A staple in the kitchen cupboard for all sorts of reasons, but did you know that white vinegar spray is also a powerful cleaning agent?
In fact, it’s a popular ingredient in many shop-bought household cleaners.
On top of being budget-friendly and extremely effective in disinfecting surfaces, white vinegar spray is arguably one of the most eco friendly ingredients you can use.
I’ve been using a pure white vinegar spray for a while now and think it’s both effective and versatile.
Here’s all you need to know about white vinegar for cleaning, including its best uses and environmental credentials, plus FAQs answered at the end.
Why is white vinegar spray an effective cleaner?
The main reason why white distilled vinegar makes for such an effective cleaner comes down to its very chemistry.
Vinegar is made from acetic acid. This is a colourless organic liquid produced by mixing oxygen with grain-based alcohol, often used on its own to get rid of stubborn limescale. Acetic acid has a low pH, unlike borax substitute and soda crystals which have a higher alkaline pH, but is still an equally good cleaner.
Cleaning purposes aside, acetic acid is used as a food preservative as well as a food additive, as it can naturally repel yeast, mould and bacteria.
Shop-bought vinegar is usually made of 4% to 18% acetic acid, depending on what type of vinegar we’re dealing with. For example, pure distilled white vinegar contains the highest amount of acetic acid.
The high acidity of this solution makes it the most effective type of vinegar to use for cleaning and disinfecting purposes, as it is powerful enough to dissolve stains, dirt, deposits and smells.
It’s for this last reason why white vinegar is a great weapon in the arsenal of new puppy owners – it helps to get rid of the smell from any in-house floor accidents, discouraging the puppy to go the toilet in the same place again.
On top of that, white vinegar is also completely colourless, so it won’t leave any subtle stains like darker types of vinegar would!
Is white vinegar spray eco friendly and sustainable?
One of the most compelling reasons to start using white vinegar for cleaning is that it is the most sustainable and eco friendly multipurpose cleaning solution you can use in your home.
As a natural solution, white vinegar is edible and fully biodegradable – it leaves no chemical impact behind as most other household cleaners would.
Opting for organic white distilled vinegar will be the best environmental option. This guarantees that the grain used is GMO-free and has been grown without pesticides and polluting fertilisers.
Using white vinegar for cleaning can be a great single-use waste solution. Not only will you be using one natural product to cook and clean several rooms, but also combating landfill waste by avoiding plastic packaging! Most white vinegar you find in shops comes in glass bottles which can be reused or fully recycled.
Did you know that you can even buy white vinegar eco refills to top up your existing bottles? Other eco cleaning companies, such as Spruce, also sell sustainable bottles with eco refills. You can read my Spruce cleaning review here.
Just think about the amount of plastic packaging you won’t be buying by avoiding mainstream household cleaners, from bathroom cream cleaners to surface disinfectants!
Is white vinegar safe for the environment?
White vinegar is non-toxic and safe for the environment.
With the slightly pungent smell aside, vinegar will naturally biodegrade down and leave no chemical trace on the environment.
This differs drastically to mainstream household cleaners which often contain ammonia, sodium hypochlorite, ethylene glycol and other synthetic chemicals.
These popular chemicals are not only unsafe for the environment but also take a long time to degrade naturally. If you leave these in the environment, they will cause ecosystem issues and contribute to waterway pollution.
So yes, white distilled vinegar is safe for the environment.
White vinegar spray uses
So, what can you effectively clean with white vinegar spray?
The list below shows the main surfaces and items in your household that you can clean with white vinegar.
Glass and windows
White vinegar is gentle yet effective enough that you can clean all types of glass with it for a streak-free finish.
Thanks to the potency of acetic acid, you can use white vinegar to get rid of limescale and disinfect your toilet at the same time.
Just give it a good spray and let it sit for about 2 to 3 hours!
Alternatively, check out these eco friendly toilet cleaners out.
If you’re looking to remove hard water stains and calcium deposits from your taps, you can mix 2 teaspoons of vinegar with one teaspoon of salt before scrubbing and rinsing away.
Showers and bathtubs
If you’re looking to get rid of tough grime in your bathtub or shower, you can scrub away with 2 teaspoons vinegar and one teaspoon of baking soda or borax alternative.
Undiluted white vinegar also works well on mildew.
A simple solution of one part water and two parts vinegar works great as a disinfectant and stain remover for most types of kitchen countertops.
Just make up the solution, give it a spray and wipe away with an eco friendly cloth or sponge.
However, don’t use this on hardwood or reclaimed timber surfaces.
You can also use vinegar on ceramic and linoleum tiles, adding just half a cup of white vinegar to the water.
Finally, you can also use vinegar to clean different appliances, including dishwashers, microwaves, slow cookers and hobs.
You can safely use an all-purpose solution on stainless steel as well!
What should you not clean with vinegar?
On the other hand, you should avoid using white vinegar on any hardwood surface, including floors, countertops, tables and shelves.
This is because the vinegar might dissolve the finish over time and lead to staining. You should also avoid using white vinegar on stone floors, granite and marble countertops.
It goes without saying, but you shouldn’t use white vinegar on clothes or other fabric materials. Instead, a good option is to wash your clothes with eco friendly laundry sheets and add borax alternative to your detergent.
Can you make your own white vinegar cleaning spray?
The easiest way to start switching to green cleaning with vinegar is by making your very own multipurpose spray.
You can use discarded spray bottles and refill them with two parts white distilled vinegar and one part water.
A top tip is to add a few drops of your favourite organic essential oil to mask the strong smell.
Can you use malt vinegar for cleaning?
While white vinegar is regarded as the most effective vinegar for cleaning, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use other types of vinegar you might have at hand.
You can use both apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar to clean most countertop surfaces, but you definitely should not use malt vinegar as an alternative.
This is because malt vinegar has a much darker colour and can stain surfaces. Also its smell might be a little too strong to get rid of, no matter how many essential oils you add to the solution!
Save your malt vinegar for your chips, instead of your cleaning needs.
Green cleaning for a greener home
Getting your hands on the most eco friendly and inexpensive household cleaner is just as easy as popping over to the shops.
That’s why using white vinegar spray for cleaning can be the very first step in creating a greener home.
With no demanding investment or extensive research needed to cut down on both plastic consumption and household waste, switching to white vinegar might just be the easy green swap you’ve been waiting for!
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Ben is the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about more sustainable, environmentally friendly living in and around the home.
Alongside this website, I love spending time in the natural world, living a simple life and spending time with my young family (Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.