Cleaning with vinegar: It's inexpensive, natural, and tough on bacteria, mildew, and dirt. Use these smart vinegar cleaning tips for every room in your home.

If you ever feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options presented in the cleaning supplies aisle, listen up. There is a product you likely already own that can clean almost every surface of your home with ease: distilled white vinegar! While it might not have that lemony-fresh scent you expect from other household cleaners, vinegar makes an incredibly versatile and affordable cleaning product. This natural cleaner easily cuts through mildew, bacteria, and grime, and it's safe to use on a wide variety of household surfaces. Check out our cleaning tips below to learn how to clean the bathroom, kitchen, living room, and more with vinegar.

Cleaning supplies in metal basket
Credit: Blaine Moats

How to Clean the Kitchen with Vinegar

Refrigerator: Consider skipping the toxic chemicals where you store your food. Instead, try cleaning refrigerator surfaces with white vinegar. Wipe up spills using a cloth dampened with a vinegar cleaning solution of equal parts vinegar and water. You can even keep a bottle of the mixture stored in your fridge!

Drain: Pour vinegar onto a scrub brush small enough to get inside the disposal. Sprinkle the brush with baking soda, then scrub to remove odors and built-up grime, suggests Mary Findley of, a former pro cleaner and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Cleaning.

Cutting boards: Try white vinegar for cleaning cutting boards. Spray the surface with straight vinegar, then rinse to clean.

Microwave: Cleaning with white vinegar isn't limited to countertops. Remove hard-to-clean microwave splatters and stains by placing 1/2-cup vinegar and 1/2-cup water in a glass bowl. Microwave 2-3 minutes, or until it boils, then wipe away buildup with ease.

Stained plastic containers: Coat plastic containers in vinegar, let sit for a few minutes, then wash as usual, says Leslie Reichert of The Cleaning Coach.

Countertops: Cleaning kitchen countertops with white vinegar is simple: Just spray vinegar onto the surface and wipe it away with a warm, wet rag. However, you should avoid cleaning countertops with vinegar if you have a granite or marble surface.

neutral bathroom with clawfoot tub and shiplap walls
Credit: David Tsay

How to Clean Your Bathroom with Vinegar

White vinegar makes quick work of cleaning bathroom surfaces. Try our top uses for white vinegar in the bathroom, including cleaning tile surfaces.

General bathroom cleaning: Use straight or a diluted vinegar cleaning solution for the bathroom to scrub away bacteria, especially around the toilet, where it can curb urine stains and odor.

Toilet: Cleaning with baking soda and vinegar in the bathroom can work wonders. To clean a toilet with vinegar, pour a cup of vinegar in the bowl and let sit overnight. (For tough jobs, empty the toilet water first.) The next morning, sprinkle with baking soda or borax powder; scrub, then flush.

Tub or sink drain: To clean the area around your bathroom drain, pour 1/2-cup distilled white vinegar around the closed drain and let sit for several hours. Scrub to remove buildup. Drain, then rinse.

Shower: To clean your shower with vinegar, try Findley's shower deep-clean regimen: Bring vinegar to a boil, then carefully use the warm vinegar to wipe down the shower door and walls. Keep them damp by wiping them down every 5 to 8 minutes for 30 minutes. Then, dampen a non-scratch sponge with vinegar, sprinkle with baking soda, and scrub. Rinse to wash away germs, mold, water spots, and soap scum.

Showerhead: Cleaning a shower head with vinegar is easy. Pour some white vinegar into a plastic bag, and secure it to your showerhead with a twist-tie or rubber band. Make sure there's enough vinegar so the bottom part of the showerhead is submerged. Leave the bag on overnight. Remove the next morning just before showering.

Tile surfaces: To clean tile bathroom surfaces with vinegar, mix 1/2-cup white distilled vinegar with a gallon of warm water. Mop bathroom floors or scrub countertops with the solution and allow to air dry.

gray bedroom with bold ikat patterned textiles
Credit: Stacey Brandford Photgraphy Inc

Clean Your Bedroom with Vinegar

Mattress disinfectant: Mix distilled white vinegar, a little rubbing alcohol, and some tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Lightly spritz on your mattress to help combat dust mites, mildew, and general odors. For a deeper clean, follow with a dusting of baking soda. Let dry, then vacuum the mattress surface.

Laundry room with geometric floors and white counters
Credit: Julie Soefer

How to Do Laundry with Vinegar

White vinegar uses extend to fabrics and textiles, too.

Detergent booster: Using vinegar in your laundry can help protect colors and remove excess detergent residue. To set colors and reduce fading, wash colored towels and clothing with about half the recommended amount of detergent plus 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar.

Fabric softener: Use vinegar instead of fabric softeners in laundry, Findley suggests. "It softens clothes and removes the static at a fraction of the cost of fabric softeners," she says. "Just add a cup to the final wash or rinse water."

cottage style contemporary living room with blue curtains
Credit: Brie Williams

Clean Your Living Room and Dining Room with Vinegar

Glass: Use a 50-50 vinegar-water solution to keep glass tables or cabinet doors sparkling.

Wood furniture: Use 1/4-cup white vinegar mixed with 1-cup olive oil (plus a few drops of lemon or orange oil, if you wish) to clean and condition wood furniture, Reichert says.

Area rugs: Use a vinegar cleaning solution to remove carpet stains and clean area rugs. Mix 1 tsp. mild dishwashing liquid and 1/4 tsp. white vinegar with 1 quart warm water. Apply it to the carpet stain and let sit for 10 minutes before blotting away.

Living room with couch, coffee table, and stored wood
Credit: Jay Wilde

How to Clean Floors with Vinegar

Cleaning floors with vinegar is a natural, chemical-free way to remove dirt and grime.

Carpet odor and dust mite remover: Mix a few drops of your favorite essential oil with some distilled white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spritz lightly throughout. (Test in an inconspicuous spot first for colorfastness.) 

Carpet rinse: After shampooing your carpet, rinse it using 1/2-cup vinegar per gallon of water. This lifts dirt-attracting soap residue, so carpets stay cleaner for longer.

Carpet pet odor remover: To remove unpleasant pet odors from carpets, wet the spot with vinegar and sprinkle with baking soda. Work the two together with a brush or your fingers. Let dry (ideally overnight), then vacuum.

Wood floor wash: Add 1/2-cup vinegar to a gallon of water to clean wood and laminated floors.

blue bench in front of window with throw and geometric curtains
Credit: Steven McDonald

How to Clean Everyday Objects with Vinegar

Make your own homemade cleaning products on the cheap with vinegar and other natural products. Surface cleaning with white vinegar is both affordable and green.

Air freshener: Skip the chemicals with a natural air freshener. Add a 1/2-tsp. vinegar to a 4-ounce spray bottle, then fill with distilled water, plus a few drops of your favorite essential oil, if desired.

Window cleaner: Mix 1/4-cup rubbing alcohol and 1/3-cup vinegar in a 32-ounce spray bottle, then fill with water. Lightly spritz on a lint-free cloth to clean.

All-purpose cleaner: Mix 1 cup vinegar, 2 tsp. borax, 4 cups hot water, 5 drops liquid dish soap, 10 drops tea tree oil, and 10 drops your favorite essential oil (optional).

Disinfectant: Use a 50-50 vinegar-water mix to wipe down phones, doorknobs, faucet handles, and more when cold and flu season hits, Findley says.


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