It’s not exactly news that white vinegar is a great safe and natural cleaner for all kinds of surfaces. But today I wanted to talk about one place that vinegar is particularly useful: the bathroom! Bathrooms are a gathering place for all sorts of hard-to-clean messes, but you can tackle almost all of them with the help of white vinegar!
The high acidity level of vinegar helps loosen mineral deposits (such as lime & rust) and dissolve soap scum, making it perfect for bathroom cleaning! And because it is so acidic, it creates a “hostile” environment for many microorganisms, making it a powerful disinfectant as well.
A 1997 study in the Journal of Environmental Health showed that undiluted vinegar was just as effective as bleach in eliminating E. coli from surfaces and sponges. It’s also incredibly effective at deodorizing and cutting grease. (Now that’s cleaning power!)
However, not all vinegars are created equal, and each has their own use. So, before we go much further, let’s talk about the different kinds of vinegar.
Types of Vinegar
All vinegars are made through fermentation of a plant-based substance. The foundational ingredient used in the process is what gives vinegars their unique flavors.
White Vinegar – Also known as spirit vinegar, this is your most commonly known type of vinegar. It is produced through the fermentation of ethanol, which is made from starchy plants and grains (corn, wheat, sugar cane, potatoes, etc.) It consists of acetic acid and water, with an acetic acid level between 5% and 20%.
When used in cooking, it can take on the flavor of the other ingredients without doing much more than changing the pH level of the food and balance out the assertive flavor of other ingredients.
Most cooking recipes will call for a different type of vinegar. But as I mentioned before, it is highly effective as an antiseptic and is a rock star as a cleaning ingredient. And unless you are dealing with extreme white vinegar, it’s essentially the same as cleaning vinegar.
Cleaning Vinegar – This special type of white vinegar has a higher acetic acid content than traditional white vinegar. Cleaning vinegar is not suitable for use in cooking, because it isn’t tested like other vinegars for human consumption, and could potentially harm the body.
It’s not absolutely necessary to use cleaning vinegar for common household cleaning, and because of its high acidity, it could even damage certain surfaces (wood, granite, etc.) But you may find it very effective for cleaning up that one mess that won’t budge no matter what you try!
You can buy or make scented vinegar for cleaning, but that’s optional too.
Distilled White Vinegar – Distilled vinegar is white vinegar that has a lower level of acetic acid, making it suitable for cooking, flavoring, food preservation, and for use as a medical remedy. Compared to more acidic vinegars, it’s not as effective as a cleaner as its antiseptic qualities are diluted.
I’ll get into more detail on cooking vinegars in another post, so I’ll just give you a quick breakdown here.
Rice Vinegar – A mild vinegar made from rice wine that’s commonly used in Asian cuisine.
Malt Vinegar – A lesser known vinegar here in the U.S., it’s made from ale and has a “toasty” flavor that pairs well with potato dishes like fish and chips.
Red Wine Vinegar – Made from red wine and has a strong, powerful flavor. It works well as a meat marinade and in vinaigrettes when you want to add a little kick.
White Wine Vinegar – Made from white wine, it has a lighter flavor than red wine vinegar. It pairs well with poultry and works well as a primary ingredient in pan sauces and more delicate salads.
Apple Cider Vinegar – As far as the strength of the flavor is concerned, apple cider vinegar is right in the middle. It is made from apples and has a bright and fruity quality that works well in pretty much anything!
Balsamic Vinegar – Italian in origin, balsamic vinegar is essentially a red wine vinegar that has been boiled down into a sweeter, darker, and thicker substance. It’s one of my favorite vinegars, and tastes great drizzled over just about anything!
Now that all know a little more about vinegars in general, let’s get back to cleaning, shall we? Here are 8 of my very favorite ways to use vinegar in the bathroom.
8 Ways To Use Vinegar In Your Bathroom
Clean Your Shower Head
If you have hard water, deposits can form on your shower head and slow the flow of water. Vinegar can help dissolve those deposits and get your shower head working properly again!
I removed our shower head and placed it in a ziplock bag full of vinegar to let it soak. If you don’t want to remove your shower head, you can place the bag of vinegar over the shower head in the shower, and use a rubber band to hold it in place.
Let the shower head soak in the vinegar for a few hours, or overnight. When it’s done soaking, just give it a scrub with a sponge or brush and watch the grime disappear!
Fill Your Reed Diffuser
When your reed diffuser needs refilling, fill it with white vinegar. It’s super affordable and a great deodorizer, and will help control bathroom odors for weeks.
Note: Ever wonder WHY such a stinky substance is so good at removing odor? (I’m always wondering about stuff like this!)
Well, in a nutshell, the acid in vinegar is strong enough to alter organic molecules in the air (what usually makes things stink), yet weak enough that it isn’t harmful to us (we can eat it and drink it just fine.)
Clean Your Mirror
Fill a spray bottle with equal parts vinegar and water. and use it to clean your bathroom mirrors. Vinegar is a great cleaner and leaves a streak-free shine.
Remove Toilet Stains
Deposits under the rim of your toilet bowl can be really hard to clean! To help dissolve the deposits and make them easier to scrub away, grab a few paper towels and your trusty bottle of white vinegar.
Soak a wad of paper towels with vinegar, then tuck the towels up under the rim of your toilet bowl. Let the vinegar work its magic for a few hours, then remove the paper towels and scrub clean (you might want to use cleaning vinegar for this one).
Clear A Drain
Got a stopped-up or slow-moving drain in your bathroom? Clear the drain with white vinegar, a bit of baking soda, and some good old hot water.
Read More: How To Unclog A Sink Without Chemicals
Vinegar makes a great cleaner for a wide variety of surfaces. Check out my post about making your own scented vinegar for cleaning! It’s perfect for those who are sensitive to the strong smell of vinegar, and anyone who loves a good citrus-y clean scent. 🙂
Read More: How To Make Scented Cleaning Vinegar
Clean Your Faucets
Hard water can quickly build up around your faucet and faucet handles. Find out how I used white vinegar to dissolve those stubborn deposits around my bathtub handles at the link below!
Read More: How To Remove Those Stubborn Hard Water Stains
Erase Soap Scum
No one wants to spend hours scrubbing soap scum in their bathtub or shower. But with a little help from vinegar, you don’t have to! Get the recipe for my very favorite shower cleaner that powers through tough soap scum without the need for endless scrubbing.