20 ways to try cleaning with vinegar around your home

Cleaning with vinegar is a must if you prefer natural cleaning methods or don't want to spend money on cleaning sprays; discover this common household ingredient's superpowers

Cleaning with vinegar
(Image credit: appliances direct)

Cleaning with vinegar has never been more popular – and with good reason. This kitchen staple is one of the most versatile and affordable household cleaners, but some of us are yet to learn all about its superpowers, sometimes in the most unexpected of situations. Vinegar is for much more than just your windows.

It's true that vinegar won't replace all of the best cleaning products you use around your home. You'll still need dishwasher tablets for your dishwasher and laundry liquid for your washing machine, but that cleaning spray? Why buy one when you've got vinegar?

Here are some of our favorite ways to clean with vinegar all around the home, from your kitchen to your patio. 

stainless steel hob with a stainless steel kettle on it

(Image credit: Getty)

1. Descale the kettle 

Simply fill the kettle with half water and half vinegar and leave for 30 minutes. Once the time is up, boil the kettle then empty and rinse thoroughly. This will keep limescale at bay and eliminates the need for much harsher chemicals. You can also try this trick on your coffee machine! See our full guide to how to descale a kettle, too.

2. Remove kitchen sink odors

This is a task that you need to add to your monthly cleaning schedule. When combined with bicarbonate of soda, white wine vinegar can get rid of those nasty kitchen sink odors and keep your drain free of slime and gunk. The mixture will break down fat and food residues, leaving your pipes blockage free and your drains smelling fresh. Afterwards, make sure you rinse well with freshly boiled water (if you have plastic pipes, rinse with cold or warm water). It takes no time at all and makes all the difference.

Homemade drain cleaner recipe:

  • Pour 100g/1/2 cups bicarbonate of soda into the drain
  • Add 120ml/1/2 cups white wine vinegar
  • Leave for 15 minutes
  • Flush with boiling water (plastic pipes can be damaged by boiling water so use warm water instead)
  • Repeat weekly to reduce build-up and prevent blockages

3. Clean and deodorise your microwave

Fill a microwave-safe bowl with 120 ml/1/2 cups vinegar and 250 ml/1 cup water, place in the microwave and put on a high heat for five minutes. Leave it in the microwave while it cools. Afterwards, you can easily wipe down the inside of the microwave and, as if by magic, those nasty odours will have miraculously disappeared! 

4. Clean the fridge with vinegar

Cleaning the fridge with vinegar is easy and effective. Mix four teaspoons of vinegar into a half-filled washing-up bowl of warm water and use the solution to wipe down your refrigerator’s interior, including the shelves, walls, and even food packaging, if necessary. Your fridge freezer will be clean and fresh-smelling without the need for harsh chemicals that could contaminate food. 

5. And don't forget your pots and pans

Burnt your favorite stainless steel pan? Don't chuck it just yet. Add a little bit of water, salt, and vinegar to the burnt pan and turn the heat on low. Add a couple of teaspoons of baking soda. The mixture will help loosen the burnt-on food and you'll be able to restore your pan to its shiny former self. 

Tip: Don't use this method on aluminum or cast iron pans. 

6. Wash fruit and veg

Vinegar helps remove bacteria and pesticide residues from fruit and vegetables. Mix three parts water to one part white wine vinegar, and dispense in a spray bottle. Rinse clean.

7. Get rid of kitchen smells 

Add a mixture of water and vinegar to a saucepan and boil on the hob for 15 minutes to get rid of any nasty odours in your kitchen. This is particularly good after cooking anything strong like fish or egg. Use our guide to find out more about getting rid of household smells – with vinegar and other nifty store cupboard standbys. 

8. Shine drinking glasses

A great pre-dinner-party tip to remove marks from your wine glasses is to submerge them in a mixture of water and vinegar. Remove and leave to dry naturally, then wash again. 

9. Clean the dishwasher with vinegar

Unless it is really really grimey, you can clean your dishwasher, or give it a good refresh with nothing but vinegar.

1. Start by removing any gunk from the dishwasher drain and filter. 

2. Next put 250ml of white vinegar in a dishwasher-proof container on the top rack of your machine. Don’t add detergent (or dirty dishes, come to that). 

3. Run a high-temperature cycle. 

4. Once the process has finished run another cycle without vinegar or detergent to rinse.

How to clean dishwasher accessories with vinegar:

The vinegar cycle should do the trick but if not, soak the racks, spray arm and utensil holder in hot water diluted with vinegar before scrubbing clean with an old toothbrush. This will help clear any limescale from any jets. Put the accessories back in the dishwasher, then run a short cycle to rinse them.

pink scheme bathroom with vanity by norsu interiors

(Image credit: Norsu Interiors)

10. Remove limescale and hard water build-up 

Limescale and hard water stains can be a real pain to remove and many of the cleaning products on the market just don’t cut it. Vinegar is the solution. To achieve the perfect shine and remove any blockages from shower heads, fill a small plastic bag with vinegar, place it over the shower head and tie at the bag securely at the top. A hand-held shower head can be submerged in a bowl of vinegar, if preferred. Leave it for a few hours then remove, rinse with water and wipe down. It really is that easy. 

