How to Use Cleaning Vinegar to Clean (Almost) Anything (2023)

Cleaning vinegar is a natural ingredient that can be used to clean many items and surfaces around the house. While there are many types of vinegar used for cooking and salad dressings (red, white, champagne, balsamic, rice, apple cider, to name a few), cleaning vinegar is an entirely different product that's made specifically for household cleaning and should never be consumed. If you would like to move away from commercial cleaning products filled with chemicals, then consider this as an alternative. Here's everything you need to know about cleaning vinegar and how to use it all over the house—plus a few items you should never clean with vinegar.

What Is Cleaning Vinegar?

All kinds of vinegar contain acid that brings brightness to foods or helps in food preservation. Distilled white vinegar is often used for cleaning because it is colorless and contains about 5 percent acetic acid.

Cleaning vinegar and distilled white vinegar are made in the same way—by fermenting alcohols distilled from corn or grains. Microorganisms (bacteria) process the alcohol into acetic acid and water, or vinegar. Cleaning vinegar contains around 6 percent acid, which actually makes it 20 percent stronger than distilled white vinegar. A 1:1 solution of vinegar and water is great for cleaning out receptacles like kitchen compost bins and sink caddies. You can soak watering cans overnight in the solution to tackle deposits and stubborn scum.

You can find cleaning vinegar in the cleaning products aisle at grocery stores. If using undiluted cleaning vinegar, wear gloves to protect your hands from irritation. Do not confuse cleaning vinegar with industrial vinegar. Industrial vinegar contains 20 percent acetic acid, releases strong fumes, and can permanently damage the surfaces of floors and kitchen counters.

While cleaning vinegar can be combined with some other cleaners, like dishwashing liquid, never mix cleaning vinegar and chemical cleaners, like chlorine bleach, which, when combined, produce toxic fumes. Choose one or the other—clean your oven with vinegar and baking soda or use a good commercial oven cleaner.

How to Make a Dawn and Vinegar Cleaner

Combining cleaning vinegar with the surfactants in dishwashing liquid creates an all-purpose cleaner that will cut through grime and grease. By varying the formula, you can use the solution for everything from cleaning the kitchen to washing windows to removing soap scum in the bathroom. Remember to wear gloves when cleaning with these solutions.

(Video) Things you should 🚫 NEVER 🚫 Clean with VINEGAR!!

What You'll Need

  • Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • Cleaning vinegar
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Spray bottles
  • Labels

Instructions

To create an all-purpose cleaner for windows, counters, and kitchen fixtures: Combine 1/4 cup cleaning vinegar and 2 1/2 cups water in a spray bottle. Add 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing liquid. Shake well to mix and label the bottle. To use, lightly spray the soiled surfaces and wipe away grime with a lint-free cloth.

To create a soap scum remover for the bathroom: Mix equal parts cleaning vinegar, dishwashing liquid, and water in a spray bottle. Shake to mix well and label the bottle. To use, start at the top of the shower stall or glass doors and spray on the solution. Allow it to work for at least one minute, and then scrub with a soft-bristled nylon brush. Rinse with clean water and dry with a lint-free towel. For cleaning toilets with persistent stains like rust, we suggest using a tool like thePowerhouse Pumice Stone instead.

How to Use Cleaning Vinegar on Floors

Cleaning vinegar can also be used on floors, including most hardwood floors, luxury vinyl tile, and laminate wood floors. Fill a bucket with 1 gallon of warm water and 1/2 cup cleaning vinegar. Use a sponge or microfiber mop, wringing well to prevent over-wetting the floor. Rinse the mop head often. There's no need to rinse the floor; the solution will not leave residue or streaks.

How to Use Cleaning Vinegar to Clear Clogged Pipes

Bathroom cleaners are great for deep cleaning your bathroom surfaces. Still, to keep your drains clear, you need something to handle scummy buildup in the pipes. Cleaning vinegar and baking soda are a powerful combination to quickly clean slow-running drains in the bathroom or kitchen. While they won't remove hair clogs, the combo is very effective on odors, soap scum, and grease that can coat pipes. This process works particularly well to remove garbage disposal odors.

(Video) 12 Ways to Clean With Vinegar! (Clean Almost Anything around your house )

Pour 4 cups hot water down the drain. Add 1 cup dry baking soda to the drain. Pour in 1 cup cleaning vinegar. There will be fizzing and bubbling, so cover the drain with a stopper to keep as much of the action in the pipes as possible. When the bubbling stops, flush the drain with more hot water. A monthly cleaning will help keep drains odor-free and running smoothly (including shower drains).

