Help Desk: Use White Vinegar to Clean Basically Everything

October 08, 2018

Help Desk: Use White Vinegar to Clean Basically Everything

From your refrigerator to your toilet bowl, what can’t this stuff clean?

You love it in salad dressings and for poaching eggs, but did you know you can use vinegar (insanely cheap and nontoxic to boot) to clean your house? Yup, everyone’s favorite healthy, acidic condiment does more than just brighten up food. Here are our favorite ways to use it, including tips from Donna Smallin Kuper, certified housecleaning technician and blogger.


Your dishwasher works hard to clean your bowls, plates, and flatware, and sometimes it starts to smell. Enter vinegar. First, empty your dishwasher. Then, pour some white vinegar into a ramekin or shallow bowl and place it on the top rack. Run it through a hot-water cycle. When it’s done, the smell should be gone.

Toilet Bowl

“One of my favorite tips is to pour equal parts baking soda and vinegar into the toilet bowl. While everything is bubbling, I scrub with the toilet brush, then flush. It does a fantastic job,” says Kuper. Reminder: Always keep the toilet bowl closed when you flush!


Food spatter in your microwave builds up over time, but vinegar and steam make it easy to clean. In a microwave-safe bowl, pour equal parts water and vinegar. Microwave on high for two minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the bowl, and with a damp cloth, wipe the built-up gunk out.

Cutting Boards

Your cutting boards could probably use a thorough wipe down. “Use straight vinegar to clean and disinfect them,” says Kuper.

Coffee Maker

If you have a drip coffee maker, clean it once a month. “Fill the reservoir with vinegar and run the coffee maker. Rinse everything out by running water through the reservoir three times,” says Kuper. Your machine will be good to go!


Since your food goes in the fridge, you may prefer a natural cleaning solution. Enter vinegar (again!). Empty the fridge, and spray a solution of equal parts white vinegar and warm water on shelves and surfaces. Wipe it down and repeat until it’s clean.

Room Freshener

This one is simple: Use vinegar as a room freshener. “Pour some in a bowl and leave it on the counter overnight to absorb kitchen odors. This usually does the trick,” says Kuper.

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