- Where can I buy vinegar for cleaning?
- The benefits of switching to vinegar
- White vinegar for cleaning
- Is there anything I shouldn't clean with vinegar?
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
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
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
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
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. You can also use vinegar to clean sweat-stained hats. Give it a try!
4. Banish smells
Eliminating odours is never easy, but white vinegar will do the trick!
To remove bad smells from the air:
- Fill a few small containers with white vinegar.
- Spread the bowls around the room and leave them to work their magic for around 24 hours.
- 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
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.
- First, you'll want to detach the showerhead from your shower - it should unscrew quite easily.
- Next, fill a bucket or bowl with white vinegar and place your showerhead inside, so that it is completely submerged.
- 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.
- 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.
- If some deposits remain, use an old toothbrush to scrub them away.
7. Remove rust once and for all
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.
Find out more in our article on how to get hair out of drains.
9. Get shiny windows
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
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
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.
Next, avoid a clogged loo by finding out if you can flush hair down the 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
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.
18. Descale a kettle
Did you know that vinegar can be used to descale your kettle? It works really well, and no harsh chemicals are needed. Watch our short video to see how it's done.
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:
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
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
Vinegar can destroy the special coating on screens, including your phone, tv, laptop or tablet.
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.
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.
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!
Do you put the vinegar in the drum or the drawer or even both?
White vinegar cleans parrot cages and parrot poo with no chemicals or toxins
Great pet tip - thanks Virginia!
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.
I'll give that one a go tonight, thanks so much for your tip Melanie.
Enjoyed advice on vinegar , but i think there is a spelling OOPS !!! on tip 13 - Shiny Widows !!!!.
Whoops - thanks Diane, I'll go change that now!
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 !!
Thanks June - whoopsie, will have to check that one out!
Does the vinegar have to be white? What about using ordinary 'brown' malt vinegar?
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!
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.
Oh wow that's interesting. I've always struggled with poached eggs so I will definitely give this a go. Thanks for sharing Paul!
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!
Oooh delicious - love a poached egg! Thanks for your tip.
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 .
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.
Cure hiccups with a spoonful of vinegar.
Wow, that's a great use for vinegar, thanks George. My nan always said a spoonful of sugar - which works for me every time!
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.
That's a great trip John, thanks!
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)
White vinegar removes underarm stains from clothes and also the residue from anti-perspirants.
Thanks for your brilliant tip Leugh - vinegar has so many uses!
Hi can u also use viniger in aluminium windows
Hi Miss P - you can use vinegar and water mixed together. Enjoy cleaning!
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.
Thanks Jay, this has now been updated :)
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
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.
Thank you once again for the great tips with white vinegar will be using them soon
Not a problem, Eileen!
Does it have to be white vinegar Or can i use apple cider Or does it have to be white vinegar.
Hi Deborah! Under each idea, it says whether you need to use apple cider vinegar or white vinegar.
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
Great to hear, Hemalatha!
Thank you for the great tips on Vinegar uses. I have quite a number to deploy from your list.
We hope they work for you, Agnes!
Thanks for the useful tips on using vinegar, I will surely be using some of them.
We're glad you found them helpful, Kathy-Ann!
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
Great idea, Mikedin! Thanks for sharing.
Thankyou for the tips. I'm amazed at how much it can do.
You're welcome, Andrea!
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.
Great idea, Carol! Pet specific cleaners can be expensive.
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
Hi Carol! Just add half a bottle (about 250-300ml) to the drum and then run a hot cycle.
I’ve recently read to not use vinegar in the washing machine or dishwasher because the acid in the vinegar can damage the rubber gaskets.
Hi Timi! I have heard this rumour going around, but I have yet to hear of anyone who has had their washing machine rubber damaged by vinegar. I can see the logic of it though, so maybe it is something that could happen with lots of use and over a long period of time? By this point, your machine could break for a number of other reasons anyway. I guess it just depends on how worthwhile it is for you - when you consider the environmental or health impact of using standard, chemical detergents.
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.
That's a great tip! Thanks for sharing, Sue!
I mix white vinegar in my fabric conditioner and use it every wash machine and cloths are fresh and towels are supper absorbing
It's amazing! It really strips product build-up.
Leave out the fabric conditioner for towels and they'll be really absorbent too. The fabric conditioner adds a coating to them to make them soft but stops them absorbing water.
I use vinegar daily to wipe off countertops with ceramic tiles and water faucet before it develops much scale, and to remove white soda residue after having cleaned with it. I also spray vinegar around the toilet to neutralize smell. Vinegar itself leaves no marks. For cooking pots I prefer Citric Acid without smell, although it doesn't have the evaporating and disinfectant qualities of vinegar. I buy citric acid in bulk by weight, avoid paying for transporting water, and mix it stronger than vinegar.
About engineer telling lady to use their own brand cleaner, they are gonna do that arent they and tell you that the other ones are no good, put white vinegar and soda crystals directly in the drum of your washing machine, once a month on hottest wash you can (with no washing in your drum) and it should smell great, and use soda crystals in your wash every time you wash it helps gets stains out and softens water, and whiter vinegar really does get stains out of underarms of t-shirts, give it a good squirt and mix it with a bit of washing liquid, or powder and leave for about 10 mins then put it in your wash as normal 👍 give it a go
Thanks for sharing!
I have teddy bedding and it goes flat and doesn’t feel fluffy I’ve been told white vinegar and baking soda in the wash should help with this. It loosens the fibres apparently and you use the vinegar instead of softener. Anyone had experience with thus? Is it true? Thanks Jayne x
Adding a small amount of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine when washing teddy bedding can help to fluff up the fibres and restore the bedding's softness. However, it's essential to check the care label on your bedding before washing, as some materials may not handle the vinegar's acidity.
I am diabetic. When my blood sugars are high i eat 2 table spoons of white vinager It brings your blood sugars back down in about 20mins or so. Always during a glass of water after it though. It's not nice.
Thanks for sharing! Did your doctor recommend that?
You mentioned cleaning jewelry with vinegar. Does that include Silver, Gold, brass, or any other metal? What about beads or gems? ALSO, if silver is among them, can I clean my antique Silver coffee & tea set?
White vinegar is a great metal cleaner, so you shouldn't have any problems using it on silver, gold and brass. We'd be a bit more careful with beads and gems, because it might depend on what they're made from.
Hi I'm new I have spilled superglue on the dash of my car it has turned white and looks awful would white vinger remove the stain or would it remove the colour black from dash plz help ??
White vinegar is unlikely to be effective in removing superglue from a car dashboard. Superglue is a powerful adhesive and can be difficult to remove once it has hardened. Additionally, using vinegar on a plastic dashboard may cause discolouration. It's best to take the car to a professional detailer for assistance. You could try acetone, rubbing alcohol or a specialised adhesive remover, but these could cause damage, too.
Thank you very much for your tips. They have been very helpful to me as I have a dog and a cat. All very helpful thank you. I recommend it to anyone who has dogs to brush your yard down with
You're very welcome!
Thanks a lot Joanne these tips are priceless, another one I used was a cup of half water and white vinegar to remove stains from wallpaper, just dab on, leave for five minutes then wipe gently with water 👍
You're welcome! That's a great tip you shared as well. Using a solution of water and white vinegar is a natural and effective way to remove stains from wallpaper without damaging it. Thanks for sharing!
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