A Dozen Dandy Uses for White Vinegar

It costs hardly anything ($2 a gallon on sale), it’s available in every grocery store in the universe and so useful around your home you are going to have a hard time believing it. That’s the power of vinegar. Yep, plain, cheap, 5 percent acidity, white vinegar.


1. Instead of fabric softener or dry sheets, add 1/2 to 1 cup vinegar to 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 cause fabrics to stiffen.

2. Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to a quart of very warm water to make a good window cleaner. Wipe with crumpled newspaper or a coffee filter and your windows will sparkle.

3. 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.

4. 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, simple add 1/2 to 1 cup (depending on the hardness of your water) to the last rinse.

5. Wash your car’s windshield with vinegar to help keep ice and frost at bay.

6. Diluted 50/50 with water, vinegar will take pet odors out of carpets. Find the offending area and saturate it well (you want to use more liquid here than the amount the pet contributed). Let it set for awhile then blot all you can with a clean white towel. Don’t scrub, blot! Stand on that towel to bring the liquid into the towel.

7. 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.

8. 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.

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

10. 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 line a new penny.

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

12. Clean your steam iron from the inside out. Fill the steam reservoir with white vinegar and heat to the hottest setting. 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. NOTE: Check the owner manual to make sure vinegar is not prohibited in your particular model.


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  • Lynn from GA.

    I use a ridiculous amount of white vinegar. Now, what to do with all those nice thick bottles. I had to throw them away!!!! I know that I haven’t used fabric softener in years. I will try cleaning my iron with vinegar. I am filling the empty bottles with water and storing them in a closet, just in case.

    • Lynn from GA

      I mean, I “hate” to throw them away, not “had” to throw them away.

    • B. in Lee, NY

      I used one to make a scoop for scattering sand on my icy walkway and steps. I’m sure there are a gazillion uses for vinegar bottles – just as many as there are for vinegar!

  • ElectricNana

    Although I use vinegar for most of my household cleaning, I never, ever use it on ceramic tile. It destroys grout! Please, please stop recommending that.

  • Deborah Ragno

    After cleaning my coffee maker with white vinegar, I return the white vinegar (which is now blue because we have copper pipes) to the bottle and then get a second use out of that vinegar in the laundry room. I add it to the second rinse for my towels (and they haven’t turned blue).

    • B. in Lee, NY

      Clever! You are super-frugal!

  • Deb

    I use white vinegar for ear infections. Put a couple drops in and It kills the bacteria within minutes.

  • linda

    Vinegar is the best. Paired with baking soda it is amazing for lots of things, too. The heavy plastic bottles when the top is cut off make great containers for starting plants or as a liner for a plant inside a decorative pot or basket. When appropriate I drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage.

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