What can you use vinegar for?

The farmer’s almanac gives us the following uses for vinegar. I’ll copy and paste from their website and comment accordingly:

  • Bring a solution of one-cup vinegar and four tablespoons baking soda to a boil in teapots and coffeepots to rid them of mineral deposits.

Yes this will work, as long as you don’t add the baking soda. Vinegar is acidic and therefore is the right pH for removing alkaline mineral deposits. But adding the baking soda will partially or fully neutralise the vinegar and reduce its effectiveness. The chemistry of vinegar/baking soda is explained here

  • A solution of vinegar and baking soda will easily remove cooking oil from your stovetop.

It will work a little bit as long as you don’t add the vinegar, as the vinegar will neutralise the baking soda. But baking soda is only mildly alkaline, and you will get better results with the more alkaline Washing Soda

  • Clean the filter on your humidifier by removing it and soaking it in a pan of white vinegar until all the sediment is off.

This will not work very well at all. Presumably this is cleaning dust, and dust is essentially dead skin that contains fat, so it is oily when you wipe it with a wet sponge. It therefore requires an alkaline cleaner, such as an oven cleaner. Spray it on, wait about 30 seconds, then just wipe it off.

  • Saturate a cloth with vinegar and sprinkle with baking soda, and then use it to clean fiberglass tubs and showers. Rinse well and rub dry for a spotless shine.

Baking soda and vinegar neutralise each other. Far better results will be achieved with washing soda

  • For a clean oven, combine vinegar and baking soda, then scrub.

If you use just use washing soda for this, you won’t need to scrub

  • Clean and deodorize your toilet bowl by pouring undiluted white vinegar into it. Let stand for five minutes, then flush. Spray stubborn stains with white vinegar, then scrub vigorously.

This could work. Harpic used to make a range of cleaners that used hydrochloric acid as the active ingredient. The beauty of toilet bowls is that the porcelain is impervious to almost any chemical.

  • Clean windows with a cloth dipped in a solution of one part white vinegar and 10 parts warm water. This works for dirty TV screens, too!

Ammonia will work better, as it has grease-cutting properties that vinegar doesn’t. Also it will leave a positively charged surface that will repel further dust (which is also positively chatged

  • To clean drip coffeemakers, fill the reservoir with white vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly by brewing two cycles with water before using.

Yes, this ll work by removing mineral deposits

  • To remove bumper stickers from car chrome, paint on vinegar and let it soak in. Next, scrape off the stickers. Decals can be removed similarly.

No this will not work. Use acetone – it will work instantly, as it dissolves the adhesives

  • Rid your refrigerator and freezer of bad odors by cleaning the insides with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, then wiping dry.

Yes this could work. Vinegar is acidic, and many fridge smells are amines, which are both volatile and alkaline – so the vinegar neutralises them.

  • To remove smoke odors on clothes, hang them above a steaming bathtub filled with hot water and a cup of white vinegar.

Not sure about this one. But it’s possible.

  • To prevent mildew, wipe down surfaces with vinegar.

Yes – it could work – the biomass probably wouldn’t like to adhere to an acidic surface

  • Use a sponge dampened with vinegar to clean shower curtains.

Yes, this could work, as most of the deposits would be alkaline minerals

  • To loosen a stuck jar lid, hold the jar upside down and pour warm vinegar around the neck at the joint between the glass and the top.

Hot water (without the vinegar) will work here

You’ll notice that baking soda is often used as a sidekick to vinegar. Find out more helpful household uses for baking soda here, and see a list of more natural household cleaners.

It is used as a “sidekick” simply because they foam when added together, and for reasons dating back about 70 years, people associate foaming with cleaning. This is the only reason. Explanation here 


  • Vinegar naturally breaks down uric acid and soapy residue, leaving baby clothes and diapers soft and fresh. Add a cup of vinegar to each load during the rinse cycle.

It is true that the vinegar will react with the urea (from the urine) but it also breaks down mineral deposits (scale on clothes)

  • To remove chewing gum, rub it with full-strength vinegar.

????  Can’t imagine why this would work, but I haven’t tried it. If you put the garment in the freezer, you will be able to pull away the frozen gum easily

  • Soak paint stains in hot vinegar to remove them.

If this works, it’s the heat that’s doing it. Try a steam cleaner

  • To remove salt and water stains from leather boots and shoes, rub with a solution of 1 tablespoon white vinegar and 1 cup water. Wipe over the stained area only, and then polish.

I can’t see why this would work, but I haven’t tried it

See our page on how to remove stains for more tips.


  • For brunettes, rinsing hair with vinegar after a shampoo makes hair shinier. Use one-tablespoon vinegar to one-cup warm water.

Correct, because you are neutralising the pH of the alkaline shampoo. A conditioner would achieve the same result

Haven’t tried this. It’s possible.

  • Place a vinegar-soaked brown bag on sprains to ease pain and aid recovery.

There is some history to this (Jack and Jill fixed a “broken crown” with vinegar and brown paper). I’m not sure of how much science there is behind it, however.

  • Rub cider vinegar on your skin to repel insects.

Very possible, if you had no Aerogard (or equivalent) available


How do you Remove Red Wine Stains?

If you want to see something surprising, add something alkaline to a red wine stain – you’ll see it turn blue.

This is just another example of a pH-dependant colour. Unlike the beetroot, however, one of the colours is not clear.

So we have to be a little more aggressive, and in this case it means oxidising the stain to bits. We could use bleach for that, but that’s far too aggressive and damages fabrics.

So we’ll use Preen Oxy-Action. It contains peroxide. Just spray it onto the stain, wait a couple of minutes and you’ll see it disappear before your eyes. Then just throw it in the wash and the job’s done.

How do you Remove Beetroot Juice?

Beetroot juice is one of the things that people most have difficulty removing.

But it’s easy – it behaves just like a pH indicator

To remove it, just acidify it. You can use vinegar, or any of the acidic bathroom cleaners such as BAM Easy Off (with sulphamic acid) or AJAX Professional Ultra Bathroom (with phosphoric acid)


Cleaning and conditioning leather

Joanne asks the following question:

 I have denim staining from my jeans on my leather shoulder bag. Is there in that would remove this as its softish leather, or is it penetrated.

Good question.  Let’s talk about what leather is, and how will we can look after it.

Firstly, leather is a natural material.  Essentially made from protein, it relies upon natural fats for both suppleness and waterproofness.  And in its natural state leather is indeed quite waterproof – you don’t see farmers taking the cows in when it rains, do you?

So when the hide is removed from the cow, and converted into furniture or jackets or seats or handbags, we must go to a bit of effort to keep it moist and supple and even waterproof.

I think the single best thing to use for conditioning leather is Neatsfoot Oil, as it actually comes from cows.  Personally, I wouldn’t use any leather conditioner that was water-based (these are creams or lotions) as they defeat the whole purpose of the exercise.

If you want to waterproof leather, the absolute best staff is Dubbin, as anyone from a saddlery will tell you.

But back to the original question – how do you clean leather?  The difficulty of course is that leather is more prone to chemical attack than many other things.  Certainly, it’s a bad idea to use anything acidic or alkaline.

The best thing therefore is a mild solvent, like an alcohol.  Glen 20 is not a bad option as it is 60% alcohol, and there is an alcohol-based kitchen cleaner on the market called the Vanilla Fresh which would do the job.

But the absolute best thing to use would be isopropanol, which you can buy from the chemist as “rubbing alcohol”.  It’s a strong enough solvent to rub off most dyes and inks from leather, but isn’t strong enough to damage the leather.

It may strip the oil is out of the leather however, so it’s a good idea to oil it afterwards.