Remember that vinegar will kill plants you want to keep as well, so be careful and paint it directly on the leaves of the weed or plant you want to get rid of. 
  • 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.
  • Extend Life of Cut Flowers: To extend the life of flowers in a vase, add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the water, plus a dash of sugar.

White Vinegar and Cleaning

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

  • Coffeepot: Every month, 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.
  • Use white vinegar to disinfect cutting boards, especially those made of wood.
  • 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.
  • Microwaves: Pour white vinegar into a bowl of water and microwave it for a few minutes, then wipe out.
  • Dishwasher: Use as a cheap rinsing agent to get your glasses and plates clean. Also,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.
  • Clogged or smelly Sink: Pour ¼ cup of baking soda down the sink, then add 1 cup of vinegar and cover the drain tightly. 
  • 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. 
  • Tile Grout: White vinegar is actually safer than chlorine bleach for cleaning grout and caulk in bathrooms and kitchens. Spray, leave for one hour, and then scrub.
  • 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.

    Vinegar and Stain Removal

    White vinegar is very known as an effective stain remover. 

    • 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. It also gets rid of stinky towel mildew and makes clothes more colorful. 
    • Or for removing specific stains such as ketchup, tomato sauce, etc., spray a little vinegar directly onto the stain and then launder. 
    • 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.
    • Soaking whites in vinegar will help bring back their whiteness.

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

    Vinegar and Pet Care

    Itchy ears: Clean inside of dog and cat ears with clean washcloth or rag dipped in a white vinegar solution (4 tablespoons water: 1 tablespoon vinegar).

    Smelly Pets: If your pets get sprayed by a skunk or have other incidents, vinegar helps get rid of the smell!

    Vinegar and Car Care

    • Remove Bumper Stickers:  To remove bumper stickers from car chrome, squirt 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. You can also use vinegar spray as a window cleaner.

    More Uses for Vinegar!

    • 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.

    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

    Leave a Comment

    Vinegar for Weeds

    Household vinegar is not very effective on weeds. Horticultural vinegar is the type you should use to eradicate weeds. Remember that it will stay around for a while, so don't plan on planting anything there for some time.

    Apple cider vinegar

    I use full strength Apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle if and when my animals have fleas. For both dogs and cats, I spray them with the vinegar until their coat is wet. It may take a couple days and more than one application, but it works wonderfully! And without harsh chemicals on your pets skin or in the air.

    Vinegar is safe for granite, I believe

    We just had new granite counter tops installed, and in talking to the shop owner/buyer/president of state stone cutters, he said it was preferable to use a soap vinegar solution to shine granite. Clear water is best, but vinegar diluted is okay. Can you please double check your advice. Maybe vinegar is okay for sealed granite only?

    Prevent ear infections in dogs

    You can take 3/4 cup green tea and add 3 tablespoons of cider (brown) vinegar shake well and put 10 ml into the ear and squish it around; clean out the excess and let the dog shake the rest out. Do this for 3-5 days and it should clear the infection up.

    Vinegar and Cleaning Silverware

    Never use vinegar on stainless. It will discolor and very very hard if not impossible to regain shine.

    Spray vinegar on grilled foods

    If you enjoy grilled chicken, pork chops, and/or ribs, give a try using a spray bottle or basting brush to keep the meat surfaces moistened with about an 80/20 ratio of water and APPLE CIDER vinegar. It makes for absolutely delicious grilled meat(s) while also adding moisture to prevent drying out of meats. I promise you that if you'll try it just once, you'll use it every time you grill. Of course, adjust your water/apple cider vinegar to suit your tastes. Also if you use a basting brush, you can also add salt, pepper, or other spices. It WILL clog up a sprayer if you add spices, hence use only liquids in a sprayer. ENJOY!

