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Ask the Expert

16 Green Ideas for How to Use Vinegar

By Nov 21, 2011 August 3rd, 2015 54 Comments

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As more and more of us get into an eco-friendly lifestyle, it’s easy to get sucked into buying a lot of fancy-schmancy and expensive eco products. But as SITStah Hana reminds us today, the uses of vinegar in and around your home are endless – and they’re an inexpensive and easy way to take care of lots of household problems!

Where and How To Use Vinegar

Vinegar is an inexpensive way to clean, disinfect, and more in every room of your house. These tips will teach you how and where to use vinegar.

Uses Of Vinegar In The Kitchen

how to use vinegar

Vinegar belongs in the kitchen! From cleaning to cooking, and lots of places in between, no kitchen is complete without at least a couple different kinds of vinegar, starting with DWV (distilled white vinegar):

  • Use it to clean and disinfect your countertops and other surfaces (and pitch the bleach-infused cleansers!).
  • Get rid of pesticide residue and bacteria from your fruits and vegetables by washing them in a solution of 3 TBSP of DWV in a quart of water.
  • Fluff up your rice by adding a TBSP of vinegar to the water while cooking.
  • Get rid of fruit flies by placing a small bowl of vinegar (any kind will do) near the source.
  • Add organic balsamic vinegar to your recipes for an added boast of flavor and health benefits (from potassium and polyphenols).

Uses Of Vinegar In the Laundry Room

No laundry room should be without a gallon or two of DWV. Period!

Why? Well, for one thing, fabric softeners are loaded with toxins linked to, headaches, respiratory ailments, brain and nervous system disorders, and even pancreatic and other kinds of cancer. Absolutely no one should ever use fabric softeners, in my opinion. It’s just not worth it. Simply fill your fabric softener dispenser with DWV and let it do its magic.

Have you ever noticed how black clothing fades after a few washes? Stop the fade with vinegar! Really. Adding it to the wash will help maintain the color of your clothes, not to mention brightening them as well.

backyard laundry

Uses Of Vinegar In The Bathroom

From toilet bowls to sinks, DWV is the answer for disinfecting!

  • Disinfect your loofahs, sponges and germ-clinging little poufs by soaking them overnight in a bucket of DWV and water (3 parts to 1 part). You might want to add your bath pillow and tub stopper as well.
  • Need an eco-friendly air freshener? Fill a spray bottle with 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. DWV and a cup of water. Spritz away odors in a flash!

Uses Of Vinegar On Your Auto

You just bought a used car and there’s an old political bumper sticker on it. Quite frankly, you wouldn’t be caught dead driving around with that on your car. Simply drench a cloth with some DWV and cover the sticker with it for a couple of hours. It should peel right off.

Uses Of Vinegar Outdoors

  • Before you put away your fountain, or pond pump, soak the pump in undiluted DWV to rid it of any mineral deposits that may have accumulated over the summer. This will keep your pump working more efficiently when it’s time to welcome spring back to the area again.
  • When it’s time to bring your potted plants in, they may need some repotting. Get the stains and white mineral crusts out of your clay, glazed and plastic pots by soaking them for a couple of hours in a sink of water and DWV (50/50 solution).

backyard gardening

Uses Of Vinegar With Your Kids

  • Did you pick up any garage sale or flea market bargains this summer? Well, if you bought some toys for the little ones, you want to make sure they’re safely disinfected, in a non-toxic way. There’s an easy solution! Just spritz off plastic and wooden toys with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water.
  • Crayon on the walls? Uh oh. Don’t fret. Simply apply undiluted DWV to the wax scribbling and then erase them by scrubbing with an old toothbrush sprinkled with baking soda. Voila! Artwork gone, paint unmarred.

Uses Of Vinegar In Hot Tubs

A breeding ground for nasty germs!! Dump a gallon of DWV in the water and turn on the jets. Let them run for a couple of hours. After draining, wipe down the tub with a sponge saturated with full strength vinegar. No need to rinse. Repeat every couple of weeks for ultimate germ-killing.

Uses Of Vinegar In Your Skincare Routine

  • This is one of my favorites! Soften your feet (and I mean really soften your feet) by soaking them in a footbath of warm water with 1 cup of ACV (apple cider vinegar) added. After 5 minutes or so, you’ll be amazed at how soft your formerly rough heels are!
  • If you suffer from acne, chances are you don’t need to spend a fortune on those infomercial ‘miracles.’ Simply mix 2 tsp of ACV in a cup of water and apply twice a day after washing your face. Your skin will clear up in no time!

Uses Of Vinegar With Pets

Flea problem? Add a few drops of DWV to the water dish, which will help to keep fleas at bay. Too late? Well, here’s what I do. After that soothing footbath (see above), I simply dump the water over my cats (or dog, if I had one). The result? Super soft fur and a bunch of dead fleas.

dog and cat

Uses Of Vinegar On Furniture

Get rid of scratches on your wood furniture by applying a 50/50 blend of vinegar (DWV for light wood, ACV for dark) and iodine. A thin craft paintbrush is ideal for this.

