The humble bottle of vinegar is more than just the basis of a salad dressing. Many older folk already know this, but in the right hands, vinegar can be a miracle liquid that'll leave your house sparkling – and for a fraction of the price of shop-bought cleaning products.
But it's not just for cleaning: vinegar has a host of uses around the home. So here are 12 tried-and-true ways to use vinegar.
1. Clean your kettle
You know those unsightly scorch marks in the bottom of your kettle? Well, if they really bug you, you don't have to live with them – vinegar to the rescue once again! Just pop some in the bottom of the kettle and it'll take care of the marks.
"Let it soak overnight and it'll come up like new," CHOICE kitchen expert Ashley Iredale says.
2. Deep clean your dishwasher
Once a year, pour a couple of cups of vinegar into a bowl on the bottom rack of your dishwasher when it's empty. Then run the dishwasher on its hottest cycle. This will help deal with grease, limescale and deposits in the pipes, and will knock out unpleasant odours.
Our carpet cleaner recipe with vinegar, dishwashing liquid and water is a winner!
3. Clean the carpet
Our homemade carpet cleaner outperformed every single commercial carpet cleaning product we tested – and it costs just 42 cents per 100mL!
Here's how to make it:
- 2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- ¼ cup water.
Work the combined mixture into the stain, being careful not to over-wet the carpet. Then blot dry with a clean towel.
There's no need for a commercial glass cleaning product if you have white vinegar on hand.
4. Polish glass
For a cheap (and ammonia-free) window cleaner, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray on the window or mirror, then wipe off with newspaper, paper towel or a dry cotton cloth.
This also works a treat on ceramic-glass surfaces such as cooktops. (A microfibre cloth is your best bet for these.) Vinegar isn't suitable for some surfaces, including marble, so do your research before you spray.
CHOICE tip: You can use this solution as a regular surface cleaner. If you want it to smell nice, you can steep some citrus peel in the vinegar, then strain it out. Orange rind works nicely, as does lemon.
We don't recommend using fabric softener – unless it's vinegar.
5. Use as a fabric softener
According to Ashley, fabric softener is one product you can do without. It's expensive, largely unnecessary, reduces the fire retardancy of clothing, and reduces moisture absorbency – not great news for your towels.
If soft, fluffy towels are a must for your household, you can pop your towels in the dryer for a few minutes or just give them a good shake out. Or you could just use vinegar! Just add ½ a cup of white vinegar to your fabric-softener dispenser. Not only is it cheaper, it'll also help clean away scrud and other deposits in your washing machine.
"It's better than using actual fabric softener, and it can help restore whiteness in your clothes," says Ashley.
Vinegar and sugar will help you keep your flowers longer.
6. Freshen flowers
Someone bought you flowers? You lucky thing! Keep them looking fresh and perky for longer by adding two tablespoons of white vinegar and two tablespoons of sugar to the water. Change every few days.
7. Lift your loaf
If you're a keen baker, here's a hack for you: "Adding a tablespoon of vinegar to bread dough helps the bread to rise as well as giving the loaf better keeping qualities," says CHOICE home economist Fiona Mair.
Choose vinegar instead of bleach to clean mould – and definitely don't mix the two.
8. Remove mould
To remove mould from non-porous surfaces, mix up solutions of 80% vinegar to 20% water in three buckets. Dip a microfibre cloth in the first bucket, clean the affected surface, then rinse the cloth in the second bucket and again in the third bucket. (This ensures cross-contamination doesn't occur.) Read more in our article about getting rid of mould.
CHOICE tip: Be careful what you mix vinegar with. Don't clean with vinegar then follow with a bleach-based product – it can create a toxic gas.
9. Kill odours in your cooker
Multi cookers and pressure cookers can get a bit whiffy after use – the rubber seals can trap odours. Vinegar can take care of any unpleasant odours.
"Just dilute vinegar in warm soapy water, 1L of water to half a cup of vinegar, and soak," says Fiona.
10. Freshen up your Dutch oven
If your Dutch oven or ceramic slow cooker bowl is stained or smelly, you can sort them out with vinegar. Add half a cup of vinegar to a litre of water, and soak.
Bring back the shine.
11. Clean stainless steel
Vinegar and hot water work a treat on stainless steel BBQ exteriors. And if you're cleaning a stainless steel oven exterior, try vinegar and a paper towel for a streak-free finish.
12. Soothe mosquito bites?
This is one we can't confirm, but it's worth a shot!
"My nan rubbed vinegar on mosquito bites to take away the itch – though I think this might be more placebo than anything," says Ashley.
Well, the placebo effect is still an effect, and if it gives kids something to focus on besides scratching their skin raw, we'll call that a win!