95+ 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 (Reader's Digest Association Books)

AROUND THE LAUNDRY ROOM

washerMake new clothes ready to wear

Get the chemicals, dust, odor, and whatever else out of your brand-new or secondhand clothes by pouring 1 cup white vinegar into the wash cycle the first time you wash them.

Stop reds from running

Unless you have a fondness for pink-tinted clothing, take one simple precaution to prevent red — or other brightly dyed — washable clothes from ruining your wash loads. Soak your new garments in a few cups of undiluted white vinegar for 10-15 minutes before their first washing. You’ll never have to worry about running colors again!

Wash mildew from shower curtains

Clean those ugly mildew stains off your plastic shower curtain by putting it and a couple of soiled towels in your washing machine. Add 1/2 cup laundry detergent and 1/2 cup baking soda to the load, and wash it in warm water on your machine’s regular cycle. Add 1 cup white vinegar to the first rinse. Before the machine goes into the spin cycle, remove the curtain and let it hang-dry.

Clean your washing machine

An easy way to periodically clean out soap scum and disinfect your clothes washer is to pour in 2 cups vinegar, then run the machine through a full cycle without any clothes or detergent. If your washer is particularly dirty, fill it with very hot water, add 2 gallons (7.5 liters) vinegar, and let the agitator run for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the washer and let the solution stand overnight. In the morning, empty the basin and run your washer through a complete cycle.

Soften fabrics, kill bacteria, eliminate static, and more

There are so many benefits to be reaped by adding 1 cup white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle that it’s surprising that you don’t find it prominently mentioned inside the owner’s manual of every washing machine sold. Here are the main ones:

  • A single cup of vinegar will kill off any bacteria that may be present in your wash load, especially if it includes cloth diapers and the like.
  • A cup of vinegar will keep your clothes coming out of the wash soft and smelling fresh — so you can kiss your fabric-softening liquids and sheets good-bye (unless, of course, you happen to like your clothes smelling of heavy perfumes).
  • Added to the last rinse, a cup of vinegar will keep your clothes lint- and static-free.

Dirty Laundry

Brighten your loads

Why waste money on that costly all-color bleach when you can get the same results using vinegar? Just add 1/2 cup white vinegar to your machine’s wash cycle to brighten up the colors in each load.

 

Whiten your dingy crew socks

If it’s getting increasingly difficult to identify the white socks in your sock drawer, here’s a simple way to make them so bright you can’t miss them. Start by adding 1 cup vinegar to 1 1/2 quarts (1.5 liters) tap water in a large pot. Bring the solution to a boil, then pour it into a bucket and drop in your dingy socks. Let them soak overnight. The next day, wash them as you normally would.

Get the yellow out of clothing

To restore yellowed clothing, let the garments soak overnight in a solution of 12 parts warm water to 1 part vinegar. Wash them the following morning.

Spray away wrinkles

In a perfect world, laundry would emerge from the dryer freshly pressed. Until that day, you can often get the wrinkles out of clothes after drying by misting them with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Once you’re sure you didn’t miss a spot, hang it up and let it air-dry. You may find this approach works better for some clothes than ironing; it’s certainly a lot gentler on the material.

Are You Ironing WrongMaintain your iron

To eliminate mineral deposits and prevent corrosion on your steam iron, give it an occasional cleaning by filling the reservoir with undiluted white vinegar. Place the iron in an upright position, switch on the steam setting, and let the vinegar steam through it for 5-10 minutes. Then refill the chamber with clean water and repeat. Finally, give the water chamber a good rinsing with cold, clean water. You can remove scorch marks from the soleplate of your iron by scrubbing it with a paste made by heating up equal parts vinegar and salt in a small pan. Use a rag dipped in clean water to wipe away the remaining residue.

Reshape your woolens

Shrunken woolen sweaters and other items can usually be stretched back to their former size or shape after boiling them in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water for 25 minutes. Let the garment air-dry after you’ve finished stretching it.

Brush off stains on suede

To eliminate a fresh grease spot on a suede jacket, skirt, or shoes, gently brush it with a soft toothbrush dipped in white vinegar. Let the spot air-dry, then brush with a suede brush. Repeat if necessary.

Pat away water-soluble stains

You can lift out many water-soluble stains — including beer, orange and other fruit juices, black coffee or tea, and vomit –from your cotton-blend clothing by patting the spot with a cloth or towel moistened with undiluted white vinegar just before placing it in the wash. For large stains, you may want to soak the garment overnight in a solution of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part cold water before washing.

Eliminate stains

Blood, cola, hair dye, ketchup, and wine stains on washable cotton blends should be treated as soon as possible (that is, within 24 hours). Sponge the area with undiluted vinegar and launder immediately afterward. For severe stains, add 1-2 cups vinegar to the wash cycle as well. Older, set-in stains will often come out in the wash after being pretreated with a solution of 3 tablespoons white vinegar and 2 tablespoons liquid detergent in 1 quart (1 liter) warm water. Rub the solution into the stain, then blot it dry before washing.

Remove perspiration discoloration

Are you tired of seeing those old sweat rings around your shirt collars or under the arms? What about the annoying discoloration along the edges of your cuffs? Give them the boot by scrubbing the material with a paste made from 2 parts white vinegar to 3 parts baking soda. Let the paste set for half an hour before washing (this also works on ink stains). This approach also works to remove light mildew stains from clothing. You can also pour a bit of vinegar directly on the stain and rub into the fabric before washing.

Next: Uses for vinegar around the yard