20 Unexpected Ways to Use Vinegar Around the House

White Vinegar for Cleaning Your Home
Photo: Getty Images

Vinegar is a homekeeping must-have. It can whiten your white laundry, wash your windows and mirrors, drive out pests, eliminate odors, remove stains, and more.

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White Vinegar for Cleaning Your Home
Getty Images

What if we told you that there's one item in your kitchen pantry that can help make easy work of household chores? If you're looking for a multitasking product that you can use for everything from whitening your laundry and washing your windows a to driving out pests and get your surfaces sparkling clean, it's time to stock up on distilled white vinegar.

As an all-natural, all-in-one cleaner, white vinegar really does work wonders in terms of making your home look spic and span. In the kitchen, it cleans out your coffeemaker, removes hard water stains on your glassware, and rinses down your waste bins. In the laundry room, it keeps your colors bright and your whites whitened. Have a pest problem? You won't for long with the help of white vinegar. It works as a repellent against ants in places where they like to crawl and hide (think: your patio, porch, or picnic table). In the bathroom, it makes quick work of unclogging the shower head and de-gunking mineral deposits on your faucet.

Mix it with water (and soap, depending on the use), wring a dish towel in the mixture, and you have an all-purpose homemade solution to tackle those spots of neglect. Don't worry about the odor; it's never long lasting since vinegar evaporates once it dries. If you're really sensitive to the scent, you can also mix-in a few drops of essentials oil for a fresh boost of fragrance. Above all else, we love using vinegar at home because it's non-toxic, environmentally-friendly, and readily available at your local grocery store. Plus, it's an effective solution for removing bacteria, stains, and dirt. Pick it up once, and it will become your new go-to cleanser.

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Deodorize the Room

Kana Okada

Unpleasant odors lurk in the carpets, rugs, and upholstery. To remove these musty smells, fill a dish with half an inch of white vinegar and leave it out in the room until the smell dissipates.

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Dissolve Rust


To clean sharp edges on a dirty knife or pair of shears without cutting yourself, pour white vinegar over the blade. Then sprinkle with coarse salt and rub with a cork. Rinse with water and wipe dry to prevent rusting.

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Keep Colors Bright


If you think that the colors of your clothing may run in the wash, try this time-honored treatment: Pre-rinse laundry in a solution of distilled white vinegar and cold water, using 2/3 cup vinegar for each gallon of water. Let the garments soak for up to 15 minutes, then wash and dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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Whiten Your Whites


On the flip side, vinegar is naturally acidic, and will whiten fabrics when added to the rinse water. Add it to the first rinse so it can be washed out by the second rinse. Depending on the size of the load, add anywhere from 1/8 cup to 1/2 cup.

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Clean the Faucet


Cut through the crusty buildup of mineral deposits on your faucet with this trick: Soak a paper towel in full-strength white vinegar, then drape over the buildup. Leave for about an hour, then scrub scum away.

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Wash Your Windows and Mirrors

Annie Schlechter

Reflective surfaces such as these should have a streak-free shine. You can make your own cleaner by mixing one part vinegar and one part water.

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Get a Fresher Cup of Coffee


This is a natural way to clean your coffeemaker: Fill the carafe with equal parts water and white vinegar. Pour into the reservoir and turn the machine on. When several cups have filled the carafe, turn it off and let it sit for an hour. Then turn it back on and rinse it out with a few cycles of fresh water before brewing a cup.

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Sanitize Your Garbage Disposal

Ditte Isager

It's no surprise that a trash bin can harbor the worst odors in your home. But a rinse-down doesn't always do the trick. After rinsing with fresh water, use a long-handled brush to scrub the inside with a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Rinse once more and let dry.

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Remove Hard-Water Stains

Bryan Gardner

Use a clean rag to rub each piece with distilled white vinegar. This will remove the hard water's calcium and magnesium buildup. (And don't worry—the items won't smell like vinegar once dried.)

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Drive Away Pests


Keep the ants from marching in: Pour equal amounts of water and white vinegar into a spray bottle, and shake to mix. Then, spritz the solution in areas where ants tend to gather, like kitchen floors or the crevices in painted baseboards. You can also use the repellent outside to spray your patio, porch, or picnic table where you host gatherings.

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Unclog the Showerhead


If your showerhead becomes clogged, fill a plastic bag with undiluted white vinegar then place the bag over the head so it's submerged; secure and seal the bag with a rubber band. Soak overnight and then scrub the face with a toothbrush.

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Kill Weeds


Warm weather means more weeds, but you don't need to reach for the chemical weed killer to banish them for your garden. Douse the offending foliage with vinegar instead. The weeds will likely shrivel in a day or so; resilient ones rarely withstand a second treatment.

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Restore Your Stained Rug

Christopher Baker

Don't let a spill ruin your favorite carpet or rug. Immediately after a stain is spotted, blend white vinegar and water together in equal parts, then pour the solution over the area. After a few minutes, wipe it away for a rug that's as good as new.

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Furbish Wood Floors


Vinegar works as an efficient cleaner for wood floors as well. If yours becomes really dirty, try a solution of 1/8 cup plant-based liquid soap and 1/8 cup distilled white vinegar to 1 gallon water (add 10 drops essential oil for fragrance, if you prefer).

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Tidy Up the Toilet


To remove a hard-water ring from inside the toilet, pour white vinegar into the bowl and let set for an hour. Scrub clean and flush.

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Clean Bath Toys


Wash bacteria and mildew from bath toys by giving them a bath of their own: Fill a bucket or large bowl with warm water, adding 1/2 cup white vinegar per gallon of water. Soak toys for 10 minutes, then rub gently with a sponge and allow to dry. The acetic acid in vinegar cuts through dirt buildup and works as a natural disinfectant.

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Save Your Shoes


Leather and suede are some of the hardest materials to maintain. Stains can easily result when our shoes come in contact with rain or salt. To rid your shoes of unsightly salt spots, rub them down with a paper towel dampened with white vinegar, which dissolves the salt.

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Refresh the Furniture


To remove musty smells from old furniture, try this: Fill plastic containers with white vinegar; seal, and punch holes in the lids. Put one inside each drawer or cabinet overnight to absorb odors. For extreme cases, you can clean interiors with a vinegar-dampened cloth.

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Shine the Silver

Aaron Dyer

Silver is easily scratched and tarnished. Restore its sparkle by gently buffing your pieces with vinegar and a soft cotton cloth. Finish by rinsing and drying your silver with the cloth.

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Get Rid of Fruit Flies


A shallow dish of apple-cider vinegar is all you need to rid your home of pesky fruit flies. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap; using a needle, punch a half dozen holes in the surface at least a half inch in from the edge of the bowl. The fruit flies will fly in and get trapped.

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