Cleaning with vinegar

How to clean with vinegar

The wonder cleaner

What's the one natural cleaner that could very well be the only cleaner you'll ever need? Vinegar -- plain ol' white vinegar! Read on and try it out.

For me, the smell of white vinegar still evokes memories of coloring Easter eggs. Back in the old days, when I was a kid, it was one of the ingredients of Easter egg dye. My days of coloring Easter eggs are far behind me, and I now associate the smell of vinegar with... cleaning.

Vinegar is such a wonderful, economical and environmentally friendly cleaning product. It's available by the gallon and is cheaper than smelly, harsh chemical-based cleaning products.

White vinegar has, literally, hundreds of uses, many of which involve cleaning. Vinegar deodorizes, cuts grease and soap scum, and dissolves mineral buildup. Plus it acts as a disinfectant because its acetic acid content kills odors and most mold, bacteria and germs. All that for as little as $2 a gallon!

Here are a few ideas of what this wonder cleaner can do:

Mineral deposits on chrome sink faucets


Do you live in an area with hard water? If so, like me, you're constantly battling mineral deposits on your faucets. Try cleaning with vinegar!

Soak a paper towel or an old cloth in distilled vinegar and wrap it tightly around the calcified area. Tie a plastic bag filled with 1/3 to 1/2 cup vinegar around harder-to-wrap faucet spigots. Leave it for two or three hours. Then, use an old toothbrush to scrub off the loosened deposits. For stubborn, tough to remove areas, scrub with a paste of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar. Rinse off with clear water.

Cleaning barbecue grills

GrillWarmer weather and outdoor grilling will be here in the blink of an eye. Along with the great cookouts comes the yucky job of cleaning the grill. Try cleaning with vinegar!

For a clean grill with no chemical residue, spray a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar onto a warm (not hot) barbecue grill. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Then, spray full-strength vinegar onto a piece of wadded-up aluminum foil. Scrub the grill vigorously. You may need to repeat. Rinse.

Tile scum and film

TileWe all want a bathroom that sparkles. Battling soap scum, grime and film is always a problem. Try cleaning with vinegar!

Get rid of stubborn bathtub grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door by wiping it down with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Scour more stubborn areas with an inexpensive tile cleaner solution of 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 cup ammonia to a gallon of warm water. (Be cautious of possible harmful fumes from the ammonia.) Rinse with clear water. Glass shower doors can be sprayed with full-strength white distilled vinegar after squeeging the glass or before stepping in and turning on the water. This helps release the hard water deposits so they don't remain on the glass.

Smoother, cleaner steam ironing


Does your steam iron leave ugly brown stains on your clothes? Does the scorched bottom of the iron plate stick to fabric when you're ironing? Try cleaning with vinegar!

To unclog your steam iron, pour equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water into the iron's water chamber. Turn to the "steam" setting and iron a soft rag to clean out the steam ports. Leave the iron on for 5 minutes in an upright position. Then unplug and allow it to cool. Empty the water to remove any loose particles. Repeat the process with clear water, then thoroughly rinse out the inside of your iron. To clean a scorched iron plate, heat equal parts white distilled vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rubbing this solution onto the cooled iron surface should remove dark or burned areas.

Clean enough for baby

Baby toys

The last thing you want to see is a dirty toy in your little one's mouth. Wiping down toys with chemical cleaners means your baby might be sucking off chemical residue. That's a good reason to try cleaning with vinegar!

Clean and disinfect baby toys by adding a good-sized amount of white distilled vinegar to warm, soapy water. Clean toys thoroughly, using an old toothbrush for those hard-to-reach places. Rinse with clear water and dry. Vinyl baby books and larger toys can be wiped clean with distilled vinegar on a damp cloth. Toys are always in the mouths of babies and toddlers, so clean them frequently.

Cleaning gold jewelry

Gold ringsHas your gold jewelry lost some of its sparkle? Try cleaning with vinegar!

Pour vinegar into a small jar, drop in your gold jewelry and twist the lid tightly shut. Let the items soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Shake the jar gently for a few seconds. Remove each piece of jewelry and scrub carefully with a soft toothbrush. Rinse under hot water. Repeat if there's sludge under the stone. Dry with a clean, soft cloth. The final results should be sparkling! (Don't use this process on opals and pearls.)

Vases caked with mineral deposits

VaseI love keeping fresh cut flowers around the house. I hate, however, when my favorite clear glass narrow-necked vase becomes marked with calcium deposits. If you find you're getting this same ugly film in vases, glass jars and bottles try cleaning with vinegar!

Pour undiluted white distilled vinegar into the glass vessel for a few hours. Then, use a bottlebrush, or add some sand or rice as an abrasive and shake vigorously to loosen the stains. Repeat if necessary and then rinse with hot water when clean. (Do not toss the sandy water down the drain.) BTW: To keep those cut flowers fresh longer and reduce the chances of getting "stinky" water, place the flowers into a solution of 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar per quart of warm water.

Washing clothes


Most of us never think of tossing vinegar in the wash! For fresher smelling, clean clothes plus a happy washing machine, try using vinegar in your wash!

Adding 1/2 to 1 cup distilled vinegar to the liquid fabric softener dispenser in your washer (top off with tap water if necessary) will not only make your clothes smell fresher, but also act as a fabric softener and reduce static cling. This eliminates the need for a liquid fabric softener in the wash and chemical fabric softening sheets in the dryer and is more economical and better for the environment, as well. To freshen up your washing machine, clean the hoses and unclog soap scum, make it a monthly habit of pouring one cup of vinegar into the machine and running a normal cycle without clothes.

