5 Things in Your Home You Can Clean With Vinegar (and 2 You Shouldn’t)

This humble pantry ingredient just might be the key to a spick-and-span home.

Published Jan. 11, 2023.

What if there was one magical product that could clean everything in your home? 

OK, that might be a stretch. But there is one pantry ingredient (you probably already have it) that can be used to scour, scrub, and clean your home; as well as pickle, preserve, and season your food: vinegar.

Vinegar is very acidic, containing at least 4% acetic acid. While this acidity helps to preserve foods, it can also be used to spruce up various areas in your home. Youll want to use an inexpensive bottle of distilled white vinegar here; don’t waste anything fancy.  

Note that while vinegar does clean, when diluted it doesn’t thoroughly disinfect—for that, you should stick to antibacterial cleaning products. Vinegar alone will disinfect, but its less user-friendly as youll have to wash the surface again to remove the vinegary smell.

And a word of caution: You should never mix vinegar with hydrogen peroxide or bleach. This can produce toxic vapors.

Here are five things in your home you can clean with vinegar. 

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1. Your Countertops (and More!)

If you want to avoid repurchasing all-purpose cleaners time and time again, and minimize waste by not purchasing a new spray bottle each time you run out, make your own! You can either buy a reusable glass spray bottle or save an empty spray bottle. 

Fill it with 1 part distilled white vinegar and 4 parts water (scaled to the size of your bottle). You can add a few drops of essential oil or citrus juice for a pleasant scent, and use this spray to clean your stovetop, fridge and freezer shelves, countertops (see below for which surfaces to avoid), mirrors, and windows. 

2. A Clogged Sink

Whether in the kitchen or the bathroom, slow-draining sinks are frustrating. Luckily, you can make your own drain cleaner with vinegar and baking soda. 

Put a ½ cup of baking soda in the drain. Pour in 1 cup of vinegar, and plug the drain (a typical sink plug or an old dish towel will work). Let this sit for 10 minutes while the fizzy reaction works to dislodge blockages in the drain. Rinse thoroughly with hot water.

This method will also help to deodorize and clean the gunk from the garbage disposal in your kitchen sink.

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3. Your Microwave

The microwave can get a little grimy from spills and splatters over time, and vinegar can help make scrubbing off crusty bits of food a whole lot easier. (The Angry Mama gadget my colleague Lisa McManus tested uses a similar method.)

Mix vinegar and water in a microwave-safe bowl (Lisa used ¼ cup water and ¼ cup vinegar) and microwave on high until it comes to a boil. Allow the steam to circulate while the bowl cools; it will help to loosen any stuck-on food and grease. Wipe the inside and door clean with a dish towel or sponge

4. Fruits and Vegetables

Years ago, we conducted an experiment to test the best ways to wash your produce and found that diluted vinegar was a good alternative to store-bought produce sprays.

To make your own produce wash, mix 1 part vinegar with 3 parts water in a spray bottle. Spray your produce a few times to fully coat it, and then rinse with water.

5. Plastic Cutting Boards 

Hot water and soap should be your first line of defense to disinfect your cutting boards and avoid cross-contamination, but if you need to get rid of a particularly stubborn garlicky scent, for example, vinegar can come in handy. 

After washing your board, spray it with vinegar, and then wash again to get rid of the vinegar smell.

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Bonus: Things You Should Never Clean with Vinegar

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