A bottle on the counter

26 Ways to Use Vinegar that Will Surprise You!

It’s cheap. It’s available in every supermarket and home center in the universe and so useful around your home, you may have a difficult time believing it. That’s the power of white vinegar—the same vinegar you cook with and pour on your salad!


A bottle on the counter


1. Windows

Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to a quart of very warm water to make a good window cleaner. Wipe with a microfiber cloth and your windows will sparkle.

MORE: Best Inexpensive™ Microfiber, Electronics, Automobiles

2. Computer mouse

Clean your mouse that has a removable tracking ball with a 50/50 vinegar-water solution. First, remove the ball from underneath the mouse by twisting off the cover. Dip a clean cloth into the solution, wring it out and then wipe the ball clean. Next, remove fingerprints and dirt from the mouse itself. Then use a vinegar-moistened cotton swab to clean out the gunk and debris from inside the ball chamber. Allow all parts to dry a couple of hours before reinserting the ball.

3. Laundry

Instead of fabric softener or dry sheets, add 1/2 (one-half) to 1 cup vinegar to the last rinse in your washing machine (as you would liquid softener). Your clothes will come out soft because the vinegar helps to remove every trace of laundry detergent, which causes fabrics to stiffen.

4. Watermarks

Vinegar will dissolve hard-water marks like those on shower doors, faucets and in vases. If the vinegar is hot (heat in the microwave) it works even faster.

5. Ballpoint pen ink

Got ink marks from ballpoint pen adorning a wall, desktop, or other inappropriate space? No worries. Dab full-strength white vinegar on the ink using a cloth or a sponge. Repeat until the marks are gone. Then buy your child a nice big sketch pad.

6. Dishwasher

Instead of pricey commercial rinse agents, fill that little reservoir in your dishwasher with white vinegar. Your dishes will sparkle. Refill often. If your dishwasher does not have this feature, simply add 1/2 to 1 cup (depending on the hardness of your water) to the last rinse.

7. Windshield

Wash your windshield with full-strength vinegar—avoiding painted areas—to help keep ice and frost at bay.

8. Wallpaper

Vinegar makes a great wallpaper remover. First, remove all the wallpaper you can by simply pulling it off. You’ll probably get only the top layer of the paper, but that’s okay. Now spray full-strength vinegar on what remains. This will begin to dissolve the glue. Once softened you’ll be able to remove the rest without harsh chemicals.

9. Scissors

When scissors begin to stick or get grimy, don’t wash them with water. That won’t fix the problem and only expose the fastener and blades to rust. Instead wipe down the blades with a cloth dipped in full-strength white vinegar. Dry well with a rag or dish towel.

10. Carpet

Scrub light carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Once completely dry, vacuum the area.

11. Window blinds

Remove the torture of cleaning mini blinds with this white-glove treatment:  Just put on a white cotton glove and moisten the fingers in a solution made of equal parts white vinegar and hot tap water. Then slide your fingers across both sides of each slat and prepare to be amazed. Use a container of clean water to periodically wash the glove and then keep going.

12. Tenderize

Use the acidity of vinegar to tenderize meat. I add several tablespoons to pot roast, soups, and stews. If you have balsamic vinegar it will add a wonderful flavor, but white vinegar tenderizes just as well. Your guests will think you are serving them filet mignon.

13. Exposed brick

Go over the bricks with a damp cloth dipped in 1 cup white vinegar mixed with 1-gallon warm water. Your hearth will look so good you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this sooner! You can use the same process on brick flooring, too.

14. Paneling

If that paneling is looking dull and dreary, perk it up with this simple remedy: Mix 2 cups warm water, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a container. Mix well then apply with a clean cloth. Allow to soak into the wood for a few minutes, then polish with a dry cloth. That’s it! Looks, great doesn’t it?

15. Remove waxy buildup

To get built up polish off a piece of wood furniture, dip a cloth in equal parts vinegar and water and squeeze it out well. Then carefully clean away the polish, moving with the grain. Wipe dry with a soft towel or cloth. Most leather tabletops will come clean simply by wiping them down with a soft cloth dipped in 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup water. Use a clean towel to dry off any remaining liquid.

16. Leather

To restore that beautiful leather sofa, or other furniture, to its former beauty, mix equal parts white vinegar and boiled linseed oil in a recycled spray bottle, shake it up well, and spray it on. (Please don’t try to boil your own linseed oil! It’s a product available in home centers or online.) Spread it evenly over your leather furniture using a soft cloth, give it a couple of minutes to settle in, then rub it off with a clean cloth.

17. Hide scratches

To make scratches on wood furniture less noticeable, mix some distilled or cider vinegar and iodine in a small jar and paint over the scratch with a small artist’s brush. Use more iodine for darker woods and more vinegar for lighter shades.

