8 Ways to Clean with Vinegar

All around the house.

April 22, 2014

We're teaming up with our friends at The Laundress to bring you the most useful tips and products for spring cleaning.

Today: Gwen and Lindsey from The Laundress share their favorite ways to clean with vinegar. 

The laundress from Food52 The laundress from Food52

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Vinegar is known for its powerful cleaning properties that fight stains, buildup, odors, and germs; it might just be the agent we turn to the most when we're on a cleaning spree. And while plain old vinegar works like a charm, it's also known for a sometimes off-putting smell -- which is why we blended one of our signature scents with it.

Here are our favorite ways to clean with vinegar -- what are yours? Let us know in the comments!

Remove odor from fabrics:

Pretreat: To remove odor from fabric, add 1⁄4 cup of scented vinegar to a basin of warm water and soak the item for 30 minutes. Then launder as normal.

Launder: Add 1 cup scented vinegar directly to the washing machine drum (for top loaders) or to the detergent dispenser (for front loaders) and run a wash cycle using no detergent or softener. Then wash again as normal.

Deoderize rooms & appliances:

Cooking/kitchen: Remove cooking odors by simmering a small pot of 1⁄2 cup vinegar and water or keep a small bowl of vinegar on the counter to absorb odor.

Refrigerator: Place 1 cup vinegar in the refrigerator for two days to remove odor. Refresh as needed.

Microwave: Use 1⁄4 cup vinegar and 1 cup water; bring to a boil and let sit.

Vinegar from Food52

Deal with machine odor:

Washing machine: Add 1⁄2 cup scented vinegar  mixed with 2 capfuls all-purpose bleach alternative to your machine dispenser and run an empty, long load with hot water. Don’t forget to clean out your fabric softener and bleach dispensers!

Dishwasher: Fill your dispenser with scented vinegar and add 2 capfuls all-purpose bleach alternative to the machine, then run an empty load with hot water.

Use as a rinse aid:

To prevent spotty glassware, add vinegar to the rinse aid dispenser in your dishwasher.

Clean your drain:

To clean, deodorize, and unclog drains, sprinkle 1⁄4 cup of all-purpose bleach alternative and pour 1 cup of boiling vinegar down the drain. Allow the solution to sit for 5 minutes, then run hot water down the drain. (For garbage disposals, halve the amounts.)

The laundress from Food52 The laundress from Food52 

Remove and inhibit bacteria, mold, and yeast growth:

Cutting boards: Apply vinegar directly to cutting boards at the end of the evening and do not rinse.

Surfaces: To clean and deodorize surfaces, glassware, and household items, wet a lint-free cleaning cloth or sponge with scented vinegar. Then wipe away dirt, stains, germs, and streaks. (This will also keep ants and bugs away.)

Cleaning: To scrub tubs, tiles, toilets, and stained porcelain, mix the scented vinegar with all-purpose bleach alternative.

Toilets: Deodorize toilets with 1 cup vinegar; let sit for 30 minutes and then flush.

Clean blinds & walls:

To clean blinds and walls, mix equal parts vinegar and water in a pail and use a sponge or Lint-Free Cleaning Cloth to wipe down.

Mop Pergo "wood" floors:

Add 1⁄4 cup scented vinegar to 1 gallon of water to mop and clean Pergo floors. Avoid other floor cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, and wax as these will leave a film behind.


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Written by: The Laundress


Penny H. March 19, 2018
I've been using vinegar for fabric softener for years. I just pour some white, unscented vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser and wash as usual. Clothes come out sweet smelling and static free. I'm allergic to most "scents" so never buy scented anything.
Julia C. April 17, 2016
Has anyone else found that white vinegar keeps colored clothing from fading in the wash? I read long ago that adding 1/2 cup to the wash at the start and to the rinse cycle reduces the fading in colored clothing. I've used the trick and seen a big difference in my blacks, blues, and reds.
avi C. March 29, 2016
avi C. March 29, 2016
lizabeth April 18, 2015
Even the scented vinegar has a vinegar smell, but it is a fantastic cleaner with no harmful chemicals and the smell dissipates rapidly. We use it on countertops, in bathrooms and to clean the floor. Cheap, too.
Sue April 16, 2015
I use vinegar and baking soda together to clean the sink drain.
tom April 16, 2015
There is a photo of a marble countertop in this story. Please do not use vinegar on marble! You will ruin it.
Bob Q. March 19, 2018
Very true. You want acid neutral cleaners on stone and also stay away from hydrogen peroxide, bleach based ;disinfectant' products and any 'Bathroom' cleaners, theyare designed to disolve calcium and marble is a calcium stone. Plain old, cheap, isopropal alcahol works great, just remember to regularly usea stone specific 'sealer' on your surfaces.
Murt D. January 23, 2015
We use vinegar for floor cleaning. It provides excellent cleaning and shine to the floor, but its unbelievable for me that it have uncountable benefits that you have shared. Thanks for this wonderful resource.
Best regards! St Mary Cray Carpet Cleaners Ltd.
OEStegall September 27, 2014
Wow great tips. I use vinegar to clean my clogged drain but I don't boil it.
Sue April 18, 2016
I don't boil it either. It's not necessary.
Rebecca W. April 28, 2014
Where does one find scented vinegar???
Diana M. February 9, 2021
I believe these folks sell it.
HalfPint April 22, 2014
I find that 1 c of white vinegar added to the wash with the detergent is sufficient to remove odors without having to re-wash.

I also use white vinegar as a fabric softener. ~1/2c added to the 'fabric softener' dispenser or during the rinse cycle. Hasn't damaged any of my washables and my clothes don't have that synthetic 'fresh' scent that is so overpowering. No vinegary odor either.
HalfPint April 22, 2014
Forgot to add that my de-odorizing method even works on cat pee.