150+ Household Uses for Vinegar

With so many different uses around the house, this super item — in its white vinegar as well as its apple cider vinegar versions — deserves a special place in your pantry.

from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things

Clear dirt off PCs and peripherals

Your computer, printer, fax machine, and other home office gear will work better if you keep them clean and dust-free. Before you start cleaning, make sure that all your equipment is shut off. Now mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a bucket. Dampen a clean cloth in the solution — never use a spray bottle; you don’t want to get liquid on the circuits inside — then squeeze it out as hard as you can, and start wiping. Keep a few cotton swabs on hand for getting to the buildups in tight spaces (like around the keys of your keyboard).

Clean your computer mouse

If you have a mouse with a removable tracking ball, use a 50/50 vinegar-water solution to clean it. First, remove the ball from underneath the mouse by twisting off the cover over it. Use a cloth, dampened with the solution and wrung out, to wipe the ball clean and to remove fingerprints and dirt from the mouse itself. Then use a moistened cotton swab to clean out the gunk and debris from inside the ball chamber (let it dry a couple of hours before reinserting the ball).

Clean your window blinds

You can make the job of cleaning mini-blinds or venetians considerably less torturous by giving them “the white glove treatment.” Just put on a white cotton glove — the kind sold for gardening is perfect — and moisten the fingers in a solution made of equal parts white vinegar and hot tap water. Now simply slide your fingers across both sides of each slat and prepare to be amazed. Use a container of clean water to periodically wash off the glove.

Unclog and deodorize drains

The combination of vinegar and baking soda is one of the most effective ways to unclog and deodorize drains. It’s also far gentler on your pipes (and your wallet) than commercial drain cleaners.

  • To clear clogs in sink and tub drains, use a funnel to pour in 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar. 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.
  • To speed up a slow drain, pour in 1/2 cup salt followed by 2 cups boiling vinegar, then flush with hot and cold tap water.

Get rid of smoke odor

If you’ve recently burned a steak — or if your chain-smoking aunt recently paid you a surprise visit — remove the lingering smoky odor by placing a shallow bowl about three-quarters full of white or cider vinegar in the room where the scent is strongest. Use several bowls if the smell permeates your entire home. The odor should be gone in less than a day. You can also quickly dispense of the smell of fresh cigarette smoke inside a room by moistening a cloth with vinegar and waving it around a bit.

Wipe away mildew

When you want to remove mildew stains, reach for white vinegar first. It can be safely used without additional ventilation and can be applied to almost any surface –bathroom fixtures and tile, clothing, furniture, painted surfaces, plastic curtains, and more. To eliminate heavy mildew accumulations, use it full strength. For light stains, dilute it with an equal amount of water. You can also prevent mildew from forming on the bottoms of rugs and carpeting by misting the backs with full-strength white vinegar from a spray bottle.

Clean chrome and stainless steel

To clean chrome and stainless steel fixtures around your home, apply a light misting of undiluted white vinegar from a recycled spray bottle. Buff with a soft cloth to bring out the brightness.

Shine your silver

Make your silverware — as well as your pure silver bracelets, rings, and other jewelry — shine like new by soaking them in a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons baking soda for two to three hours. Rinse them under cold water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

Polish brass and copper items

Put the shimmer back in your brass, bronze, and copper objects by making a paste of equal parts white vinegar and salt, or vinegar and baking soda (wait for the fizzing to stop before using). Use a clean, soft cloth or paper towel to rub the paste into the item until the tarnish is gone. Then rinse with cool water and polish with a soft towel until dry. Erase ballpoint-pen marks

Has the budding young artist in your home just decorated a painted wall in your home with a ballpoint original? Don’t lose your cool. Rather, dab some full-strength white vinegar on the “masterpiece” using a cloth or a sponge. Repeat until the marks are gone. Then go out and buy your child a nice big sketch pad.

Unglue stickers, decals, and price tags

To remove a sticker or decal affixed to painted furniture or a painted wall, simply saturate the corners and sides of the sticker with full-strength white vinegar and carefully scrape it off (using an expired credit card or a plastic phone card). Remove any sticky remains by pouring on a bit more vinegar. Let it sit for a minute or two, and then wipe with a clean cloth. This approach is equally effective for removing price tags and other stickers from glass, plastic, and other glossy surfaces.

