White Vinegar For Cleaning: How To Use Vinegar Around The Home

White Vinegar For Cleaning: How To Use Vinegar Around The Home

 

Editor's Note: This post was originally posted in May 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in September 2019.

Vinegar is fab for making dressings and drizzling over chips, but it's even better for household cleaning! Today we're sharing 17 uses for vinegar you can try out all around the home, as well as the places you really shouldn't use it! 

Ready for some brand new tips? Then let's get started!

Where can I buy vinegar for cleaning

vinegar for cleaning
It's fairly cheap too!

The best vinegar to use for cleaning is distilled white vinegar. This can be purchased in a large bottle at most supermarkets - normally found in the condiments aisle. It's fairly cheap to buy in-store, usually less than £1 per bottle. 

If you want to order in bulk quantities, you can purchase 5-litre containers online for about £10. You might also find white vinegar sprays in the cleaning aisle. These sprays usually have added ingredients, so are not suitable for consumption. 

Can I use malt vinegar for cleaning? 

We would not advise using malt vinegar for cleaning. Malt (or brown) vinegar has a much stronger smell which makes it less suitable for cleaning - unless you like the chip-shop smell, that is! Its dark colour has also been known to stain some surfaces and fabrics. 

White vinegar will be a bit more expensive than malt, because it has been purified. Whilst you might have some success with malt vinegar, you'd be better off using its distilled counterpart. 

The benefits of switching to vinegar 

white vinegar for cleaning
Many uses rolled into one.

Why would you want to use vinegar when there are plenty of alternatives out there? For a start, vinegar is non-toxic, unlike the harmful chemicals in your cleaning kit. That means it's good for you, and the planet too! As well as this, it's so much cheaper! Instead of buying several different cleaners for various household jobs, vinegar will cover them all at a fraction of the cost. 

You might think that because of its low cost and lack of harsh chemicals, it's not going to do the job as well as other cleaners, but that's where you're wrong! Vinegar is acidic, which means it'll cut through the toughest grime and limescale with ease. Make the switch to natural cleaning today! 

White vinegar for cleaning

1. Clean mugs

mugs
The key to keeping them clean.

If you've got out of the habit of washing your mug after every use, it's likely to develop dark coffee and tea stains which can be tricky to get rid of.

To save your mugs, just mix salt and white vinegar together and scrub onto stains. What a great cleaning cheat

2. Get rid of ants & other bugs naturally

Ants in the kitchen or spiders in the living room? Use vinegar to get rid of them. 

Simply mix water and white vinegar in equal parts and spray it around the areas you see them. They hate it and will soon move on!

3. Use vinegar in your laundry

Here's why!

Who knew?

There are so many ways to use vinegar in the laundry, we've written a whole other article about it. Here are just a few of the tips we cover: 

  • Remove stains - including yellowed armpits and dirty collars.
  • Prevent a nappy rash from cloth nappies.
  • Remove shiny marks left by ironing.
  • Make blankets and towels soft and fluffy.
  • Prevent fading and stop colours from running.

Be sure to check out the post to find out how it's done.

4. Banish smells

Eliminating odours is never easy, but white vinegar will do the trick! 

To remove bad smells from the air:

  1. Fill a few small containers with white vinegar.
  2. Spread the bowls around the room and leave them to work their magic for around 24 hours.
  3. Repeat this process with fresh vinegar until the smell has dispersed. 

Or why not try making your own DIY air freshener? Commercial air fresheners can cause migraines, asthma attacks and illness. Make your own by adding 1 tsp of white vinegar and 6 drops of your favourite essential oil to a spray bottle filled with distilled water. Organic Authority highlights the best essential oils to use for this, whether you want a room spray that has antibacterial, antiviral or antifungal qualities. 

5. Make jewellery sparkle

jewellery
An easy way to remove tarnishing.

Are your jewels lacklustre? There's a quick fix for that!

