Ten Surprising Uses for Vinegar

posted by Andrea | 01/24/2011

I’m all about simple, inexpensive, easy-to-find products that multi-task. And vinegar is one of those products I always seem to have around…and I’m always discovering more and more ways to use it around the house, in the kitchen, in the garden and even in the workshop!

Here are just a few…

1. Meat Tenderizer:

If you always end up with dry or tough meat, try pouring a little vinegar into your marinade or into the roasting pan. The acid in the vinegar will help to break down the meat and you’ll end up with a deliciously tender dinner. {Tomatoes and onions will also work}.

2. Drain “Un-Clogger”:

Mix vinegar with baking soda and salt for an inexpensive, chemical-free way to clear a clogged drain. I explain the process in detail right here.

3. Mattress Cleaner:

Remove dirt and stains from your mattress by blotting with a clean cloth dipped in vinegar. If the spot is still damp, simply sprinkle a little baking soda over the area and vacuum it up.

I love this tips because I’m SUPER grossed out by mattresses! Maybe it’s because of all the recent “bed bug” talk.

4. Fabric Softener:

I tried this out for the very first time last week and it worked GREAT! All I did was add about 1/4 c. to the fabric softener dispenser {along with my regular detergent} and the clothes came out clean, soft, and smelling great — believe me, you can’t smell the vinegar at all. Also, if your towels start to smell a little dingy, this vinegar tip should do the trick!

I mentioned my laundry victory on Facebook and was inundated with loads of comments. I learned that you can also use vinegar in place of laundry detergent to remove the soapy build-up that dulls clothes over time!

5. Rust Remover:

Believe it  or not, vinegar can help to loosen rust! Just pour a little vinegar on a suborn rusty screw and it should come right out.

6. Hand Cleaner:

Simply pour a bit of vinegar over your hands if they smell like onions, garlic, or if they are stained from berries. Then wash with soap and water to remove the vinegar smell.

7. Weed Killer:

Looking for a natural way to kill unwanted grass and weeds? Try heating some white vinegar until it’s hot, but not boiling. Then pour it on cracks in your driveway, sidewalks, or anywhere else you want to kill stray grass and weeds.

8.Kitchen Disinfectant:

If you’re a bit leery of using harsh chemicals in your kitchen, try vinegar instead. It’s a natural disinfectant and totally safe around food. Just pour undiluted vinegar into a spray bottle and use on all your hard surface.

9. Hair “Shiner”:

After a few weeks {or years} of shampooing and conditioning, your hair might be a little dull. Restore the shine by following your normal shower routine with a vinegar rinse {1/2 cup vinegar and 1 quart water}. Just remember to rinse the vinegar out with plenty of water so the smell doesn’t linger!

10. Nail Strengthener:

I’ve actually never tried this, but I’ve heard that soaking your nails in vinegar {full strength or diluted} will help to strengthen them and reduce cracking.

Seriously, who knew there were SO many different uses for such a common household supply.

How do you use vinegar?

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  1. Abby


    ACK! Just tried the unclogging the drain tip—DO NOT POUR BOILING WATER INTO A PORCELAIN SINK!! I just cracked our fairly new sink. :( It did unclog the drain though.


    Andrea Reply:

    On no! I’ve used this method on our porcelain sinks for year now and never had a problem.

    I wonder if your sink was really cold or something?? Sorry about your sink but glad the drain is unclogged :)


  2. Angela DiGiovanni | Living Out Loud


    Very funny that I saw this post today.

    In November I was visiting with my all natural Aunt, who told me she used Apple Cider Vinegar in lieu of conditioner. She told me how shiny and soft it would make my hair as well as remove lots of product build up.

    I have long, thin, tangle-prone hair – so the thought of not using conditioner is very problematic for me. BUT, this morning, I was so grossed out by my hair and how it just felt coated with crap, that I decided to use that Apple Cider Vinegar.

    And oh my.

    I could brush right through my wet hair without a tangly mess. It’s soft. It’s clean. Very clean.

    Goodbye conditioner. Hello Apple Cider Vinegar!!!


    Andrea Reply:

    Angela — I’m SO glad the vinegar worked for you!! Hopefully you’ll save a bit of money now too!


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  4. Sarah


    Polish Brass,

    check it out!!



    Andrea Reply:

    Cool! This is a new one for me….thanks for sharing!


  5. Miranda


    I always use vinegar for removing build up on my pots. Any hard water build up on my pot, coffer pot or electric kettle comes right off after soaking in vinegar.


    Andrea Reply:

    Oh good tip Miranda… I knew this too but just forgot to add it to my list!


  6. Betsy (Eco-novice)


    Vinegar is my go-to kitchen cleaner. I rarely use anything else. Which reminds me that I need to finish my Green Cleaning series. I’ve heard about using vinegar as a conditioner with the no-shampoo method. I want to try that sometime. I need to check out your drain recipe. I often use boiling hot water, but our hall sink needs a little something extra right now.


