Everything You Need to Know About Cleaning with Vinegar

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Chances are, you’ve got a big bottle of vinegar stashed away in your pantry. While you may use it for cooking and salad dressings, did you know it’s actually one of the most powerful cleaners on the market? You heard me right! Cleaning with vinegar is not only cheap and 100% natural, but it’s extremely effective. Learn everything you need to know to clean your home with vinegar.

Interesting in making your own natural cleaners using vinegar? Be sure to check out my 3 (Top Secret) Tricks for Cleaning With Vinegar and 15 Homemade Cleaners That Really Work.

photos of ways to use vinegar to clean your home

I first became obsessed with vinegar as a cleaner when the school I used to teach at began to use vinegar to clean the cafeteria floors. Completely skeptical at first, I began to do my own research and couldn’t believe how effective this natural cleaner was.

Soon enough, I began using it in every nook and cranny of my home too! Incredibly versatile, it’s easy to get started using vinegar as a cleaner. By the end of this post, I’m positive you’ll love it as much as I do!

Table of Contents

Easily jump to the content you need by clicking a section below:

Benefits of using vinegar as a cleaner

How to use vinegar as a cleaner

What shouldn’t you clean with vinegar?

What can you clean with vinegar?

What do you need to clean with vinegar?

The Benefits of Using Vinegar as Cleaner

I absolutely adore using vinegar for plenty of reasons! First and foremost, it’s toxic and eco-friendly. I have no issues using it around my house and kids knowing that it’s completely safe for my family and my local environment.

Multipurpose, it can be used on many surfaces which means I don’t have to have a multitude of different cleaners for every little thing in my house. It’s one powerful ingredient that can cover most aspects of a home! It’s strong enough to kill bacteria and dissolve mineral deposits, grease, and dirt.

And lastly, it’s cheap! You can clean to your heart’s content, all for a few dollars.

glass spray bottle with homemade vinegar cleaner

Why Does Vinegar Clean So Well?

You can use vinegar both as a cleaner and disinfectant since it has quite a large amount of acetic acid. Colorless and strong in odor and taste, acetic acid is used in many store-bought cleaners and is what gives vinegar its signature sour smell and taste. While cleaning, the acid reacts with the organic compounds in the stains and grime being removed.

vinegar and spray bottle with baking soda

How to Use Vinegar as Cleaner

Vinegar is pretty simple to use! Before you begin using it, try these tips out to make sure you get the most out of your cleaning and use vinegar safely.

Should I Dilute Vinegar for Cleaning?

Absolutely! By diluting your vinegar with water, it makes sure it’s strong enough to clean but also not intense enough for any damage.

To dilute your vinegar, use a 1:1 ratio with water.

When diluting, never mix your vinegar with hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, or bleach. By mixing them with vinegar, you can create toxic gases.

Do You Have to Rinse after Cleaning with Vinegar?

Rinsing is not necessary! If you’re simply using a vinegar and water solution to wipe and disinfect, you won’t need to rinse. However, if there’s also plenty of dirt and grime you’re wiping away, you may also want to rinse with some extra water.

If you don’t like the lingering smell of vinegar, you can try and add a couple drops of essential oils to mask the smell. I find the smell evaporates soon after cleaning all on its own.

What Type of Vinegar Should You Use for Cleaning?

White distilled vinegar is best. Unlike other dark vinegar, such as apple cider or red wine vinegar, it won’t stain anything that you’re trying to clean. Like most cleaners, white distilled vinegar contains 5% acidity.

If the smell bothers you, you can add some essential oils or use apple cider vinegar as it’s slightly sweeter. Make sure to dilute it since it’s darker and don’t use it on light-colored fabric and materials.

Will Cleaning Vinegar Kill Mold?

Since vinegar has antifungal and antibacterial properties, it can help to kill some types of mold. Vinegar will kill Penicillium chrysogenum, but won’t be effective at treating Aspergillus fumigatus – both of which are common in the home. You can always try vinegar first and if it doesn’t work, try another cleaner specifically made for mold.

bathroom cleaner in glass spray bottle

What Should You Not Clean with Vinegar?