You can also spray neat vinegar onto shower doors, draining boards and taps. Just leave it for a few hours so it can work its magic before wiping it off. All the best bathroom cleaning hacks involve vinegar – you just can't go wrong with it.

11. Mold and mildew prevention

If you want to get rid of mold and mildew in the bathroom or on your shower curtain, spray with neat vinegar, leave for an hour or so, then rinse. A spritz can also be used in damp corners to keep mold growth at bay.

12. Disinfect toothbrushes with vinegar

Soak your toothbrush heads in a mixture of vinegar and hot water to give them a good clean. Don’t forget to rinse them thoroughly before using! 

Tip: Vinegar is also brilliant for cleaning limescale and/or mold from electric toothbrushes and/or water flossers. Simply submerge your whole (unplugged) device in a solution of a tablespoon of vinegar in a large bowl of water for half an hour. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry before use. 

Green living room by Marks and Spencer

(Image credit: Marks and Spencer)

13. Window and glass cleaning

Spray a 50:50 solution of water and vinegar onto windows, mirrors and shower screens and wipe clean with a lint-free cleaning cloth. Simple! Vinegar is one of the best ways to clean windows – no fancy sprays necessary.

14. Carpet stains

We’ve all been there, particularly if you have children. Vinegar can really help remove unwanted marks. Simply apply neat to the stain and leave it to work for about 15 minutes, then blot the stain with a white cloth or paper towel (this way, you can actually see if the stain is lifting). Repeat the process, if necessary, then rinse using a wet cloth with a little washing-up liquid. Or finish by using the best carpet cleaner

15. Freshen up laundry 

Add one capful of vinegar to the machine if you feel your laundry is looking a little dull (use the same cap you use for dispensing your detergent). Your colors will come out bolder and your whites whiter. If you want to learn how to do laundry naturally, vinegar can be very useful.

16. Remove grass stains

Combine 80 ml/1/3 cup white wine vinegar with 160 ml/2/3cup water. Apply the solution to the stain and blot with a clean cloth. Repeat this process until you’ve removed as much of the stain as possible, then wash as usual.

17. Deodorize smelly sandals with vinegar

If your summer sandals have begun to smell and you don't want to throw them out just yet, you can try deodorizing them with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Dip a cloth in the solution and thoroughly rub the inside of your sandals. Let them completely dry before wearing again – ideally for a full two days after cleaning. 

18. Clean your washing machine

Add two capfuls of vinegar to the detergent compartment and run an empty hot cycle to freshen up your machine (use the same cap you use for dispensing your detergent). If it is really dirty, you may want to combine using vinegar with other methods for cleaning a washing machine.

19. Clean your mattress with vinegar

You've spent good money on the best mattress you can find, and now it has a stain/is a bit smelly, despite your best efforts to keep it clean. Vinegar to the rescue! A basic 1:1 solution of vinegar and water will instantly help to disinfect and deodorize, while a paste using baking soda will help with stains. Just make sure the mattress dries completely before you sleep on it again.

If you don't need to clean your mattress and just want to freshen it up, a quick mist of vinegar all over is a great way to kill any nasties. Next time you change the bed, open the windows and get the mattress into sunlight. Give it a light spray with vinegar and leave to dry all day before redressing your bed.

20. Make a DIY patio cleaner with vinegar

Vinegar works wonder on mold, algae, and moss growing on your patio – in fact, it's one of the best DIY patio cleaners out there. Just work a basic 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water into your patio with a stiff brush, leave on for a few hours, and rinse off or wash off with a pressure washer

Which vinegar should you use to clean?

Before you go dousing all of your stuff with malt vinegar, hold on. Lynsey Crombie, known as the Queen of Clean, recommends using white wine vinegar but any clear or colorless vinegar is best. 

You can buy basic white vinegar for less than a pound at your local supermarket, but if you have time look online for bulk deals on catering bottles to get more bang for your buck. The same applies to bicarbonate of soda which can be bought in a 5kg/12lb pack for just over £10/$25 (the same would cost much more if you bought the small tubs for home baking). 

What should I not be cleaning with vinegar?

Despite its overall usefulness, there are things you should not clean with vinegar. In general, porous and/or natural materials, e.g. natural stone, wood, and wool should never be cleaned with vinegar, but you'll also need to be careful with some types of metal and electronic devices. 

Lindsey Davis
Editor in Chief, Homes Ecommerce

Lindsey is Editor of Realhomes.com and Editor in Chief for Home Ecommerce at Future. She is here to give you aspirational, yet attainable ideas for your home and works with her team to help you get the best buys, too. She has written about homes and interiors for the best part of a decade for brands including Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home and Gardeningetc and isn't afraid to take the inspiration she finds at work into her own space – a Victorian terrace which she has been (slowly) remodelling for the last eight years. She is happiest sipping a cup of tea with a cat on her lap (if only she had a cat).

With contributions from