5 Handy Household Uses for Vinegar

—Jennifer Noonan

Vinegar isn’t only for salads. On the contrary, there are plenty of (often surprising) ways that vinegar can be useful around the house. Here’s what we mean…


If your sink or shower has been draining at a frustratingly slow pace, try this: Pour a half-cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of vinegar. The combination should immediately create foam. Once the bubbles subside, turn on the hot water to flush out the drain. A few minutes later, switch to cold water, and unless there’s a serious buildup in the pipe (hair is a common culprit), your drain ought to be back to its old self.

Related: The Complete Guide to Unclogging a Drain


There are degrees of rust, and vinegar won’t help if the tool has been left out in the elements for months on end. But for light rust, this pantry staple can work wonders. Simply soak the rusted portion of the tool in full-strength vinegar for a period of several days. Once the rust dissipates, rinse the tool off and let it dry out. That’s it—you’re ready to get back to work!

Related: Hardware Store Decor—9 Ways to Repuporse Old Tools


Even smokers would agree that cigarettes leave behind a foul odor. To help counter the smell, you can leave a saucer of vinegar in the stinky room, but to prevent the fumes from lingering long, we recommend going a step further. Fill a spray bottle with some vinegar, then apply a mist to the non-fabric surfaces in your space. After letting the vinegar sit, wipe those surfaces down with a clean, dry cloth. Repeat if necessary. While the smell would go away on its own, we’ve found that vinegar hastens the process.

Related: 10 Good Ways to Cure Bad Smells


At about $10 apiece, paintbrushes aren’t disposable. On the contrary, quality paintbrushes can be of service over and over. If your synthetic-bristle brush is caked with dried paint, you can restore its usefulness with a good long soak in vinegar. Let the brush sit in the liquid for a couple of hours, then proceed to wash it with warm, soapy water. Once done, you should find that a salvageable brush will have returned to pliability.

Related: 20 Insanely Easy 60-Minute Home Improvement Projects


Got a clogged shower head? Combine boiling water in a bowl with a half cup of vinegar. Next, remove the shower head and soak it in the mixture for about ten minutes before reinstalling. Alternatively, pour full-strength vinegar into a plastic bag that you can tape around the fixture so that its jets are submerged. Let the shower head sit submerged for an hour, then enjoy the improved water pressure!

Related: 10 Quick Fixes for a Fresher Shower