How to Use Vinegar to Clean Your Home

Domestic CEO reveals surprising ways to use vinegar instead of harsh chemicals to clean and disinfect your home.

Amanda Thomas
4-minute read
Episode #12


When I say the word, what do you think of first? Probably pickles, right? Or maybe salad dressing?

How about a multi-purpose tool for your home?


A growing number of Americans have started to use this grocery staple in their homes for cleaning, deodorizing, and more. It’s cheap, effective, and all natural. What more could you want? If you want to know the “why” behind vinegar’s super powers, Ask Science can explain. If you just want to know the “how,” keep reading.

One thing to remember: This episode will give you a number of ways you can use white distilled vinegar. Of course, there are lots of other types of vinegar and many uses for them as well, but for the sake of simplicity, only use white distilled vinegar for these 3 tips:

Tip #1 - Clean Stains

White vinegar is a natural disinfectant, which makes it a great option for keeping in spray bottles, either at full strength, or as a 50/50 mixture with water. Now, I don’t really know anyone who LIKES the smell of vinegar, so I am going to address that immediately. If you want to improve the smell of your vinegar, use this tip I found on Pinterest: Slice the peels of any citrus fruit, making sure that there is no pulp left on them, and put them into a jar. Then, fill the jar with vinegar. After letting it sit for 2 weeks, remove the peels and fill your spray bottle ¼ full of the citrus-scented vinegar and ¾ full with water, and you’ll have a fresh-smelling cleanser that uses the power of vinegar and citrus.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on how you can use this mixture in your home. First, it’s great for windows and glass. You know the film that mysteriously appears on your bathroom mirrors? Spray it with vinegar and wipe with wadded up newspapers to make it disappear. Do you tend to overshoot your hairspray? Use the same method and the splatter will come right off. So, why would you purchase expensive glass cleaner that advertises it is made “with vinegar”? Just use the cheap stuff from your pantry!

For tougher cleaning jobs, you can use vinegar to create a natural scouring cleanser. Simply mix ¼ cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon dish detergent. Then add just enough vinegar to make it a thick, creamy texture. Use this mixture to scrub away soap scum, shower stains, and anything else on which you’d normally use a non-abrasive chemical cleaner.

Tip #2 - Get Rid of Funky Smells

I know it seems counterintuitive, using a smelly product like vinegar to get rid of funky smells around your home, but trust me, it works. Somehow vinegar magically absorbs other smells and leaves the air smelling fresh (after the scent of the vinegar disappears). One of the best places to test this out is in the microwave. If your microwave smells like last night’s leftovers, simply put a small microwave-safe cup or bowl with a 50/50 vinegar water mixture inside. Then microwave for 3-4 minutes to get the liquid at a rolling boil. When it’s finished, use hot pads to remove the bowl, and wipe out the interior of the appliance with a rag. The steam from the boiling liquid will have released any dried, stuck-on food, and the vinegar will leave it smelling fresh.

You can also freshen up a stinky garbage disposal using vinegar. Just pour ¼ cup baking soda in the disposal, then dump in a cup of vinegar. The foaming will freshen up any funk that’s been collecting. If you want to clean the disposal out, toss a few ice cubes made from vinegar down the disposal while it’s running. The crunching of the ice will help clean out any food pieces that may have been left behind.

Tip #3 - Treat Hard Water Stains

Vinegar is a great natural product to help remove hard water gunk from sinks and faucets. If your shower head or faucet nozzle has crusty water build-up, fill a baggie with vinegar, then wrap it around the head or nozzle, and secure with a rubber band. Allow it to soak overnight, and when you wake up in the morning, you will be able to wipe away most, if not all, of the crust. Just make sure to allow the water to run a little before showering or filling your cup to drink so the vinegar can rinse away. Learn how to make this DIY Power Shower Spray using vinegar to keep your shower clean overtime. 

Your dishwasher will give you cleaner dishes if you clean the dishwasher. Yep, I said “clean the dishwasher.” Hard water can build up inside the dishwasher too, so cleaning the inside of it once a quarter will help keep your dishes sparkling. Just pour 1 ½ to 2 cups of vinegar into the bottom of an empty dishwasher. Run on the sanitary cycle, then wipe all the seals and where the door meets the body of the appliance.

Your coffeemaker and even your steam iron can get the hard water blues, too. To clean both, fill the chambers with equal parts vinegar and water and run a cycle. Brewing a pot of vinegar water will clean out all the little tubes and chambers of the coffeemaker. Allowing the vinegar mixture to steam through the iron will similarly clean away any build-up. Just wipe the iron clean after it cools and you’re done.

If you’ve been looking for a way to have a clean home without using harsh chemicals, you don’t have to look further than your pantry. White vinegar is a fantastic, all-purpose cleanser and disinfectant that’s tough on grime, but easy on your surfaces and on your wallet.

Have you found other ways of using vinegar to clean your home? Do you have a question about anything in this episode? Let me know in comments or send me an email at DomesticCEO@quickanddirtytips.com.

Or you can post your comments on the Domestic CEO Facebook wall or on my Twitter feed!

Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.

Vinegar image from Shutterstock