6 Surprising Ways to Use Vinegar Around the House

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated September 30, 2021
Close-up of a man spraying flowers
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If something in your house is broken or grimy, you might have everything you need to fix it already in your pantry (really!). Vinegar is so much more than a cooking ingredient—it can be a go-to solution for getting rid of burnt smells as well as keeping your home in tip-top shape.

And while it’s a cleaning myth that you can use vinegar on absolutely everything, here are some of the most surprising ways you can use vinegar around the house.

1. Kill Unwanted Weeds

Due to its acidity, vinegar can be effective in killing unwanted weeds by breaking the weed’s cell wall and depriving it of moisture. Create a mixture using 1 gallon of vinegar and 1 cup of salt, and spray the unwanted greens down. Only spray the weeds you want to remove, as vinegar can kill most plants with only a small amount of contact. 

Pro tip: It’s better to apply vinegar to weeds on a sunny day, as the sun helps the vinegar dry out the weeds faster.

2. Extend Your Flowers’ Lives

While vinegar can kill unwelcome weeds, it can also help maintain your flower arrangements. An easy and inexpensive household hack, spraying your freshly cut flowers with sugar and vinegar is a great way to show some TLC to your plants. 

Sugar functions as food for the flowers, while vinegar helps lower the pH of the vase, consequently increasing the acidity in the water and creating an environment less appealing to bacteria. 

Simply combine equal parts dissolved sugar and vinegar (roughly 2 tablespoons each) and spray into the vases of your cut flowers every few days.

3. Drive Away Pests

A woman using a spray to clean bathroom sink
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Vinegar can be an effective deterrent against common household pests. It’s particularly effective in breaking up ant lines—because ants rely on scent, the vinegar interrupts their track with its unfamiliar odor. You can either directly spray ants with vinegar (either white or apple cider works) or use a cloth and dab vinegar onto the ant-attracting surfaces. 

If you’re dealing with a fruit fly infestation, use vinegar to make a homemade fruit fly trap. Fill a bowl or cup with vinegar, cover it with plastic wrap, and punch a few holes in the plastic. Place the vinegar near the infestation. Soon enough, the fruit flies will be drawn by the smell, fly into the bowl, and drown.

For aphids, create a mixture of one-part vinegar and three-parts water and spray it directly onto the plants. But don’t overdo it, as some plants are particularly sensitive to vinegar, such as herbaceous plants. 

4. Unclog the Showerhead

Unclogging your showerhead is essential, as it can get gunked up and clogged with minerals. This can result in an inefficient showerhead, unable to provide you with quality water pressure. 

Combine one-half cup of water with one-half cup of white vinegar and pour the mixture into a plastic bag. Submerge the showerhead in the bag and secure it with a rubber band or zip tie, and let it soak for anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours—or overnight if it’s super clogged—and your shower head should be ready to go.

5. Eliminate Musty Towel Odor

A hand putting vinegar in the washing machine
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If you’ve ever accidentally left towels sitting in the wash for hours before putting them in the dryer, you might be familiar with that musty towel odor. Over time, towels acquire a buildup of detergent, which results in the musky smell. 

Vinegar helps break up this accumulation and ultimately remove the stink. When you notice that sour smell, add 1 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser during your rinse cycle. Just be sure to use the hot-water setting when using vinegar in the cycle.

6. Reduce Denim Bleeding

Often, denim is prone to “bleeding,” which means its color can come off on other items and cause stains. By using vinegar to wash your jeans and other denim items, you can avoid this problem. 

You can either add a cup of vinegar to your cold water rinse, or you can soak the denim item(s) in a mixture of water and vinegar before washing your denim. To do this, simply fill up a bucket (the sink or bathtub works too) of cold water, add one cup of white vinegar, and soak your denim for a couple of hours.

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