How to Clean a Keurig With Cleaning Vinegar

You'll have better-tasting coffee if you clean your single-serve coffee makers and drip coffee makers monthly with cleaning vinegar to remove limescale, bacteria, and oils that can become rancid. Use cleaning vinegar to descale your coffee maker or electric kettle every three to six months. This process also works great for cleaning tea kettles.

  1. Unplug the appliance. Make sure there are no coffee pods in the machine.
  2. Add cleaning vinegar to the water fill line. Set the appliance aside and let the vinegar work for at least four hours.
  3. After soaking, connect the power for the coffee maker and press the "on" button (be sure to have a coffee mug in place). Don't insert a K-cup. Allow the vinegar to process through the machine.
  4. If your Keurig has a reservoir, keep "making coffee" and discarding the contents in the mug as necessary until the reservoir is empty.
  5. Refill the appliance with fresh water and repeat the process until all of the water in the reservoir is emptied. This will ensure your next cup of coffee doesn't have a vinegar taste.

How to Clean a Microwave With Cleaning Vinegar

Cleaning vinegar works wonders to return your crusty, splattered microwave to a pristine state.

What You'll Need

  • Cleaning vinegar
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Sponge

Instructions:

  1. Fill a microwaveable bowl with 2 cups water and 1/4 cup cleaning vinegar. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for one to two minutes or until the mixture boils and steams up the interior of the appliance.
  2. Leave the door closed for about 15 minutes so the steam can loosen the splatters on the inside of the microwave. While the steam is working, use your all-purpose cleaning vinegar and Dawn solution to clean the outside of the microwave. Spray the surfaces lightly and wipe dry with a lint-free cloth.
  3. When the steam has dissipated, open the microwave door and carefully remove the bowl and the glass turntable. Use a sponge to wipe away the grime inside the microwave and the interior of the door. The turntable can be hand-washed with the all-purpose solution or placed in the dishwasher.
  4. To clean the gasket around the door and any greasy areas, dip the sponge in the water and cleaning vinegar solution as an extra boost of cleaning power. Dry the interior with a lint-free cloth and replace the glass turntable.

6 Things You Should Never Clean With Vinegar

Even though cleaning vinegar and distilled white vinegar are excellent cleaning supplies, their acidic properties could damage some surfaces.

(Video) 10 Awesome Vinegar Life Hacks you should know.

  • Electronics: While vinegar works well to clean windows, it will damage the anti-glare coating on the screens of televisions, mobile phones, and computer monitors. Use a glass cleaner designed for those surfaces.
  • Natural Stone Countertops and Flooring: Even if your beautiful natural stone countertops and flooring are sealed, you should not use vinegar to clean granite, marble, or limestone. The acid level, especially in cleaning vinegar, is too strong for the material and can cause etching or damage to the sealant, especially if allowed to sit on the surface. You would be better off using a good commercial all-purpose cleaner.
  • Cast Iron: Vinegar causes pitting and rusting on cast iron surfaces by removing the seasoning oils that protect the iron. Never letter vinegar sit for long periods of time on cast iron.
  • Stainless Steel Kitchen Knives and Appliances: Full-strength cleaning vinegar can cause pitting on stainless steel knife blades and appliance finishes, especially if allowed to sit.
  • Waxed and Unfinished Wood Surfaces: While diluted cleaning vinegar can be used to clean polyurethane-coated floors and cabinets, full-strength cleaning vinegar will cause discoloration on wood with a waxed finish or unfinished wood.
  • Rubber Gaskets and Hoses: Undiluted cleaning vinegar is too strong to use on rubber gaskets and hoses in some small appliances, built-in or countertop dishwashers, and washing machines. The vinegar can cause some types of rubber to disintegrate. Check your appliance's manual before using vinegar to clean the interior or exterior, and dilute vinegar as instructed.

Can You Cook With Cleaning Vinegar?

You should absolutely never cook with or consume cleaning vinegar. Most cleaning vinegar has a warning label on the packaging. Unlike cooking vinegar, it may not be tested for impurities that can be dangerous to the human body. To avoid any confusion or accidents, store your cleaning vinegar with other cleaning supplies and not with the food products in your pantry. Make sure cleaning vinegar and cleaning vinegar solutions are always clearly labeled so your entire household knows what's in the container.

Read Next: 11 Types of Vinegar and the Best Uses for Each One

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can apple cider vinegar be used for cleaning?

    While apple cider vinegar can be effective at cleaning, white vinegar is your best bet because it's slightly more acidic and, therefore, stronger.

    (Video) 10 Ways to Clean With Vinegar! (Clean My Space)
  • Can you mix vinegar and baking soda for cleaning?