    VINEGAR FOR HORSES

    Back when I had a horse, we used a cider vinegar rinse after we bathed them. Add a half cup or so to a 5 gallon bucket and after rinsing off all of the shampoo, grab a sponge and sponge down your horse avoiding the eyes. It's great after a workout but mainly acts as a coat conditioner. The hair will be as soft and cuddly as a Gund teddy bear.

    Can vinegar be used to treat

    Can vinegar be used to treat roses of white bugs

    Chiggers

    How can I combat Chiggers? They have taken over our yard and we can hardly go outside without getting them on us even when we use precautions.

    how to get rid of chiggers

    The Editors's picture

    Chiggers really are a bother! There aren’t many natural repellents that work, but some suggest spreading sulfur powder in chigger areas. Be liberal with your dose. You can also shake your socks in sulfur powder (if you can stand the smell) to deter chiggers from hitching a ride on your body. Otherwise, check with your local hardware or garden store for products to spray/spread.

    vinegar

    white vinegar is great for moldy surfaces. We rented a place that had a green moldy hue to all the wood work. Test in a small area. Spray in on wipe it off with a damp sponge. Rinse the sponge and repeat.
    Apple cider vinegar is great for rinsing vegetables and fruit. Dilute 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Swish vegetables or fruit, drain and rinse in colander. Pat dry.

    pup alergic to grass

    does anyone have any home remades for a pup that is very alerigic to grass !! OMG....what's a furr mommy to do ???

    dog grass allergy

    The Editors's picture

    We’re so sorry to hear about your pup’s allergy! Dogs can sometimes become allergic to grass, causing various symptoms, such as sneezing, watery eyes, itching, coughing, or hair loss. If your pup’s symptoms are relatively mild, you can try to help by wiping the coat with a warm, damp towel when your pup comes in from the outside, to help remove grass pollen from his or her fur–be sure to use a fresh towel each time. Also, indoor air purifiers and air conditioning can help reduce allergens inside the home. Usually, grass allergies are seasonal, mainly in early spring and early summer; your dog may do better once the grass pollen is not as prevalent in the air. Keep your lawn mowed–do not let it go to seed, where it will produce pollen. Check pollen counts before walking your dog or letting it out to play; keep your dog indoors as much as possible on bad pollen days. Some owners have their dogs wear dog booties to help prevent their paws from touching grass allergens (wash the booties regularly to remove any pollen), although this wouldn’t prevent allergens from contacting the dog’s coat. Avoid taking the pup through areas that have tall grasses. Give your dog a bath in cool water to soothe itching; anti-itching dog shampoo can also help. It is said that dog supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids can sometimes help reduce itching, but check with your veterinarian first before administering. If symptoms are moderate to severe, it would be best to talk to a veterinarian; prescription medicines and/or allergy shots can help to relieve symptoms. We hope that your puppy feels better soon!

    Vinegar to wash delicate produce

    Use a small amount of vinegar (1 tablespoon per quart) in the water you use to soak delicate fruits and vegetables in. Then rinse. This will acidify the surface. In the case of things like lettuce it will store a few days longer without browning. Delicate berries like raspberries or blackberries (even blueberries) and cucumbers will store longer without getting moldy. I have tested this against a control several times. It really works.

    Orange drink stains on hand knitted white cardigan 100% acrylic

    Will vingar work on Orange drink stain

    Cleaning water heater with Vinegar

    Use Apple cider vinegar to remove mineral deposits in a water heater. If you try to flush out the minerals from you're water heater, the hose will get plugged with minerals.
    1. Turn off the power to the heater
    2. Drain the water heater of water
    3. Remove the top heating element on electric water heater or the pressure valve on gas heaters. Use a funnel and pour a gallon of Apple cider vinegar into the heater. (Let it sit as long as possible) one or two hours should be sufficient.
    4. Replace the heating element or pressure valve, refill water heater and flush out the contents through a hose, into a drain or outdoors.
    5. Restart the power or gas and use as normal.

