Multipurpose cleaners are convenient because they’re usable on many different surfaces. But while effective, some of these cleaners aren’t exactly healthy or environmentally friendly.
Vinegar, on the other hand, is non-toxic and eco-friendly, making it the ultimate multipurpose cleaning solution. And the best part, it’s super cheap.
Keep reading to learn what types of vinegar to use, along with nine ways vinegar can be used to clean and disinfect your home.
Benefits of vinegar as a household cleaner
You probably have a bottle of vinegar sitting in your cupboard right now. But like so many, you might only use vinegar as a salad dressing or as a marinade for vegetables, meat, poultry, or fish.
Made from acetic acid
Vinegar isn’t only useful for cooking, though. It also makes a great cleaner and disinfectant because it’s made from acetic acid.
Acetic acid is a colorless organic compound that gives vinegar its sour taste and pungent smell. It’s also an ingredient in some store-bought household cleaners.
The acidic nature of vinegar is so powerful it can dissolve mineral deposits, dirt, grease, and grime. It’s also strong enough to kill bacteria.
Different types of vinegar include:
- apple cider vinegar
- white distilled vinegar
- balsamic vinegar
- red or white wine vinegar
The best type of vinegar to use
White distilled vinegar is the best vinegar for cleaning because it doesn’t contain a coloring agent. Therefore, it won’t stain surfaces. Staining can happen when cleaning with a darker-colored vinegar.
Plus, distilled white vinegar has about 5 percent acidity, which is also similar to the acidity level in many everyday multipurpose cleaners.
About that vinegar smell
The strong odor of white vinegar can be unpleasant, in which case you can use apple cider vinegar instead.
It has the same cleaning properties as white distilled vinegar, but since it’s made by fermenting apple juice, it also has a slightly sweet scent.
Apple cider vinegar is darker in color, so dilute it in water before using it as a cleaning agent.
If you’re using vinegar as a cleaner, the scent may linger for about an hour or so. However, this might be a small price to pay for a cleaner that’s nontoxic, natural, and environmentally friendly.
You can mask the smell by adding a few drops of essential oil, such as lemon oil, lavender oil, or peppermint oil, to a spray bottle containing a vinegar-water solution.
Or, open a window and let some fresh air in to help remove the scent quicker.
Here’s a look at a few common uses for vinegar around the home.
Use vinegar to make your own glass cleaner. Combine one part water with two parts vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the solution on glass surfaces and wipe clean for a streak-free finish.
Because vinegar is a natural disinfectant, it can clean and disinfect countertops after food preparation. For tough stains, add a few drops of Dawn soap to one-part water and two parts vinegar.
Vinegar can also remove odors from countertops, but it shouldn’t be used on granite or marble. Use a natural stone cleaner instead. The acid in vinegar can diminish the luster of natural stone.
Vinegar can also deter ants that may scour countertops at night in search of food scraps.
Combine 2 teaspoons of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt to remove calcium deposits on faucets and fixtures. This solution can also remove hard water stains from showerheads.
To get rid of stubborn stains, spray fixtures and faucets with vinegar and then tie a bag around it overnight. Scrub and rinse the next morning.
4. Showers and tubs
Thick soap scum and mildew can be challenging to remove. Spray undiluted white vinegar over tub and shower walls. Let the vinegar sit for several minutes, then scrub and rinse away.
Or, combine baking soda and vinegar to create a paste and scrub away tough grime.
Pour 2 to 3 cups of undiluted vinegar into the toilet bowl and let it sit for up to 3 hours. Scrub with a toilet brush and flush. This helps eliminate rings around the bowl and deodorizes the toilet.
Vinegar also makes a great floor cleaner, but only on certain types of floors.
You shouldn’t use vinegar on hardwood floors because it can dissolve the finish and leave watermarks. The natural acid in vinegar can also damage natural stone floors.
You can, however, use vinegar on no-wax linoleum.
Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to 1/2 gallon of water. To clean ceramic tile, add 1/2 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water.
To break through soap scum in a dishwasher, add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse compartment and let the dishwasher run for an entire cycle.
To eliminate odors in your microwave, place a bowl containing a 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water inside the microwave and heat for a couple of minutes. This solution can also loosen any stubborn stains.
Vinegar is also great for cleaning the inside and outside of appliances, including stainless steel. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle, then spray down appliances.
Use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe away the solution. Don’t use abrasive pads, which can scratch the surface of appliances.
Distilled white vinegar is also a great choice for removing fabric odor and stains. Don’t use dark vinegar or you might stain your clothes. Add 1 cup of vinegar to the wash cycle.
Can vinegar improve digestive health?
But while vinegar is a great household cleaner, can it help your internal digestive system?
Vinegar — or more specifically apple cider vinegar — has been touted as a natural remedy for digestive issues, although there aren’t any rigorous studies or science to back up these claims.
May relieve bloating
It’s possible, though, that apple cider can improve digestive issues, considering how it may increase the acidity level in the stomach.
This can help relieve symptoms like bloating, which is sometimes due to low stomach acid.
May combat acid reflux
Apple cider vinegar may also help combat acid reflux.
One belief is that the vinegar can balance pH levels in the stomach, which not only helps neutralize stomach acid but also prevents an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.
This may help reduce gut inflammation.
May flush toxins from the body
Another purported benefit of apple cider vinegar is its ability to flush toxins out of the body. Some people use it as a natural detoxifier, as well as a remedy for constipation and a weight loss aid.
Dilute with water and drink only 1 glass per day
The only way to know whether apple cider vinegar can improve your digestive health is to try it and then see how you feel. Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water and drink.
Use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and only drink one glass per day.
It’s normal to have some sediment floating. This is called the mother. Too much apple cider vinegar can damage your tooth enamel.
Vinegar isn’t only for cooking. It’s also an eco-friendly and inexpensive household cleaner. And in most cases, you only need to mix vinegar with water.
Although, you can add salt and baking soda to create a more abrasive cleaner or a few drops of essential oil for a lighter scent.
Medically reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT on March 20, 2020, New — Written by Valencia Higuera