    Mixing vinegar and baking soda isn't dangerous, and it can be an effective cleaner if you use it while the mixture is still bubbling, according to cleaning experts at Arm and Hammer.

  • Does cleaning vinegar kill mold?

    (Video) Vinegar as a Cleaner - Water and Vinegar Cleaner

    Yes, vinegar can be used as a natural and non-toxic way to kill mold. Using a spray bottle, spray undiluted vinegar directly onto the mold, let it sit for an hour, and scour it off with a scrub brush.

FAQs

How to Use Cleaning Vinegar to Clean (Almost) Anything? ›

To create an all-purpose cleaner for windows, counters, and kitchen fixtures: Combine 1/4 cup cleaning vinegar and 2 1/2 cups water in a spray bottle. Add 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing liquid. Shake well to mix and label the bottle. To use, lightly spray the soiled surfaces and wipe away grime with a lint-free cloth.

Can you use vinegar to clean everything? ›

Vinegar, on the other hand, is nontoxic and eco-friendly, making it the ultimate multipurpose cleaning solution. And the best part, it's super cheap. Keep reading to learn what types of vinegar to use, along with nine ways vinegar can be used to clean and disinfect your home.

What should you not clean with vinegar? ›

10 Things You Should Never Clean with Vinegar
  • Anything That Contains Chlorine Bleach. ...
  • Marble, Granite, and Other Natural Stone Surfaces. ...
  • Grout. ...
  • Stainless Steel. ...
  • Waxed or Unfinished Wood. ...
  • Cast Iron. ...
  • Electronics. ...
  • Rubber Gaskets and Hoses.
Apr 26, 2023

Do you have to rinse off cleaning vinegar? ›

Do You Have to Rinse after Cleaning with Vinegar? Rinsing is not necessary! If you're simply using a vinegar and water solution to wipe and disinfect, you won't need to rinse. However, if there's also plenty of dirt and grime you're wiping away, you may also want to rinse with some extra water.

What is the difference between cleaning vinegar and all purpose vinegar? ›

The only difference between cleaning vinegar and the distilled white vinegar is their levels of acidity. White vinegar is usually 95 percent water and 5 percent acid. By contrast, cleaning vinegar contains up to six percent acid and is around 20 percent stronger than regular white vinegar.

Can you use straight vinegar to clean? ›

Cleaning with vinegar

Vinegar is very effective at cleaning precisely because of the acid, which will break down grease, grime and dirt easily. Be warned though, it can damage some surfaces so always check – or test patch – before you use vinegar, especially neat vinegar, for cleaning.

Is it safe to mix vinegar and Dawn dish soap? ›

They're both excellent at breaking down tough grease and grime, but vinegar alone will simply run off of most surfaces, and dish soap is too thick to use on its own. But when you combine the two, you get an effective, sprayable miracle cleaner that clings to surfaces.

Is cleaning vinegar better than regular vinegar for cleaning? ›

The reason cleaning vinegar is more effective than white vinegar comes down to acidity level. The acid in vinegar is what cuts through grease and grime, removes sticky residue and fights soap scum. White vinegar has 5 percent acidity; while cleaning vinegar, on the other hand, has 6 percent.

What happens when you mix vinegar and dish soap? ›

“Vinegar is a good cleaner because it's acidic, but when you add dishwashing liquid/dish soap to it (which is a base or neutral) - you neutralise the vinegar. You take away the very thing that makes it work well. “The dishwashing liquid works that well on its own.

In what surface we should not use vinegar? ›

'Avoid using vinegar on natural stones like granite and marble as the acid in the vinegar could not only dull the stone, but also cause spills to penetrate the surface of the stone leaving permanent stains and etching, since vinegar can easily damage any sealers applied to the stone surface,' explains Janice Stewart.

How do you clean mildew with vinegar? ›

Pour the undiluted vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray it directly onto the moldy surface. Let the vinegar sit for at least an hour. Using a brush with soft bristles, scrub the moldy surface until the mold comes off.

Do you need a mask when cleaning with vinegar? ›

Additionally, vinegar's acidic nature can be irritating to the skin. For safety's sake, wear non-porous gloves, goggles or safety glasses, and a mask that covers your mouth and nose.

How long should cleaning vinegar sit? ›

“Also, vinegar needs to sit on a surface for up to 30 minutes in order to reduce bacteria. You can't just spray it and wipe.”

How long do you leave vinegar on for cleaning? ›

“Set time,” or the time a disinfectant must rest on a surface in order to work effectively, is also important. The set time for vinegar can be up to 30 minutes.

