82 Amazing and Environmentally Friendly Uses for Vinegar

Vinegar is arguably the most versatile product in your house. Find out how to use it, from cleaning veggies to whitening teeth and de-skunking a dog.

82 Amazing and Environmentally Friendly Uses for Vinegar Photo by ALPA PROD / Shutterstock.com

Vinegar is an amazing household staple. The humble product cleans and sanitizes without harsh chemicals — and that’s in addition to all its uses in preparing food.

The stinky stuff has loads of uses, from DVD repair to dandruff control. Here are 82 ways to get started. (Note: Unless otherwise specified, “vinegar” means white vinegar.)

Beauty hacks

Beautiful womanVolodymyr Tverdokhlib / Shutterstock.com

1. 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 an internet 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 for 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.

5. Deodorant

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 and water 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 1 teaspoon cider vinegar into a glass of water and rinse your teeth 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

FeetAngelika Smile / Shutterstock.com

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.

Cleaning house

Woman cleaning counter, in soft focus.VGstockstudio / Shutterstock.com

15. Floor show

Mop with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. The vinegar smell will dissipate, but you also 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, and 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

Is 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 3 cups of vinegar and fill the rest of the way with hot water. In four hours, drain the tub and scrub off the rings. Then, rinse well.

23. Clean shower-door tracks

Carefully fill the tracks with vinegar and let it stand for a few hours. Then, scrub with an old toothbrush.

24. Clean the shower curtain

Is 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 1 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 wipe away 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

Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

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.

28. Lime away

If your teakettle has lime or mineral deposits, boil 3 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 2 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 that smell? Put some vinegar and water into a mug or bowl and boil it for a while. Carefully remove the container and use a wet cloth to remove 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 mix of vinegar and water to wipe down the inside of your refrigerator. Don’t forget the interiors of bins.

Clothing and accessories

ClothesVGstockstudio / Shutterstock.com

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 a half-cup of vinegar to the wash cycle will brighten clothing’s colors.

36. Gum-b-gone

Did your child 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

Do you have 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 and — 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 3-to-1 mix of vinegar and water.

40. Socks appeal

If your sports socks have turned dingy, soak them overnight in a solution of 1 cup vinegar boiled with 6 cups of water, and then launder as usual.

41. Remove yellowing

If white garments or other items have yellowed, mix 1 part vinegar to 12 parts water and soak the clothing 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.

Household hints

Coffee mugAnutr Yossundara / Shutterstock.com

45. Coffee scrub

If your favorite coffee or tea mug has dark stains, scour with a 1-to-1 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, the vinegar smell will go away.

47. Clean filters

Soak humidifier or air conditioner filters in a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water, then rinse and squeeze dry.

48. Sanitize cutting boards

After washing cutting boards, 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 well.

Yard and garden

Hummingbird feederPhilip Marsden / Shutterstock.com

52. Bug killer

Cider vinegar stinks to us, but it 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.

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 it 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 a half-cup of white vinegar over a handful of garden soil in a container. Fizzy/bubbly means alkaline. Science!

Caring for your car

LuckyImages / Shutterstock.com

61. Wiper magic

Rub windshield wiper blades a couple of times with undiluted vinegar.

62. Clearer windows

Wipe windows and the windshield with a 3-to-1 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.

De-stinking stuff

Sponge cleaningnito / Shutterstock.com

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 a half-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.

Pet help

Dog in sunglassesTravelling.About / Shutterstock.com

68. Remove urine stains

Wash the carpet with mild soap and water, rinse and blot as dry as possible. Saturate the area with a 1-to-3 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 2-to-1 mix of water and vinegar, rubbing the liquid in well. Wait five minutes, then rinse well. And no, he won’t like it much.

Miscellaneous magic

The Brighton Journal/ BluApple / Money Talks News

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 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 1 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.

How do you use vinegar? Leave your tips in the comments section or on our Facebook page.

Donna Freedman
Donna Freedman @DLFreedman
A former newspaper journalist, Donna Freedman has been a staff writer for MSN Money and Get Rich Slowly, and freelanced for a wide variety of online and print publications. She got a ... More


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