  7. Julie


    I have used vinegar for everthing on the list except meat tenderizer and nail strenghtener. I have used it for almost 12 years for cleaning almost exclusively, because the other cleaners would cause an asthma attack. I will sometimes use Borax to clean the toilet, but only if I am out of baking soda, or I will use lemon if I am out of vinegar. The only othercommercial cleaning product other than dishwasher soap that I use occassionally is soft n scrub.
    White vinegar also works great to neutralize urine odor (as someone already stated above), especially if a dog has urinated on carpet or on the cement floor. If you neutralize the odor another dog shouldn’t then “mark” his territory. It worked wonderfully when my sister and I were training our puppies at the same time when we were visiting our parents.
    I love the apple cider vinegar as a rinse after “washing” my hair with baking soda. My hair is virtually tangle free and I have curly long hair (past my shoulders) that needs some type of “conditoner”. I rinse as usual and no vinegar smell, ever and I have been doing this for over 5 years.

    This comment really belongs to the previous post about pizza. Try making your pizza crust in a seasoned cast iron pan. It turns out wonderfully!!

    Love your posts. I can always gleen some bit of info from them.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Julie, Good to know that vinegar works well even for thick, curly, hair!

    I’m having lots of fun {and saving a bunch of money} by using vinegar instead of chemical-based products.


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  11. Barnie Belknap


    If you suffer from athletes’ foot or toenail yellowing, try washing your feet with white vinegar every few days. Rinse well and dry them equally well. It’s a natural!


  12. Danielle


    I use vinegar to soak the inside part of our humidifier. Usually I pour a little in and let it sit in the tub for a few hours even. It always takes the hard water spots off. I also use it as a rinse aid in my dishwasher- instead of buying anything expensive. It works great!
    I have used apple cider vinegar for the clarifier in my hair after ‘shampooing’ with the baking soda and that seemed nicer than plain old vinegar. :)


  13. Barbara Pritchard


    I had a Kitchenaid Dishwasher serviceman tell me: in a empty dishwasher, pour 3/4 c. of white vinegar in the back of your dishwasher and run it……It cut all the water spot buildup and looks like new. He said to do this every 4 months…


  14. Amber


    One of the best uses we have found for vinegar is a bug repellent!

    My daughter and I usually get eaten alive during the summmer and I hated the feel and the chemicals of bug spray. We just put straight white vinegar into a spray bottle and spritz on skin. The smell disapates quickly and we have not had a bug bit since! My daughter even used it on a youth camping trip last summer through streams and misquito infested areas. She returned without any bites at all while her friends were bitten nonstop.


    Andrea Reply:

    wow — I never thought of this before. I get eaten alive whenever I go outside so I will definitely give this a try… Thanks!!!


  15. Stacie


    Sunburn! When we got sunburn on vacation, my parents would pour apple-cidar vinegar over us after a shower. It’s the best for taking away the sting!


  16. Janet


    I have just started discovering the wonders of vinegar and am thrilled! I soak fruits & vegetables in a vinegar/water solution as soon as I get them home from the store. It kills bacteria and extends their shelf life by several days. Sorry, but I don’t really measure. I just pour a little white vinegar into a bowl of water and soak for about 30 minutes. Rinse lightly, dry, and cut up, etc. to store.


  17. zografia


    i am just on my beginning on homemade detergents. i have started with fabric softener ( the easy one )! i just add 1/3 of a glass vinegar in which i have added a few drops of an antibacterial essential oil and that’s all! and most important…vinegar is disinfectant!i use it all over the house now!


  18. Debra Kapellakis


    oh oh oh, my favorite vinegar use that I learned from you is weed killer! Thank you very very very much! YEAH!


  19. Niki


    I love vinegar, I love the smell and all the things you can do with it. I use vinegar to soak my feet in. I have athletes feet because my feet are always wet from swimming so I soak them in straight vinegar and it helps with the itching. My hubby started doing it and noticed his 1 toenail that had fungus is starting to clear up. Vinegar is an amazing product.

    I’ve never tried washing my hair with it, but I will today, it’s been feeling really dry and looking dull.



  20. Rebecca


    Andrea, when using vinegar for its multiple uses, does it matter whether it is white distilled or apple cider?


    Andrea Reply:

    Personally, I don’t think it matters. I almost always use white vinegar because I have that in the house all the time — plus I think it’s cheaper at my grocery store! However, I know other people who always use apple cider vinegar because they like the smell.


  21. Diana


    Cleaning glass shower doors!!!!! Hard water spots gone like magic! No need to let it sit, no vigorous scrubbing. I use the same half vinegar half water dilution I use on my kitchen counters and wipe off with a rag (and then with a paper towel if I’m going for super streak free bonus points).


  22. Diana


    And acidifying the water for my blueberries. I add about 2 tbsp to a gallon of tap water to get the pH down to about 5 and give it to my blueberry plants once a week. They are thriving!


  23. Jennifer


    When using vinegar in the dishwasher, do you put it in the little jet dry dispenser or straight into the bottom of the washer


  24. Wendy


    Is the vinegar/water solution safe for granite counter tops?