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photo by: cjmartin

When I was a kid, I only remember using vinegar was when it was time to color Easter eggs. My mom bought a small, glass bottle that lasted forever, as I’m pretty sure it only came out on that one Friday in the Spring.

I never dreamed that I would be using the stuff on a daily basis, never mind buying it in gallon jugs. But then again, I do a lot of things that I never thought I would.

Now, I buy vinegar from Costco in a 2-gallon pack for a few dollars. Though my dad has explained how to make vinegar several times, I haven’t done it yet, except for on accident when I let the kombucha ferment too long. I mean, I meant to do that…

Vinegar is a staple in the “natural” household because it boasts so many uses. This acid fermentation has been used to dress wounds, crack rocks, pickle veggies, deodorize clothing, disinfect surfaces and clean just about anything.

In our home, it has seven primary uses:

Hair Conditioner

Vinegar helps leave hair soft and shiny. It also acts as a deep cleaner, removing residue from your scalp than can cause itching or dandruff. For everyday conditioning use, add 1 Tbsp vinegar to 1 cup warm water. Trust me, you want really warm water. After washing your hair, pour on the vinegar mixture then rinse.

Window Cleaner

You can make your own window cleaner at home. And it doesn’t even have to be blue! Just grab a funnel, a spray bottle and these ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 5 drops dish soap or castile soap

Put everything in the spray bottle, cap it and swish it around a little so it mixes.


I like having clean surfaces but despise those bleach wipes found in stores. Not only are they full of harsh chemicals, but they produce unnecessary waste. Instead, wipe down the surfaces and spray on undiluted vinegar and let it air dry.

This is great for wooden cutting boards, where everything just seems to seep into the fibers. If you’re cutting board also needs deodorizing (you can tell when your watermelon tastes like garlic) just bust out a little baking soda. Sprinkle a bit all over the board and spray on your vinegar. Watch and giggle while it foams and wipe it off after ten minutes.


Odors are inevitable with a houseful of small children. Especially when you’ve been in a perpetual potty training cycle longer than you can remember. Vinegar works nicely to take the smells out of carpets or mattresses where accidents happen. Just put undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it on the spot. 

If an entire space stinks, like say, you’re car because one of your kiddos threw up in there, you can just put a shallow bowl, 3/4 full of vinegar in the space overnight. Repeat until the smell is gone.

Fabric Softener

I’ve been using vinegar as a fabric softener for several years now. It works just as well as regular fabric softener and it doesn’t have the strong odor caused by chemicals. When I start a load of laundry I fill up the rinse cycle cup thingy in the middle of the agitator (about 1/2 cup) and add a few drops of essential oil to the vinegar. I like citrus essential oils the best for laundry.

All-Purpose Cleaner

Making your own all-purpose cleaner is simple. All you need is a few ingredients, a funnel, a good spray bottle and microfiber cloths or old t-shirt pieces.

Place your funnel in the opening of your spray bottle and add:

  •  2 tsp liquid castile soap
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 2 tsp borax
  • 4 c hot water
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil
  • 3 drops lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops tea tree

Put the nozzle on a shake it a little to mix it up. Don’t forget to label it.

Carpet Stain Remover

We’re really good at making carpet stains in our house. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve removed dirt, grass, smoothies, tomato sauce, blood (we’re a family of nose-bleeders) and poo (remember that potty-training toddler I mentioned earlier?) stains from our carpet.

Hey honey, remember that one time I used bleach to get out the smoothie stain? Yes, yes I did. Not a proud moment. But a funny one…

Anyway, if you want to get stains out of your carpet, don’t use bleach, use vinegar. For light stains, combine 2 Tbsp dissolved salt and 1/2 cup vinegar. Rub into stains, let dry and vacuum. For tougher stains, still don’t use bleach. Instead, add 2 Tbsp borax to the above recipe and follow aforementioned directions.

Do you have any other uses for vinegar?