30 Household Products Vinegar Can Replace

By Nora Dunn on 21 July 2009 (Updated 5 May 2011) 38 comments

Who knew that vinegar could do so much? It serves a purpose in just about every room of the house, and there are dozens of household (and personal) products that vinegar can replace, as you will see below. It's cheaper, better for the environment, and better for your health and home (in eliminating unnecessary chemicals).

All-Purpose Cleaners

Vinegar in general is a natural (and inexpensive) disinfectant. It can be used on almost anything except marble. So stick it in a spray bottle and get to work! Here are a few more "recipes" for various cleaning purposes. (See also: Household Cleaning Hacks that Save You Money)

All-purpose cleaner: 2 parts vinegar, 1 part water.

Extra dirty spots: Scour dirty areas with baking soda, then spray the all purpose cleaner (recipe above) over the area and wipe clean.

Floor cleaner: Brew a cup of peppermint tea (use 1 tea bag: one cup for you, one for the floor). Squeeze half a lemon in to the floor mix, and add 1 cup of vinegar. Mop away with your solution; the vinegar disinfects, the tea has antibacterial properties and removes marks, and the lemon freshens and disinfects.

Pee stains on carpet (presumably from pets): Blot up the initial stain, flush it with water, then apply equal parts vinegar and cool water. Blot it all up, rinse, and let dry. This will eliminate odors and stains.

Hard water stains and mineral deposits: Allow a cloth soaked in vinegar to sit on a hard water stain (for example behind your faucet) or mineral deposit for a few hours. Wipe clean.

Appliance cleaning: Clean your coffee maker or laundry machine or dishwasher by running vinegar through it, followed by water. This reduces soap buildup and keeps everything in working order.

In The Kitchen

Remove labels from glass jars: Saturate the labeled area in vinegar and scrape the stickiness right off.

Dirty pot bottoms and cooking utensils: Fill the pot with enough water to cover the stain, add 1 cup of vinegar, and boil rapidly for 5 minutes. Let cool, then scrub the stains off. While you're at it, put your stainless steel cooking utensils in the pot to get them sparkly clean too.

Fruit stains on hands: Had a little too much fun making that cherry pie or berry salad? Just rub your hands with vinegar to remove the stains.

Coffee stains on china: Use a mixture of salt and vinegar to clean coffee stains from china.

Wooden cutting boards: Wooden cutting boards are great, except they can be a hothouse for bacteria (especially if grooves have been cut into the board with use). Disinfect it regularly with vinegar to keep it (and your food) clean.

Veggie maintenance: Clean and crisp up your veggies by soaking them in a mixture of water and a tablespoon or so of vinegar. Any bugs lingering on your produce will float away, and your soggy celery will come to life again (depending on how far gone it was to begin with).

Smelly onion hands: Eliminate onion odor off your hands by rinsing them in vinegar. This also apparently works with other stinky parts of your body that soap isn't cutting through, such as underarms.

Clean sticky scissors: Sometimes those scissors get so gummy you can't even make them work. Just wipe them down with vinegar, and they'll be like new again.

Laundry

Fabric softener: There are a few fabric softener strategies you can play with. Add equal parts vinegar and baking soda, OR just ½ a cup of vinegar to your wash when you would add fabric softener (final rinse cycle). Line dried towels will come out softer with a vinegar-based softener.

Water: You can also add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to your wash water, which does the following:

  • Reduces the amount of soap you need to use
  • Reduces lint
  • Brightens colors, and stops them from running
  • Acts as a rinse aid
  • Keeps the washing machine running clean and well

Stain removal: Use vinegar on stains before washing to remove stubborn ones like perspiration, fruit, mustard, and coffee.

In The Garden

Kill grass and weeds: Pour or spray full strength vinegar on grass or weeds poking through your driveway or rearing their heads in other unsavory places.

In The Car

Frost-free windows: If you know a chilly night is on the make, you can ensure that your windows will be frost-free when you wake up in the morning. Simply mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water, and coat your windows with the mixture the night before.

In The Bathroom

Kill soap scum: Wiping a scummy area with vinegar and rinsing with water will do as good a job as any at attacking your bathroom shower grime. If the scum is particularly stubborn, scrub with baking soda (a great natural abrasive) after wiping with vinegar. Rinse with water.

Unclog your shower head: Unscrew it, throw it into a pot of equal parts vinegar and water and boil for a few minutes to loosen deposits that are blocking your shower head.

Personal Use

Hair rinse: If vinegar removes soap scum on your tiles, it stands to reason that it will also remove soap scum on your hair. Rinse with a cup filled with ½ a cup of warm water and ½ a cup of vinegar, and your locks will be shiny and free of buildup.

Dandruff treatment: Using the same technique as the hair rinse above but with a higher concentration of vinegar; also acts as an effective dandruff treatment.

Acne treatment: Apply equal parts vinegar and water to problem areas.

Facial toner: Using vinegar as toner is a great (and inexpensive) alternative to using alpha hydroxyl based products.

