Using Vinegar as All Purpose Cleaner and Fabric Softener

I absolutely LOVE vinegar! I buy it by the gallon and use it for everything. When you have vinegar on hand, you don’t need to buy a bunch of extra expensive cleaners. It has disinfectant properties, so you don’t need bleach if you keep on top of your cleaning.

Here are some of the ways I’ve used vinegar.

  1. Fabric Softener. I rarely buy commercial fabric softener. Instead, I fill a Downy ball about halfway with vinegar and toss it in the wash. If you have a fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine, you don’t even need the Downey ball. Just put 1/2 cup vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser.
  2. Drain Cleaner. Have a sluggish drain? Don’t run out and buy Drano! First, try putting 1/2 cup baking soda in the drain. Follow that with 1/2 cup vinegar. Let it sit for at least an hour and then pour boiling water down the drain. Most of the time that clears the clog right up. You can even repeat this monthly, to prevent clogged drains.
  3. Showerhead Reviver. What do you do when your showerhead gets clogged with mineral deposits? I fill a plastic baggie with vinegar and fasten it to my showerhead with a rubber band. In a few hours, it dissolves the mineral deposits, and your showerhead will work again!
  4. Hair Rinse. If your hair is looking a little dull, try rinsing it with 1 Tablespoon of vinegar mixed in one cup of water. It will strip your hair of commercial shampoo residue and make your hair look shiny again.
  5. All Purpose Cleaner. Mix vinegar and water one to one, and you have a great all purpose cleaner. It will clean the bathroom, kitchen, and many other areas of your home. Just don’t use it on marble.
  6. Floor Cleaner. I used to mop my tile floor with 1 cup of vinegar in one gallon of water. It worked really well. I haven’t tried it on laminate yet, though.

Those are just a few of the many ways you can use vinegar. What are your favorite uses of vinegar?


By , on Sep 1, 2009
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Lorie:

    There are TONS of ways to use vinegar listed on their web site The Vinegar Institute: Thanks for all the reminders.

  2. MommyMel:

    With my daughter away at college she doesn’t get the chance to do laundry very often so her clothes will pile up and sit. She also has a tendency to get underarm odors in the shirts. I gave her a small spray bottle that has mix of 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 tablespoons of baking soda to spray in the area before putting it in the pile. She can’t always add vinegar to the campus machines and this “pre soak” helps to get rid of the smell that I would have to fight when she comes home.

  3. I keep a spray bottle of white vinegar and separate foil-wrapped spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide. If you spray them both together, they will fizz up and get practically any stain out of carpet. Add a little baking soda for when you need a slight abrasive (sink or toilets). When you spray these two together and let them sit on a countertop, they kill germs just like the name-brand antibacterial sprays.

    BTW, the reason for the aluminum foil is that hydrogen peroxide degrades with exposure to light, so keep it in the dark.

  4. Diana:

    Vinegar is great for cleaning the innards of the coffee maker. Once every two months, pour white (aka clear) vinegar into the water compartment and then hit the brew button (just like making a pot of coffee). Follow with two full brew cycles of water.

  5. Marci:

    Used with baking soda to clean the bottom of the shower – the stains come out of the vinyl great that way.

    Use with baking soda to clean my glasstop stove.

    In both cases, I use the vinegar in a spray/mist bottle to spray over the powdered baking soda so it bubbles. Respray when it quits bubbling.

    In the bottom of burnt pan/cassarole – again, baking soda and vinegar to soak – will bring the burnt up and out.

  6. Melanie:

    Just to let you know, I use vinegar and water to clean my laminate and I have had no problems. I have been doing it for 4 yrs and the floors look and feel great :)

  7. Love it when folks talk about their love for vinegar. Remember, lots of kinds of vinegar can do lots of kinds of things. And don’t forget olive oil–yep, you can use it for cleaning the house, indoors and outdoors, too!
    author of The Healing Powers of and Olive Oil

  8. I use vinegar in our dishwasher in each load to cut the hard water deposits. Rinse Aid doesn’t seem to do anything, but vinegear keeps the glases and plates from having a white calcium deposit.

    And, yes, keep it FAR away from marble! The second vinegar touches marble, it etches it–every drop, etc. It eats right through it. Unfortunately, I know this by experience :(

    I had previously read about baking sod and vinegar in a drain, but I forgot about it. I will try that tonight!

  9. Melissa:

    I have a question on how you use it on your hair? Do you soak your hair in the solution or just rinse with it? Do you do it after you shampoo and condition or before? I’d love to learn this new way to use it. Thanks!

  10. Nicole:

    Thank you everyone who responded to me – I can’t wait to try it out, and I’m recommending the arthritis tip to my grams! :)

  11. connie:

    I too have been using vingar for years. I did want to comment on the post that stated it was not safe for ceramic tile. I have been using it on my ceramic tile for 12yrs. I do dilute it with water. In fact that is what the tile installer told us to use.

  12. Nora:


    Sorry, about not answering which kind, I use the clear one.

    I have heard to take a tablespoon of the Apple Cider vinegar with a glass of water for athritis, and just about anything under the sun.

    Hope this helps!

  13. Nora:


    The clothes may smell a little like the vinegar when you take them out of the washer but after they dry they no longer have the vinegar smell. I use both the dryer and the clothesline.

  14. White vinegar is also a great glass cleaner – we use it for windows and mirrors.

    We haven’t bought chemical cleaners in years. Vinegar and baking soda FTW!

  15. AngelSong:

    I also use a lot of vinegar. It should not be used on ceramic tiles, though. White vinegar is best to use for most purposes. I also use it as a fabric softener, and there is no vinegar odor in the laundry.

  16. Nicole:

    I’ve heard of most of those ways to use vinegar, but I have a question about laundry – doesn’t it make your clothes smell like vinegar?

    And what kind of vinegar do you use? The clear? Sorry, but I’m new to this stuff and I want to make sure I get it right!

  17. Great post! I like vinegar, as well as lemons for cleaning.

  18. I have dandruff and always needed a special (expensive) medical shampoo. Letting vinegar just sit on my scalp, then rinsing it out has eiminated this need. So many uses for vinegar – great post!

  19. Sometimes I forget to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer and it sits overnight. If it smells funky the next day, I just add about a cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle and then they’re ready to toss in the dryer!

    About once a month, I pour about 2 cups of vinegar in the bottom of my dishwasher and run it empty to clean it out.

    I actually don’t COOK with vinegar, as I really can’t stand the smell or taste of it. But I can stand the smell of it long enough to clean with it — it’s SO frugal!

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