Uses for vinegar around the home

October 6th, 2015

Appliance Talk Kitchen Laundry Ovens & Cooking Small Appliances

Uses for vinegar around the home

Seriously, how great is vinegar? This simple household ingredient can be useful pretty much everywhere in the home, whether for cleaning or cooking.

1461883_Vinegar-at-the-Supermarket_620source: Ms angie gray at Wikimedia Commons

Here are a few of our favourite uses for vinegar around the home:


Vinegar is basically just spoiled wine, which has been allowed to age to the point where it goes from being merely tart to acidic (cue oh-so-original quips of “it doesn’t last that long in my house!”). While this means it’s no longer a refreshing drink to accompany your meal, it can still be a great ingredient for cooking.

Vinegar, whether white, balsamic, or apple cider, has been used in salad dressings (including zesty coleslaw), sauces, marinades, and even some desserts (a drizzle can give a sweet treat a bit of tart flavour).

800px-Making_vinaigrettesource: jeffreyw on Wikimedia Commons

One popular vinegar-based ingredient is vinaigrette, which is made by combining vinegar with oil and seasoning with your choice of herbs and spices. Perfect for salads!

521px-Rew13d10-805_Pickled_Onionssource: Roly Williams on Wikimedia Commons

Vinegar also plays an important role in the pickling process for certain foods.

Cleaning surfaces

As vinegar is mildly acidic, it makes a great natural cleaning solution around the home, dissolving grots clinging to kitchen counters, bathroom showers and sinks, hard floors, carpets, walls, even glass windows.

cleaning shower

Not only does it help give your surfaces a shine, it also helps to kill any bacteria left on the surface, leaving things (relatively) germ-free. This is ideal if you have a problem with mould or mildew and would prefer not to use harsher chemicals such as bleach (though purpose-made cleaners are usually more effective in terms of antibacterial effects).

You’ll want to dilute your vinegar with water before applying it to any surface, and always test on an inconspicuous area first before wiping down a surface. Some substances don’t play well with vinegar – marble is just one example. If diluted vinegar still appears too strong, try a milder mixture of diluted lemon juice instead.

If you’re using a few different cleaning products, remember to NEVER mix vinegar and bleach to use at the same time! When mixed, they combine to form a toxic and corrosive gas, which is a Very Bad Thing.

And mixing vinegar and bicarb soda (another handy household cleaner) also starts a chemical reaction that produces carbon dioxide – not quite as dangerous, but not ideal for cleaning either.

Washing laundry

Don’t have any fabric softener, but still want to get that soft, fluffy feeling from your laundry? Try using vinegar instead!

You’ll only need a small amount – say, half a cup – added to your washing machine’s fabric softener drawer to enjoy the great results of vinegar, which also helps to break down laundry detergent residue while it cleans.


Also, if you have a pet and they have an… accident on the bed (though with some cats, for example, it may not be entirely accidental), washing the sheets along with a generous splash of vinegar will help to eliminate the offensive odours (and trust me, they can be offensive).

There is some debate as to whether washing with vinegar is bad for your washing machine in the long term. On one hand, vinegar is acidic, and could potentially accellerate the breakdown of a machine’s perishable components, such as rubber hoses and door seals. On the other hand, it’s only a very mild acid, so its effects would likely be miminal. If you’re concerned, it may be worthwhile stikcking to low-strength vinegar and diluting it before washing.

Medical uses for vinegar

There are a number of old traditional folk remedies that use of vinegar to cure what ails ya.

For example, just think back to the old Jack & Jill nursery rhyme (and NOT the Adam Sandler movie) and the bit at the end about “vinegar and brown paper”.

jack and jill

It turns out this was once a traditional means of treating bruises, headaches and swelling.

Remember though that children’s stories and appliance blogs should not replace proper medical treatment – always consult your doctor.

In the garden

Salt and vinegar isn’t just an addictive potato chip flavour – it’s also the basic combination of ingredients to make a homebrewed weed killer. Some people also add a few drops of dishwashing liquid too.

800px-Aa_quadbike_weedkiller_00That tank could totally be full of vinegar…

It is important to remember that vinegar will kill ALL plants and not just weeds, so it’s best used in areas where you’re hoping to completely remove vegetation, such as cracks in the garden path.

Washing yourself!

Just a little vinegar in a full bathtub can help to tackle dead skin, leaving you feeling that little bit smoother.

foot bath source: Connie Weiss on Flickr

It’s also handy for scrubbing your weary feet in a foot bath, soaking away the callouses.

Similarly, washing your hair with just a little vinegar can help to remove any buildup of other haircare products, keeping everything a bit smoother and brighter.

Cleaning your appliances

We’ve mentioned before about how vinegar can be used to help eliminate some of the gunk and build-up that keeps your appliances from doing their best job.

You can run an empty cycle of the washing machine or dishwasher using vinegar instead of detergent and your appliance should run much more smoothly afterwards.

adjustable spillproof fridge shelves

Diluted vinegar is also great for wiping down the inside of your fridge, keeping things bright and germ-free.

The same kind of treatment can be applied to other appliances and fixtures throughout your home – for example, a bit of vinegar may help to unclog a drain or showerhead. Or you can put some water and vinegar in a mixer or blender to help remove any built-up gunk left over from previous meals.

Do you have a vinegar tip to share? Has vinegar ever doe your home a world of good, or has it made things more difficult? Please share your stories with us?

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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