10 Unknown Uses for Vinegar

The following guest post is from Bob, who writes for ChristianPF.com – a personal finance blog with a Christian focus.

Thanks to the acidity in vinegar, it has more uses than you might imagine. For years frugal folks have found numerous ways to save money using it. From health benefits to use as an environmentally-friendly cleaning product, vinegar is a versatile substance that every household should have on-hand.

Here’s a look at ten uses for vinegar that you’ve probably never thought of before.

1. Control Your Cholesterol

In May 2006, a study by Japanese researchers published in The British Journal of Nutrition showed that lab rats fed with acetic acid, which is the primary ingredient in vinegar, had much lower harmful cholesterol than the control group. Additionally, the rats eating the acetic acid also had lower blood pressure and other health benefits. Although the same study hasn’t been performed yet with humans, the results seem to indicate that regular intake of vinegar, whether in salad dressings or other means, is a great natural way to lower cholesterol and other risk factors in heart disease.

2. Control Your Diabetes

It’s not just people at risk for heart disease who benefit from a little vinegar in their diet; several studies in the 1990s and 2000s have shown that a few tablespoons of vinegar added to a meal can reduce the glycemic index of carbohydrate food. By reducing the glycemic index, people with diabetes can reduce the amount of medicine they need to control the disease. Experiment for yourself by adding a little vinegar to your salad or to season other food you normally eat.

3. Get Windows and Coffee Pots Squeaky Clean

Vinegar is a great cleaning agent on glass. From fingerprints on your windows and picture frames, to mineral deposits in your fish tank and your coffee pot, use vinegar to remove stains and mineral deposits. Diluting vinegar with a little bit of water will prevent a strong vinegar smell and keep the vinegar from damaging the surface.

4. Frost-free Car Windows

Speaking of vinegar on glass, if you’re expecting a hard frost, coat your car’s windows with vinegar the night before. Use three parts vinegar to one part water, and the frost will stay off your car.

5. Deter Cats and Ants

Neither your cat nor your local ant population is overly fond of vinegar, so spray it wherever you don’t want these creatures to be. For cats, a little vinegar spray on your sofa or bed will keep them off; for ants, spraying vinegar across a window sill or doorjamb will keep them from crossing.

6. Reduce the Risk of Infection

Since the time of Hippocrates in the fourth century BC, vinegar has been used internally and externally to fight infection. However, the Greeks only got it half right on this account: vinegar works as a disinfectant in bathroom and kitchen surfaces, but the idea that it can be used internally to fight off warts or lice turns out to be nothing more than an old wives’ tale.

7. Grow Pretty Flowers

Some flowers, such as azaleas, appreciate a little extra acid in the soil. Mix about two tablespoons of vinegar in with a quart of water when you water your azaleas, then watch them flourish.

Weeds, on the other hand, can be killed with vinegar. For someone interested in organic gardening, use pure, undiluted vinegar on weeds instead of a chemical herbicide. It’s better for the environment, not to mention cheaper.

8. Keep Rabbits Out of Your Garden

It’s no good growing beautiful, acid-loving flowers if the rabbits come in and chew everything to pieces. Soak cotton balls in vinegar, then put them into 35 mm film container. Use an awl or ice pick to punch a hole in the top of the container, then place in your garden. You might need to make a few of these rabbit repellents, depending upon the size of your garden.

9. Wash Vegetables

With the rabbits out of your vegetable patch, you’ll have a bumper crop of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, squash, and other veggies. It’s easy to wash fresh vegetables, whether they come out of your garden or out of the grocery store, with a light vinegar spray. Mix just one tablespoon of vinegar in with a quart and a half of water and put it into a spray bottle.

10. Clean Stains with Vinegar

Bleach is a harsh, poisonous chemical; why not use vinegar to help with the laundry instead? Vinegar is useful in removing red spaghetti, mustard, barbecue, and ketchup stains, perspiration stains, smoky smells, and making dingy whites bright again.

These ten uses for vinegar are really just the tip of the iceberg. A versatile substance in your garden, your kitchen, and your medicine cabinet, vinegar is a cheap and effective way to get a wide variety of jobs done.

What do you use vinegar for around the house?


  1. Vinegar is also great for keeping soap scum at bay. That’s why it’s great to clean a shower / tub. It’s the acidity that helps dissolve microscopic lime deposits before the soap can cling. That said, never use vinegar on marble and if you’re unsure of the type of cleaning agent the grout in a tile shower can be exposed to, rinse after use. I use a 50:50 ratio for cleaning.

  2. Toss 2 cups of white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup of baking soda into your washing machine full of HOT water and run a full cycle to strip away fabric softener and laundry soap residue from the inner tub and flush the crud out of the drain lines. This is especially helpful if your washer is developing a bit of an odor – which is often a result of the oily, sticky gunk left behind by liquid fabric softeners.

    Also, a cup of white vinegar mixed into a bucket of HOT water makes a very effective wallpaper adhesive remover. It works as well or better than the expensive stripper and won’t damage carpet or other flooring that it dribbles on. Plus, the fumes are much less hazardous than chemical wallpaper strippers and the scent disspates quickly.

  3. For fruity vinegar (red wine or apple cider), pour it in a mug or bowl, add a drop of dish soap, and watch your fruit fly problem (and some other flies too) vanish.

