The Real Difference Between Apple Cider Vinegar and White Vinegar

Updated: Feb. 07, 2023

They have a lot more differences than just their names and color.

apple cider white vinegarYury Gulakov/Shutterstock

Chances are you’ve heard the word vinegar thrown around a lot lately. The words “apple cider vinegar” and “white vinegar” might have popped up when you were researching how to heal an ailment or learning how to remove odors around your home. But don’t be fooled, despite the fact that both products are called vinegar, they’re not exactly interchangeable.

White Vinegar

The most obvious difference between the two is their color. White vinegar, also sometimes called distilled or spirit vinegar, is clear and apple cider vinegar is brown. Standard white vinegar contains 4 percent to 7 percent acetic acid and 93 percent to 96 percent water. It is made from the fermentation of grain alcohol. It has an intense, sour taste and can be a great kitchen staple for pickling vegetables, cooking, and baking. White vinegar also has antimicrobial properties and makes for a great cleaner and disinfectant around the home.

Apple Cider Vinegar

As mentioned before, apple cider vinegar is brown and often murky. It contains 5% to 6% acetic acid and 95% to 94% water. It is made by crushing apples, extracting the liquid, and then going through a two-step fermentation process. It can be used as a dressing, marinade, and for vinaigrettes, you can also add some to your diet to help with a variety of conditions such as weight loss, heart health, and dandruff. Apple cider vinegar has more nutritional value because of the added bonus of fruit in it. These are the different ways that ACV can benefit your health (make sure you’re aware of the side effects of having too much, too). If you want to try these out for yourself, make sure to choose organic, raw options, like this one. Here are the benefits of ACV baths.

The main takeaway is that you’ll want to use apple cider vinegar in the kitchen and white vinegar for cleaning around the house. It’s also important to remember that both substances are very acidic and should be used in moderation and always diluted with water. Now check out these other household uses for white vinegar you never knew about.