White Vinegar for Cleaning and So Much More

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Oh how I love white vinegar!

When newly married, I remember a tiny bottle of vinegar in my baking cupboard that rarely got used. These days I have gallons of it on deck waiting because I go through so much. (Buy it in bulk here.) It seems like we use it for everything: kitchen, bath, cooking, garden, laundry, and even deodorizing!

The multipurpose nature of vinegar is catching on quickly (even Mr. Clean secretly loves it). Over the last few years we have watched the price nearly double. Since ditching chemicals and cleaning “green” has become more popular, vinegar is flying off store shelves. White vinegar can still be purchased fairly cheap, and is a tough contender against most commercial products.

Cleaning is not the only thing vinegar is good for though – here are 10 specific ways we use white vinegar around our house.

White Vinegar cleaning, laundry, and more

10 household uses for white vinegar

1. Get your dishes to sparkle

Pour vinegar into the rinse aid dispenser of your dishwasher and stop spending the money on expensive commercial rinse aids. This trick works well whether using commercial or homemade dishwasher detergent. If hand washing dishes, add a cup of vinegar to your rinse water for spot-free dishes. The savings over commercial rinse-aids is insane.

2. Clean your produce

Have you seen the expensive produce wash sold in stores? If you don’t want to rinse fruits and veggies in plain water, you can simply wash them with one part vinegar and three parts water. Add a little lemon juice and a touch of baking soda to the mix to get non-organic veggies really clean. Just be sure to rinse well with plain water before eating.

3. Perk up leafy vegetables

Don’t throw away wilted lettuce. Droopy greens can be brought back to life with vinegar. Soak in a bowl with cold water and a splash of vinegar for 10 minutes. Just rinse and dry before enjoying your revived produce. I told you this stuff was magic!

4. Cooking (of course)

Over the last few years vinegar has made its way into our kitchen with a vengeance! We now love to make pickles, dressings, and flavor soups and sauces with vinegar. For most edible stuff Matt using organic ACV with the mother or red wine vinegar, but the white stuff makes it to the party every now and again.

5. Keep colors from running

Soak new colored garments to help them retain their color longer. Before washing for the first time, soak garments in a bucket with one part water and one part white vinegar for 20 minutes. This will save you money in the long run because you’ll be extending the life of your clothing.

6. Soften laundry

White vinegar is very effective at removing soap residue in the laundry and softening your clothing and linens. Add one cup to the fabric softener dispenser of your washing machine, or fill a fabric softener ball with vinegar and toss it in the load. Laundry comes out feeling soft and fluffy, with no chemical coatings or perfumes like commercial softeners. Did I mention it’s a great softening alternative for sensitive skin.

7. Clean your house

Where do I begin? I use diluted vinegar on floors, walls, windows, carpets, showers, sinks, mirrors, and faucets. My favorite cleaning trick is to spray vinegar around the lid, bowl, and floor surrounding the toilet. I allow it to sit while I go about my chores (and make sure nobody uses the bathroom). When I return I sprinkle baking soda inside the toilet bowl and  scrub the inside of the toilet, wipe away any remaining vinegar, and flush! Cheap, easy, and effective.

8. Deodorize

Since moving into a new house, we have been trying to eliminate odors left by the last tenants. Smoke and pet odors are improved by spraying a mixture of ½ cup vinegar and ½ cup water enhanced with a few drops of my favorite essential oils. Spritz this mixture into the air throughout the room; the vinegar smell will dissipate after a few minutes leaving a fresh scent.

9. Repel ants

Ants seem to hate vinegar. Spray it in cracks, around baseboards, on countertops, or anywhere ants tend to crawl around your house. No need to put poisonous ant traps on your floor that kids or pets could get into.

10. Kill grass or weeds without chemicals

Spray full-strength vinegar on young weeds or grass that creep into places they’re not welcome. The acidic properties of vinegar wilt and kill the baby plants by the very next day. Really tough weeds will need a few treatments and are sometimes better off pulling – just pull them and spray any remaning roots.

Be creative and try new ideas

These ideas only begin to scratch the surface of the many wonderful uses for vinegar.

How are you putting white vinegar to use in your home? Share below!


photo credit: elycefeliz

About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebookand Twitter.

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  1. Tricia says

    apple cider vinegar – mineral oil -Dawn dish soap and water makes a good fly spray for horses. Need to use more often then commercial sprays but no chemicals and leaves a shiny coat

  2. Yvonne says

    I mix 3/4 of the white vinegar to 1/4 of water in a spray bottle I bought for 1.00 @ the dollar store. I spray my throw rugs a couple of times a weeks to keep my dogs from laying on them or going potty on them… Really works!!!