    As for stains, I’ve gotten dried blood out of a turquoise shirt, ground-in dark chocolate out of a white shirt, and random parking lot gunk out of a white shirt (it was a rainy day, and my husband dropped his brand-new white button-up shirt on the ground) just by using liquid dish soap and cold water. It’s not vinegar, but it is just as cheap and useful!

  4. I use apple cider vinegar to remove warts and it has worked every time. Just dip a little cotton ball in the apple cider vinegar, place it on the wart, wrap a bandaid around it overnight, and it will be dried up within a week.

  5. I take a tablespoon of cider vinegar for indigestion or heartburn.
    It will be gone in 5 seconds. How ascetic acid neutralizes stomach acid is beyond me, but it works. Try it.

  6. I use vinegar in my teenage son’s laundry. He’s 17 and works out regularly. A cup of white vinegar in the wash cycle (not the rinse cycle) works great to remove odors.

  7. So that’s how to get rid of the bacon smell?! The other day we cooked up BLTs for lunch and the house smelled like bacon for two days. Now, this is not a problem for me, because I happen to find bacon one of the best aromas available. But the rest of the house isn’t quite as appreciative of the lingering smell!

  8. I use vinegar to clean my tabletop humidifiers. It works well to get the calcium build up off the heating plate, which I might add is the size of a nickel. I also use it to clean anything that gets put in the mouth that I can’t use soap and water to clean.

  9. I have used vinegar as a prewash in my hair. It seems to clarify and cut the build up from products. Wet your hair, pour some over your hair, rub for a moment. Wash twice with your favorite shampoo and conditioner. You may have a alittle bit of a lingering smell that will go away. I do it about once a month. 🙂

  10. Could eating a pickle a day do the same thing that the vinegar does for health? My husband will not eat vinegar on stuff but I can get him to eat pickles.

  11. run white vinegar instead of water (or half vinegar/half water) through your coffeemaker (without any coffee of course) to clean it out. this is the recommended method of cleaning in the coffeemaker “handbooks.” but who reads those, right?

  12. about three or four tablespoons of white vinegar and the same amount of baking soda will clear any drain of anything. put the soda in the drain first. and then pour the vinegar on top of it. wait 10 minutes and pour about a teakettle full of hot or boiling water down the drain. works every time!

  13. we put vinegar in the rinse cycle when we wash our son’s cloth diapers. really cuts the odors down, and strips away any remaining soap residue.

    also, i just used a combo of vinegar and a drop of dish soap–run through an empty dishwasher–to clean the lime scale out. worked excellently.

  14. I buy the gallon jugs when they are on sale for $1.75 at the grocery store. Here’s how I use it:

    – Refill Clorox Ready Mop with 1/4 vinegar, 3/4 hot water. Safe for hard wood and tile floors, really gets up all the gunk!

    – Put in Downy ball as rinse agent for clothes

    – 1/4 cup in rinse water for dishes. Cuts the soap residue, disinfects, and keeps water spots off

    – Fill rinse aid holder in dishwasher with vinegar. Same benefits as above.

    – All purpose cleaner: Save an old Windex bottle (rinse out well). Put in enough Dawn dishsoap to cover the bottom of the bottle. Fill 1/4 with vinegar, the rest with warm water & shake to mix. The dishsoap will clean up grease, while the vinegar helps it to not leave a residue. Very mild cleaner that is safe around kids/pets (as long as they don’t drink it – not sure what that would do, but I guess its about the same as eating soap).

    – window cleaner – same recipe as above, minus the dishsoap.

  15. We live in an area with very hard water. To get calcium build-up off water faucet aerators and showerheads, I unscrew them and soak in straight apple cider vinegar for an hour or so. Most of the calcium dissolves, but any that remains can be easily brushed off with an old toothbrush.

  16. Helps remove salt stains on boots for those of us for whom winter means a lot of dirty and salty snow slush.

  17. Another use for vinegar around the house, if you have caked-on food residue on a skillet or roasting pan. Cover the bottom with a couple inches equal parts regular white vinegar and water, bring to a boil over medium heat, turn off heat and let sit for some time, even overnight. The clean-up will be a snap.

  18. Using vinegar to clean around the house is a greener and cheaper solution. I’ve used it primarily in the kitchen and bathrooms. I purchase the large bottle at Costco for less than $3 a bottle.

    I find the Care2.com website to be very useful for non-toxic cleaning solutions.

  19. A few years ago, my daughter came home from school with head lice!! EWW I tried the commercial shampoos and the lice came back. So I read up on the subject and used a wash of 50% water, 50% white vinegar and left if on her hair to dry. The next day, I used REAL mayonaise and left it on her hair a few hours (wrapped her hair in a shower cap and towel) before washing it out thoroughly with regular shampoo. Next day, the vinegar treatment, etc. I repeated the vinegar- mayo treatments every day for at least 2 weeks. We got rid of the lice and they never came back.

  20. I’ve sprayed the Christmas tree we put up every year with vinegar to keep our crazy cat out of it and from breaking ornaments. It works, but doesn’t last long and you do have to keep reapplying.

    Been wanting to use vinegar to replace most of the household cleaners in the apartment for a while. Might do that once they run out.

  21. Great tips! A lot of which are in my book Vinegar Fridays. My favorite uses for vinegar include adding 1/2 cup to every load of laundry — fabric softener is toxic and should be avoided at all costs. Distilled white vinegar is the perfect alternative! And I loved Rob’s advice for cleaning all the toxic fabric softener residue out of your washer.