More From Our How To Series

Check out some of the other how-to posts our SITStahs have published previously!

About The Author

Hana Haatainen Caye, otherwise known as The Green Grandma, is the agency principal for Speechless, a company specializing in Voice-overs, Copywriting, Creative Writing and Editing services. A multi-published journalist, award-winning poet and author of short stories, Hana presents writing workshops at conferences and leads a monthly writing group.  She also hosts a daily blog, The Green Grandma, focused on common sense approaches to living healthier, happier and greener lives. She can be reached at greengrandma@comcast.net.

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54 Comments

  • […] been finding more and more and more uses for vinegar. Who knew it could be so […]

    • Hana says:

      Since writing my book, I’ve found so many more uses and keep wishing I’d known them before I finished it!

  • beckykid says:

    I *adore* vinegar!!

    It’s also great to use around the house on carpets. I use about a 50/50 solution of vinegar & water in a spray bottle. Spray it on soiled areas & use a carpet brush – it works wonders! It also eliminates odors too 🙂

    • Hana says:

      Vinegar is great for getting pet stains out of the carpet and for eliminating all sorts of odors! Both topics are covered in my new book, Vinegar Fridays.

  • Love this post!
    I learned last week that apple cider vinegar is great for getting the skunk smell out of the house. Our dog got a good dosing of spray and it filled the house quick when he ran back in the garage.

    • Hana says:

      Dealing with skunk odors, along with other stinky situations, is something I cover in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. It’s better than bathing your pet in tomato juice!! Thanks for your comment, Kimberly!

  • What a great resource you have put together here! Thanks for sharing!
    Bernice

    • Hana says:

      You’re welcome, Bernice. I hope you will check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays, where I have many, many more amazing tips for using vinegar!

  • Jess says:

    Never thought to put it in the wash! I use vinegar in my dishwasher to get rid of calcium and get my dishes cleaner…it’s awesome!

    • Hana says:

      Hi Jess,

      You’ll love what it does for your laundry! Get rid of the toxic fabric softeners and stick to vinegar! If you would like to read more tips, check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays. It takes vinegar from the kitchen to the laundry room to the bathroom to the garden … vinegar rocks!

  • Carolyn says:

    And to think I was using it on my French Fries!
    Thanks for this, so many uses!

    • Hana says:

      You’re welcome, Carolyn! If you want to discover more great vinegar tips, check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays. You might even find out some new food tips in addition to garnishing your French fries!

  • Marie Cole says:

    oh my gosh who knew….Thank you for all the great tips! 🙂

    • Hana says:

      You’re most welcome, Marie! I hope you’ll check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays, for even more amazing vinegar tips.

  • Jennifer says:

    My favorite way to use vinegar – and I have so many – is to clean my guinea pig cage. After scooping out the nasty bedding, spray a solution of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water. It neutralizes the pee and poop stains and smell and is ecofriendly, so it’s nontoxic to my babies.

    Cheers!

    • Hana says:

      Jennifer,

      I have an entire chapter dedicated to pets and vinegar in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. Using vinegar to clean pet cages is not only economical, it’s also safe for your pets! Bottom line … Vinegar rocks!!

  • Jenn says:

    HA!!!
    We need more of these posts. I may have to stalk you… (or your blog, at least).

    • Hana says:

      Let the stalking begin, Jenn! In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays, based on a year’s worth of weekly postings about vinegar.

  • Beverly says:

    I use vinegar as a household cleaner and it works great. I mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. You can add a few drops of an essential oil too so it doesn’t smell so much like vinegar. It makes an effective and frugal all purpose cleaner for the kitchen and bathroom. It’s also eco-friendly and is a wonderful way to make a cleaner that has no harsh chemicals. I also cleaned my shower head with vinegar to get rid of hard water deposits that had built up. I put some vinegar in a baggie and tied the baggie around the shower head. I then let it set for a few hours so the vinegar could dissolve the mineral deposits. The shower head was super clean after this treatment.

    • Hana says:

      Great tips, Beverly. I have all the ones you mentioned in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. I hope you’ll check it out for some more fabulous ideas!

  • Jamie says:

    awesome!! I also just read an article about using vinegar to fix a paintbrush you might otherwise think needs to be thrown away. I sometimes forget to clean my paintbrushes and they end up dry, covered in paint. Vinegar is the answer to get this back to new. 🙂

    • Hana says:

      Hi Jamie,

      Vinegar is the answer to so many things! I have a lot more tips in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. I hope you’ll check it out!

  • You can also use it instead of Jet Dry in the dish washer for a rinse aid.

    • Hana says:

      Hi Sarita,

      Yes, using it instead of Jet Dry is one of the many additional tips in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. I hope you’ll check it out!