As amazing of a cleaner as it is, there are many instances when you wouldn’t want to use vinegar. With great power comes great responsibility! Here are a few instances when you would want to avoid cleaning with vinegar.

  • Natural stone. Never use vinegar on your natural stone countertops or flooring including granite, marble, and quartz. It can react with the stone and defects in the surface, also causing the stone to become dull and lose its shine.
  • Rubber. Like natural stone, some of the acid in vinegar can eat away at chemicals in certain rubber. This includes the rubber hoses and seals found in dishwashers and washing machines. Look at your appliance’s manual to see if they caution against using vinegar.
  • Hardwood floors. I know many people who use vinegar on their hardwood floors! In reality, over time it can dull the shine and sometimes void the warranty of newly installed hardwood floors.
  • Electronic screens. Vinegar can actually strip phones, TVs, and laptops of their protective coating which can enhance glare and even interfere with touch screens.
  • Knives and other metal utensils. Vinegar can corrode the metal and actually dull the knife edges, especially those made of stainless steel.

Is Cleaning Vinegar Safe on Skin?

While vinegar is a non-toxic cleaner, it’s still acidic. When cleaning, you’ll still want to avoid soaking any large areas of the skin with vinegar and want to wear gloves while using it. Otherwise, it can irritate the skin and nails.

What Should You Clean with Vinegar?

Now that you know what not to clean with vinegar, here are all the amazing ways you can use vinegar to clean your home!

Pillows

You know when your pillows turn a gross yellow color? Vinegar is your savior! It pretty much performed a miracle on my pillows by cleaning them and whitening them back up. You can see how I cleaned my pillows using vinegar here.

two pillows in a washing machine

Cleaning Coffee Maker with Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the best ways to clean your coffee maker. For drip coffee makers, add up to 4 cups of vinegar to the water reservoir. Let it sit for half an hour before letting it go through a brewing cycle. Afterward, do a couple rounds of just water to clean out the vinegar.

For Keurigs and other pod coffee makers, use vinegar and a brush to clean the base of the reservoir and all other parts you cannot remove to wash.

Natural Grout Cleaner

Possibly one of the most annoying things to clean, you can easily spend hours scrubbing away at dirty grout. But by using vinegar, baking soda, and a grout brush, you can easily let the chemical reaction do all the work for you. It makes the job so much simpler and quicker to do.

how to clean grout with vinegar

Glass and Mirrors

A combination of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water is amazing for leaving behind zero streaks on glass and mirrors. Simply spray and wipe to clean.

Sink Bombs

Using the same duo (vinegar and baking soda), I make my own sink bombs. The baking soda works at scrubbing away the grime while the vinegar disinfects. Once wiped away, your sink is left fresh and shiny.

This is also super handy for stinky garburators. Letting vinegar soak in garburators clears up any lingering smells.

naturally clean sink

Cleaning Showerheads with Vinegar

You can use this trick on any faucets in your house to help get rid of calcium deposits. Use two teaspoons of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt to scrub. For stains, you can also spray your faucets with vinegar and tie a bag around it overnight to soak. Scrub and rinse it the morning after.

Bathroom Cleaner

When it comes to the bathtub, I always want to make sure I’m using a natural cleaner as my kids will sit and soak in it while getting clean themselves! By mixing together equal parts of Dawn dish soap and vinegar, you can easily clean the tub. Spray the mixture and let it sit for one hour before wiping it away. That’s it!

Cleaning Humidifiers with Vinegar

To make sure your humidifier is doing its job right and filtering clean air into the home, clean it using some vinegar. First, empty the humidifier and then add one cup of vinegar and 1 cup of fresh water to the base. Let it sit for an hour and use equal parts of vinegar and water to wash the reservoir out in the meantime. After an hour, empty the base and rinse with water. Let air dry before using it again.

clean kitchen using vinegar
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Talking about cleaning always makes me want to go and scrub every inch of the house! Whether you’re doing a deep spring clean or want a quick cleaning solution, vinegar is an amazing tool to have as part of your cleaning closet.

For more cleaning tips with vinegar, be sure to check out my free e-book all about how to naturally clean your home with vinegar, including more recipes to use around the home.

vinegar cleaning hacks photos
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