More ways to clean with vinegar

  • Clean the microwave: Mix 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl, then bring to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Remove the bowl and wipe the microwave clean of loosened foods.
  • Clean and deodorize the toilet bowl: Pour one cup of white distilled vinegar into the bowl and let sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.
  • Clean and kill germs on doorknobs: Spray full-strength distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe dry.
  • Clean fireplace glass doors: Mix a solution of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 2 parts water. Spray or wipe on, then wipe clean of dirt and soot using a dry cloth.
  • Clean a can opener: Use distilled vinegar and an old toothbrush to clean the wheel on a can opener.


  • Do not add vinegar directly to materials containing ammonia; this could produce harmful vapors.
  • Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface.

Disclaimer: Use all tips, hints and ideas here at your own risk.

Tell us

What hints do you have for cleaning with vinegar? These are only a few of the hundreds of ways to clean with vinegar. Which have you tried? Which do you recommend?

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Comments on "Cleaning with vinegar"

Lucille April 03, 2014 | 1:08 AM

I use vinegar on any type of urine(human or animal)it absolutely neutralizes the smell. My Ob/Gyn suggested I use it with water as a douche, which I have for over 50 years. I also use it as a cleanser on the vaginal area. I, also, keep a spray bottle filled with vinegar and water to spray on accidents my animals have and there is nothing like to clean and deodorize. I have often wondered why nursing homes don't use it to clean, it is so much cheaper than bleach and the smell of vinegar fades away after using it.

Derek March 16, 2014 | 7:30 AM

Auto correct! I meant to say an old heater will be very inefficient.

Derek March 16, 2014 | 7:28 AM

It's an old post now but to address John's question about the hot water heater: if that is the sole reason for low water pressure, then it is far, far past the point of vinegar help. The heater/capsule will need replacement. There are companies you may find who can use a much stronger solution but personally I don't like dumping that much acid into the water supply. As well, in my area and, it is nearly as cheap to replace the heater. Keep in mind too that there is likely rusted components and fittings. A new heater, with so much deposit will also be very inefficient. A new one will heat, cheaper for years. Cheaper heaters should last 6-10 years. Get a better one if you can, especially if you are the owner.

John R. O'Neon September 28, 2013 | 2:48 PM

Hi My hot water cylinder which has a cold header inlet tank attached needs descaling. Can I pour say, i gallon of vinegar into the top header and let it go through the system? would that clear it? my hot water is just a dribble. what makes it worse is I live in a flat and the cylinder is level with the outlet taps, no pressure but its now worse.

Sandy January 10, 2013 | 7:36 AM

I put a tad bit of bleach in with my vinegar (like an 1/8 cup for a 32 oz bottle) in a spray bottle to use on counters and other surfaces... particularly after we've been ill. If illness hasn't been a problem I don't bother with the bleach.

Monica January 04, 2013 | 8:10 PM

Holy Moly!! I had no idea vinegar cleaned in so many ways!!! I live in Phoenix which has incredibly hard water and am always struggling to keep my faucets clean. Can't wait to go to battle with my new tool!

Melissa October 30, 2012 | 8:18 AM

Hi Mary! Try using vinegar in the rinse agent dispenser. A small amount might do the trick. Good luck!

Mary Fowler October 29, 2012 | 2:58 PM

I have spot on my dishes and I have hard water How much vinger do I use in dishwasher?

Katie August 25, 2012 | 10:33 AM

A bucked of warn water, dish soap and vinegar is the best solution for cleaning windows - they will simply sparkle! And the vinegar prevents streaking!

document drying July 27, 2012 | 4:02 AM

Vinegar is a wonderful cleaning solutions, which has many benefits of it. I personally prefer the vinegar cleaner almost with all cleaning service. Thanks for share the great review! __________________ document drying http://therestorationresource/Document_Drying_And_Document_Restoration.html

Diane July 19, 2012 | 10:37 AM

I love vinegar! I use it in my laundry all the time. BUT...I can't get it any cheaper than $3.67/ that doesn't exactly make it cheap when I pour 1/2 to 1 Cup in my washing machine every load.

Andrea June 12, 2012 | 5:38 PM

Thanks for all the good things to do with vinegar.....nice...

vnsmom April 05, 2012 | 11:51 PM

For clogged drains I poured half a cup of baking soda down the drain & then poured in 1 cup of vineger. It fizzed up and cleared the drain instantly.

Sue Thompson July 20, 2011 | 3:54 PM

Hope that you like this ! It about cleaning with vinegar. Sue

Kendie's PreK November 28, 2009 | 2:35 AM

As a teacher, vinegar is GREAT! Use it to remove sticky glue residue from dry erase boards and wood cubbies!

scott monosmith November 23, 2009 | 7:51 AM

lime deposits in pot

Adele Pasco November 06, 2009 | 7:50 PM

Vinegar is a wonderful cleaner

Crystal March 15, 2009 | 11:13 PM

oK- lets see if you will get this. I use vinegar in the shop everyday! I use it to clean out our chrome faucets that we use, as well as the brass nut fittings that get... gross after a few years of water flowing through them. Its the best, oh, and my sister in law just gave me a bunch of baby clothes that I think the cat might have sprayed on... Now its gone!

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