  3. Susie says

    Someone else posted about infusing vinegar with orange peel. I like lemon and grapefruit peel too. Make sure you scrape all the white part off the peel first.
    I love it. The smell it leaves behind in the kitchen is very fresh and clean.
    Not to be tmi, but a nurse suggested putting some vinegar in my daughter’s bathwater to help with yeast infections she was getting from antibiotics. That combined with eating yogurt worked well. I suppose it would work with thrush too because it kills the yeast and helps your body get back to a natural balance. We avoided using chemical laden creams with this method, not to mention the money we saved.

  4. Kathy says

    Mix a 1 to 1 ratio of Dawn original dishwashing liquid and white vinegar. Cleans your bathtub and shower like new. I have used white vinegar for years to clean with. My daughter moved into a house that the person had left a cat in and the odor on her bedroom wooden floors was horrible. She sprinkled baking soda on it and sprayed with the vinegar. Left it for a few hours then swept up and mopped with a vinegar solution. Smell disappeared. My daughter and I jokingly call our cleaning douching the house. BTW for those who complain about the smell, the smell is gone after a few minutes and everything shines.

    • Rachael says

      I keep this mix in one of those dish sponge/dispensers and wipe down the shower walls while letting my conditioner sit on my hair… Then a quick rinse of the walls when I’m getting out… No nasty chemicals let me get 2 things done at once!

  5. Jessica Jones says

    This last weekend our tiolet flooded YUCK! And the chemical cleaners are so strong smelling they make my husband sick. So i had to go on a search for natural cleaners. So I came to you. We used the vinegar solution to clean and disinfect everything. Along with your help I also found another sight that might be helpful for vinegar uses. http://www.vinegartips.com/scripts/pageViewSec.asp?id=7
    Ot has 1001 and one uses for vinegar.

  6. Stephanie says

    We had moved into a house that had black mold in it. Someone suggested using white vinegar on it and it worked. We never saw it grow back either.

  7. Lauren says

    Does anyone know how to get wax off of walls? I am trying to paint a room but a candle spilled down the wall and I have not been able to get all of the wax off.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I’m assuming you’ve already gently scraped any wax clumps off. For the residual, try cleaning it with a solution of 4 parts (warm) vinegar, 1 part lemon juice, and 1 part water. Maybe a few drops of liquid soap in the mixture too. Rinse with plain water. I haven’t tried this myself, so I’m not positive it will work…just throwing it out there. 🙂 Good luck!

    • Debbie Panton says

      You could try using an iron and piece of fabric or a heavy weight paper. After you heat your iron, hold a cloth over the area of your wall that has the wax on it and run the iron over it. The wax will melt and get absorbed into the cloth or paper. This works for furniture and carpets… should work for your wall. I’m assuming it’s not a large area. Of course be careful with the iron.

  8. Shauna says

    I like to hang dry as much clothing as I can but occasionally they don’t dry quick enough and they get quite funky smelling, blech! One day I decided to add some vinegar to my wash right after adding my detergent and it works like a charm! I have never seen that tip anywhere but I thought, “What the heck do I have to lose ?” It worked like a charm! 🙂

    I can tell you from my experience that it definitely works better in cold or warm water. Not so much in the hot water, at least not with my current detergent, so if the towels don’t dry enough in the dryer, I have to rewash them in warm water rather than hot as I normally do.

    Many thanks for all the great tips and recipes! 🙂

  9. Angel says

    When I was a teen and took ballet, I tended to sprain my ankles a lot. My dad would have me soak strips of brown paper bag in vinegar and then wrap them around my ankle. It was very effective at reducing the swelling!

  10. Cindy says

    Vinegar worked wonders cleaning my dishwashing machine. All I did was I added some vinegar to the dishwashing soap and ran my dishwasher at the hottest cycle (empty of course) and it looks and smells good. I have also found that hot vinegar truly works best.

  11. Kari says

    I use a vinegar/water solution in my rug doctor machine. Works amazingly!!!!!! No residue, carpets come uot like new!

  12. Shirley Ollie says

    I love cleaning it for drains…my mom has been using it for decades. I have one steps to add to the one above:
    Pour 1 cup of baking powder down the drain
    Pour 1 cup of white vinegar on top
    Let is sit while boiling water

    *Pour the boiling water over the top and it will unclog almost all sink clogs. If it doesn’t work the first time, and second time should work. The water is really important for unplugging.

  13. Kathy says

    My elderly mother-in-law lived with us for 5+ years. She was incontinent and though she wore disposable underwear, the underwear, like diapers, sometimes leaked and her sheets gowns, or clothes, got wet. The smell was so strong. But adding 1 cup of plain white vinegar to my HE washing machine always got out the smell.

