11 Ways to Clean Your Whole Home with Apple Cider Vinegar

updated Feb 6, 2024
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Apple cider vinegar is thought to be somewhat of a miracle worker — just ask anyone who’s ever used it to treat a cold or even whiten teeth (when diluted). But ACV can also be used to make your whole home a lot cleaner.

Quick Overview

Can you use apple cider vinegar to clean?

Yes, apple cider vinegar can be an effective cleaner when diluted properly and used on safe surfaces. Read on to learn how to clean with apple cider vinegar and places to avoid using it on.

How effective is apple cider vinegar as a cleaner?  

Apple cider vinegar is the citrusy cousin of distilled white vinegar, according to Trish Duarte, MaidPro clean team expert and Temecula franchise owner. “Although both have similar acidity (at 5%) and are very effective at removing soap scum and hard water scale, ACV has a less pungent scent, thanks to the sweet fruit we love to say keeps the doctor away.” But, Duarte says that despite its magical reputation, it’s not the best disinfectant out there. 

While apple cider vinegar can weaken some nasty bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, which are most often found in your kitchen, Duarte says that it needs time to dwell (remaining wet on a surface for an extended period) to produce measurable results. “And the problem with ACV sitting on surfaces for long periods of time is that its acidity can eat away at the surface of the very thing you’re trying to disinfect.” 

Despite all that, she still believes that apple cider vinegar is an effective cleaner when diluted properly and used on safe surfaces. “To make a DIY ACV cleaner, mix two cups water, 1/4 cup ACV, and one teaspoon of dish soap into a glass spray bottle,” she says, adding that it can be very effective at the following: 

  • Loosening soap scum on shower doors.
  • Descaling kettles and coffee pots.
  • Removing scale buildup from bathroom fixtures.
  • Tackling hard deposits on older ovens including glass (please note that there are newer ovens that have an interior coating, which is usually a bright blue or purple color, and no chemicals can be used on them because it damages the appliance’s self-cleaning ability).
  • Removing oil and product buildup from hair combs.  
  • Deodorizing your refrigerator. 
  • Cleaning gunk out of the microwave.
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Ways to clean your home with apple cider vinegar

Below, 11 ways you can clean with apple cider vinegar throughout your home.

In the kitchen

  • A 1:1 solution of apple cider vinegar and water makes a formidable cleaner for the entire kitchen — it can even remove bacteria. Use it to scour your countertops, microwave, stovetop, etc. And because this solution is diluted, you don’t have to worry about the acid within your vinegar eating away at surfaces or dulling their shine.
  • Adding apple cider vinegar to your dishwasher wash cycle can remove stains from dishware such as coffee cups and wine glasses. A quarter-cup should do it.
  • A little more ACV can also be used to clean, deodorize, and de-stain your dishwasher when added a couple of minutes into a wash cycle.

In the bathroom

  • Fight bathtub mildew with an apple cider vinegar rinse. Depending on the severity of your mildew problem, you can go with apple cider vinegar on its own or dilute it with a bit of water. Add some essential oils to make the bathroom smell lemon fresh.
  • A clogged drain is no match for apple cider vinegar, either. First, pour about 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar and a cup of hot water. After about 15 minutes — you probably remember how baking soda and vinegar react from all of those elementary school volcano-related projects — rinse it all down with boiling water.

In the living room

  • A cozy night in might lead you to light a few candles … and the wax might run over. Once the wax is brittle to the touch, you can scrape it off with a spatula or credit card. A bit of diluted apple cider vinegar will remove the rest of the residue. Use a dishcloth with the solution to rub it away.
  • A water-apple cider vinegar solution can even be used to de-streak the windows in your home — living room included. The same solution can safely clean your walls (even painted ones).
  • Your mother always begged you to use a coaster and, in your own home, you took a stand against it … and now you have water stains on your side tables. Full-strength vinegar can remove the stains, though.
  • Carpet stains are no match for apple cider vinegar, either. Pour a few tablespoons of salt into the vinegar and rub it into stain(s) before vacuuming it all away. You can also add it to water for use in your carpet steamer to blast away stains.

In the garden

  • Apple cider vinegar does double duty in the garden. By pouring it directly onto weed-prone areas, you can eradicate unwanted growths from your flowerbeds.
  • On the other hand, mixing 10 ounces of vinegar with 10 gallons of water is a great fertilizer for soil.

Is apple cider vinegar effective on mold?  

“The acetic acid in ACV has been shown to be an inhibitor of bacterial growth and an antimicrobial, but there aren’t enough studies done on the effects of ACV or distilled white vinegar discussing mold and mildew, and there are over 100,000 types of molds,” explains Duarte. “Mold takes root on porous surfaces like grout, and although it may look like we’ve rid ourselves of it on the surface, it can grow back because we haven’t killed it at the root.” 

Additionally, she says that mold spores can be released into the air when you’re scrubbing and then can be inhaled causing adverse reactions to occur. “It can also attach to the cloth or scrubbing utensils used to clean it and spread to other areas if not properly disposed of. Always wear gloves, a mask, and goggles to protect yourself when attempting to remove mold.” 

Things you shouldn’t clean with apple cider vinegar

With all the things it can do, you may be surprised to learn that there are some surfaces that Duarte says you shouldn’t use apple cider vinegar on.

  • Fabrics
  • Varnished or waxed wood furniture
  • Wood cabinets
  • Hardwood floors
  • Natural stone like granite, quartz, travertine, and limestone 
  • Metals like aluminum, copper, and cast iron, as it can dissolve the finishes, etch, pit, and rust these items
  • Appliances with rubber weather stripping (like your dishwasher)
  • Fixtures coated with a finish designed to look like stainless steel and stainless steel
  • Unsealed grout
  • Electronics like televisions, computer screens, remote controls, and cell phones

As for your laundry, that’s somewhere you may want to skip the apple cider vinegar all together, according to Duarte, who notes that the brownish color could actually stain your clothes. Unlike distilled vinegar, which is often touted for its fabric-softening abilities, apple cider vinegar is best used as a cleaning agent for the areas mentioned above.