9 Ingenious Uses for White Vinegar

Most of us have vinegar around the house. White vinegar is a liquid consisting of about 5–20% acetic acid, water, and other trace chemicals, which may include flavorings.

 White Vinegar

Although we often use it in the kitchen for baking, canning, cooking; vinegar is not just for use in the kitchen. It can also help with a variety of cleaning tasks since the acid acts as a disinfectant and an odor neutralizer.

Even if you are familiar with using it, you may still be surprised at some of these nine ingenious uses for vinegar! (Unless stated otherwise, I am referring to pure white vinegar with 5% acetic acid.)

 White Vinegar

1. Freshen Towels –

Problem – Unless your towels and washcloths are thoroughly dry before you put them in the hamper (which some people in the house do and others may not…) chances are you may occasionally notice a musty/mildewy smell on them.

 Fix – Wash your load of towels on the hot cycle and add 1 cup of vinegar to the load. Do not use detergent and especially do not use any bleach. (Adding bleach could result in a harmful chemical reaction!) Let the cycle go through and if you still smell something a little off, rewash with just hot water and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Again, no detergent or bleach, just baking soda and hot water.

2. Make “Buttermilk” –

Problem – You want to whip together a batch of muffins, but the recipe calls for Buttermilk, and you don’t have any.

Fix – When you see buttermilk called for in a recipe, it’s there not only for taste but also to act as the acid in a recipe.  (The acid in buttermilk interacts with the baking soda in a recipe, leavening the batter or dough and allowing it to rise without the addition of yeast. Although the taste isn’t the same as when you use buttermilk, it is a fair approximation.)

Place a tablespoon of white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.  Let stand for 5-10 minutes, so the milk has a chance to thicken and curdle. Then, use as directed in the recipe.

3. New Clothes Smell –

Problem – That stiff feel and “new clothes” smell

Fix – Use 1/2 cup of white vinegar to wash your (washable) new clothes to remove the stiffness and manufacturing chemicals associated with them.

4. Cloudy Glasses and Stemware – 

Problem – Your glasses and stemware are getting cloudy from repeated washes in the dishwasher.

Fix – If your stemware is cloudy from the dishwasher, wrap the glasses in paper towels soaked in vinegar, let them sit, and the cloudy deposits will rinse right off.

Even though I always use a rinse agent in the dishwasher, I find I still need to do this a couple of times a year to keep my glassware sparkling.

5. Clean Your Microwave –

Problem – Odours and caked-on food splatter in the microwave.

Fix – Place equal parts water and vinegar (I usually use 1/2 cup of each) in a large (to allow for boiling) microwave proof bowl. Heat on high for five to ten minutes, depending on how dirty the microwave is. Carefully, (it will be VERY hot!) remove the bowl and then wipe off the loosened dirt and grease with a clean, wet cloth.

6. Poaching an Egg –

Problem – The egg white is feathery and not compact on your poached egg.

Fix – Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the poaching water. The acid in vinegar helps the proteins in the loose egg white to coagulate and cook into a more compact shape. You may notice a very slight difference in taste.

7. Weeds –

Problem – Weeds or grass growing in your walk or driveway.

Fix –  Put some vinegar in a spray bottle and spray the grass and weeds. Vinegar makes an effective organic weed and grass killer. Household vinegar (5% acetic acid) is good for weeds while pickling vinegar (20% acetic acid) is more effective for grass. The more acetic acid the vinegar has, the more effective it will be. Also, using the vinegar on a sunny day can help burn the acid into both grass and weeds more than it can on a cloudy day.  However, a word of caution. Vinegar is non-selective and has the potential to kill everything organic that it touches, spray carefully!

8. Bitter Coffee –

Problem – Your morning coffee tastes bitter, weak or stale.

Fix – Odds are your coffeemaker needs a good cleaning.  I try to clean our coffee maker at least every 4-6 weeks.

Fill the empty pot with 2 cups white vinegar and 1 cup water. Place a filter in the machine, and pour the solution into the coffeemaker’s water reservoir. Turn on the coffeemaker and let it run through a full brew cycle. Remove the filter and replace it with a fresh one. Then run clean water through the machine for two full cycles, replacing the filter each time.

9. Disinfect Wood Cutting Boards –

Problem – Is your wood cutting board actually clean?

Fix – First, I NEVER use my wood cutting board for meat, fish or poultry. I use a separate solid surface board that after rinsing can go in the dishwasher.  Having said that, it doesn’t mean my wood board doesn’t need a thorough cleaning. It is used to prepare any number of vegetables, which even though washed, have the potential to contaminate the board.

To disinfect, use white vinegar. (Vinegar other than pure white vinegar may impart smells to your board.) This solution works to disinfect the board because vinegar has a low pH which will kill bacteria and germs, as they can only live within certain pH conditions. To apply, soak a cloth in vinegar, then wipe the board down thoroughly with the wet cloth. Allow to air dry before storing.

 White Vinegar

Have you tried any of these ingenious uses for white vinegar?

How do you use vinegar around your home?  Do you have any tips to share?




  1. Catherine White says:

    Thanks for the reminder of some of those uses.
    Do you live in your basement? Like having television, play areas and sometime you notice a slightly ‘off ‘smell.
    Fix: Pour about a 1/2 cup of plain white vinegar in a mason jar, left open and place in out of the way areas , for a fresh smelling basement again.
    The acid removes those “off”odors

  2. Pat Bacon says:

    Great ideas. Even after all these (married) years I still learned something new that white vinegar could do for me. The idea of wrapping “cloudy” glasses in vinegar soaked paper towels is new to me. Who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks! LOL!

  3. Bonnie Adams says:

    Very interesting read. Thanks for the tips.

  4. meredith lee says:

    When cleaning your coffee machine, I’d add that you stop the brewing process about halfway through and let the vinegar solution sit for about 30 to 60 minutes.

    This not only cleans the insides of the machine, but it helps kill any germs and/or mold that like the damp inside environment of a coffee maker.

    Gross, I know. But it really does happen.
    meredith lee recently posted…12 Best Coffee Gifts for the Coffee Lover in Your LifeMy Profile

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