Burnish your scissors

When your scissor blades get sticky or grimy, don’t use water to wash them off; you’re far more likely to rust the fastener that holds the blades together — or the blades themselves — than get them clean. Instead, wipe down the blades with a cloth dipped in full-strength white vinegar, and then dry it off with a rag or dish towel. Get the salt off your shoes

As if a winter’s worth of ice, slush, and snow wasn’t rough enough on your shoes and boots, the worst thing, by far, is all the rock salt that’s used to melt it. In addition to leaving unsightly white stains, salt can actually cause your footwear to crack and even disintegrate if it’s left on indefinitely. To remove it and prevent long-term damage, wipe fresh stains with a cloth dipped in undiluted white vinegar.

Clean your 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.

Deodorize lunch boxes, footlockers, and car trunks

Does your old footlocker smell like, well, an old footlocker? Or perhaps your child’s lunch box has taken on the bouquet of week-old tuna? What about that musty old car trunk? Quit holding your breath every time you open it. Instead, soak a slice of white bread in white vinegar and leave it in the malodorous space overnight. The smell should be gone by morning.

Freshen a musty closet

Got a closet that doesn’t smell as fresh as you’d like? First, remove the contents, then wash down the walls, ceiling, and floor with a cloth dampened in a solution of 1 cup each of vinegar and ammonia and 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water. Keep the closet door open and let the interior dry before replacing your clothes and other stuff. If the smell persists, place a small pan of cat litter inside. Replenish every few days until the odor is gone.

Brighten up brickwork

How’s this for an effortless way to clean your brick floors without breaking out the polish? Just go over them with a damp mop dipped in 1 cup white vinegar mixed with 1 gallon (3.7 liters) warm water. Your floors will look so good you’ll never think about cleaning them with anything else. You can also use this same solution to brighten up the bricks around your fireplace.

Revitalize wood paneling

Does the wood paneling in your den look dull and dreary? Liven it up with this simple homemade remedy: Mix 1 pint warm water, 4 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a container, give it a couple of shakes, and apply with a clean cloth. Let the mixture soak into the wood for several minutes, then polish with a dry cloth.

Restore your rugs

If your rugs or carpets are looking worn and dingy from too much foot traffic or an excess of kids’ building blocks, toy trucks, and such, bring them back to life by brushing them with a clean push broom dipped in a solution of 1 cup white vinegar in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water. Your faded threads will perk up, and you don’t even need to rinse off the solution.

Remove carpet stains

You can lift out many stains from your carpet with vinegar:

  • Rub light carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let the solution dry, then vacuum.
  • For larger or darker stains, add 2 tablespoons borax to the mixture and use in the same way.
  • For tough, ground-in dirt and other stains, make a paste of 1 tablespoon vinegar with 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and rub it into the stain using a dry cloth. Let it set for two days, then vacuum.
  • To make spray-on spot and stain remover, fill a spray bottle with 5 parts water and 1 part vinegar. Fill a second spray bottle with 1 part nonsudsy ammonia and 5 parts water. Saturate a stain with the vinegar solution. Let it settle for a few minutes, then blot thoroughly with a clean, dry cloth. Then spray and blot using the ammonia solution. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Remove candle wax

Candles are great for creating a romantic mood, but the mood can quickly sour if you wind up getting melted candle wax on your fine wood furniture. To remove it, first soften the wax using a blow-dryer on its hottest setting and blot up as much 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.

Give grease stains the slip

Eliminate grease stains from your kitchen table or counter by wiping them down with a cloth dampened in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. In addition to removing the grease, the vinegar will neutralize any odors on the surface (once its own aroma evaporates, that is).

Conceal scratches in wood furniture

Got a scratch on a wooden tabletop that grabs your attention every time you look at it? To make it much 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; more vinegar for lighter shades.

Get rid of water rings on furniture

To remove white rings 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. To get white water rings off leather furniture, dab them with a sponge soaked in full-strength white vinegar.

Wipe off wax or polish buildup

When furniture polish or wax builds up on wood furniture or leather tabletops, get rid of it with diluted white vinegar. 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, moving with the grain, clean away the polish. 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.

Revitalize leather furniture

Has your leather sofa or easy chair lost its luster? To restore it to its former glory, mix equal parts white vinegar and boiled linseed oil in a recycled spray bottle, shake it up well, and spray it on. Spread it evenly over your furniture using a soft cloth, give it a couple of minutes to settle in, then rub it off with a clean cloth.