Photo (cc) by JeepersMedia
My partner calls vinegar nature’s Clorox, and he’s right. The humble product cleans and sanitizes without harsh chemicals, and that’s in addition to all its uses in preparing food.
Not all of the tips floating around the Internet pan out in real life. For example, vinegar does not — as some vinegar enthusiasts have suggested — provide consistent weed control, according to Oregon’s Department of Agriculture.
But the stinky stuff has loads of other uses, from DVD repair to dandruff control. Here are 83 ways to get started. (Note: Unless otherwise specified, “vinegar” means white vinegar.)
1. “No ‘poo” hair care
Some people swear by using a mixture of cider vinegar and baking soda instead of shampoo. Others swear at it, because apparently it doesn’t work for everyone. Do a web search for the basics and try it for yourself.
2. Hair rinse
Condition with a 50/50 mix of cider vinegar and water. Wait a few minutes, then rinse well.
3. Dandruff killer
Do a weekly scalp treatment with straight cider vinegar. Leave it on up to 15 minutes, then rinse well.
4. Skin toner
Mix one part cider vinegar to two parts water (more water if your skin is sensitive) and dab onto your face after washing.
Sounds counterintuitive, but users swear that the smell goes away quickly – and that the vinegar keeps odor-producing bacteria from growing. Either white or cider vinegar can be used, but try it on a small area first to see if irritation develops.
6. Clean the loofah
Soak the bath sponge in a 50/50 vinegar mix, then rinse well.
7. Brighten your smile
Brush with a paste of two parts cider vinegar to one part baking soda a few times each week. Or mix one teaspoon cider vinegar into a glass of water and rinse for up to 60 seconds.
8. Prepare for a mani-pedi
Soak a cotton ball in vinegar and treat your nails before polishing them. The clean surface will hold the color longer.
A healthier you
9. Combat sore throat
Mix a tablespoon of cider vinegar and a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water then gargle with it. Yep, it’ll taste weird, but the acid should help kill germs in your throat.
10. Soothe itching
Dab vinegar onto bug bites to kill the irritation. The smell goes away (and so does the itch!).
11. Sting relief
Attacked by a bee or wasp? Dab on vinegar.
12. Foot care, part 1
Kill the fungus that causes athlete’s foot by soaking your feet in a half-vinegar and half-water solution.
13. Foot care, part 2
Make that vinegar-and-water mixture with warm water and soak your feet for at least 20 minutes. It’s soothing and also helps remove dead skin.
14. Foot care, part 3
Nail fungus can turn your toes into horror shows. Apply vinegar with a cotton swab, and you may see some relief. If this isn’t sufficient, however, consider seeing your doctor.
15. Floor show
Mop with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. Although the smell will dissipate, you can add a drop or two of essential oil to the water.
16. All-purpose cleaner
A 50/50 mix of vinegar and water works on counters, stovetops, bathroom fixtures and tile, even the range hood. If the grease is really stubborn, use vinegar straight from the bottle.
17. Keep drains open
Tap half a cup of baking soda down the drain, then pour in half a cup of vinegar. Enjoy the fizzing and bubbling for a few minutes. Follow with a teakettle’s worth of boiling water, then let hot water run from the tap for a while. Do this once a month or so.
18. De-gunk shower heads
Mineral buildup impeding the shower spray? Fill a small, sturdy plastic bag with vinegar and rubber-band it to the shower head for a couple of hours.
19. Soap scum buster
Spray a 50/50 mix of vinegar and Dawn dish detergent on the tub, wait a couple of minutes and wipe. Rinse thoroughly.
20. Streak-free shine
Mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle to clean mirrors and windows. Save money on paper towels by wiping with sheets of newspaper.
21. Clean the toilet
Add two cups of vinegar to the toilet bowl and let it soak overnight. That should keep away water rings.
22. Clean sinks and bathtubs
Scrub with full-strength vinegar, then rinse well. If hard-water stains have developed in the tub, pour in three cups of vinegar and fill the rest of the way with hot water. In four hours, drain the tub and scrub off the rings; rinse well.
23. Clean shower-door tracks
Carefully fill the tracks with vinegar and let stand for a few hours, then scrub with an old toothbrush.
24. Clean the shower curtain
Mildew developing along the hem of your plastic curtain? Launder it along with a few towels using half a cup of your usual detergent and half a cup of baking soda, then add one cup of vinegar to the first rinse. Take out the curtain before the spin cycle starts (it’ll be drippy) and hang to dry.
25. Shine fixtures
Use vinegar on a soft cloth (a piece of worn-out sheet or an old T-shirt works well) to remove soap scum.
26. Banish crayon
Have the kids’ coloring projects gone off the pages and onto the floor? Vinegar should take care of it. This also works on ink.
