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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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