Can you mix baking soda and vinegar to clean? ›

When baking soda is mixed with vinegar, the acid breaks down baking soda, releasing carbon dioxide gas that can help lift dirt from the surfaces being cleaned. Here are some recipes to try. Freshen your sink by mixing one part of baking soda with two parts of vinegar.

Can I use cleaning vinegar in my coffee maker? ›

Vinegar is an effective natural solution for cleaning a coffee maker. This solution removes calcium deposits and coffee bean oil residue from the interior of the device as well as add acidity to the hot water to disinfect. Turn the coffee maker to the brew cycle and allow the cycle to brew halfway.

Can you put cleaning vinegar in laundry? ›

You can wash your laundry with distilled, white vinegar as well as apple cider vinegar. Vinegar has a number of benefits, both as a food and as a cleaning aid. Vinegar works by loosening zinc salts or aluminum chloride, which means that dirt won't stick to your clothing.

What is the ratio of vinegar to water for cleaning a bathroom? ›

Most of the time, a mixture of vinegar and water in a 50/50 solution will suffice, but not always. Shower heads only require white vinegar, add sprinkles of baking soda when cleaning a toilet or a bath, water it down to clean tiles.

What happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar and dish soap? ›

The Science: Baking soda is a bicarbonate (made of carbon) and vinegar is an acid. When the two combine, they react and create carbon dioxide, which causes the bubbles. With the addition of dish soap, even more bubbles are created as the reaction occurs.

Why does blue Dawn and vinegar work? ›

The reason? Dawn contains petroleum. It sounds counterintuitive, but it works. Vinegar removes residue and imparts shine.

Can you mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar? ›

Don't mix hydrogen peroxide and vinegar together in the same mixture. This can create peracetic acid, which may be toxic and can irritate your throat and lungs, eyes and skin. You can, however, alternate spraying hydrogen peroxide and vinegar on a surface. Just make sure to wipe the surface between sprays.

Is cleaning vinegar good for killing weeds? ›

Yes, it's true…vinegar does kill weeds, especially when used along with dish soap. Dish soap, vinegar and a spray bottle are all you need for making your own weed killer. The acetic acid in vinegar “sucks out the water” from the weed, which dries it up.

What vinegar is best for cleaning mold? ›

Cleaning vinegar, which contains 6% acetic acid, is the best type for killing mold. White vinegar containing 5% acidity will also work just fine. If you don't already have some at home, white vinegar can be inexpensively purchased at most grocery stores.

Does vinegar cut grease? ›

Vinegar just doesn't work on removing grease from surfaces because it is an acid. Use an alkaline soap, such as dish soap, for oil spills and messes.

What is the ratio of vinegar to dawn for cleaning? ›

Dish soap and vinegar work wonders for that extra smudge-cutting and cleaning mixture. Mix in a spray bottle 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 2 1/2 cups of water, plus 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap. Rinse windows and mirrors with clean water to clear off any suds.

How do you clean a shower with Dawn? ›

Dawn dish soap and vinegar – Mix equal parts of vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap into a spray bottle. Run the shower for a few minutes on hot to heat up the shower space. Spray to coat the surface of the shower walls evenly with the mixture. Let sit for 5 minutes then use a damp cleaning rag to wipe away.

What does vinegar do to bed sheets? ›

Vinegar. If you feel your sheets need a little something extra, vinegar makes a great natural pre-wash. Soak your sheets in a bucket of warm water and half a cup of vinegar for about an hour before you put them in the wash. This helps to whiten the sheet and also works as an incredible fabric softener.

Does vinegar bother bed bugs? ›

The acidity of vinegar is potent enough to disrupt the insect's nervous system and kill it. Vinegar is often used as a contact type insecticide, which means that you need to spray it directly unto the spotted bed bug to make it effective. Vinegar offers short term and limited effects on your fight against bed bugs.

Does white vinegar clean urine? ›

Vinegar is an excellent urine stain remover; it breaks down the uric acid in urine and makes the stain easier to remove. When the cycle is complete, run the load again (this time adding detergent) and wash at the hottest water temperature recommended for the fabric.

What happens when vinegar is exposed to air? ›

Cloudiness – Once opened and exposed to air, harmless “vinegar bacteria” may start to grow. This bacteria causes the vinegar to cloud. Cloudiness does not affect the quality of the vinegar or its flavor. Straining cloudy vinegar through a coffee filter may clear it.

How do you mop with vinegar? ›

Create a mopping solution of ½ cup of vinegar and one gallon of warm water. Proper dilution is important, since vinegar's acidic, abrasive properties can have a stronger effect on some materials than others—tile being one of those. When mopping, less is more; make sure to wring out your mop thoroughly after each dip.