  14. Annie says

    When I asked my vet what kind of shampoo to us on my itchy dog, she said she never uses any shampoo, but does a vinegar water rince instead! Add 2 Tlb. vinegar per gallon of water. So after getting my dogs totally wet, I just pour the mixture over them. As soon as they are dry then vinegar smell goes away,along with doggy smell It leaves them with a shiny coat, and no more itchy dog! I have not used any shampoo on my dogs for 8 months now, and it’s back saving to boot!

  15. Emily says

    The professional carpet cleaners told me to use white vinegar in my home carpet cleaner. They said it worked as well as the expensive store brands. I have been using it ever since and have no complaints.

  16. JackieD says

    I keep a spray bottle of full strength white vinegar for cleaning bathroom sinks, dissolves soap scum.

  17. Robin says

    I use white vinegar on my finger tips after chopping hot Serrano peppers for our homemade salsa. My peppers from my garden were so spicy/hot that my finger tips would start to burn so bad after I finished chopping them. My Tía Racheal was over one day and made me soak fingers in a small bowl of white vinegar to stop the burn. It actually worked! I have been doing it ever since!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Oh wow! Those sound like some strong peppers! 🙂 Pretty amazing that vinegar has the ability to soothe burns…sunburn, hot pepper burns, etc. I’ll have to try this out.

  18. Sanne says

    An old friend once told me that white vinegar mixed with water 50/50, got rid of animal smells, animal urine smells etc, and they will never soil the same area again. I tried it in my son’s old car years ago and it really worked. I’d had to drive the car 200 kms in the pouring rain, and the care stunk of dog pee (he bought the car like that), and the stench was so bad I preferred to drive with the window down and get wet, than tolerate the disgusting smell. The vinegar was a life saver and I still use it.

  19. sandra says

    why white vinegar? apple cider vinegar and white wine vinegar are both sort of yellowish… does that afect the cleaning ability?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Great question! It doesn’t affect the cleaning ability, but it could affect your cleaning results. Vinegars with a brown or yellowish tint can stain porous surfaces. Another benefit to using white vinegar is that it’s usually cheaper.

  20. Angela says

    We use vinegar for so many different things since we have changed our lifestyle, in fact I just blogged about it. Love your blog!

  21. RaShell Keller says


    I love your website! It is truly inspirational! I’ve been using white vinegar for years to clean glass, etc. My family isn’t crazy about the smell so I went back to the commercial cleaners.

    I ran across an idea on Pinterest (of all places) and tweeked the preparation method of a cleaner that consists of orange peel infused vinegar and water. It is completely non-toxic and really works as an all purpose cleaner AND as a glass cleaner!

    You can find step by step photo instructions on how to prepare this amazing cleaner here ~ http://poppyjuice-poppy.blogspot.com/2012/03/vinegar-orange-peel-homemade-cleaning.html

    As always, I really enjoy visiting your website! You guys are awesome!

  22. Marcie Venere says

    As the previous post stated, I too use vinegar (with baking soda) weekly to clean and disinfect my cats’ litter box. Super effective and safe for my kitties.
    I use it on my windows and mirrors with newspapers to clean to a spotless shine. Works awesome on Pergo floors (and again, safe for my cats cause they don’t want to ingest chemicals any more then we do).

  23. Laura says

    If you have fleas,add 1 teaspoon white vinegar to each quart of your pets water.The fleas don’t like vinegar and will stay off of your pets.I had them and can’t afford the commercial flea killers. found this on the internet.And believe you me it really works.since i added the vinegar to my pets water i haven’t seen a flea one.

      • Shauna says

        Laura and Betsy, I have seen the ratio of 1 tsp to 1 qt of water for a 40-lb dog. Well, I have one dog that is over 180 pounds so I do tend to add a bit more. I tend to just splash it in there so I haven’t perfected the amounts. They have rejected a couple of their bowls of water probably because of the taste. 😉

    • Linda says

      I also use vinegar in the pets dish, but always use the ACV (apple cider vinegar) not the white. Several other health benefits not just flea control!!

  24. Karen says

    A few years back I was on vacation and was stung by jellyfish. The people at the resort had me put white vinegar on the stings and by the next day the welts were gone! It helped with the pain as well!

  25. Lorie says

    I run vinegar through my coffee pot to remove any buildup (usually 1 cup vinegar/1 cup water) then run plain water through the next run. Cleans the pot as well as inside the machine. I also put a tbsp or 2 of vinegar in my canning pot, prevents build up on the pot and rack, as well as on the bottles. I also use vinegar in a spray bottle to clean up any pet accidents……seems to work!

  26. Catherine says

    I have been suffering with plaque psoriasis for 12 years used every kind of medication prescribed by 4 different dermatologists including shots. They would work temporarily then my body would get use to the meds and the psoriasis would come back worse. I read somewhere about putting apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on my outbreaks. I unfortunately have it from head to toe, so I spray it on and stand in the bathtub listen to about 4 songs on the ipod then shower as normal. Honestly, this has worked miracles. For the first time in a long time I have been able to wear shorts and not be ashamed of people staring at the spots on my legs. It’s been almost 3 weeks since I used any of the prescribed ointments/creams. I am saving roughly $150 this month alone. The smell lingers in the bathroom but I know with the spring coming up we won’t have problems with those pesky ants.