Grab a couple of tablespoons of baking soda and mix with 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Soak for 2 - 3 hours, rinse under cold water then dry with a cloth. You'll be ready for the ball in no time.

6. Unclog a showerhead

Showerheads can become clogged with hard water and limescale, affecting their performance and put pressure on pipes. Before you go and buy a new one, try this DIY cleaning method.

  1. First, you'll want to detach the showerhead from your shower - it should unscrew quite easily.
  2. Next, fill a bucket or bowl with white vinegar and place your showerhead inside, so that it is completely submerged. 
  3. If your showerhead doesn't unscrew easily, fill a plastic sandwich bag with vinegar and secure it over the showerhead with a rubber band. Again, make sure that the showerhead is fully submerged in the vinegar. 
  4. Leave the vinegar to work for anywhere between 30 minutes or overnight. This will depend on the finish of the showerhead and how bad the deposits are. Some finishes can be tarnished by vinegar.
  5. If some deposits remain, use an old toothbrush to scrub them away. 

7. Remove rust once and for all

rust removal
Remove rust from anywhere and everywhere!

Remove rust from your precious tools by leaving the offending items bathing in undiluted white vinegar overnight.

Ta-da - with a little bit of a scrub, your tools will appear like new in the morning! 

8. Defeat smelly drains

We've already mentioned how great vinegar is for deodorising, but can it tackle a smelly drain?

Pour a cup of your trusty white vinegar down the drain once a week and leave it for 30 minutes. Flush with boiling water to banish bad smells and clear blockages. 

9. Get shiny windows

cleaning windows with vinegar
Your neighbours will be jealous!

Forget fancy cleaning products, this is our favourite way of cleaning windows.

Fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and white vinegar and spritz onto windows. Finish them off by drying them with an old newspaper.

10. Frost-free car windows

Stepping out of the door to frosty windows is a nightmare when you're in a rush.

Did you know there's a way to prevent it?

A tip for the winter, spray a mixture of 3 parts white vinegar to one part water onto your windows to stop old Jack Frost from visiting.

11. Chopping boards

chopping boards
Just think how many germs are lurking here!

It's really important to give chopping boards a really good clean as they can harbour all kinds of bacteria from meat and veg.

You can clean and disinfect all your wooden chopping boards by wiping them with full-strength white vinegar. Cleaning doesn't get much easier than this.

12. All-natural weed killer

Weed killers can be really potent (not to mention expensive).

Next time you find some unwanted greenery sprouting up in your garden, try a natural method instead.

Grab yourself a spray bottle of undiluted white vinegar and kill weeds by spraying them regularly. Job done.

13. Clean your blinds

Now your windows are clean, it's time sort out those dusty blinds!

Mix equal parts water and white vinegar with hot tap water and wipe that muck away.

14. Give life to an old paintbrush

paintbrush
What a great idea!

There's hope for that paint-covered brush yet!

Place your trusty paintbrush into a jar of full-strength white vinegar until the paint disappears and then wash with hot, soapy water.

It'll be spotless in no time.

15. Toilet cleaner

Is there anything vinegar can't do?

Pour 2 cups of white vinegar into your toilet bowl and leave it to soak overnight. Flush in the morning to reveal a pearly-white, fresh-smelling toilet.

16. Combat grease

There are still more cleaning uses for vinegar to come. Here's another one of our favourites.

Get rid of grease stains with equal parts of white vinegar and water. Use a damp cloth to clean off the grease.

17. Unstick stickers

sticker residue on bowl
Stickers are a real pain.

Once stickers are stuck they can be seriously hard to unstick

Get rid of unsightly stickers on walls or furniture by using white vinegar on the corners and sides. It will remove the glue and make it easier to remove.

Is there anything I shouldn't clean with vinegar? 

It might be versatile, but there are a few things you should be aware of before you get stuck in with vinegar cleaning. If you're not careful, you could cause irreversible damage. Never use vinegar on: 

1. Irons

iron
Leave it alone!

You might be able to descale your kettle with vinegar, but trying to flush your clothes iron with vinegar can damage it. 

