31 Things You Didn’t Know You Could (Easily!) Clean with Vinegar

published Sep 2, 2019
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White vinegar is a pretty common household ingredient, and it’s not just used for cooking. Many people keep a large container on hand for the express purpose of using it to clean. Because vinegar is non-toxic, inexpensive, and widely useful, it’s no wonder. But what makes vinegar such an effective cleaner?

The secret of vinegar’s potency lies in its acidity. The acetic acid present in vinegar has a pH of 2.4, making it effective but still completely safe for many (many!) surfaces and finishes. From helping clean stuck-on messes in the kitchen to solving laundry dilemmas and more, vinegar is the most unassuming yet simultaneously essential cleaning product you own. 

Here’s a list of 30 of the best things you can do or clean with a bit of vinegar.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Prevent hard water stains on your dishes. 

Put a small bowl of white vinegar in the top rack of your dishwasher before you run it. The vinegar combats hard water spots, and putting it on the top rack of the dishwasher rather than in the rinse aid compartment is safer for the rubber gaskets of your machine. 

Read more: You Should Put a Bowl of Vinegar in Your Dishwasher — Here’s Why

2. Make windows sparkle. 

Make a solution of one part distilled white vinegar to one part water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle, mist it lightly over your windows, and let it sit on the glass for a bit before wiping it down it with a microfiber cloth. 

Read more: How To Use Vinegar to Clean Your Kitchen Windows

Credit: Diana Yen

3. Clean your oven without harsh chemicals. 

To clean your oven without the noxious fumes, use a baking soda paste, elbow grease, and a vinegar spray. After letting the baking soda paste sit on oven grime overnight, wipe it out and then spray any excess with vinegar. Wipe the inside of the oven out with a damp cloth. 

Read more: How To Clean an Oven with Baking Soda and Vinegar

4. Shine stainless steel appliances.

Spray your stainless appliances with a mist of white vinegar. Wipe the vinegar off (following the grain) using a microfiber cloth. Dip your cloth into a small amount of oil (very small amount) and use it to make your stainless steel shine. 

Read more: How To Clean Stainless Steel Appliances with Vinegar and Oil

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5. Fix tarnished silver. 

To clean tarnished silver with little effort, combine baking soda and salt in an aluminum pan. Add vinegar and boiling water, along with your silver. The tarnish should begin to lift right away. Follow up with a buff and polish. 

Read more: How To Clean and Polish Silver

6. Clean the dishwasher. 

Vinegar can be used to keep hard water stains from settling on your dishes, and it can also be used to clean the dishwasher itself. After cleaning dishwasher components, add two cups of white vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher and run an empty cycle. 

Related: How To Clean a Dishwasher

7. Clean the freezer. 

The next time you clean out your freezer, spray the inside with a solution of white vinegar and hot water. The mixture is food-safe and effective at dissolving stuck-on messes in the freezer. 

Read more: How To Clean The Freezer

Credit: Joe Lingeman

8. Freshen up the coffee maker. 

You don’t exactly want to use chemical cleaners on your coffee maker. To clean it safely and effectively, run a half-vinegar-half-water mixture through a brew cycle. Pause the cycle halfway through and allow the solution to sit in the coffee maker. 

Read more: How To Clean a Coffee Maker

Credit: Erika Tracy

9. Make butcher-block countertops squeaky-clean.

Butcher blocks are beautiful, but they’re porous. Which means cleanliness is imperative — luckily vinegar can help. Scrape the countertop clean and scrub gently with a dish soap and water solution. Rinse this off and follow up with a spray of undiluted white vinegar. Let it sit for a while and then wipe clean with a damp cloth. 

Read more: How To Clean Butcher Block Countertops

Credit: Faith Durand

10. Make your blender container look like new. 

With time, your blender container could end up looking cloudy and grubby, in part due to hard water stains. To address them, fill your blender container halfway with warm water, a few drops of dish soap, and some white vinegar. Run the blender for about a minute before rinsing the container. 

Read more: The Best Way to Clean Your Blender

Credit: Joe Lingeman

11. Mix your own all-purpose cleaning spray.

Combine equal parts water and white vinegar for a general cleaning spray that can be used all over the kitchen and rest of the house. Use it to shine faucets, sinks, and stainless steel, and cut through grease on the stovetop. Add a few drops of essential oil to add create your favorite scent. (Note: Do not use vinegar on soft stone surfaces, such as marble, or on aluminum, cast iron, and a few other surfaces. Read more here.) 

Get the recipe: How To Make an All-Natural Kitchen Cleaner

Credit: Joe Lingeman

12. Clean the inside of your microwave. 

Cleaning the microwave is one of the most loathed chores. Take the sting and elbow grease out of it by filling a bowl with two cups of water and about two tablespoons of vinegar. Microwave the mixture for about five minutes or until the water begins to boil. Don’t open the microwave after it beeps. Instead, let the steam soften the mess in the microwave. Open and use a sponge to wipe the interior clean. 

Read more: How To Clean a Microwave with Vinegar

Credit: Lisa Freedman

13. Descale your shower head. 

Hard water can clog your shower head over time, and unscrewing it every time you need to clean it is annoying. Pour a 1:1 water-and-vinegar solution into a bag and tie the bag around your shower head. Let it sit for at least half an hour before removing the bag and running water through the shower head. 

Read more: You Should Soak Your Shower Head in Vinegar — Here’s Why

14. Repel spiders. 

Spray a solution of vinegar and water around the outside of your windows if arachnoids like to make themselves at home in yours. 