Athletes foot (and other fungus): Apply full-strength vinegar to the affected area twice daily until symptoms abate.

Miscellaneous Uses

Eliminate smoke odor: Simply put a bowl of vinegar in the offending room near the offending source. Smoke odors be gone!

Air freshener: If you would like to reduce icky smells but would like a nicer room smell than vinegar, add some fragrant spices (like cardamom) to your bowl of vinegar and leave it in a warm corner of the room.

Chrome polish: Use full strength vinegar with soft cloth to make that chrome shine.

Insect traps: Vinegar is an active ingredient used in various insect and pest traps.

Not enough reason to stock up on vinegar? Paul described 254 uses for vinegar.

What are your favorite uses for vinegar?

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Guest's picture
Sarah

I consider myself fairly eco-conscious, but what's wrong with alpha hydroxyl? I'm not defending it, I'm just unsure.

Guest's picture
Janine

As a medical esthetician, I can assure you there is nothing wrong with using an Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) to cleanse ir exfoliate your skin. AHA's are great for anti-aging, smoothing the skin's surface and evening skintone. Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) also work well, in addition, to quickly being absorbed into the pore, therefore, making it a better choice for oily or acneic skin. My concern with vinegar is the pH level being too acidic for the skin and impacting the skin's natural moisturizing factor (the skin barrier function). My suggestion would be to go ahead and try the vinegar as a toner and see if it begins to dry out your skin or cause inflammation. If so, stop using the vinegar and apply a good moisturizer, such as CeraVe cream (very dry skin) or CeraVe lotion. CeraVe is inexpensive ($9 - $12) at drugstores (CVS, Walgreens, etc.) and Costco at the pharmacy counter. My favorite and highly recommended AHA/BHA pads are the Glycolix 10/2 or 5/2 pads made by Topix Pharmaceuticals. Effective and inexpensive... best beauty buy!

Guest's picture
CYNTHIA KUHNS

WHERE DO YOU BUY THE AHA/BHA PADS OF GLYCOLIX AND WHAT IS 10/2AND 5/2 TOPIX PHARM? THANK YOU.

Guest's picture
Rob O.

A cup of white vinegar mixed into a bucket of very hot water makes for a very good wallpaper adhesive remover. Just dab the liquid behind the wallpaper or border as you gently peel it off the wall. Then sponge the wall another time or two two remove any remaining residue after the paper is gone. It cuts right thru the glue without harmful odors (tho it's certainly pungent!) and the drips & splatters won't stain your flooring or clothes.

Guest's picture
Chris

I can attest that the athletes foot remedy works very well. I use vinegar all the time around the house. I mix a little Mr. Clean with a bottle mostly filled with vinegar for an all purpose cleaner. I am looking into mixing essential oils with vinegar to take Mr. Clean out of the equation. Does anyone know a good source for essential oils?

Guest's picture
Guest

Email botanierra@yahoo.com and request a pricelist. The website is under construction and not currently operational. The oils are all safe, organic or wild-grown, therapeutic or food-grade and pure processed, such as distillation. Prices are very affordable and fabulous for quality products.

Guest's picture
Guest

You tube had videos on how to make your own essential oils - all recipes are very simple.

Guest's picture
Jessica

I was just trying to find a DIY cleaner for my tile floors and I kept coming across advice that says vinegar can etch ceramic tiles. Anyone out there try using vinegar based cleaner on their floors? Is this true?

Guest's picture
Charley

Vinegar absolutely rules...and is frugal too. Thank you for the comprehensive list.

Guest's picture

Use vinegar instead of Jet Dry (or other rinse aid) in the dishwasher. Keeps spots off your glasses for a lot less!

Guest's picture

I just moved into a new rental apartment and used vinegar to remove a whole host of paint atrocities: old spatters on the wood floors, latex paint on the porcelain soap dish/toothbrush holder in the bathroom, fine spray of paint and something sticky on one window, and old chipping paint on brass doorknobs. Vinegar rocks!

Guest's picture
Robert

Soaking iron or steel items overnight-24 hrs then rinsed and scrubbed will have rust and most stains removed. Handy if someone left a tool or two out overnight. DAMHIKT.

Guest's picture
Guest

I have 6 pets and rub their coats with Cider vinegar once a week to keep their fur soft and it keeps fleas away! They hate it and will run when they smell it!

Guest's picture
Guest

has anyone ever tried a ready made green cleaner?

Guest's picture
Lucille

I switched to distilled vinegar and water as our all purpose cleaner. It works great. It also cleans glass better than glass cleaner. We also use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels. The combination does a great job.

2 of those huge jugs of vinegar at Sam's Club is under $3.

Guest's picture
Justin

We use vinegar for a lot of our household cleaning. It does a great job and definitely cheaper then most household cleaners.

Guest's picture

Vinegar is such a great multipurpose liquid. My kid had a mild fungal infection on her legs and after apply vinegar to the infected spots it healed completely. I also use vinegar to disinfect and remove pee stains in my hamsters cages.