2. Natural stone

This includes marble and granite. Whether it's your countertops or your floors, keep the acidic cleaner well away! It'll cause pitting and you'll lose its beautiful shine.

3. Wood furniture

Keep undiluted vinegar away from your solid wood furniture. It can damage the finish and leave watermarks. You can still use it in a DIY polish, but be sure to use equal parts olive oil. 

4. Hardwood floors

floor cleaning with vinegar
This one is open to debate.

Not everyone will agree, but we find that vinegar can damage the finish of a beautiful hardwood floor. Stay on the safe side, and use a specialised floor cleaner.

5. Cleaning up egg

Egg and vinegar are not the best of friends! Unless you want to make life harder for yourself, don't let the two mix. The egg will coagulate, and you'll have a tougher time cleaning it up than before.

6. Electronic devices

phone and vinegar
Don't damage your phone!

Vinegar can destroy the special coating on screens, including your phone, tv, laptop or tablet. 

 
Q&A

 

How much does white vinegar cost? 

The cost will depend on the size of the container you buy. You can usually pick up a bottle of white vinegar for less than £1 in supermarkets. You can buy white vinegar in larger containers online. 

Can I use malt vinegar? 

White vinegar is the best for cleaning as it is more refined. It has less of a vinegary smell and will have more cleaning power. It is slightly more expensive than malt vinegar. 

Are there other benefits to vinegar? 

Apple cider vinegar has a wide range of health and beauty benefits. It's well worth looking into! 

 

 

We hope you've enjoyed the list! If you know any other uses for vinegar, comment below.

 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to the reader, we earn a commission if you click through to one of our recommended products and make a purchase.

Author

Colleen B

Editor

Lifelong biscuit addict. Obsessed with recipes, cooking & eating. Slightly lazier than the average bear, so likes writing about life hacks & discovering the quickest / easiest way to do things.

Follow me on twitter
  1. Author susan bowden on May 6, 2015 at 10:53 am

    You can use white vinegar in the dishwasher and washing machine, as well. Add half a bottle to an empty machine and run a hot cycle - it removes smells and cleans them, too - I find it works better than the cleaners on sale! If you have hard water try adding a handful of washing soda at the same time.

    1. Author Rosemary Rowe on August 22, 2018 at 11:53 am

      I agree and use both in my machine. I also find it keeps the washing machine clean and stops a build-up of gunk in the seal!

    2. Author Bhav on November 12, 2019 at 8:26 am

      Do you put the vinegar in the drum or the drawer or even both?

    Reply
  2. Author Virginia Hayes on May 8, 2015 at 9:25 am

    White vinegar cleans parrot cages and parrot poo with no chemicals or toxins

    1. Author Colleen B on May 13, 2015 at 11:55 am

      Great pet tip - thanks Virginia!

    Reply
  3. Author Melanie on May 8, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Soak cotton wool in white vinegar and wrap around the base of taps to remove any gunk and hard water deposits. 10 minutes works like magic.

    1. Author Colleen B on May 13, 2015 at 11:55 am

      I'll give that one a go tonight, thanks so much for your tip Melanie.

    Reply
  4. Author Diane Fletcher on May 8, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Enjoyed advice on vinegar , but i think there is a spelling OOPS !!! on tip 13 - Shiny Widows !!!!.

    1. Author Colleen B on May 13, 2015 at 11:51 am

      Whoops - thanks Diane, I'll go change that now!

    Reply
  5. Author June Holland on May 9, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    VINEGAR IS FOR WASP STINGS NOT BEE STINGS - ALKALINE FOR BEES (the old fashioned "blue bag") and ACID FOR WASPS; A for B and V for W !!

    1. Author Colleen B on May 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks June - whoopsie, will have to check that one out!

    Reply
  6. Author Diane Cotton on May 23, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Does the vinegar have to be white? What about using ordinary 'brown' malt vinegar?

