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)

MORE VINEGAR USES

uses for plastic bags, closet

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.

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.

Keep cut flowers fresh

Everyone likes to keep cut flowers around as long as possible, and there are several good methods. One way is to mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar with the vase water before adding the flowers. Be sure to change the water (with more vinegar and sugar, of course) every few days to enhance your flowers’ longevity.

Peel off wallpaper

Removing old wallpaper can be messy, but you can make it peel off easily by soaking it with a vinegar solution. Spray equal parts white vinegar and water on the wallpaper until it is saturated and wait a few minutes. Then zip the stuff off the wall with a wallpaper scraper. If it is stubborn, try carefully scoring the wallpaper with the scraper before you spritz.

Slow hardening of plaster

Want to keep your plaster pliable a bit longer to get it all smoothed out? Just add a couple of tablespoons of white vinegar to your plaster mix. It will slow down the hardening process to give you the extra time you need.

Wash concrete off your skin

Even though you wear rubber gloves when working with concrete, some of the stuff inevitably splashes on your skin. Prolonged contact with wet concrete can cause your skin to crack, and may even lead to eczema. Use undiluted white vinegar to wash dried concrete or mortar off your skin, then wash with warm, soapy water.

Remove paint fumes

Place a couple of shallow dishes filled with undiluted white vinegar around a freshly painted room to quickly get rid of the strong paint smell.

Keep the kitties away

If you want to keep Snowball and Fluffy out of the kids’ playroom, or discourage them from using your favorite easy chair as a scratching post, sprinkle some full-strength distilled white vinegar around the area or onto the object itself. Cats don’t like the smell of vinegar and will avoid it.

Unmark your pet’s spots

When housebreaking a puppy or kitten, it’ll often wet previously soiled spots. After cleaning up the mess, it’s essential to remove the scent from your floor, carpeting, or sofa. And nothing does that better than vinegar:

  • On a floor, blot up as much of the stain as possible. Then mop with equal parts white vinegar and warm water. (On a wood or vinyl floor, test a few drops of vinegar in an inconspicuous area to make sure it won’t harm the finish.) Dry with a cloth or paper towel.
  • For carpets, rugs, and upholstery, thoroughly blot the area with a towel or some rags. Then pour a bit of undiluted vinegar over the spot. Blot it up with a towel, then reapply the vinegar-let it air-dry. Once the vinegar dries, the spot should be completely deodorized.

Directly protect against fleas and ticks

To give your dog effective flea and tick protection, fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar and apply it directly to the dog’s coat and rub it in well. You may have more trouble doing this with cats, because they really hate the smell of the stuff.

Clean your pet’s ears

If you’ve noticed that Rover has been scratching around his ears a lot more than usual lately, a bit of vinegar could bring him some big relief. Swabbing your pet’s ears with a cotton ball or soft cloth dabbed in solution of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water will keep them clean and help deter ear mites and bacteria. It also soothes minor itches from mosquito bites and such. Warning: Do not apply vinegar to open lacerations. If you see a cut in your pet’s ears, seek veterinary treatment.

Remove skunk odor

If Fido has an unpleasant encounter with an ornery skunk, here are some ways to help him get rid of the smell:

  • Bathe your pet in a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid soap in 1 quart (1 liter) 3% hydrogen peroxide. Work the solution deep into his coat, give it a few minutes to soak in, then rinse him thoroughly with clean water.
  • Bathe your pet in equal parts water and vinegar (preferably outdoors in a large washtub). Then repeat the procedure using 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, followed by a good rinsing.
  • If you happen to have an unscheduled meeting with skunk, use undiluted vinegar to get the smell out your own clothes. Let the affected clothing soak in the vinegar overnight.