Aid for appliances
27. A cleaner brew
Run a cup of vinegar and a cup of water through your coffeemaker every couple of weeks, then run a full pot of water through to rinse well. (My partner does this. It stinks briefly, but it works.)
28. Lime away
If your teakettle has lime or mineral deposits, boil three cups of vinegar and let stand overnight. Rinse well.
29. Dishwasher cleanse
Once a month, run a cup of vinegar through your (empty) dishwasher.
30. Cleaning the cleaner
Run two cups of vinegar through your washing machine once a month – full cycle, no clothing and no soap.
31. Microwave miracle
Is the appliance’s inside dotted with bits of food and smelling like really old Hot Pockets? Put some vinegar and water into a mug or bowl and boil it for a while. Carefully remove the container (it’s hot, remember?) and use a wet cloth to remove the now-softened food bits.
32. Refresh the can opener
Is the electric can opener’s wheel blade dark and disgusting? Put a vinegar-saturated toothbrush up against it, turn on the appliance and let the wheel clean itself.
33. Scrub the fridge
Use a 50/50 vinegar and water mix to wipe down the inside of your refrigerator. Don’t forget the interiors of the bins.
Clothing and accessories
34. Fabric softener hack
Add a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften clothing, kill bacteria and reduce static.
35. Replace color bleach
Adding half a cup of vinegar to the wash cycle will brighten your clothing’s colors.
Kid get bubble gum on his shirt? Saturate the mistake with warm vinegar.
37. De-salt your shoes
Has de-icer gotten onto shoes or boots? Rub with a 50/50 water and vinegar solution; use an old toothbrush for suede footwear.
38. De-stain shirts
Sweat tracks on your shirts? Rub vinegar on them, then launder as usual.
39. De-stain other stuff
Spot-treat stains on cotton items with vinegar just before laundering. Among other things, this will work on beer, juice, tea, coffee, soft drinks, ketchup, blood – parents and frat boys take note – vomit. Treat and launder as quickly as possible. If it’s a really gruesome stain, soak overnight in a three-to-one mix of vinegar and water.
40. Socks appeal
If your sports socks have turned dingy, soak them overnight in a solution of one cup vinegar boiled with six cups of water and then launder as usual.
41. Remove yellowing
If white garments or other items have yellowed, mix one part vinegar to 12 parts water and soak the cloth overnight, then wash.
42. Get rid of “thrift shop smell”
Sometimes stuff from the secondhand store or rummage sale has an odd smell. Launder with a cup of vinegar in the wash (not rinse) cycle.
43. Stop the bleed
Soak brightly colored clothing in undiluted vinegar for about 15 minutes, then launder as usual. This should keep them from dyeing everything else.
44. Spot-treat suede
Got a grease spot on a suede garment? Use a 50/50 water and vinegar solution and an old toothbrush. If that doesn’t work, try undiluted vinegar.
45. Coffee scrub
If your favorite coffee or tea mug has dark stains, scour with a one-to-one mix of vinegar and salt. Rinse well in warm water.
46. Stop mold
Spray undiluted vinegar onto areas that develop mold or mildew. You can add a bit of essential oil to the spray bottle, but remember that the vinegar smell will go away.
47. Clean filters
Soak humidifier or air conditioner filters in a 50/50 solution, then rinse and squeeze dry.
48. Sanitize cutting boards
After washing, spray with undiluted white vinegar to further disinfect the surface. Bonus: It’ll neutralize the odor of that fish you just cut up.
49. Go grill crazy
Are charcoal and food juice gumming up your grill? Spray thoroughly with undiluted vinegar, wait a couple of minutes and scrub with a wire brush or some crumpled-up aluminum foil.
50. Clean the iron
Spray starch can build up on the faceplate of your iron, so wipe it with vinegar every so often. If you’ve got hard water, clean the iron’s innards every now and then: Fill the water reservoir with vinegar, stand it upright and turn on the “steam” setting. After 10 minutes, empty and rinse well.
51. Cleanse copper
If your copper-bottomed cookware is discolored, apply a paste of equal parts salt, flour and vinegar. Let stand for no more than 30 minutes, then rinse very, very well.
Yard and garden
52. Bug killer
Cider vinegar stinks to us but attracts insects. Create a funnel trap by rolling a sheet of notebook paper into a funnel and placing it into a jar with cider vinegar at the bottom. This works in the kitchen for fruit flies and on the deck when entertaining outdoors.
53. Ant killer
That vinegar-and-dish-soap cleaner also vanquishes uninvited guests that march into your home. This mixture is a lot less worrisome than spraying a pesticide ant killer around the area where your kids and pets play, and around the areas where you prepare food. Some folks swear by vinegar sprayed or poured on anthills.
54. Feeder cleaner
A good wash with a gentle dish soap, followed by a spray with a 50/50 vinegar solution, means clean dishes (and less chance of bacterial issues) for hummingbirds and other feathered friends.
