In my house, vinegar can do no wrong , and it’s the superhero of my cleaning arsenal. Come find out how I use it in my home every day.
You’ve probably even seen a ton of websites with 1001 uses for vinegar in your home. Or maybe just 101 uses for vinegar. I have to admit that reading some of those lists, I have to wonder if I’m not using vinegar in my home enough. I do know it’s one of the few cleaning products I actually stock.
I’m not going to go into the uses of vinegar you might find. I’m going to concentrate on those that I’ve tried, I know work, and use in my home every single day.
But first, my story about how vinegar saved my sanity in the kitchen.
I used to use a generic dishwasher detergent from a big box store. I turned to their generic products all the time, but their dishwasher soap always disappointed me because I didn’t want to HAVE to use a rinse aid to get my dishes clean..and hated having a soap film on everything. So I switched to a name brand soap, and was happy. Then..during a budget crunch I thought, “Maybe it was just our old dishwasher that was the culprit, and not really the soap. I’ll give it another try, and save a few $$ along the way.” What could possibly go wrong?
Boy, was I ever wrong. Brand new dishwasher…same old problem, but seemingly worse now. Everything plastic had a white film on it. I thought I had ruined my plastic cooking utensils and beloved Oxo Measuring Cup. It had a stain of film on it that would not come off with repeated washings. A favorite stainless steel colander was ‘stained’ from this stuff.
Then, as I was washing my counters with my trusty vinegar spray (recipe is in list below), it dawned on me…spray it with vinegar! So, I grabbed my measuring cup and sprayed it with my vinegar spray (which is basically 1:1 vinegar and water). After only a brief moment, I grabbed a cloth and wiped down the cup…and behold….angels were rejoicing and all was right with the world..my spiffy measuring cup was CLEAN!!! So I got out our drinking cups and my plastic cooking utensils and sprayed them all down with vinegar, then rinsed them off. CLEAN, I tells ya, Clean!
Now, I have switched back to the brand of detergent that seems to work best with my machine (I use this one wherever I can get it on sale). I still use vinegar as a rinse aid, but I haven’t had to do the heavy spray down, though I’m thankful it helped!
What is vinegar?
Here’s a brief history of vinegar from Howard Garrett’s DirtDoctor.com site:
“Vinegar is a wonderful organic tool that was discovered by accident [many years] ago when wine was accidentally allowed to ferment too long and turned sour. It can be made from many products, including beer, apples, berries, beets, corn, fruits, grains, honey, malt, maple syrup, melons, molasses, potatoes, rice, sorghum, and other foods containing sugar. Natural sugars from these food products are fermented into alcohol, which is them fermented into vinegar.” ***
***A word about organic vinegar. Much of the white distilled vinegar sold in the US is made from grains (mostly corn), and thus, unless labeled organic, may be made from genetically modified crops (GMO’s). Be sure to purchase organic vinegar if this is an issue for you.
Here are some great uses for Vinegar!
1. All Purpose Cleaner
This is my all purpose cleaning concoction:
- 1 spray bottle
- Fill with 1:1 water to vinegar
- Add a 10-20 drops of tea tree oil
- Add a few drops of dishwashing soap
Vinegar is a natural anti-bacterial and cleans mold/mildew from surfaces. The tea tree oil works the same way, plus gives it a ‘piney’ scent. If you’d rather, you can use any pleasant smelling essential oil you have. I do find that while vinegar is strong when you first spray it, the smell dissipates quickly.
2. Rinse Aid
I fill my rinse aid cup in the dishwasher with undiluted vinegar. It works the same, is more friendly to the environment, and works well!
3. Fabric Softener
I use a Downy ball in my laundry filled with vinegar. Like in the dishwasher, vinegar helps remove the soap build up in your laundry – one of the biggest culprits of clothes that come out not so soft. Again, it’s a more natural version of a chemically laden process…and it doesn’t make your clothes smell! Plus, it’s anti-bacterial properties help clean your clothes a little more.