    1. Author Anushka F on May 26, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Hi Diane, I generally use white vinegar but you can use white for clothes and brown for any other cleaning solutions if you like - just be aware it might smell a bit more than white though!

    Reply
  7. Author Paul on May 23, 2015 at 11:51 am

    I have just been informed by a chef friend of my wife and I that adding vinegar to the boiling water when cooking a poached egg binds the egg together for the perfect dish.

    1. Author Anushka F on May 26, 2015 at 9:59 am

      Oh wow that's interesting. I've always struggled with poached eggs so I will definitely give this a go. Thanks for sharing Paul!

    2. Author Nate on October 30, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      also, to hold the shape of the egg, whisk your water so that you get a vortex in the water. Break you egg in the centre and it spins to perfection!

    3. Author Colleen B on October 30, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      Oooh delicious - love a poached egg! Thanks for your tip.

    Reply
  8. Author Marilyn Morris on October 30, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    I always use vinegar for cleaning windows and to make them extra shiny i dry them with newspaper . Ill certainly be trying some of the other tips tips out ..Thank you for more great advice .

    Reply
  9. Author susan bowden on October 30, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    You can descale a kettle with white vinegar - use equal quantities of vinegar and water to cover the limescale, bring to the boil, wait 10 minutes and keep repeating until the limescale has gone. If you have very hard water or want to do this quickly use all vinegar. Rinse well before using - a clean kettle without nasty chemicals.

    Reply
  10. Author George P on December 15, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Cure hiccups with a spoonful of vinegar.

    1. Author Colleen B on December 16, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      Wow, that's a great use for vinegar, thanks George. My nan always said a spoonful of sugar - which works for me every time!

    Reply
  11. Author John Kimberley on December 15, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Tip 5. Unclog a shower head. I disconnect the shower head, place in narrow jug or cut off plastic bottle and pour white vinegar over it to cover the top of the rose. Leave a few hours or overnight and then it is perfect once again. Much easier than boiling and no vinegar smell through the house. I do the same with my water distiller.

    1. Author Colleen B on December 16, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      That's a great trip John, thanks!

    Reply
  12. Author Tinyredhead on December 16, 2015 at 6:18 am

    I use a tablespoon of white vinegar in water in a spray bottle, to clean areas and items that are used by multiple people ie, our computer desk (not wooden), telephone handset etc, as I've been told is a sanitiser. Do you know if this is true? (It cleans them very well BTW)

    Reply
  13. Author Leugh Shaw on September 12, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    White vinegar removes underarm stains from clothes and also the residue from anti-perspirants.

    1. Author Colleen B on September 14, 2016 at 10:00 am

      Thanks for your brilliant tip Leugh - vinegar has so many uses!

    Reply
  14. Author Miss P on October 22, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Hi can u also use viniger in aluminium windows

    1. Author Colleen B on October 28, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Hi Miss P - you can use vinegar and water mixed together. Enjoy cleaning!

    Reply
  15. Author jay on November 27, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Don't put vinegar on a bee sting - it won't work. However, if you're stung by a wasp, it'll work very well.

    1. Author Stephanie C on November 28, 2017 at 9:32 am

      Thanks Jay, this has now been updated :)

    Reply
  16. Author Nicola on April 30, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Hi. I have been told by my washing machine engineer that the cheap versions of Calgon are NO GOOD and I should throw them ALL out!! He said I should ONLY buy the expensive Calgon ones to use in every wash and also to buy the Hotpoint sachets for the once monthly empty wash cycle to clean the washing machine.......I’m not made of money, and I’ve heard SO much about vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to clean everything with, so can I use brown vinegar and bicarb once per month for the empty wash to clean the WM?? And also, what should I use to add to the wash cycles instead of Calgon?? Thanks, Nicola

    1. Author Stephanie C on July 16, 2018 at 5:06 pm

      Hi Nicola, I understand your concerns - detergents and softeners can be expensive enough without the addition of other things! I have always used supermarket brand water softeners without any problem. We've had really good experiences using vinegar in the washing machine to clean it. Not only does it clean, but it will remove and damp smells too. I hope this helps.