  • I am printing this out and put it in my Household Binder – such great ideas (and economical too!)

    • Hana says:

      Thanks, Aly! If you want a handy guide, you can check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays, which includes all these tips and many, many more. There are even some of my favorite recipes in the book, using vinegar, of course!

  • Patricia says:

    Vinegar rules! No more harsh chemicals needed at all. Thanks for sharing this info! Let’s stay green.

    • Hana says:

      Amen, Patricia!! Gotta love toxic-free vinegar … for so many reasons! I cover a bunch more tips in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. I hope you’ll check it out.

  • You missed a few of my favorite uses for vinegar:
    -instant sunburn relief – apply directly OR with a spray bottle
    -laundry: removes urine-smell from clothes
    -pain relief: wrap a sprain with a vinegar-soaked wrap for instant pain relief

    • Hana says:

      Hi Nanette,

      There was only so much room in this article! But there are many, many more tips in my new book, Vinegar Fridays, where I cover your favorites as well! I hope you’ll check it out.

  • Tracie says:

    These are fabulous tips!! I never would have thought to use vinegar for all these things.

    • Hana says:

      Hi Tracie,

      Thanks. These tips are just a sampling of what I included in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. I hope you’ll check it out.

  • Helpful post! I have just started to discover the wonders of vinegar so I’ve been using it as fabric softner for about a year now. Works great! I also use it like you said–for fruit flies. We had an epidemic this year. I’ll have to try washing fruit with it.

    • Hana says:

      Hi GGM,

      With all the pesticides and bacterias on our produce, isn’t it awesome that something as cheap as vinegar can be used to make our food safe for our families?! I have a lot more uses for vinegar, including some other kitchen and food-related tips in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. I hope you’ll check it out.

  • Dr_fomsky says:

    I use ACV to rinse my hair. It helps to seal the cuticle. I also use it to wash my kettle. I never knew it could be used to clean off crayon. Will give it a try. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hana says:

      We are a no pooing family, which means we do not use shampoo or conditioner. Baking soda is our shampoo and vinegar is our conditioner. I devoted a whole chapter to vinegar and hair care in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. Hope you’ll check it out!

  • Kavuli says:

    I think I would add an essential oil to this vinegar business when using it as a fabric softener and air freshener. **RUNS OFF TO BUY BOTTLES OF VINEGAR**

    • Hana says:

      Hi Kavuli,

      Did you empty the shelves of the vinegar?! So many more uses in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. It’s a splash of vinegar with a dash of personality. You’ll be amazed at the money you can save with vinegar!

  • Luciana says:

    Yes, vinegar is much better than fabric product…

    • Hana says:

      Hi Luciana,

      Yes, vinegar is much better than a lot of the toxic products we use. I hope you’ll consider finding out more by checking out my new book, Vinegar Fridays.

  • @.@ Buckets! I had no idea you could do ALL that with vinegar. I think I have EVERY single kind of vinegar on the planet in my cupboard too! OH my gosh! I am SO glad I stumbled onto this today. Our son has been getting a little wild with the crayons and I KNOW it is only a matter of time before it ends up on the walls. We don’t own this house either! We’re renting while we’re stationed outside of the U.S. Magic Eraser’s aren’t cheap either. Everyone recommends them, but I have TONS of baking soda and vinegar!! Thanks so much Hana! =)

    • Hana says:

      You’re most welcome. And thank you (and your husband) for your service and sacrifice. You are my heroes. If you want to learn more about using DWV, ACV and balsamic (including some of my recipes), check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays.

  • Luci says:

    Wow. I love the way it saves money… and it’s green!!

    • Hana says:

      Hi Luci,

      After you start discovering all the things vinegar can do, you’ll be amazed at how much money you save! Seriously. For more tips, please check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays.

  • Tugboat says:

    I can’t wait to try some of these!

    • Hana says:

      Hey Tugboat! I hope you find the tips as amazing as I have! If you want more of them, check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays. There are a whole lot more in the book.

  • Deanna says:

    Great info. here! Thanks so much! I’m definitely going to try some of these.

    • Hana says:

      Hi Deanna,

      You’re so welcome! If you want more tips, check out my new book, Vinegar Fridays. This list is just a sampling from the book.

  • I love this! I actually did a post about it a while back when I read an article about it. I went out & bought a huge bottle at Costco! 🙂

  • I didn’t realize there were so many things I could use it for.

    • Hana says:

      The list goes on and on. These are just a few of the uses I write about in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. I hope you’ll check it out!

  • Wow, I had no idea there were so many other uses for vinegar. I have terrible heels and I need to try this. Thank you!

    • Hana says:

      Hi Leigh,

      Yeah, there are countless uses for vinegar. I cover a lot of them in my new book, Vinegar Fridays. I hope you’ll check it out!