18. Piano keys

Here’s an easy and efficient way to get those grimy fingerprints and stains off your piano keys. Dip a soft cloth into a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar mixed in 2 cups water, squeeze it out until there are no drips, then gently wipe off each key. Use a second cloth to dry off the keys as you move along, then leave the keyboard uncovered for 24 hours.

NOTE: If your piano is older than 50 or 60 years, chances are those keys are made of ivory. In that case, don’t use vinegar. Instead, you want to use a solution of mild dish liquid and warm water. If they have turned yellow, do not attempt to make them white again. That is considered antique patina, and it makes your piano unique and likely, more valuable.

19. Candle wax

Did a candle go nuts and drip wax on your fine wood furniture? Do this: First, soften the wax using a hair dryer set on its hottest setting and blot up as much of that softened wax as you can with paper towels. Then remove what’s left by rubbing with a cloth soaked in a solution made of equal parts white vinegar and water. Wipe clean with a soft, absorbent cloth.

20. Drains

The combination of vinegar and baking soda is one of the most effective ways to unclog and deodorize drains. Used in appropriate proportions, it’s also far gentler on your pipes—and your wallet—than commercial drain cleaners. Use a funnel to pour 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar into the drain. When the foaming subsides, flush with hot tap water. Wait five minutes, and then flush again with cold water. Besides clearing blockages, this technique also washes away odor-causing bacteria.

21. Copper

You can clean copper-bottom pots and other copper items with a paste made of salt and vinegar. Caution: Do not use this on decorative copper that has a lacquer coating.

22. Stainless Steel

To clean stainless steel fixtures (chrome, too)  and appliances, apply a light misting of undiluted white vinegar from a spray bottle. Buff with a soft cloth moving with the grain, to bring out the brightness.

23. Floors

Wash your vinyl and ceramic tile floors with a mixture of hot water and white vinegar (1 cup per gallon of water). No need to rinse and you will never have that nasty film that plain water leaves behind. And Wow! Your floor will shine like a new penny.

24. Sunburn

White vinegar will take the sting out of sunburn. Just soak a towel and apply to the burn. The smell is far more tolerable that the pain of a sunburn. Caution: Never self-treat a severe burn. Contact your health professional immediately if you have any doubt.

25. Water rings

To remove marks left by wet glasses on wood furniture, mix equal parts vinegar and olive oil and apply it with a soft cloth while moving with the wood grain. Use another clean, soft cloth to shine it up. In the future, make sure coasters are handy to prevent future water rings! To get white water rings off leather furniture, dab them with a sponge soaked in full-strength white vinegar.

26. Steam iron

Clean your steam iron from the inside out. Fill the steam reservoir with white vinegar and heat to the hottest setting (after you’ve consulted the Owner Manual to make sure you iron is okay with this). It’s going to steam vinegar so get prepared for a strong smell. You will see all kinds of hard water deposits come out of the steam holes. Empty remaining vinegar, fill with water and allow to steam well to remove all traces of vinegar. Repeat as necessary.

Got other uses for vinegar? We’d love to know. Tell us using the comments feature below. Thanks!

PREVIOUSLY: 5 Reasons to Give Kids an Allowance

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8 replies
  1. Fournier says:

    Some water softeners will boost sodium levels that is not healthy for some people with heart difficulties. A floating water softener is not going to allow water to enter espresso machine and can induce damage.

  2. Kim Hunter says:

    If you ever get gum on clothing, a toothbrush dipped in hot white vinegar will get it off if, when applying the toothbrush to the gum on the fabric, rub in only one direction, and the gum will come off. I did this after washing a favourite pair of cargo pants with a stick of gum in the pocket and it melted. I had already tried putting the pants in the freezer and it didn’t work, so after some Googling, I tried the vinegar thing. It worked.

  3. Bjorn Olson says:

    Great article! Another one – cleaning your waterpik – run through a mix of vinegar/warm water to clean out the hose.

  4. Kristina says:

    Along the lines of shining up your stainless steel pots, I’ve found that it gets the rainbowing and spots off the bottom of your Instant Pot liner. Simply pour in 1/4 straight vinegar, or enough to cover the bottom of the pot, and let sit for 5 minutes. Swish a scrubby sponge or brush on the bottom and rinse. Make sure you’re cleaning the stainless steel inner pot and not the base unit of the Instant Pot! Never pour liquid into the base or you’ll have to wait for a few days for it to dry out before you can use it again.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Which is the #1 mistake new Instant Pot owners make—pouring ingredients in the base while the inner pot is sitting on the counter somewhere 🙂 Your tip is great, Kristina! Thanks …

  5. Susan Odom says:

    If you have hard water/well water, your toilet TANK inside walls will get discolored by minerals, etc. Add about a cup or a little more white vinegar to your toilet tank and leave overnight. In the morning turn the water off to the tank – so the tank will not fill again when you flush – and flush the toilet. Now easily scrub away the gunk inside the tank. Turn the water back on and flush.


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