55. Flowerpot freshener
White stains on terra-cotta pots won’t come off with soap and water? Wipe down with undiluted vinegar and let dry. After that, rub with baby oil (another product with loads of uses).
56. Mower helper
Once you’ve finished the lawn, wipe the blades down with vinegar – not just to clean off grass bits, but also any insects that might have hitched a ride while you rolled the mower back to the garage.
57. Critter repellent
Some say that deer, raccoons, rabbits, dogs and cats don’t like the smell of vinegar. Try hanging up vinegar-soaked rags near your garden (re-wetting them once a week) and spraying your garbage cans with the stuff. It may not work in every case, but it’s worth a try.
58. Make paint stick
If you’re painting concrete or galvanized metal, pretreat the area by sponging on vinegar and allowing to dry. The paint will last longer.
59. Clean paintbrushes
Is your synthetic-bristle brush completely paint-stiffened? Soak in undiluted vinegar until things are moving again, then wash with soap and hot water.
60. Soil tester
Pour half a cup of white vinegar over a handful of garden soil in a container. Fizzy/bubbly means alkaline. Science!
Caring for your car
61. Wiper magic
Rub windshield wiper blades a couple of times with undiluted vinegar.
62. Clearer windows
Wipe windows and the windshield with a three-to-one mixture of vinegar and water. This makes it harder for frost to form. Reapply when it stops working.
63. Revive the rug
After vacuuming your vehicle, sponge carpeting with a 50/50 vinegar-water mixture. Blot after a couple of minutes.
64. Rescue your lunchbox
Wipe out the inside with vinegar to kill weird smells. Pour vinegar and water in the Thermos and let sit overnight to remove any odors.
65. Eliminate kitchen odors
Having a fish fry or a cabbage boil? Leave a small dish of vinegar nearby to neutralize olfactory havoc. If it’s too late to prevent the smell, put half a cup of vinegar and one cup of water into a small pot and boil until it’s almost gone.
66. Wipe out sponge smells
Kitchen and bathroom sponges can develop some pretty gnarly smells. Soak them overnight in a 50/50 vinegar and water bath.
67. Deodorize the remodel
Since vinegar neutralizes strong scents, keep shallow dishes of the stuff in rooms that you’re painting.
68. Remove urine stains
Wash the carpet with mild soap and water, rinse and blot as dry as possible. Saturate the area with a one-to-three mix of vinegar and water and allow to stand for 10 minutes, then blot.
69. Think inside the box
After emptying and washing the cat box, add half an inch or so of vinegar. After 20 minutes, rinse well and dry before adding fresh litter.
70. Shine the aquarium
Vinegar and a nylon scrubber can remove mineral deposits from the glass.
71. Kill pet pests
Spray pets with a 50/50 vinegar and water solution (cover their eyes!) to discourage fleas and ticks. This may be easier said than done, especially with cats.
72. Save the upholstery
Deter cats from attacking couches and chairs by spraying on a little full-strength white vinegar.
73. De-skunk the dog
Should Fido have a run-in with Pepe Le Pew, spray him with a two-to-one mix of water and vinegar, rubbing the liquid in well. Wait five minutes, then rinse well. And no, he won’t like it much.
74. Keep eggs intact
Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar to the cooking water so the shells won’t crack.
75. Coax out condiments
Add a small amount of vinegar to the last of the salad dressing, then shake. If the mustard bottle is mostly empty, add some vinegar and shake well; this makes a zesty addition to cooked greens, soups and stews.
76. Wash vegetables
Want to remove residue from fruits and veggies? Mix two tablespoons of vinegar in one pint of water.
77. See more clearly
Dampen a lint-free cloth (not a paper towel, which can scratch plastic lenses) with vinegar and wipe off smudges and oil.
78. Clean DVDs
Skipping or freezing issues? Dampen a microfiber or flannel cloth with vinegar and wipe the disc from the center straight to the edge. Once all the surface has been cleaned, use a second soft cloth to wipe dry.
79. Clean scissors
Wipe gummy blades with undiluted vinegar.
80. Adhesive remover
Kids put stickers on the windows again? Remove them and their residue by wiping with vinegar. This works on bumper stickers and other decals as well.
81. Strip wallpaper
Soak the paper you want to remove with a 50/50 vinegar and water mix. Wait a few minutes, then attack with a scraper.
82. Bust rust
Drizzle vinegar over rusted/corroded nuts, screws or hinges to make them easier to remove. Soak rusted hand tools in vinegar for a couple of days, or until the rust goes away.
83. Build a volcano
Because science fair. Vinegar + baking soda = delighted children. This stuff never gets old.
How do you use vinegar? Leave your tips in the comments section or on our Facebook page.