4. Washing Refresher
Have you ever done a load of laundry, only to forget about it and have it sit in the machine a little too long? I’ve never ever ever ever ever done that, ever (with fingers crossed behind my back). You can refresh that laundry by running it through the rinse cycle again with a cup of vinegar to help remove the musty smells.
5. Pest control
In the summer, we have problems with those little gnats that come in and make nuisances of themselves. Mostly if we have fruit stored on the cabinets. Mix an equal portion of water and vinegar, a tablespoon of sugar and a squirt of dish soap into a bowl. Mix until the sugar is dissolved, and leave out on your cabinet. Others tout it’s power at keeping ants away – by spraying it on window sills and openings where ants tend to come in. (You can use apple cider vinegar in place of the white vinegar/sugar – but you have to use organic apple cider vinegar to be effective as most store-bought is simply food coloring, and we found it was just not as effective in our house, anyway)
6. Scrubbing cleaner
- 1/4 C baking soda
- Few drops of liquid soap
- Splash of vinegar
- Create a paste from the baking soda and soap
- Add a splash of vinegar to create bubbles and scrub!
Makes a good scrubbing cleanser for the stove top and oven.
7. Weed control
Using 20% acidic vinegar, can be a great weed control! Spray it on your weeds on a really hot sunny day. It may take a few applications, but it really works! If you can only find 5%, that’s fine, you just may need to reapply another day. You can find this is a lot of megamarts as well as gardening centers that carry organic supplies.
8. Pet stains/odors
We have a prissy little cat who occasionally has an ‘accident’ (well, accidentally on purpose if we don’t keep her kitty box all nice and fresh every hour of the day). I use a clean cloth to absorb as much of the liquid as possible, then spray with my trusty vinegar mix to soak for a moment, blot, then spray again and blot. We will follow up with an enzyme spray, but this helps until that point.
9. Hard water/mineral buildup
When you have that white crusty buildup on your shower head or faucet, you’ve probably got hard water (mineral deposits). Vinegar helps break down those minerals in your water and makes them easier to wipe away. Use a straight vinegar spray to soak the effected area, then a toothbrush to give a quick scrub. This works on shower heads and showers, too.
You’ve probably seen the zip top bag trick on a shower head – just fill the bag up with straight vinegar, cover the shower head, wrap it closed with a tie or rubber band and allow the vinegar to soak for awhile to dissolve those stains.
10. Cleaning/deodorizing disposals & drains
This actually is the job of my 10yo. 1/2 C of baking soda in the drain followed by 3/4 C of undiluted vinegar. Fun little science experiment that helps keep our sinks and drains smelling fresh.
11. Remove Soap Scum
Whether in your washing machine, dishwasher or shower, use vinegar in a spray bottle to help break down the scum to clean naturally and effectively. If you need a little extra oomph, soak a scrubby in some water, dip in some baking soda and scrub the soap scum before rinsing off the vinegar.
12. Natural Hair Rinse
1 TB of apple cider vinegar to 1C of warm water. Rinse through hair after shampooing. Helps correct the pH, closes the hair follicles and remove build up from hair products.
13. Carpet Cleaner
Instead of using carpet shampoo in your shampoo machine, fill the tank with 1:1 hot water and hot vinegar to clean your carpet. It deodorizes, kills bad germs, and doesn’t leave a residue the way shampoo can.
14. Freshen Mattresses
In the same way we we clean the carpet, we vacuum the mattresses once a month and then spray down with vinegar to help freshen them.
15. Floor Cleaner
As a reader reminded me of this use I forgot, I have a spray mop that I use with my vinegar cleaning solution to clean my floors.
Here are other uses for vinegar:
1001 uses for vinegar
Of course, vinegar for the domestic front is a lot like Chuck Norris – all sorts of wonderful, magical powers have been attributed to it, some folk, some tried and true, some a little ‘odd’. Besides cleaning with vinegar, all the vinegar derivatives (balsamic, white wine, rice wine, apple cider) are lovely to cook with. Do you have a favorite use for vinegar? Mine just might be the lovely balsamic vinaigrette that will be coating my chicken thighs for dinner tomorrow!!
What are some of the ways you use vinegar in your home?
Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.
She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.
Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).
Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.
Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.
Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.
She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.