Cleaning with Apple Cider Vinegar vs. White Vinegar

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Vinegar not only acts as a food ingredient. It also doubles as your inexpensive all-purpose cleaner. Indeed, one thing you’d always want to keep around the house. You may even have two kinds in your pantry – white vinegar and apple cider vinegar. Maybe you’ve been using them interchangeably for cleaning, meaning to stick to only one. You wonder, “Why to use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar for cleaning?” or it could be the other way around.

Allow us to help you choose the better option for your cleaning needs.

What Is White Vinegar?

Alcohol from grains like wheat, rice, and corn undergoes a process of oxidation. This yields acetic acid – the main component of all kinds of vinegar. This type of vinegar is also called distilled vinegar. 

What Are the Uses of White Vinegar?

White vinegar can be used in more ways than one. Here are some functions it can perform:

  • Recipe booster. The characteristic sharp taste makes it suitable for use in salads, pickles, sauces, and marinades, to name a few. It is also a great meat tenderizer. 
  • Leavening agent. When used with baking soda, vinegar helps your baked goodies to rise.
  • Cheese-making ingredient. Adding vinegar to milk induces curdling and whey separation, which produces soft -cheese. 
  • Weed killer. Kill off those weeds in the yard with a full-strength vinegar solution.
  • Cleaning agent. Its natural acidity makes it a cheap and effective cleaner or stain remover. 

A vinegar solution is a go-to for dirty countertops, soiled tiles and floors, and even your hard-stained laundry and carpets. 

It can remove unwanted smells, too, with the help of baking soda.

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

This vinegar is produced by extracting apple juice and subjecting it to a two-step fermentation process with the aid of yeast and bacteria. Thereby producing acetic acid.

What Are the Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar has found various applications in the following areas:

  • Health. Uses of apple cider vinegar are considerably significant in the health aspect. It offers solutions to hair and scalp issues such as dandruff, helps skin tighten, soothes a sore throat, and even helps detoxify the body. 

Although continuous research still needs to be done, other possible benefits of taking apple cider vinegar include weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, and reduced blood sugar.  

  • Food Preparation. Pickling and making vinaigrettes are just a few food preparations that use apple cider vinegar.
  • Cleaning. The acidity of this type of vinegar is also important in its cleaning properties, just like white vinegar.
  • Weed control. This vinegar also aids in killing off weeds threatening your beloved plants.

Key Differences Between White Vinegar and Apple Cider Vinegar

You may have noticed several overlaps between the applications and benefits of these two kinds of vinegar. No matter how seemingly alike the two are, there are noteworthy differences to focus on.

  1. Source

This is one of the more obvious reasons. Apple cider vinegar comes from apples, while white vinegar comes from grains. Consequently, they also go through different fermentation processes. 

  1. Concentration

All types of vinegar have acetic acid as their main component. But they vary in concentrations. For example, white vinegar has an acetic acid content of 4-7%. Meanwhile, apple cider vinegar has around 5-6%. This is why the former is referred to as a stronger vinegar than the latter. 

  1. Color

White vinegar is clear in contrast to the brown color of apple cider vinegar, which can at times, be murky. But it’s nothing to worry about. The murky appearance is actually due to the presence of the “mother”, which contains probiotics that are highly beneficial to your body.

  1. Odor

White vinegar has a sharper odor compared to apple cider vinegar, which retains some of that sweet scent from the apples mixed with the sour smell of vinegar.

  1. Taste 

Straight-up, sour. That’s the easiest way to describe the taste of white vinegar. On the other hand, apple cider vinegar holds the characteristic sweet taste of apple wound up in the sourness of the acetic acid.  

Why Use White Vinegar Instead of Apple Cider Vinegar for Cleaning?

We’ve discussed the differences between the two kinds of alcohol. Still wondering, “Why to use white vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar for cleaning?”

Here are two brief answers: 

  • Go for the vinegar with a higher acetic acid concentration. This makes white vinegar more effective as a cleaning agent. More effective cleaner equals less time cleaning. 
  • White vinegar being colorless makes it ideal for cleaning light-colored areas or clothing. Let’s not go through the troubles of discoloration, agreed?

How to Use Vinegar in Cleaning

Whether you choose to use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Never use vinegar at its full strength for cleaning purposes. For killing weeds, sure. But for cleaning, always dilute it with water. This way, you’ll avoid unwanted burns during handling.
  • Prevent damages. Know the surfaces you’re applying vinegar solution to. If you’re unsure about compatibility, check in a small area first before going full blast.

What You’ll Need

Now to get you started with your cleaning activities, here’s a list of the things you’ll need:

  1. Spray bottle
  2. Water
  3. Cloth
  4. White vinegar or apple cider vinegar


Make that soiled surface squeaky clean in no time with the following steps:

  1. Make a solution by measuring equal portions of vinegar and water.
  2. Place in a spray bottle and shake.
  3. Spray the solution on the soiled area.
  4. Wipe clean with a cloth. 
  5. Rinse with water if necessary. 
  6. Dry the area.

Wrapping Up  

White vinegar and apple cider vinegar provide culinary, health and wellness benefits, and even household cleaning applications to varying extents. When it comes to cleaning chores, white vinegar gets the upper hand. Being more acidic makes it more effective in removing soils or stains. As for the smell, get a few refreshing scents or oils to mask it out, and you’re good. That bottle of apple cider vinegar? Keep it. With its numerous health benefits, it’s still best to have it handy. You’ll never know when there’s a need for it.

About Emily Leake

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