What Cleaning Vinegar is and How to Use It Cleanzen Infographic


You probably know that white vinegar is a super effective natural cleaner to use around your home, but you may have also noticed products labeled as “Cleaning Vinegar” on store shelves.


This particular product can tackle just about any cleaning job in your home, and like other types of vinegar, it’s nontoxic and environmentally friendly, plus it’s extremely affordable.


So what is cleaning vinegar, and how is it different from regular white vinegar? Keep reading to find out what makes this product pack such a punch.


What Is Cleaning Vinegar?


Time for a little bit of a science lesson! Vinegar is created through a process where alcohols are distilled from grain and allowed to ferment as microorganisms process the alcohol into acetic acid as well as water or vinegar.


The acetic acid is what makes cleaning so easy by cutting through soap scum, grease, and grime, as well as removing mineral deposits. Cleaning vinegar specifically contains about 6% acetic acid, so remember that this product is NOT for consumption due to impurities and the level of acidity.


Why Use Cleaning Vinegar?

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While it can pack quite a cleaning punch, cleaning vinegar is actually less toxic to the environment and less expensive than a lot of commercial cleaning products. It is more effective at removing odors and whitening whites in laundry, cutting through tough grime like soap scum, and unclogging sink drains than your run-of-the-mill white vinegar.


You can even use cleaning vinegar to make your own cleaning products by diluting it with water or adding some dishwashing liquid to clean nearly every surface around your home. If you find the pungent odor of cleaning vinegar to be too much, you can add a few drops of essential oils or herbs to make scented vinegar for cleaning.


Cleaning Vinegar vs Distilled White Vinegar


The main differences between cleaning vinegar and distilled white vinegar are the level of acidity and the level of refinement that makes distilled white vinegar safe for consumption.


The white vinegar you find in your local grocery store contains around 5% acetic acid and 95% water while cleaning vinegar contains around 6% acetic acid.


We know this might not sound like much of a difference, but cleaning vinegar is actually about 20% stronger than regular white distilled vinegar and will produce better results when tackling cleaning chores.


How to Use Cleaning Vinegar for Laundry


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  • You can bust tough odors like mildew, urine, cooking odors, and sweat from washable clothes with cleaning vinegar by adding 1/2 cup to the final rinse cycle. Be sure to adjust the amount when washing a small load of laundry.
  • 100% cotton items like dishcloths and dingy socks can be saved by the acid in cleaning vinegar by helping to remove ground-in soil and brightening the fabrics. To do this, bring a gallon of water to a boil, remove it from the heat, then add 1/2 cup of cleaning vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of heavy-duty laundry detergent. Finally, you can add in your white socks, underwear, or towels and let the items soak overnight, and then rinse well.


How to Use Cleaning Vinegar for Cleaning


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  • Remove soap scum from ceramic tile, clean porcelain surfaces like tubs and toilets, and dirt from painted woodwork by filling a spray bottle with 25% cleaning vinegar, 25% dishwashing liquid, and 50% water. Spray this onto dirty surfaces and leave the solution to sit for five minutes to cut through grime and then scrub with a brush or wipe it away with a microfiber cloth.
  • Unclog slow-running drains by pouring at least one quart of boiling water down the drain. Next, combine one cup of hot water, one cup of baking soda, and one cup of cleaning vinegar in a bowl and then pour the vinegar mixture down the drain to work for at least 10 minutes. Finish by flushing the drain with another quart of boiling water.
  • Clean your windows and glass by making a DIY window cleaner from equal parts cleaning vinegar and water in a spray bottle.


When working with cleaning vinegar, wear rubber gloves as the strong acetic acid can irritate the skin and nails.


When Not to Use Cleaning Vinegar


  • Don’t use cleaning vinegar or any other type of acidic cleaner to clean marble, granite, limestone, or any natural stone countertop or floor.
  • Don’t use cleaning vinegar to clean cast iron pans or grills otherwise, you risk pitting the metal and thinning any protective coating.
  • Don’t use undiluted cleaning vinegar to clean an aluminum pot or pan; however, you can dilute the vinegar with three parts water to one part vinegar to remove tarnish from aluminum.
  • Don’t clean your kitchen knives with cleaning vinegar as it can cause pitting on stainless steel edges. If used at full strength, it can even pit stainless steel appliances, so remember to dilute your cleaning vinegar.
  • Don’t use cleaning vinegar on finished or waxed wood surfaces as this can remove the finish.
  • Don’t use cleaning vinegar, even in a diluted form, on electronics like televisions and laptops as this can damage the anti-glare properties.




Can apple cider vinegar be used for cleaning?

Apple cider vinegar can be effective at cleaning, cleaning vinegar or white vinegar is your best bet due to the higher acidity and is, therefore, stronger.


Does cleaning vinegar kill mold?
Yes! Both cleaning and white vinegar can be used as a natural and non-toxic way to kill mold by spraying undiluted vinegar directly onto the mold, letting it sit for an hour, and scouring it off with a scrub brush.


Can you mix vinegar and baking soda for cleaning?

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Mixing vinegar and baking soda can be an effective cleaner if you use it while the mixture is still bubbling. However, once the fizzing stops the solution is as effective as plain water. Warning: Be careful when mixing store-bought household cleaners and homemade solutions, including vinegar, as fumes and gases can become toxic and lead to harmful secondary effects. Never mix vinegar with bleach.


How can I clean with vinegar and avoid the smell?
You can mask lingering vinegar smells when cleaning with vinegar by adding a few drops of essential oils like peppermint, eucalyptus, or lemon to your vinegar and water solution before using. You can also infuse your vinegar with herbs, citrus peels, and spices to make it more pleasant-smelling. We suggest adding citrus peels, sprigs of rosemary, lavender, cinnamon sticks, or cloves and allowing the mixture to infuse for several days before straining it into a spray bottle to use.


Can vinegar damage any materials?
Undiluted vinegar can damage stainless steel, marble, granite, natural stone, and electronic screens. Using vinegar on any of these materials can permanently damage the surface, and even strip protective coatings and finishes.


How long does vinegar need to sit on a surface to be effective?
To properly disinfect a surface, vinegar should be left to set for up to about 30 minutes, but even under the best circumstances, vinegar is not as effective as bleach or isopropyl alcohol. The acetic acid in vinegar will destroy some bacteria and viruses, it is better used as a simple cleaner to remove dirt, debris, and grime.


For more tips, tricks, and cleaning guides, check out our blog to find our full collection of helpful hints. If you’re looking for a great green cleaning service in Boston, look no further! Contact us today to find out how we can help you and your family keep your home happy and healthy all year long.



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