    Reply
  17. Author Eileen Jeffery on August 22, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    Thank you once again for the great tips with white vinegar will be using them soon

    1. Author Joanne A on August 23, 2018 at 9:20 am

      Not a problem, Eileen!

    Reply
  18. Author DEBORAH ROBINSON on September 19, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Does it have to be white vinegar Or can i use apple cider Or does it have to be white vinegar.

    1. Author Joanne A on September 20, 2018 at 9:14 am

      Hi Deborah! Under each idea, it says whether you need to use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.

    Reply
  19. Author Hemalatha on October 6, 2018 at 5:05 am

    It's very useful liquid. I cleaned my jewelry. Given very shine to jewelry. And also used in washing clothes. It's worked very great. Dirty clothes washed in better way

    1. Author Joanne A on October 8, 2018 at 9:40 am

      Great to hear, Hemalatha!

    Reply
  20. Author Agnes Muturi on December 28, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    Thank you for the great tips on Vinegar uses. I have quite a number to deploy from your list.

    1. Author Stephanie C on January 2, 2019 at 9:11 am

      We hope they work for you, Agnes!

    Reply
  21. Author kathy-Ann Clarke on March 1, 2019 at 12:38 am

    Thanks for the useful tips on using vinegar, I will surely be using some of them.

    1. Author Joanne A on March 1, 2019 at 9:11 am

      We're glad you found them helpful, Kathy-Ann!

    Reply
  22. Author Mikedin on June 5, 2019 at 8:52 am

    To kill weeds put Vinegar in a spray bottle and add a few drops of washing liquid in the bottle too this helps the vinegar stick to the weeds. wait few days weeds will start to die. Do it when the sun is at its hottest for best results. For stubborn weeds repeat every fortnight/ 3 weeks

    1. Author Joanne A on June 5, 2019 at 9:08 am

      Great idea, Mikedin! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  23. Author Andrea on August 12, 2019 at 4:58 pm

    Thankyou for the tips. I'm amazed at how much it can do.

    1. Author Joanne A on August 12, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      You're welcome, Andrea!

    Reply
  24. Author Carol on September 11, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    I use it to clean out my guinea pigs cages out Removing poo & wee also makes it smell better, but I always rinse it out.

    1. Author Joanne A on September 11, 2019 at 12:25 pm

      Great idea, Carol! Pet specific cleaners can be expensive.

    Reply
  25. Author Carol on October 3, 2019 at 8:36 am

    Please can you tell me how vinegar do you put in washing machine to clean it a d can you put it in a dishwasher thank you for your tips

    1. Author Joanne A on October 3, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Hi Carol! Just add half a bottle (about 250-300ml) to the drum and then run a hot cycle.

    Reply
  26. Author Sue R on November 12, 2019 at 8:21 am

    If you have boiled vegetables (or pasta etc.) and you are left with a dull saucepan then spray undiluted white vineger into the saucepan, making sure you cover the whole of the bottom and around the edge. Leave for fifteen minutes and then use a gentle scrubbing sponge and rub the vinegar all around the saucepan. Rinse thoroughly and your saucepan is back to looking like new, all shiny and mark free. This also works if you have accidently burnt your saucepan. Pour undiluted white vinegar into the saucepan and leave for about an hour. Then run with a soft scrubbing brush and add washing up liquid and then rinse and your saucepan should be back to looking brand new. You might need a little bit of elbow grease with this, depending on how badly the saucepan was burnt.

    1. Author Joanne A on November 12, 2019 at 10:36 am

      That's a great tip! Thanks for sharing, Sue!

    Reply
  27. Author Linda on November 12, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    I mix white vinegar in my fabric conditioner and use it every wash machine and cloths are fresh and towels are supper absorbing

    1. Author Joanne A on November 13, 2019 at 12:08 pm

      It's amazing! It really strips product build-up.

    Reply

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *