Household Uses For Vinegar

Few products out there have as many household uses as vinegar.  From soothing feet to cleaning a computer mouse to removing streaks from your dishes, vinegar is definitely a product to have on hand in large quantities.  I’ve compiled a list of just a few of the many household uses for vinegar below.

Vinegar foot soak to remove dry skin.  This was a new one for me, but one I learned while visiting my mom in the hospital recently.  Nurses came in and asked if she wanted a vinegar foot soak. They poured up a 50/50 solution of vinegar and warm water, and dipped two bath towels in the vinegar solution. After wringing out the towels, they wrapped them around my mom’s feet and let them “soak” for about twenty minutes.

When they removed the towels and wiped her feet down with a fresh towel the dry skin practically fell off, leaving her skin smooth. I think she still deserves a nice pedicure when she leaves the hospital, but I was impressed by this frugal solution to dry skin.

Substitute for expensive rinse aids in dishwashers. I learned about this vinegar tip from Amy over at  Skip the Jet Dry and simply put some vinegar in the rinse aid compartment of your dishwasher.  Dishes will come out “squeaky clean” and without streaks. If you are skeptical of this one, note the primary ingredient in commercial rinse aids is, what else, vinegar!

Clean trackball computer mouse.  I use a Logitech TrackMan Wheel mouse at home and my lone complaint about the device is that over time dust and lint accumulates under the trackball and impedes its movement.  Disconnect the mouse, remove the trackball and use a soft cloth dampened in a 50/50 vinegar-water solution to wipe off fingerprints, dust and accumulate grime from the trackball itself.  Then use a cotton swab or Q-tip moistened in the same solution to clean out the little chamber the trackball is housed.  Let parts dry about two hours before replacing the trackball and plugging the mouse back in.

Removing mildew. We recently had some mildew build up in a hard-to-reach corner of our shower, and instead of using a costly commercial bleach cleaner, I had success with white vinegar. Simply apply a solution of equal parts vinegar and water to the mildew (for heavy build up you may need to try full strength vinegar). The nice thing about using vinegar is you don’t have the ventilation or skin irritant concerns you have when using commercial cleaners.

Remove stickers and window decals.  Vinegar is great for removing stickers and decals. Apply full strength vinegar to the sticker and let it sit for a few minutes.  Then scrape the sticker off using a credit card (preferably one you paid off!).

Make your car windows frost-free. In the winter I spend a few minutes each morning scraping frost from my windshield.  Inevitably, the later I am for work, the heavier the frost!  I am implementing this tip to save myself some time, and from potential frostbite on my right hand.  Spray windshields with a solution of three parts white vinegar to one part water. Each application can last up to several weeks.

Remove bad odors.  Have you ever had this experience?  We recently found a three-month old container of tuna fish in the very back of the refrigerator.  The smell was almost bad enough to peel paint from our kitchen walls.  Even after running it through the dishwasher it still smelled like seaweed rotting on a beach in July.  We soaked a slice of white bread in vinegar and left it in the container overnight.  Voila, no more bad smell!

Disinfect cutting boards and counter tops.  After chopping up chicken for tonight’s dinner, it is a good idea to disinfect your cutting board and surrounding counter tops to remove bacteria and bugs such as Salmonella.  Wipe them clean with full-strength white vinegar. The acetic acid in vinegar is an excellent disinfectant.

Freshen up your garbage disposal.  After a few weeks, garbage disposals start to smell a little like that old container of tuna fish as foods rot and bacteria grows.  Instead of buying those expensive disposal deodorizing tablets, make your own at home.  Mix equal parts vinegar and water and freeze in an old ice tray.  Drop a few cubes in the disposal once a week and flush with cold water.

Remove cigarette odors from suits and coats.  Ever been trapped in the same room with a smoker for a couple hours?  Chances are your coat or suit jacket now smells like cigarettes.  To eliminate the odor, fill a bathtub with the hottest water your water heater will produce and pour in one cup of vinegar.  Hang your suit or coat on the shower curtain bar and close the bathroom door overnight.  The smell should be gone by morning.  Warning, lock the bathroom door, or avoid this tip altogether if you have small children as a filled tub presents a potential drowning hazard. I keep this tip handy on trips, and have used it to remove wrinkles from clothing after unpacking my suitcase.

As I stated in the opening, this is only a partial list of the many household uses for vinegar.  Please share with us your frugal vinegar tips in the comments below.


  1. I’ve used vinegar for years to clean scale build-up off of plumbing parts such as showerheads and faucet aerators. Just put vinegar in a microwaveable container big enough to hold the item, microwave the vinegar until it’s hot, and drop the item in. Wait an hour, and the item will be like new. This method works far better than any other commercial “limescale remover”.

  2. Wow, you missed my favorite use for vinegar!

    Use it to clean out your coffee maker. A simple mix of some vinegar and water, run it through just like you were brewing coffee, and it takes all of the scale buildup out of the internal parts. Way better than spending a buck or two on one of those little powder cleaning packets that do the same thing.

    I do this about every 6-8 months with mine. Just did it earlier this week and I love how it makes the maker act like new. Brewing time had slowed down to about 25 minutes for a full pot, but after running the vinegar through it, I’m back down to about a 10-12 minute brew time.

  3. @Jeremy: Great tip…thanks for sharing! I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’ll definitely share this one with family members.

    @George: Good one. I could have used this a while back when I had to remove junk from our guest sink aerator.

  4. Yep, like Scordo says about a 35/65 mix of vinegar and water makes a great window cleaner. I use it on my car windows all the time. Just make sure that if you spray it on your car, you wipe all of it off and don’t let it remain on the painted or plastic parts. It can ruin the clear coat and fade the colored paint. It also works well when cleaning CRT monitors and tube televisions. DO NOT use it to clean LCD monitors and TVs!

    Again, another great list of tips.

  5. I used a 50/50 vinegar/warm water solution when getting paint out of a rug. Had to scrub a lot, but it worked and didn’t bleach the carpet.

    I also use vinegar to clean the kitchen floors (just pour some in the bucket of water).

    Also, pouring just a small amount of vinegar in a bowl of water, I soak hair brushes for about 10 minutes, then rub two brushes together (bristles against bristles) then set them to dry.

    As for the smell, I’ll put a teeeny bit of an essential oil in the water with the vinegar – that seems to do the trick.

  6. @junebug69, that’s part of the reason for cutting it with water. The vinegar should evaporate quickly and if the smell is really bad, opening a window will get rid of it pretty fast.
    Just think, they used to use ammonia all the time — talk about a bad smell!

  7. You know what’s even better about vinegar? You can make it yourself with apple scraps for basically nothing. I tried it myself for the first time this year after pressing our apples into cider. I used the spent pomace. But you can also use apple cores and peels after you make a pie or some other dessert. Apple “cider” vinegar!

    The only thing better than a fantastic multipurpose tool is a free fantastic multipurpose tool!

    I wrote about it here:

  8. Such great tips. Thanks for sharing!! It’s definitely so much more useful around the house, gentler on us, and better for our wallets!! I need to stock up on some vinegar. I’ve seen so many other uses recently as well… like cleaning out the washing machine, etc.


  9. I use it to get cooked on gunk off the stove. I just spray on straight vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes while I do something else. When I come back almost all of it can be wiped right off without any scrubbing. Way better than any commercial stove cleaner I’ve used.

  10. I’ve been using white vinegar for years in my wash to get whites whiter. I either use it instead of bleach or with bleach for a bit more punch on dirty clothes.

  11. New uses! Great!

    I use it for ground in stains in the tub or shower, and on the glass top stove, along with baking soda. Mist the vinegar on, sprinkle baking soda over, it starts to bubble, mist again with the vinegar. Let sit. The ground in stains left in my shower by the contractors boots were impossible to remove until I tried this! Made me a believer.

  12. it also makes a great fabric softener… and it doesn’t smell like vinegar when you are done!!

    I am going to have to try that foot soak… I have terrible feet!

