Vinegar for Green Cleaning

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Is vinegar not the most versatile product ever? Not only does it have tons of uses for cleaning and cooking, but it is also very reasonable. So reasonable in fact, it makes it into my article, Dollar Store Deals for Green Cleaning. But the dollar store isn’t the only place to get a great deal on it, white distilled vinegar is easily accessible at pretty much any store these days.

Vinegar is an ingredient I use for cooking so by my standards that makes it very safe to use for cleaning my home. It is also biodegradable, making it safe for the environment too. White distilled vinegar is produced by the fermentation process creating distilled alcohol. It is then diluted with water to typically about 5%.
Vinegar for Green Cleaning


Vinegar is an acid and about a 2/3 on the ph scale. These acidic qualities make it great for cleaning. The acid breaks down mineral deposits on glass, fights mold and mildew, and works to cuts grease. It makes a great all purpose cleaner depending on the surfaces you are cleaning. Check out my recipe for homemade vinegar cleaner diy HERE.
1. Stainless Steel Polisher
With the help of a microfiber cloth, white distilled vinegar works well polishing stainless steel. Rub in the direction of the grain for best results.
2. Vinegar Shower/Glass Cleaner
Vinegar helps to break down soap scum and dirt so it makes an effective shower and glass cleaner. Vinegar is also an effective mold killer and can help prevent future mold outbreaks. It is best to use it undiluted when trying to eradicate mold. Read more about how to do it HERE.
3. Produce Wash
Vinegar makes an effective wash for produce. An experiment done by Cooks Illustrated found vinegar killed 98% of bacteria on fruits and vegetables. Read more about that experiment HERE . 4. Fabric Softener 
I personally love adding a half a cup to my washer’s fabric softener dispenser. It helps to keep my laundry smelling fresh even if I leave it in the washer for longer than I should. Vinegar is also what I reach for when my washing machine starts to get stinky. I add a cup or two to the detergent compartment of my front load washer and then run it empty on a hot cycle. After it is done, I open the door and let it dry out.

Fresh and Clean Laundry

5. Essential Oil Diffuser Cleaner
Vinegar is a must have for cleaning essential oil diffusers. It is recommended you deep clean your diffuser once a month using a vinegar/water combination to prevent build up from oil residue. Read more about how to do it HERE.  
6. Weed Killer
Say goodbye to toxic weed killers forever. A combination of white distilled vinegar, dish soap, and salt makes an effective non toxic weed killer. Just use caution when spraying it as it can kill other plants and grass as well.


Have you ever perused your grocery store’s cleaning aisle and noticed a jug of cleaning vinegar? Unlike white vinegar which is diluted to 5% acidity, cleaning vinegar is a bit stronger at 6% acidity. Sometimes they have added fragrance and sometimes not. Nine times out of ten I will not grab the stronger cleaning vinegar, unless it is the most affordable option. I find regular white distilled vinegar works just great for my needs. Something to keep in mind is that with increased acidity, there is an increased risk for damage to your surface.


Despite all of its amazing using, there are a few areas of your house you should not clean with white distilled vinegar. It is not safe to use on granite, marble, stone or hardwoods. Vinegar can etch natural stone and can damage the finish on hardwood floors. If you choose to use vinegar on your floors, make sure to dilute it so that it doesn’t cause damage. Vinegar is also not the best choice for cast iron or aluminum. It can corrode the metal if left in it too long.

A few safety tips to keep in mind when using vinegar, make sure not to mix it with peroxide or bleach. It can create toxic gases that are harmful. My beloved castile soap and vinegar are also not a match made in heaven. There are a lot of articles out there touting cleaning sprays they made with these two mixed together but it is sadly not to be. The vinegar separates the soap and oils making it unusable. Read more about it HERE . Mixing vinegar and baking soda is a science experiment and creates an explosive reaction. Be sure to use caution when trying it out. Such explosion though can be useful for cleaning drains without the use of toxic chemicals.


Even though the smell of vinegar dissipates, many people would just prefer not to smell it at all. If this is you, I have some alternatives. You can try diluting it with some distilled water and adding essential oils or fruit peels such as oranges or you can just not use it at all. Club soda is a great surface cleaner alternative that is also easy on the budget. While it doesn’t have antibacterial properties that vinegar does, it would still work great as a window and floor cleaner. Read more about club soda for green cleaning HERE. If you would prefer a cleaner with more bacteria destroying properties, grab vodka. Although it’s a bit more of a budget stretch, it also won’t harm granite countertops and wood floors. Vodka is also typically odorless. Read more about vodka for green cleaning HERE.

With so many uses, what will you try cleaning with vinegar first? Can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time,

Essentially Mel Signature

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  • Amber Harrop

    September 23, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    I have just bought my first 5 Litre container of white vinegar I can’t wait to get started 🙂 Sharing everywhere

    1. Mel

      October 17, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks for sharing! Vinegar is so awesome! I hope you have fun starting to clean with it!

  • Baking Soda for Green Cleaning – Essentially Mel

    October 5, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    […] a pH level of 9, baking soda is considered a weak alkaline. As I mentioned in my vinegar article, use caution when mixing vinegar, (or any acidic substance), with baking soda. It creates an […]

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