Vinegar is more than just an important ingredient in salad dressings and homemade pickles. This humble, fermented liquid has all kinds of uses around the house.
In fact, some of the properties that make vinegar useful in preserving food are the same ones that make it a great green cleaning ingredient. Vinegar is antiseptic, meaning that it kills bacteria. It’s also acidic, which makes it great at cutting grease as well as pickling those cucumbers that are growing like gangbusters in your garden.
There are two vinegars that I always try to keep in ample supply at my house: white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is so popular for natural cleaning and DIY beauty that you’ll often see folks refer to it just as ACV. I buy both of these in the biggest jugs that I can find, because I use them both so frequently for everything from common uses like making refrigerator pickles to less common jobs like cleaning out the fridge.
Got your big bottles of white vinegar and ACV at the ready? Check out 17 ways to use these vinegars besides eating them!
1. Fruit Fly Trap – Is your kitchen compost bin attracting fruit flies? Mine too! Instead of introducing poison to your kitchen to handle this pest problem, try some apple cider vinegar! Just fill a mason jar with about 1″ of ACV, add a drop of dish soap, and cover the whole thing with a bit of plastic wrap that has holes punched into it. Goodbye, fruit flies!
2. No ‘Poo for Beautiful Hair – Vinegar in your hair? Yes! Apple cider vinegar’s pH is great for your locks. It’s part of what’s called the “No ‘Poo Method” (‘poo is short for shampoo). Learn more about how to no ‘poo here!
3. Unclog a Drain with the Volcano Method – Is your kitchen sink or tub drain clogged? Pour 1/2 cup baking soda chased with 1 cup white vinegar down the drain. Let it foam for as long as it wants, then follow with 4 cups boiling water. Follow the boiling water with some cold tap water to wash the clog away completely.
Related Reading: 5 Recipes for Homemade Personal Care Products
4. Clean the Toilet – This is another volcano method. Pour 1 cup each baking soda and white vinegar into the bowl and close the lid while you clean the rest of the bathroom. When you’re done, stains will wipe away easily with the toilet brush.
5. Remove Sticky Labels – Use a rag to soak the sticker in white or apple cider vinegar, then use an old gift card to scrape it away. If there’s any gunk left when you’ve got the sticker off, soak it with more vinegar for a few minutes, then scrub it with your rag.
Next>> More unusual uses for vinegar!
photo by Becky Striepe
6. Clean Your Car’s Wiper Blades – Are your wiper blades not doing the job? You might be able to clean them instead of replacing them. Just use a rag soaked in some white vinegar to de-gunk those blades.
7. Detail Your Car – Instead of paying for car detailing, let vinegar do the work! Vacuum the interior of the car, then use a rag and a one to one mixture of white vinegar and water to get out ground-in dirt and even salt from that beach trip you took. Follow up with a damp cloth to easily remove all of that grime.
8. Clean the Fridge – Did you know that your refrigerator’s produce drawer is one of the grossest spots in your kitchen? Clean it out – along with the rest of your fridge. Pull everything out, then use a one to one mixture of white vinegar and water to clean and deodorize at the same time. Make sure you get into all of the nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide!
Related Reading: 25 Ways to Reduce Food Waste
9. Dishwasher Rinse Aid – Instead of chemical-laden, store-bought rinse aids, fill your dishwasher’s rinse air reservoir with white vinegar instead. Your dishes will sparkle for less money and with fewer harsh chemicals.
10. Natural Non-Stick – Non-stick pans are coated with dangerous chemicals. Instead of Teflon, use a regular stainless steel pan, but before you use it, fill it with white or apple cider vinegar and boil for 10-12 minutes. Your natural non-stick coating will last for a 2-3 weeks, depending on how much you cook.
11. Deodorize the Kitchen – Did you make a curry a couple of days ago that you’re still smelling in the kitch? Boil a pot of one part white vinegar to two parts water to give that stink the boot.
Next>> Even more handy uses for vinegar!
12. All Purpose Cleaner – In case you hadn’t noticed, this list is full of tips that use a one to one mixture of vinegar and water. Instead of mixing it up every time, grab an old, clean spray bottle and fill it up with an equal parts white vinegar and water mixture, so you’ll be ready to clean.
13. Remove the Smell from Glass Jars – Are you saving an old pickle or sauce jar for crafting, but you can’t get the smell out? Fill the jar halfway with white vinegar and the rest of the way with soapy water, shake it up, and let it sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes. Give it another vigorous shake before emptying it out and rinsing.
14. Get the Garlic Out – I love cooking with garlic, but I hate how it makes my hands stink! Once you’re done mincing, rub some white vinegar on your hands before you wash them to help get the garlic smell off.
Related Reading: The Thrifty Kitchen: Cooking with Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
15. Soothe Sore Muscles – After a long run, even a good stretch doesn’t always do the trick. Try drawing a hot bath with a couple of cups of apple cider vinegar and your favorite soothing essential oil, like lavender.
16. Soothe Sunburned Skin – Did you overdo it in the summer sun? Apply some apple cider vinegar to your sunburned areas to help your skin heal.
17. Clean Your Cutting Board – Soak a rag in white vinegar, and wipe bacteria and odors away. A double-duty cleaner!
Do you have a favorite use for vinegar around the house? Tell us in the comments!