Natural Vinegar Is the Only Floor Cleaner You Need (Even for Carpet)

updated Nov 1, 2022
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With the popularization of chemical-free natural cleaners, white vinegar has become the go-to choice for any and all cleaning applications. And for good reason: Vinegar is readily available, cheap, and safe. You can use white vinegar on almost all your floors, including—it may surprise you—your carpet.

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How to Wash Your Floors With Vinegar

Vinegar can be used on almost all your hard-surface floors, including tile, laminate, and wood. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Vacuum the floor thoroughly to remove dirt and dust. This is especially important for hardwood floors because any lingering debris will scratch the surface of the floor as you mop.
  2. Mix a solution of ½ cup of distilled white vinegar per gallon of warm water.
  3. Mop floors. If you’re using it on hardwood floors, it’s very important to wring your mop out as much as possible. We love the O-Cedar mop that over 5,500 Amazon users swear by too. You can also use the vinegar and water solution in a spray mop.
  4. Air dry. There’s no need to rinse your vinegar-mopping solution from your floors. Keep in mind that your floors should be drying very quickly if you’ve wrung out your mop sufficiently.
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How to Use Vinegar to Clean Carpet

Vinegar is a one-stop answer to your hard floor-cleaning situations, but its usefulness doesn’t end there. Vinegar can also be used when you need to clean the carpet. Here are a few ways:

  • Deodorize. A diluted solution of white vinegar can be sprayed onto carpeting that doesn’t smell its freshest. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of vinegar, and two cups of warm water in a spray bottle and once the fizzing settles, spray onto your carpet.
  • Remove stains. As soon as you can after the stain occurs, blot it with a clean rag. (Never scrub or rub carpet stains.) Next, spray the stain with a half-and-half white vinegar and water solution, allow it to work on the stain for a few minutes, then blot with a rag again. You can also use baking soda to help absorb wet stains before tackling them with vinegar.
  • Use it in a carpet cleaner. Rather than commercial carpet cleaning solutions that can often leave behind tacky residue, try using a white vinegar and water solution in your carpet cleaning machine.

Note: Always test for colorfastness in an inconspicuous area and only use vinegar on synthetic fibers.

Why White Vinegar Works

Vinegar’s power to clean lies in its acidity. With a pH of around 2.5, vinegar is effective at dissolving grime and mineral deposits like hard water and rust stains. While it’s not approved by the CDC as a disinfectant (so you shouldn’t count on it if you want to disinfect after handling raw chicken or to clean door knobs when someone has the flu, for instance), white vinegar does have disinfecting properties.

When Not to Use Vinegar

The same things that make vinegar an effective cleaner—its acidity—are also the reason you shouldn’t use it on certain surfaces. White vinegar can damage natural stone like granite or marble and can harm grout. Don’t use white vinegar to clean waxed or unfinished wood floors. Vinegar is also too harsh to use on natural carpet fibers such as silk or wool.