I started using homemade white vinegar cleaners when I was living alone in California. I didn’t like the fumes from the shop bought cleaners and knowing the fumes were not only strong, but toxic, I decided I needed to find something else.

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That something else was distilled white vinegar. It’s acetic acid made from fermented corn or grain alcohol. Since the white vinegar is distilled, it also means that all the minerals have been removed from the product which is what makes it such an effective glass cleaner. (The minerals are the reason other cleaners leave streaks or spots behind on surfaces like glass).

White vinegar is not a disinfectant, but does kill about 80% of germs especially food borne bacterias, so it’s plenty to keep your home clean and you can disinfect worktops and high touch areas like doorknobs, light switches, and taps with 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Do not try to be clever and mix the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide though, as you will create a toxic acid with harmful fumes that you don’t want to be breathing.

Now there’s no denying white vinegar alone has a strong scent (in a stings your eyes kind of way) but once it is diluted with water and scented with some essential oils, it’s not as offensive to your nose.

I particularly like that not only is my house clean, but the vinegar deters creepy crawlies and if you have read any of my other articles you will already know my feelings towards spiders. I’m scared of them (scared enough that I can’t even get close enough to smoosh them) so I appreciate the fact that white vinegar deters them, so we just don’t have to ever cross paths in the first place. Win, win.

Another reason I like making my own cleaning products is that it saves me money. I can buy a 2 year supply of white vinegar for a quarter of the cost of all the other products I used to use.

So let’s get to it!

You Will Need:

A Spray Bottle

A dark glass bottle will keep your product freshest the longest as it helps prevent UV radiation from getting in and breaking down the vinegar and essential oils. It’s not required though if you keep your cleaners stored in a cool dark cupboard. I use a white vinegar window cleaning bottle I bought a few years ago at Wilko’s.

It’s not as glamourous or aesthetically pleasing for a photo, but in terms of being eco- friendly, it’s one less bottle going to landfill or shipped to a third world country to not be recycled.

If you reuse a bottle try to keep it like for like in terms of the former products to what you are making and be sure to give it a good wash first to remove any residue that can lead to unwanted fumes.

Cotton Cloths

Save money and reduce waste by using cotton cloths for cleaning.

If you want to be really eco-friendly and save even more money, you will repurpose some old towels or t-shirts for the job. Use pinking shears to cut them out and you won’t even have to spend time sewing edges!

White Vinegar

If you keep your white vinegar unopened it will last 2 years in a dark cupboard and 6 months from when you open it.

You may see the mother of vinegar develop in your vinegar at some point. It’s not dangerous and can be strained out if you need to. I’m generally too lazy for this and if I have some of the mother in the bottle when I’ve mixed it, I just rinse it out once I’ve got to the end of the bottle.

Distilled/Deionised Water (Optional)

If you are using this to clean your windows or mirrors, using distilled water keeps your cleaner free of minerals that leave streaks. If I have some I use it, but I have found that tap water works just fine.

If you notice streaks on your glass, you can use just straight white vinegar or just straight distilled water. I like the spider deterrent feature of the vinegar, but if the smell gets to you, distilled water does the exact same thing in that it leaves your windows and mirrors sparkly.

Essential Oils*

Essential oils in the recipes are optional, but can help mask the scent of the vinegar and leave your home smelling any way you like. Some scents that leave a clean smell would be citrus scents and pine scents, but feel free to use anything that makes you happy.

Your cleaning product doesn’t have to smell like a cleaning product.

Possible oils you can add:

               Grapefruit Seed Extract

               Lemon Essential Oil

               Orange Essential Oil

               Lemon Eucalyptus (It’s pretty strong but is also approved by the CDC as an effective mosquito deterrent if you want to make your own bug spray for anyone over the age of 3).

*If you are pregnant or have small children like myself, you want to do your due diligence in making sure you are using safe essential oils. I have purchased an aromatherapy textbook myself to look up contraindications (aka side effects) of essential oils. Shirley and Penny Price are highly knowledgeable in the aromatherapy field as well as Robert Tisserand, Salvador Battaglia, and Jan Kusmirek.

When I was pregnant I found Christina Anthis from The Hippy Homemaker. She takes the information from the experts and makes it easier to read and understand than the textbook style information I mentioned before.

All-Purpose Cleaner

I use this cleaning product for my laminate and porcelain worktops, windows, mirrors, shower screen, shower tiles and I also spray some onto a cloth to dust non-wood furniture and all my cabinets and cupboards.

I also make a mix of this and put it into my spray mop and use it to clean my laminate flooring. One week I use the mop and the next I get on my hands and knees with a cloth and spray bottle to clean it by hand so I can get to the nooks and crannies as well as give my baseboards a quick wipe.

