20 Handy Household Uses for Vinegar

If you think vinegar is just for salads, think again. Here are 20 practical and easy ways to improve your household with vinegar—from cleaning tiles to repelling insects.

Versatile Vinegar

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20 Household Uses for Vinegar

One of the best products you can get for your house might already be in your pantry: vinegar. Beyond being a popular kitchen ingredient, there’s a long list of household uses for it. How is it such a versatile household product? Thanks to its high acidity, vinegar can get rid of stains, cut through crud, and be used in the garden. While there are many different types of vinegar, white vinegar and apple cider vinegar are the best choices for being a potent cleaner without damaging surfaces. Not convinced just yet that you can replace your chemical cleaners for a bottle of vinegar? Read on for 20 ways you can use vinegar around the house.

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Control Insects in the Garden

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How to make a fruit fly trap with vinegar

Create an earth-friendly insect trap by filling a closed container with a cup of apple cider vinegar. Add in small slices of banana peel and 1 cup of cold water, and then shake. Poke holes around the top and place it on the kitchen counter near a fruit fly infestation. You’ll be catching critters in no time. Discard the trap and replace it with a new one when it gets, um, too gross.

Related:  10 Natural Ways to Make Your Home Critter-Free

instructables.com via NoFiller under Creative Commons

Wash Your Dishwasher

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How to Clean a Dishwasher with Vinegar

Your dishwasher washes all the food off your dishes. But who washes the dishwasher? You can, by pouring 1 cup of vinegar into the bottom of the tub and running it through a cycle without any dishes. Doing this once every month or two will remove built-up soap residue and keep it in squeaky clean shape.

Related: Over a Dozen Things You Didn't Know You Could Clean in the Dishwasher

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Clean Your Shower Heads

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How to Clean a Shower Head with Vinegar

Got a clogged shower head? Put boiling water in a bowl with a 1/2 cup of vinegar. Soak the shower head for 10 minutes and watch those clogs disappear. If you can’t remove the head, partly fill a plastic bag with full-strength vinegar and tape it over the fixture. Let it sit for an hour and remove, and you’ll be shower-ready!

Related: 13 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Bathroom Ever

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Remove Rust

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How to remove rust with vinegar

Renew rusty tools by soaking them in full-strength vinegar for several days. Once the rust dissipates, rinse and dry them well. This method also works well for screws and bolts.

Related: How To Remove Rust

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Clean Your Wood Floors

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How to Clean Wood Floors with vinegar

Wash your hardwood or pre-finished floors the old-fashioned way. Add a 1/2 cup vinegar to 1 gallon of hot water and mop or scrub as usual (make sure to barely wet your mop or cloth). Dry the floor completely with a towel afterward—standing water is the enemy! Don’t try this technique on waxed floors because it will strip off the wax finish. To lessen the smell of vinegar, add a drop or two of essential oil to your mix. Lemon- or lavender-scented oils are excellent options.

Related: 7 Ways You May Be Ruining Your Wood Floors

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Save a Dried-Up Paint Brush

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how to clean paint brushes with vinegar

Don’t throw that synthetic brush away just because it’s caked with dried paint. Soak it in a cup of vinegar until the bristles loosen up. Then wash it in warm, soapy water. Still stuck together? Boil it in vinegar for 10 minutes and follow up with another soapy water bath. Your brush should return to its old pliable, useful self.

Related: 35 Tips for Easy Cleanup After Every DIY Project

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Remove Smoke Odors

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How to Get Rid of Smoke Smell with Vinegar

Tar and resin from cigarette smoke can stick to furniture and leave an odor long after the smoke evaporates. To break through and eliminate that icky residue, spray orange-infused vinegar onto hard surfaces, let it sit and then wipe it down with a dry cloth. You may need to repeat the process a few times if the situation is super stinky. Avoid spraying onto fabrics.

Related: Clear the Air: 10 Natural Ways to Cure Household Odors

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Clean Ceramic Tile

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How to Clean Ceramic with Vinegar

Make your own cleaning solution to freshen up dingy tiles around tubs and sinks. Just add a 1/2 cup vinegar, a 1/2 cup ammonia, and a 1/4 cup borax to a gallon of water. Scrub ‘em up, and let ‘em shine! Rinse thoroughly with water and allow to air dry.

Related: 8 Ways to Mildew-Proof Your Bathroom

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Test Your Soil

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How to Test Soil PH with Vinegar

You can do a quick and cheap test for excess alkalinity in your soil by putting some dirt in a container and pouring about a 1/2 cup of vinegar into it. If it fizzes or bubbles up, it’s too alkaline. Simply add peat moss or sulfur to make your soil pH more neutral.

