Best Substitute for White Vinegar in Cleaning

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The home staple, white vinegar, has proven to be an eco-friendly cleaning alternative to some of the most potent chemical cleansers.

The cleaning power of white vinegar comes from acetic acid, its own natural cleaning agent. You dilute some vinegar with water and use the blend to clean dirt and grease from just about any home surface, with a few exceptions.

If you run out of vinegar and you’re in a pinch, there are many other available household staples that are just as effective as white vinegar.

If you haven’t tried switching to green cleaning yet, this guide will shed light on some of the best substitutes for white vinegar in cleaning. Stick around!

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar not only has lots of health benefits, but it’s also very versatile. Although a bit on the pricier end compared to regular vinegar, if apple cider is all you have at hand, you can use it in small amounts for quick clean-ups.

White vinegar can be added to laundry, but it’s not the same case for apple cider. Its brown color can stain white clothes and other light surfaces, so avoid using it.

2. Balsamic Vinegar

With its acidity level similar to white vinegar, balsamic vinegar is also a good substitute. Its sweet smell is easy on the nose when used for cleaning.

But because of its long aging process, this vinegar can be expensive. You’d rather use this sparingly if you have no other option.

If you have an old stock of balsamic that you can’t use for cooking anymore, feel free to use it for cleaning instead.

Its dark color is also not suitable for disinfecting absorbent white surfaces and clothing.

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda is hailed for its eco-friendly multipurpose use at home, and it’s one of the best substitutes for white vinegar in cleaning.

When used as a scrubbing solution, it’s safe and non-abrasive on most surfaces. To make this solution, make a paste of three parts baking soda and one part water.

Your baking soda paste can double as a safe spot treatment for stained clothing. Apply the paste onto the stain and let sit overnight. Then, rinse it off and proceed to wash it as usual.

Baking soda is also a safe substitute for laundry bleaches. For brightening clothes, pour half a cup of baking soda into your wash cycle.

Its alkaline property also acts as a deodorizer by neutralizing odors that are acidic in nature. Place an open container of baking soda in musty areas of your house to decrease odor.

When combined with acidic properties like vinegar or lemon, it becomes a more potent cleaning agent that can work through grease, grime, and molds.

4. Lemon

Due to their high citric acid content, lemons are natural antibacterial cleansers. Take half a lemon and pour salt over general surfaces to dissolve gunk, then rub over the surface with a cleaning rag.

Lemon juice is also an excellent limescale remover. Let the juice sit on kitchen or bathroom faucets for a few minutes, then rinse well with plain water or wipe with a cloth.

Its citrusy scent makes for a natural home freshener too. Use lemon juice, essential oils, and homegrown herbs for cooking up your air freshener recipe.

Lemon peels are just as useful as lemon juice. You can deodorize your dishwasher, fridge, and trash can by placing the rinds in these odorous areas.

Don’t scrap your peels, but repurpose them by making your own disinfectant with this recipe.

Working with lemon juice needs extra caution, though. Prolonged exposure of lemon juice to surfaces like metals will lighten its color, affecting its polished texture.

Waxed furniture and natural surfaces like marble and granite will also suffer from discoloration when exposed to lemon and vinegar.

5. Olive Oil

The wonders of olive oil extend to being a natural polisher for dulled surfaces. Olive oil aids in regaining the shine of your lackluster stainless steel, making it the best substitute for white vinegar in cleaning these surfaces.

Rub a cloth moistened with a decent amount of olive oil over the surface.

Olive oil also helps maintain the sheen of your wooden furniture. Dab your cloth in a mixture of three parts olive oil to one part lemon juice, then glaze over the wood to restore its shine.

This versatile oil can aid in removing adhesive residue on glass surfaces. Dampen a cloth with olive oil and rub with pressure over the residue. Next, rinse with water and liquid soap to remove the grease from the surface.

Your worn-out leather items at home can also be conditioned with a gentle application of olive oil.

6. Borax

Like baking soda, borax is another all-rounder substitute for white vinegar in cleaning. Direct contact and ingestion of this mineral can irritate and pose health risks. Even though borax is natural, you must wear protective clothing to handle it.

Generally, borax is best known as a pesticide and weed killer, but its versatility includes being used as a cleanser for toilet bowls and tough bathroom stains. It also acts as a rust remover, deodorizer, and laundry booster.

Clean out rust by mixing up a borax paste and apply to the oxidized area. Let it sit until it dries, then wipe it away with a damp cloth to remove the rust. Follow up by blotting dry the wet area so that new rust can be prevented.

Like baking soda, the alkaline property of borax helps deodorize unwanted odors in your home. Go ahead and sprinkle borax in these affected areas.

Make sure to work with borax in well-ventilated rooms, and don’t leave your kids and pets unsupervised around these areas.

Adding a simple borax and water mixture to your laundry enhances your detergent’s cleaning power.

The Takeaway

White vinegar is highly effective when it comes to cleaning. If you run out of it, you can use one of the above-listed alternatives without any problems.

Just bear in mind that some of these alternatives, like borax, require proper handling and protective clothing. They’re all very effective, though!

About Emily Leake

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