Maintaining clean is so much easier than letting it build up and having to dedicate a whole day or weekend to getting things really clean again.

1 Part Distilled White Vinegar

1 Part Distilled Water (tap works, too)

Essential oils (keep your oils around 1% of your mix e.g. 1ml (approx. 20 drops) for every 100 ml of your cleaning product)

Use a funnel to pour the water and vinegar into the bottle. Add your essential oils to the bottle. Replace the spray top and give the bottle a good shake to mix everything together.

So simple.

I make mine in 500ml batches that lasts usually two weeks. I use 20 drops of essential oils and find that’s plenty of scent despite being less than the max allowed in the recipe.

Other Ways to Use White Vinegar

Fabric Softener

30 ml of white vinegar in you washer’s rinse compartment

Ha! How easy was that. The vinegar is a great replacement for fabric softener and will not leave your clothes smelling like vinegar.

Unlike shop bought softeners that reduce your towels’ ability to absorb moisture, white vinegar can be used on towels to reduce their crunchiness.

In addition to softening your clothes you are also giving your washer a clean, too.

Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Add White Vinegar to the rinse compartment of your dishwasher and your glassware should come out sparkling.

Kettle Descaler

Fill your kettle with a 50/50 mix of water and White vinegar.

Leave the mixture in the kettle for at least an hour or as long as overnight.

Boil your kettle.

Pour out the mix and give your kettle a rinse in warm water .

Get Armpit and Collar Stains out of Shirts

My mum did this all the time for me when I was in high school. For whatever reason I used to sweat profusely then and eventually needed a prescription to fix it.

She would pour white vinegar directly on the stain and then washed as normal. 


Carpet and Clothing Stain Remover

White Vinegar is perfect for getting the smell of pet urine out of carpet.

You can also use it for treating stains in your carpet.

First use a tea towel to soak up as much of the stain as you can. Soak the stain with white vinegar and let it sit for a couple minutes. Blot the stain with the towel. Rinse the stain with water. Repeat if necessary.

If it didn’t work make sure to wash the stain before trying another method so you don’t create toxic fumes, but typically vinegar is effective against red wine, tea, coffee, and ink.

Remove Rings from Unwaxed Wood

If you have a table surface where a careless family member or visitor didn’t use a coaster and left a stain, white vinegar can come to the rescue.

Use a 50/50 mix if vinegar and olive oil and rub the area with a soft cloth.

Before using white vinegar on wood, make sure to test an inconspicuous area first because acidic cleaners can ruin waxed finishes and leave a cloudy look.

When Not to Use White Vinegar

Even though I use white vinegar to clean almost everything in my house, there are some things you should not be cleaning with white vinegar.

Do not use white vinegar to clean:

Granite or Marble Worktops

Since both granite and marble are porous surfaces the acid can get inside and break them down.

Stone Floor Tiles

White vinegar is an acidic cleaner and the acid can cut into the stones.


Its acidity can also damage the internal parts of your iron, so you’ll want to read your user’s manual for how to properly clean it.

Waxed Hardwood Floors and Furniture

There are hardwood floor recipes with vinegar, but I have read that the vinegar can strip the finish from the wood, so I would avoid this if your wood has any kind of wax or sealer on it.

TVs and Other Electronic Screens

TVs and electronic screens; phones, laptops, tablets, etc. all come with oleophobic coating to reduce the amount of smudges and fingerprints showing up and using vinegar can break down that coating exposing layers that weren’t meant to be exposed.

Cast Iron and Aluminum Pans

The acidity of the vinegar can corrode cast iron and aluminium, so while you can clean them, do not let the vinegar soak on them for any length of time because you can damage your pans.

Broken Eggs

The vinegar can cause the eggs to coagulate and actually make trying to clean it harder


Though I wouldn’t clean jewellery with vinegar as I have my own Homemade Jewellry Cleaner, it is worth noting that vinegar can dissolve your pearls so don’t use it.

Save Time, Save Money, Breathe Easier

I hope you have found these ways to use white vinegar in your home useful.

It’s long shelf life and effectiveness makes it perfect for cleaning almost your whole house from top to bottom whilst saving you money.

You are protecting you, your family and pets from breathing in the toxic chemicals contained in many shop bought cleaners.

And it’s also worth mentioning that because you are the eco-friendly person you are, using fewer products means less waste and less toxic chemicals being washed down the drain.

Do you have any other uses for white vinegar? Let me know in the comments below.


In the meantime, check out:

My 4 Favourite Zero Waste Cleaning Products

6 Surprising Ways to Use Citric Acid to Clean Your Home (especially if you noticed I don’t clean my toilets with white vinegar).