Cleaning & Organizing
95 Household Vinegar Uses You Never Knew About
With so many different uses around the house, this trusted item—in its white vinegar as well as its apple cider vinegar versions—deserves a special place in your pantry.
Clear dirt off PCs and peripherals
These vinegar uses will have your office looking clean and new. 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. Use cotton swabs to get in tight spaces (like around the keys of your keyboard). These are the things that professional housecleaners do in their homes every day.
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).
Erase ballpoint-pen marks
Has the budding young artist in your home just decorated a painted wall in your home with a ballpoint original or scribbled all over your desk while playing “office?” 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.
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. Watch out for these ways you didn’t realize you’re overcleaning your house.
Clean your window blinds
These vinegar uses will bring your house cleaning game to another level. 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 and moisten the fingers in a solution made of equal parts white vinegar and hot tap water. Then 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.
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.
Get rid of water rings on furniture
If your family is too lazy to use coasters, you might end up with white rings dotting the coffee table. To remove marks 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.
Restore your rugs
If your rugs or carpets are looking worn and dingy from too much foot traffic, 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. 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. Try these tricks for cleaning hard-to-clean household items.
Remove carpet stains
Here are some vinegar uses for more stubborn stains:
- 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 and 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 non-sudsy 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.
Brighten up brickwork
Try these vinegar uses around the outside of your home to give it an update. How’s this for an effortless way to clean your brick fireplace? Just go over the bricks with a damp cloth dipped in 1 cup white vinegar mixed with 1 gallon (3.7 liters) warm water. The hearth will look so good you’ll wonder why you didn’t try this sooner! You can also use this same solution to brighten up any other exposed brick, even brick flooring.
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.
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.
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 and more vinegar for lighter shades. You’ll want to steal these genius cleaning hacks from professional house cleaners.
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.
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.
Use a funnel to pour 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar into the drain. 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.
Get rid of smoke odor
There are also many vinegar uses for your kitchen. 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.
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.
Give grease stains the slip
Eliminate grease stains from your stove, broiler, kitchen table, or counter by wiping them down with a cloth dampened in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. This method takes advantage of multiple vinegar uses: in addition to removing the grease, the vinegar will neutralize any odors on the surface (once its own aroma evaporates, that is). For daily grease-fighting action, pour 3-4 tablespoons white vinegar into your favorite brand (especially bargain brands) of liquid dishwashing detergent and give it a few shakes. The added vinegar will not only increase the detergent’s grease-fighting capabilities but also provide you with more dishwashing liquid for the money because you’ll need less soap to clean your dishes. You can also boil 2 cups vinegar in your greasy pan for about 10 minutes to give it a natural non-stick quality that lasts several months, or boil 1 cup vinegar and water in a stainless steel pot to melt off stubborn slicks.
Deodorize lunch boxes
Has your child’s lunch box has taken on the bouquet of week-old tuna? Quit holding your breath every time you open it, and save them from lunchtime embarrassment, with a quick deodorizing treatment. Soak a slice of white bread in white vinegar and leave it in the lunchbox overnight. The smell should be gone by morning.
Steam-clean your microwave
To clean your microwave, place a glass bowl filled with a solution of 1/4 cup vinegar in 1 cup water inside, and zap the mixture for five minutes on the highest setting. Once the bowl cools, dip a cloth or sponge into the liquid and use it to wipe away stains and splatters on the interior. Here’s how often you should be cleaning everything in your house.
Refresh your refrigerator
Did you know that vinegar might be an even more effective safe cleanser for your refrigerator than baking soda? Use equal parts white vinegar and water to wash both the interior and exterior of your fridge, including the door gasket and the fronts of the vegetable and fruit bins. To prevent mildew growth, wash the inside walls and bin interiors with some full-strength vinegar on a cloth. Also, use undiluted vinegar to wipe off accumulated dust and grime on top of your refrigerator. Of course, you’ll still want to put that box of baking soda in your refrigerator to keep it smelling clean when you’re done.
Disinfect cutting boards
To disinfect and clean your wood cutting boards or butcher block countertop, wipe them with full-strength white vinegar after each use. The acetic acid in the vinegar is a good disinfectant, effective against such harmful bugs as E. coli, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus. Never use water and dishwashing detergent, because it can weaken surface wood fibers. When your wooden cutting surface needs deodorizing as well as disinfecting, spread some baking soda over it and then spray on undiluted white vinegar. Let it foam and bubble for five to ten minutes, then rinse with a cloth dipped in clean cold water.
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. Here are some more great techniques for how to polish silver.
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.