Our grandmothers knew a thing or two about cleaning. Long before the days of supermarket aisles filled with harsh, toxic cleaning products, homes were still kept clean, safe, and comfortable.
And when it comes to safe, effective, natural cleaning products, distilled white vinegar has been at the top of the lists for decades. From countertops and windows to showerheads and carpet stains, vinegar can clean just about anything. Not to mention, it’s environmentally-friendly, easy to find, and really, really cheap.
Chances are you, you’ve already got a bottle of white vinegar somewhere in your pantry or under your kitchen sink. In this article, we’ll show you some of our favorite ways to use vinegar in our homes. If the list seems long, just know that this is a handful of possibly hundreds of practical uses for cleaning with distilled white vinegar.
Distilled White Vinegar For Cleaning and Your Laundry Room
Tough stain removal. Vinegar is helpful for some specific tough stains, including mustard, ketchup, tomato sauce, wine, ink, and grass. Just wet the stained area with some white vinegar before applying a stain pretreatment, like our Stain Spray, and tossing in the wash.
Soften hard water. Add ⅓-½ cup of white vinegar to the drum of your washer to soften hard water and make your laundry detergent more effective.
Break down laundry detergent residue. Remove dingy soap and detergent residue from clothes by adding 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to the drum of your washer; ½ cup if it’s a front loader. To remove soap residue from large loads, like heavy blankets and towels, add 2 cups of vinegar to the final rinse.
Clean your washing machine. Even in new, efficient washers, build-up and bacteria can grow surprisingly quickly. To clear it out, add 2 cups of distilled white vinegar to the drum of your washer and run on it’s hottest, longest setting. Spritz a clean towel diluted vinegar and wipe clean the washer window and all of the rubber gaskets to clear away mold and build-up. We recommend doing this once a month.
Set colored fabrics and help prevent colors from running in the wash. Soak your new, brightly colored clothing in distilled white vinegar before laundering to help set the colors and prevent dyes from running.
Distilled White Vinegar for Cleaning Your Kitchen
Add it to your dishwasher. Vinegar can be added as a cheap but effective rinsing agent to get your glassware and other dishes sparkling clean. It can also help keep the dishwasher itself grime-free. Pour a cup of distilled white vinegar into a glass container and place it in the top rack of your dishwasher. Run a short cycle on the hottest setting. This will help get rid of soap residue, grime build-up, and bacteria. After the cycle, wipe out any loosened grime with a rag.
Safe antibacterial all-purpose spray. Mix 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar with two cups water and 5 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle, like this one. Spray down countertops (except marble, granite, or soapstone) for quick and easy antibacterial cleaning. Add in 1 TBSP Castile soap for grease cutting power. This spray can also be used in the bathroom and any other surface of the home that needs cleaning up.
Wash cutting boards. Wash your wooden cutting board with vinegar to kill bacteria, especially after cutting up raw meats.
Clean out your drip coffee maker. Add one part vinegar and one part water to your coffee maker and run a brew. This cleans out microbes and lime deposits from the inner workings. Just remember to run two brews of water through before making your next pot of coffee or you’ll have a rough morning.
Polish stainless steel and chrome appliances. Spray surfaces with full-strength distilled white vinegar and then buff it to a shine with a flour sack towel.
Unclog and deodorize smelly sinks. Sprinkle our SINK SCRUB™ liberally in your sink and scrub. Boil equal parts water and vinegar in a pot or tea kettle and pour it into the sink. If you don’t have our SINK SCRUB™ on hand, use baking soda and lemon essential oil instead.
Distilled White Vinegar For Cleaning Your Bathroom
Clean and whiten tiles and grout. Most people reach for the bleach when waging war against grungy or stained tiles, grout, and calk, but white vinegar presents an effective and safe alternative to bleach. Simply spray undiluted vinegar onto grout and tiles in the shower (or kitchen) and allow it to set for an hour, then scrub the surface with a brush and rinse.
Safe and easy shower spray. Sprinkle the walls with baking soda, then spray with 1:1 vinegar and water for an after shower spray that cuts down on soap scum.
Banish mold and mildew. Our bathrooms attract extra mold and mildew growth thanks to the humid environment. Create a mold-killing cleaning spray by mixing equal parts water and vinegar into a spray bottle. Add between 10-20 drops of tea tree oil or lemon essential oil for extra microbe-fighting power.
Clean soap scum and mildew buildup from your shower curtain. Add ½ cup of baking soda and a full cup of white vinegar to your washer along with regular, natural detergent. Add your shower curtain and two towels then wash on warm. Let the shower curtain drip dry.
Clean your showerheads. Partially fill a plastic gallon bag with white vinegar and slip it over the showerhead. Attach with a strong rubber band. Allow it to sit for one hour or more to remove lime deposits and buildup before removing the bag. Polish with a soft cloth.
Distilled White Vinegar For Cleaning Around The House
Liven dingy carpets and rugs. Dip a clean push broom into a mixture of vinegar and water, using 1 cup of vinegar per 1 gallon of water. Brush the carpet fibers vigorously. The worn threads will be invigorated and odors will be diminished.
Prevent mildew buildup on the backs of rugs, carpeting, and upholstery. Prevent mildew by spritzing the underside of carpets and rugs and the backs and undersides of furniture. Take care to not soak the fabrics!
Banish smoke odors. The smell of cigarette smoke can linger in a room for months. You can help remove the odor by setting out a small bowl filled approximately ¾ full of distilled white vinegar. It will absorb the smoke odors within 24-48 hours. (If the smell is particularly bad, cleaning the walls and surface areas may be necessary.)
Remove carpet stains. Mix ½ cup of white vinegar with 1 tablespoon All Sport into a spray bottle. Generously wet the stain and work into the fibers. Repeat until the stain is gone.
When to Avoid Distilled White Vinegar For Cleaning
Before you get carried away with the seemingly endless cleaning uses for vinegar, know that there are some areas of your house where vinegar is a big no-no. Avoid using vinegar on all of the following:
- Granite, marble, travertine, stone or soapstone countertops or tile. The acid in the vinegar can dull the shine and cause pitting in the stone.
- Kitchen knives. Hot soapy water is a better choice.
- Clothes iron. Unless your iron specifically says vinegar can be used to clean out the workings, it’s best avoided.
- Egg-based messes. Vinegar will cause the proteins in the egg to coagulate, creating a gluey substance that is nearly impossible to clean up.
- Solid wood furniture and hardwood floors. The acid in vinegar can damage some types of wood finishes, so it’s best to avoid undiluted vinegar on these items.
- Computer, TV, and phone screens. Use a soft cloth designed for this task instead.
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Caution: Never add vinegar to chlorine bleach; it creates chlorine gas which can be deadly when inhaled.