  27. Angie Ringler says

    Another use i have for WHITE vinegar is hair conditioner.
    No exact recipe needed……about 1/4 cup white vinegar to 2-3 cups water.
    I fill up a container and keep it in my shower. After washing, pour some over your head, getting all the hair wet, including the ends.
    I use less than 1/2 cup per rinse… you will self regulate the amount.

    This only works well with WHITE VINEGAR. I love Bragg’s organic ACV , but use it for only “inside the body”. I tried it on hair and skin, and found it way to drying. I guess the mother just works too well !! LOL
    So, I use White Vinegar for everything “outside the body”.
    I find this works really well for me.

    When you rinse your hair, the smell will be gone but your hair may not “feel” like you could run a comb through it like it does with traditional conditioners. JUST TRY IT!! Towel try and comb it. You wont believe how soft your hair gets…….NO tangles; just soft, clean hair!
    I have not used a store bought conditioner in many years, it really works great, not to mention it is super affordable!

  28. Yvonne says

    Reading your information about vinegar made me want to tell you of another way to get rid of weeds, like in a driveway. If I have boiling water, like potato water or anything else that I have no other use for, and especially my water from canning, I, very carefully, take it outside and pour over the weeds. Gone, baby, gone.

  29. Jennifer says

    I have found various uses for vinegar around our house. When I was younger and got sun burns I remember putting vinegar on my skin. I also add vinegar to the washer. I sometimes make a paste with baking soda and vinegar to scrub down the shower. My favorite use for white vinegar or ACV is to deodorize our cats’ litter boxes. I fill the plastic litter box with a few inches of very hot water and add about 1/4 c. of vinegar and swish it around. Let it sit 10 min, dump water in the toilet, and dry with a paper towel. Add a thin sprinkling of baking soda and then add Yesterdays News litter (recycled paper).

  30. Donnamac says

    I use White Vinegar and Baking soda to keep my drains running…..Put some baking soda in the drain (I use something to help push some down) and then pour the white vin over it, and use a small plunger if necessary. You won’t believe how well that works.

    And yes, if I’m ingesting Vinegar, I prefer the Bragg’s.

    Excellent site! Thanks!~!!

  31. Lindsey @ NW Backyard Veggies says

    I clean and disinfect cutting boards and counter tops and everything in between with a vinegar and water solution (1:3) with hydrogen peroxide added. I combine the ingredients in one bottle, but other people use two bottles – I hear it’s supposed to make it more potent or something, although I can find no evidence of that!

    I use plain white vinegar for that.

    I have noticed the price going up, too! Lame.

    • Matt Jabs says

      We just bought a gallon at Harris Teeter today and it was $3.35! A few years back it was $1.89. Supply and demand at work, but it’s still much cheaper than chemical filled commercial cleaners.

  32. Patti Graham says

    Vinegar for household cleaning … yes, Vinegar for Beauty … definately!

    Here’s a tip I’ll share:

    Night Cream: Mix ½ cup of olive oil with ¼ cup apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup of water. The olive oil provides moisture for your skin, while the vinegar takes care of dead skin cells (much like the store-bought alpha-hydroxy), skin discolorations, and bacteria. Good for dry skin.

    I prefer the raw and organic ACV. The grocery store brands are so processed and filtered I’m not sure what is left and whether it will be as effective.

    Good luck!

    Patti Graham, Author

  33. Teri says

    I grew up in Florida so going to the beach and being out in the sun was common. I remember after being out in the sun all day, and getting burned, my mom would put vinegar in the tub and have me soak in the tub to relieve the burn. From what I can remeber it helped with the sting of the burn. Vinegar is just such an incredible thing for so many uses!!!!
    You can also santitize/deodorize your cold water laundry by putting in a cup of vinegar and letting your wash agitate for a few mins and then let it soak for 10 mins or so.

  34. George McNair says

    Great ideas. Thought I would add another one. Add 2 ounces of white vinegar to a 20 oz spray bottle and fill with water. Spritz onto wrinkled garments…tug and smooth. Matches the best commercial wrinkle release products and beats the living daylights out of ironing.

  35. Michelle F. says

    White vinegar works wonders on burns! I have some next to the stove just in case. Not sure how it works but it does…..

      • Celia S. says

        I have used vinegar on sunburn all my life, but I use cider vinegar, not white vinegar. My fair skin has always burned, then peeled. The vinegar takes the sting out of the burn, but also helps prevent at least some of the peeling. Of course, moisturize, too.

        We also use vinegar on mosquito bites.