Guest's picture
Guest

Since we're always on the go, with limited space & constant cleaning demands in our RV, not to mention the encroaching odors-vinegar is becoming our save-all.
It's great to add to fresh,grey&black tank water. When conserving water, it works grat in the bath sink as a "finger-bowl" mixture to disinfect/rinse hands all day.

Favorite use: removing B.O.smells from shirts,jackets,etc. Especially when re-shopping, items look clean, but suddenly smell mixed w/body heat (@ 1st chked deoderant). It kills all bacteria in cloth & clothes smell fresh as new!
Now to wean us off windex & all purpose cleaners, wish we knew about it's goo-gone effects (savings $7). Plan to try it as a hair rinse vs buying special shampoos! Was proud to find plain witch-hazel $1 as a cheap travel-toner (water conserve idea), but will try vinegar out of curiosity. I'll bet it works to disenfect toothbrushes too, as well as those silly light-gadgets.janice & Clay

Guest's picture
Guest

Add to grey/black tanks to deoderize. Finger-bowl made in bath stink conserves water. Disinfect toothbrushes. Soak smelly re-shpped clothes to deoderize. Will try as toner (use plain witch hazel now) andwindex, and goo-gone.

Guest's picture
Guest

Add to grey/black tanks to deoderize. Finger-bowl made in bath stink conserves water. Disinfect toothbrushes. Soak smelly re-shpped clothes to deoderize. Will try as toner (use plain witch hazel now) andwindex, and goo-gone.

Guest's picture
Guest

Add to grey/black tanks to deoderize. Finger-bowl made in bath stink conserves water. Disinfect toothbrushes. Soak smelly re-shpped clothes to deoderize. Will try as toner (use plain witch hazel now) andwindex, and goo-gone.

Guest's picture
Guest

Add to grey/black tanks to deoderize. Finger-bowl made in bath stink conserves water. Disinfect toothbrushes. Soak smelly re-shpped clothes to deoderize. Will try as toner (use plain witch hazel now) andwindex, and goo-gone.

Guest's picture
Guest

Apple cider vinegar or even white vinegar for a hair rinse once or twice a month is a staple of long hair care over at the Long Hair Community (http://www.longhaircommunity.com/) for clarifying any "cone" products out of your hair (silicone, dimethicone, etc. that are in many hair products and create the icky buildup). It's best to dilute the vinegar with water and follow with a cold rinse.

I know that some people avoid cleaning with vinegar because of the smell but it really doesn't take long to get used to it, and there's no harmful vapors. I'd rather smell safe vinegar than bleach and ammonia-based products.

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

@Jannie - Thank you so much for giving us your expert and detailed advice! Cheers.

Guest's picture
Guest

Can you use vinegar to clean granite? I have tried every store product that I can find and they all seem to leave my counter tops streaky.

Guest's picture
Guest

Take two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before meals. This will activate the digestive acids in your stomach, helping digest your food more quickly and enabling weight loss.

Guest's picture
Guest

Great to remove stomach parasites, too - tastes awful, though!

Nora Dunn's picture
Nora Dunn

@Guest #24 - I don't know about the granite situation, but I imagine it would be fine. I seem to remember something about vinegar being bad for marble though - and I would most certainly do a test patch first....

@Guest #25 - I used to mix a tbsp of apple cider vinegar into a glass of cranberry juice before meals. Apparently the cran juice enhances the effect - or at least complements the taste of the vinegar! :-)

Guest's picture
Guest

soaking kitty litter boxes with a mixture of water and vinegar helps keep down the kitty pee odor

Guest's picture
Guest

Maybe this is a silly question, but what TYPE of vinegar is best for all of these different solutions? Does it matter?

Guest's picture
Guest

I am using regular vinegar to wash and clean my vagina 2 to 3 times a week. Is this the right thing to do?

Guest's picture
Lori B

you should NOT have to clean your vagina it cleans it self if you have odor then change your diet and wash better while you shower if there is anything else going on then you should see a Dr. The vagina has its own Ph and diet can affect it as well as not washing or using the bathroom after sex. no need for the vagina washes or scented coverups it just a waste of money.
wash well ,keep your clothes loose,wear cotton undergarments, keep it dry and change your diet. stop trying to make it smell pretty

Guest's picture
Guest

exactly 1 drop of rosmary vinager in your dates drink and make sure their looking at you when they drink it and the results are .... They see similarities between you and thier favorite celebraties, animals, trusted friends and they become horney.

Guest's picture
Guest

Rinsing your hair with vinegar and water is a great idea but take care not to get it into your eyes. It stings!!

Guest's picture
Claudia

Roaches don't like the smell of vinegar. So wipe your counters down after you do dishes!

Guest's picture
LeslieDD

1 tsp on vinegar will immediately take away indigestion.

Guest's picture
Guest

I use the basic vinegar/water/spray bottle combo to clean mirrors and windows. Especially in the bathroom, this cuts through hair products, fingerprints, etc., very nicely.