    Apple cider vinegar is save to consume so other than a little odor you can use the water normally, right a way. You're water heater will work better and you will extend the life of the unit. Leaving the mineral deposits in the heater will eventually cause a failure to heat the water, damage electric elements and cause potential water leaks.

    Poison oak/ivy itch

    I got into poison oak/ivy and itching is insane even after doctor visit. I made a goopy paste/slurry of baking soda and apple cider vinegar and spread over body, let dry, and have had the most relief from itching in 10 days. Remix and apply when itching restarts.

    poison ivy/ poison oak

    I react strongly to either and had an older woman at my church tell me this: take 1000 mg of vitamin C every 2 hours as soon as breakout starts for the first day. Second day take 1000 mg vitamin C every 4 hours. Third day take 1000 mg vitamin C about 4 times during the day. I have used this for many years now and it works better than steroids! The itch will be gone before the end of day 1, and it will be almost completely cleared by day 3. It's miraculous! Vitamin C is a diuretic so drink plenty of water. If you're getting too much vitamin C it will give you diarrhea, but I've never had that happen over such a short course.

    Vinegar to clean microwave

    1 cup each of vinegar & water ( use a 4 cup glass measuring cup to allow for potential boil over.. Microwave for 5 minutes. Allow to stand for another 5 minutes. DO NOT open the microwave during this time to allow the steam to do its job. Wipe clean with a sponge. Virtually no elbow grease needed. Even the most grungiest microwave sparkles!!

    will it help hard water in your well

    I have a have well water and dose it smell bad. we cant drink it its so bad.i have tried every thing.do you think it will help if I put vinegar in my well.please let me know.

    Test time

    The Editors's picture

    Hi, Mary: No. It’s important to get your water tested to find out what is causing the smell. Just adding vinegar could make things worse, not better. Good luck!

    Well water

    Years ago when we used well water it did smell bad, but it was methane as the mud would burn very blue.
    When water was tested we were told to just add X number of gallons of bleach depending on the test.
    Our well is or was only 30+ or - feet deep.

    When we lived in the country,

    When we lived in the country, our plumber gave us chlorine tablets after our water was tested.

    WILL IT HELP HARD WATER IN YOUR WELL

    If the smell is sulfur, it smells like rotten eggs, it's like the springs in Yellow Stone National Park. To test water that has iron in it put a small sample in a glass container and add a little chlorine liquid it'll turn a brown color that's the stains you would see in your sinks and toilets. It's a good quick test when buying a house to see if you might be buying a water issue. Take a sample of your water to be tested to be safe like someone already suggested.

    uses for vinegar

    Love these hints

    Use for Vinegar

    Mix one gallon of vinegar, one cup salt, and 1/4 cup Dawn dish detergent (original blue formula) into a garden sprayer for a natural weed killer.

    Keeps Washer Plumbing and softens hard water

    I live in an area with hard water ( drilled well) with high iron content. I use vinegar regularily in the washing machine to: 1) Prevents any and all mineral build-up on the plumbing lines, pumps, etc. 2) softens the water that allows the use of less detergent to achieve the same amount of cleaning power of a full dose. 1/2 to 1 cup per load and the money you spend will save you the big bucks of repairs later. Even should your machine fail due to age, it will be a breeze to dismantle and repair because there will be no crud anywhere in it!

    cleaning vinegar

    there is pickling cleaning distilled etc kinds of vinegar how do you know what one to use and what strength
    thanks

    I want to get ahead of the

    I want to get ahead of the spiders coming in before winter. I saw that white vinegar kills spiders. Is that full strength in a spray bottle? Can i spray my basement rooms like insect spray, will that alone kill spiders or do you have to spray diectly on them? If that works, wouldnt you be able to spray the whole house? Doesn't vinegar then attract fruit flies? Help....thank you!

    You can fill a spray bottle

    The Editors's picture

    You can fill a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar to 1 part water and spray the cracks and crevices around your house. Fruit flies are attracted to apple cider vinegar. Be sure you use white vinegar.

    Pages