Related: The Best Things You Can Do for Your Garden Soil

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Unclog a Drain

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how to clear a clogged drain with vinegar

Clear a clogged drain by pouring a 1/2 cup of baking soda into it, followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. It will bubble and foam, and once that stops, flush the drain with hot water. About 5 minutes later, rinse with cold water. This approach is effective, non-toxic, and less damaging to your pipes (and wallet!) than commercial drain cleaners.

Related: 30 Things Every Homeowner Should Know How to Do

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Sanitize the Cutting Board

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How to clean wooden cutting board with vinegar

Unlike your plastic cutting board, you can’t just stick your wooden cutting board in the dishwasher; the soft surface will warp from the hot water. To properly clean a wooden cutting board spray it with undiluted white vinegar, let it sit for no more than five minutes, and then wipe it off with a damp cloth.

Related: Top Tips for Keeping Countertops Like New

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Extend the Life of Flowers

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keep flowers fresh with vinegar

Enjoy fresh-cut flowers for as long as possible with this hack: add equal parts white or apple cider vinegar and sugar—two tablespoons is good to start with for an average-sized vase—to the water to extend the life of flowers. The vinegar lowers the pH levels of the water and prevents bacteria, while the sugar is food for the flowers.

Related: 11 Things You Didn't Know That Houseplants Love

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Clean the Coffee Maker

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how to clean coffee maker with vinegar

Because of mineral and coffee oil buildup that can harm the taste of your coffee, you need to clean you coffee maker every three to six months. Luckily, it’s not a hard job. Fill the water chamber with equal parts water and white vinegar and start the brew cycle. Halfway through pause the cycle to let the vinegar work its magic cleaning and disinfecting. After 30 minutes let it complete the cycle and cool.

Related: 10 Things a Coffee Maker Can Do—Besides Brew Coffee

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Refresh Your Towels

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how to make towels fluffy with vinegar

Are your towels starting to feel grody? Laundered towels can develop an odor from bacteria left behind after showering and a buildup of laundry detergent. To get them smelling fresh again run them through a cycle replacing the detergent with one cup of distilled white vinegar.

Related: The 7 Weirdest Things That Can Clean Your Laundry

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Clean the Windows

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how to clean windows with vinegar

Achieve streak-free, shining windows by making your own window cleaner. All you need to do is combine one part white vinegar to two parts water in a spray bottle. It’s a simple and effective recipe!

Related: 15 Unusual Tips for Your Cleanest Windows Ever

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Clean the Microwave

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how to clean the microwave with vinegar

Spills and splatters are inevitable in the microwave. Before you get scrubbing, make cleaning the mess easier for yourself by loosening up the grime. Fill a bowl with equal parts white vinegar and water, and pop it into the microwave for five minutes or until it boils. Once the time is up leave it inside for another three to five minutes to allow the steam to soften things up. Then you can grab a cloth or sponge to wipe it away.

Related: 15 Home Cleaners to Borrow from the Pantry

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Kill Weeds

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kill weeds with vinegar

Avoid using strong chemicals in the yard, instead reach for the vinegar. You can kill weeds by spraying or brushing the leaves with vinegar. Just be careful of nearby plants that you want to keep since the natural herbicide can kill them too.

Related: 9 Natural Ways to Kill Weeds

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Clean Stainless Steel

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how to clean stainless steel with vinegar

Stainless steel looks sleek until you start noticing fingerprints all over the fridge. To get rid of the prints and any other residue, spray stainless steel surfaces with vinegar and then wipe down with a microfiber cloth. Finish off with a small amount of mineral oil to make the stainless steel shine.

Related: How To: Clean Any Appliance

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Deodorize the Washing Machine

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how to clean the washing machine with vinegar

The detergent and water cycling through your washing machine doesn’t cut it when it comes to cleaning the appliance. Get rid of funky smells from the washing machine by deodorizing it with vinegar. Add four cups of white vinegar to a top-load machine or two cups to a front-load model and run it on the hottest cycle. When the agitator has mixed the vinegar and water, turn the machine off and allow it sit for 30 minutes. Once the time is up, turn the washer back on and allow the cycle to finish.

Related: 12 Laundry Mistakes You’re Probably Making

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Remove Carpet Stains

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how to remove stains with vinegar

Spilling coffee already feels like a bad omen, but having it stain your shirt or the carpet is even worse. Blot the stain with a mixture of vinegar and water before it has the chance to set.

Related: How To: Get Rid of Every Carpet Stain

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