Can bacteria grow in white vinegar? ›

Distilled white vinegar is the one most often used in cleaning, for its antibacterial properties. It's made from feeding oxygen to a vodka-like grain alcohol, causing bacteria to grow and acetic acid to form.

What kills black mold permanently? ›

'Bleach will kill mold spores growing across a hard surface, but if the mold has extended below the surface, then white vinegar is the best choice,' she says. 'The vinegar will penetrate to kill the mold and mildew at the root, preventing it from regrowing.

Will mold come back after vinegar? ›

Vinegar successfully kills mold on drywall and leather.

This means that the mold is likely to grow back. When bleach is used on porous surfaces, the mold will move deeper into the material to avoid it.

What permanently kills mold? ›

Bleach kills virtually every species of indoor mold that it comes into contact with including mold spores which leaves a sanitized surface making it resistant to future mold growth.

Does cleaning vinegar smell go away? ›

While vinegar is a magical cleaner that you can use on almost any surface, its strong odor can make cleaning a little bit of a challenge. Of course, over time, the smell will dissipate, but you shouldn't have to wait around for the smell to fade.

How long until vinegar smell goes away? ›

If it's on a soft surface, it may take a day or so. Air circulation can make the vinegar aroma dissipate more quickly. The vinegar aroma will go away when it's dry.

What should not be cleaned with vinegar? ›

10 Things You Should Never Clean with Vinegar
  1. Anything That Contains Chlorine Bleach. ...
  2. Marble, Granite, and Other Natural Stone Surfaces. ...
  3. Grout. ...
  4. Stainless Steel. ...
  5. Waxed or Unfinished Wood. ...
  6. Cast Iron. ...
  7. Electronics. ...
  8. Rubber Gaskets and Hoses.
Apr 26, 2023

Can I spray vinegar on my couch? ›

White vinegar also has antibacterial properties, and it works really well to kill smells. To use it, put straight white vinegar—not white wine vinegar—in a spray bottle and mist the couch with it. As the vinegar dries, the smell will dissipate, but you should also spritz from about a foot away and try not to overdo it.

Can I spray my carpet with vinegar? ›

Pour a generous amount of white vinegar into a spray bottle. Spray the white vinegar onto the carpet. Don't worry – the smell will disappear (and it will actually absorb any other bad odors you're trying to eliminate). Let it dry completely, and then repeat the process over again, as needed.

Do I need to rinse after mopping with vinegar? ›

There's no need to rinse your vinegar-mopping solution from your floors. Keep in mind that your floors should be drying very quickly if you've wrung out your mop sufficiently.

Do you rinse out vinegar rinse? ›

Rinse through wet hair after shampooing. Rinse it out with fresh water or, for extra conditioning benefits, just leave it in and towel dry your hair. The vinegar scent will disappear as your hair dries.

Is it safe to put vinegar in the washing machine? ›

Using vinegar in laundry will whiten, brighten, reduce odors, and soften clothes without harsh chemicals. Vinegar is inexpensive, and it's safe to use in both standard and high-efficiency washers. When buying vinegar for laundry, choose distilled white vinegar.

Can I mix vinegar and Dawn? ›

This match made in heaven has been a household staple for a long time and I make sure to keep it handy. To make the solution is simple and easy on the wallet! Pour equal parts of vinegar and Dawn into a spray bottle. Gently shake, then spray liberally onto the surface to be cleaned.

What is the mixture of vinegar and dawn for cleaning? ›

Dish soap and vinegar work wonders for that extra smudge-cutting and cleaning mixture. Mix in a spray bottle 1/4 cup of white vinegar with 2 1/2 cups of water, plus 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap.

Can you mix Dawn and vinegar and baking soda? ›

Tired of stinky, retail cleaners? Try this: Vinegar Cleaner: 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp Dawn dish soap 1 tbsp white vinegar Directions: Fill spray bottle with water. Add Dawn. Add baking soda.

Why put vinegar in laundry? ›

Vinegar seems to neutralize odors, leaving your clothing smelling clean. It can reduce odors from smoke, pets, and sweat. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar to your laundry to deodorize smelly clothes.

What happens when you put vinegar in your laundry? ›

The Benefits of Using Vinegar in Laundry

There are many uses for vinegar in laundry, including stain removal, odor elimination, and mold and mildew eradication. Vinegar can also be used as an alternative to commercial fabric softeners.

How do you clean a toilet with white vinegar? ›

To clean your toilet with vinegar, pour a cup of vinegar in the toilet bowl and let sit overnight. The next morning, sprinkle a little baking soda into the bowl, scrub, and then flush clean.

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