    I buy my vinegar by the gallon for $1.29.

    Since I’m a Canuck… I also put vinegar on my french fries… mmmmm

  13. I use the vinegar to get the mildew smell out of towels that have been sitting wet too long. One full cycle with just vinegar as the detergent then a second cycle with a small amount of laundry detergent for the clean smell.

  14. You can use cider vinegar and water solution as a hair rinse, since vinegar is good at removing soap/detergent. I also use it to clean my shaving brush every month or so.

  15. I have a spray bottle of 1/2 water 1/2 vinegar in my bathroom for cleaning but also as a bathroom air freshing spray.

    and vinegar is mighty tasty on fish and chips too.

  16. Oh man! my absolute favorite cleaning tool! I posted about this on my blog a while back and I still have people asking me about it!

    For those that are worried about the smell when using vinegar for cleaning, make sure you are cutting it enough with water and you can put a few drops of essential oil in the mixture too. When the solution dries, it will leave the smell of the oil rather than the vinegar. I also use this solution to lighten smells in my furniture, like a homemade febreze.

  17. I like the suggestion about using essential oils, but I have one question. Where can you buy essential oils? Is this something I can find in a grocery store or will it be in a more specialized store?

  18. If you have a cat that has a place it wants to go to the bathroom other then the litter box put a bowl of vinegar there and the cat will stop using that spot

  19. One other use for vinegar: you can use it to clean windows and mirrors. However, there is one trick to doing it without leaving streaks: use newsprint (i.e. a sheet from a newspaper). Surprisingly you can clean it without streaks (just rub with dry newsprint if any are left behind). Not only do you save on the cleaner, you also save by not having to buy paper towels as most people already have some newspapers lying around waiting to be recycled 😉 I just cleaned by bathroom window with a 50/50 vinegar/water solution and newsprint, and it worked like a charm!

  20. We use it as part of the pre-wash soak with our daughter’s cloth diapers. It helps lift stains, keep the fabric soft, and minimizes the need to strip the diapers with dish detergent. About a cup of vinegar per load does it right.

    And don’t think the vinegar smell will stick to clothes! There might be a bit lingering when you are done washing but by the time they are dry you would never know vinegar touched the fabric.

  21. Just this morning I was telling my husband that vinegar is the best – and now I have 10 more things to tell him about! The poor poor man… I just don’t think he gets as excited about these things as I do. GREAT STUFF – the article and the comments (I never knew it would stop a cat from using a spot in the house as their litter box – very cool).

  22. My father is a retired mechanic and one of his tips on cleaning vehicle battery cables is this –
    Put a little bit of baking soda on the cable connections and then pour some vinegar on top. It will bubble up and eat through the corrosion that builds up on the connections. You can use a brush to help; we use an old toothbrush. It will clean them up like new and keep you from having problems with starting your auto.

  23. Use vinegar full-strength to cure foot fungus, both athlete’s foot and nail fungus infections.

    For athlete’s foot or smelly feet, soak your feet in straight vinegar for a hour, if you have a foot bath, or wrap cloths around your feet like the earlier comment about removing dry skin.

    For curing a fungal toenail infection, soak a cotton ball in straight vinegar and secure it to the infected toenail with a rubber band. Leave it on for a hour. You can walk around barefoot with the cotton ball on your nail and get chores done while your nail soaks in vinegar. Repeat daily for about three weeks. It really clears up the fungal infection, permanently!

  24. I have a question, will vinegar or what take the place of jet dry for your dishwasher to help dry dishes. Jet dry is expensive. I use vinegar a lot on different things. I cannot use bleach as I have asthma.

  25. Putting a small bowl of 50/50 vinegar / warm water solution in the microwave works great. Heat it for 5 minutes, let it sit for a few minutes so the steam can do its job. Wipe out with a paper towel. Gets the thing very clean.

  26. Vinegar and warm water solution. Heat in microwave for 5 minutes. Let stand a couple of minutes. The steam will work its magic. Wipe out with a paper towel. Works great.