Read more: You Should Spray Vinegar Around Your Windows — Here’s Why

Credit: Lisa Freedman

15. Clean your washing machine. 

It’s easy to forget that the machines that clean our things also need a good cleaning themselves every now and then. To clean your washing machine, add two cups of vinegar to an empty cycle and run with the hottest water. 

Read more: You Should Pour Vinegar into Your Washing Machine — Here’s Why

Credit: Erika Tracy

16. Get your copper pots gleaming.

Put the tarnished pot in the sink, sprinkle the copper with salt, pour vinegar on top of the salt, and then add more salt. Let it sit for 15 seconds or so and then begin scrubbing, adding more salt and vinegar as necessary. 

Read more: How To Clean and Polish Copper

17. Clean hardwood floors.

After vacuuming or sweeping, mix a solution of half a cup of white vinegar per gallon of warm water. Mop, making sure to wring your mop very well, especially if you’re cleaning hardwood floors. 

Read more: Natural Vinegar Is the Only Floor Cleaner You Need (Even for Carpet) at Apartment Therapy

Credit: Joe Lingeman

18. Soften and clean paint brushes with vinegar.

Paint brushes seemingly ruined with sticky or dried-on paint? It happens to the best of us. Try this: Place your brush or brushes in an aluminum pan and heat some white vinegar on the stove, almost to boiling. Then, let the brushes soak for at least 10 minutes. Loosen the paint with a wire brush and then wash the bristles with warm water and soap. Rinse and let drip dry. 

Related: 3 Brilliant Tips to Make Your Next Painting Project Way Easier

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

19. Erase water rings on wood furniture. 

Unsightly water rings on your wood furniture can be removed with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and olive oil. Rub into the wood with a soft cloth, going with the grain. 

Read more: 5 Ways to Fix Water Stains on Wood Tables (And 1 Method You Should Probably Skip!)

20. Remove ink stains.

Ink stains seem so permanent and immovable, but with a couple items from your kitchen, you can probably coax them out of your fabric. Mix two parts whole milk to one part vinegar and soak your garment in a bowl overnight. Launder as usual. 

Read more: How To Remove an Ink Stain with Milk & Vinegar at Apartment Therapy

21. Clean toilet rings.

Scrubbing toilets isn’t fun. If you need to address rings in the toilet boil, simply pour half a cup of vinegar into the toilet and let it sit for 20 minutes before flushing. The acid in vinegar will eat away at the hard water that causes many toilet rings. 

Related: 3 Steps to a Truly Spotless Toilet (So Your Guests Won’t Judge You) at Apartment Therapy

22. Get your plastic shower curtain or liner looking like new. 

Soap scum and hard water spots make clear plastic shower curtains dull and cloudy. Take the curtain down and soak it in a vinegar bath (equal parts white vinegar and water) before washing it in the washer with detergent and some towels or bath mats. Just don’t put it in the dryer!

Read more: How to Clean Plastic or Vinyl Shower Curtains at Apartment Therapy

23. Remove tomato sauce and other stains.

Treating acid stains with another acid works well. That’s why a soak in vinegar helps lift tomato sauce stains from clothing. Vinegar also works well on coffee or tea stains, mustard stains, grass stains, and more. 

Relatew: 27 Brilliant Laundry Hacks That Start with Stuff from Your Kitchen

Credit: Joe Lingeman

24. Clean upholstery. 

Mix up a general upholstery-cleaning spray made of vinegar, water, and dish soap. Or, make a spot cleaner with rubbing alcohol and vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. 

Related: The Best Way to Clean Up Food Stains from Any Couch

25. Remove salt stains from leather shoes.

If you’ve worn your leather boots in the snow, you might have salt-stained leather. Mix equal parts water and vinegar and use the solution to moisten a light-colored, soft cloth. Blot the salt stains.

26. Clean leather furniture. 

Leather cleaner can be harsh and expensive. To gently but effectively clean your leather couches, armchairs, and other furniture, mix a 1:1 solution of water and vinegar. After vacuuming your furniture to remove any dirt and debris, dip a microfiber cloth into your solution, wring it out, and wipe down your leather. Dry with a clean, dry towel. 

Related: 5 Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Leather Goods at Apartment Therapy

Credit: Joe Lingeman

27. Spot clean carpets. 

Blot carpet stains with a light cloth. Then spray with a mixture of half water, half white vinegar. Leave for a few minutes before blotting again. 

Read more: Natural Vinegar Is the Only Floor Cleaner You Need (Even for Carpet) at Apartment Therapy

Credit: Ali Lanenga/Stocksy

28. Brighten dull-looking clothing. 

If your brights are looking less than bright, try soaking them in a gallon of warm water mixed with a cup of vinegar. 

Related: 27 Brilliant Laundry Hacks That Start With Stuff From Your Kitchen

Credit: Cathy Pyle

29. Make glass shower doors sparkle. 

Make a paste of vinegar and baking soda, apply it to your shower doors, and let it sit for a while (at least 15 minutes). Wipe with a wet microfiber cloth and rinse. For extra scrubbing power, add salt to your paste. 

Related: 9 (Way Too Common) Bathroom-Cleaning Mistakes You Might Be Making

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

30. Clean all glass. 

A vinegar and water solution can work pretty well to clean glass, but this homemade glass cleaner made with white vinegar, cornstarch, rubbing alcohol, and water is far more effective and well worth the effort to mix together. 

Credit: Joe Lingeman

31. Brighten whites without bleach. 

It’s possible to have white whites again, even if you’ve tossed the bleach. Add up to a cup of white vinegar to your load of whites, or spot-treat yellowing with a spray of undiluted white vinegar. 

Related: I Started Adding Lemon Juice to My Washing Machine — Here’s Why & How It’s Going

What are your favorite uses for vinegar?

Credit: Kitchn