10 Cleaning Uses for Vinegar

Erase wine stains, unclog the shower head, and more!

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Sure, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. But has honey ever taken winter salt stains off your favorite Tory Burch boots? Read on for the ten things you never knew could be salvaged with just a bit of vinegar.

1. Wipe away water and alcohol rings.

Whip up an equal parts olive-oil-and-white-vinegar blend (like you’d use on a salad) and rub anywhere you see stubborn water stains, even on wood surfaces. Rub with the grain, and polish for best results.

2.  De-streak stainless steel.

Apply white vinegar to your fridge, dishwasher, or microwave using a soft cloth, and you’ll end up with a perfectly clean appliance.

3. Shine up copper, brass, and pewter.

Dissolve one teaspoon salt in one cup white distilled vinegar, then add all-purpose flour to make a paste. Apply paste to metals and let it stand about 15 minutes. Rinse with clean warm water and polish to a shine.

4. Outwit fruit flies and gnats.

Place a bowl filled with one-half quart water, two tablespoons sugar, two tablespoons apple-cider vinegar, and a few drops of dish soap on your kitchen counter (or wherever you see the little buggers). The potion attracts and drowns them—all you have to do is dump it all down the drain.

5. Unclog the shower head.

Saturate a towel with white vinegar and wrap it around a corroded faucet or shower head. Leave on overnight; crud gone by morning.

6.  Banish stubborn stickers.

To remove your kids’ favorite weapons of mass destruction (and their sticky residue), wipe the surface repeatedly with white distilled vinegar until it’s soaked. In a few minutes, any remnants should peel off easily with no damage to the paint underneath.

7. Make jewelry sparkle.

Submerge solid-gold pieces in one cup apple-cider vinegar for 15 minutes. Remove and dry with a soft cloth.

8.  Remove salt stains from boots.

Dip a cotton cloth or old T-shirt into white distilled vinegar, then wipe away the winter residue.

9. Clean and shine leather.

Mix equal parts white vinegar and linseed oil. Rub the mixture into the leather and then polish with a soft cloth.

10. Erase wine stains.

If the stained item is 100-percent cotton, cotton polyester, or permanent-press fabric, you have 24 hours. Sponge white distilled vinegar directly onto the stain and blot, blot, blot.

Extra Cleaning Tip: Never use vinegar to clean wood floors.

The acid in vinegar will eat away at the sealant that keeps your floor shiny, causing wood to look dull and worn.