Uses for Vinegar: Home Improvement

By: Christine Halvorson  | 
Vinegar has a long history of being the prescribed solution to a number of ailments. Learn more about the role vinegar plays with home remedies.

Key Takeaways

  • Vinegar has various uses in home improvement, including cleaning surfaces, removing stains and neutralizing odors.
  • It can also be used as a natural weed killer in outdoor spaces and as a solution for unclogging drains.
  • Vinegar is an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to many commercial cleaning products.

The chemical properties of vinegar make it useful for many common repair and maintenance jobs around the house. Vinegar keeps painting odors at bay and can remove sticky things such as furniture glue, wallpaper paste, and adhesive decals from a variety of surfaces. This ingredient does wonders removing rust and cleaning surfaces to prepare for painting or staining.

Here are ways in which vinegar can be of help in home-improvement projects:



Painting and Staining

Metal: Before painting a metal item, wipe the surface with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 5 parts water. This cleans the surface and makes peeling less likely.

Galvanized metal should be scoured with vinegar before painting. The acidic qualities of the vinegar will clean and degrease the surface and help the paint adhere.


Odors: When applying paint of any kind, keep small dishes of vinegar around the room to absorb paint odors. Keep the dishes out for a few days, adding new vinegar each day.

Paintbrushes: Soften hardened paintbrushes by soaking them for an hour in warm vinegar. First boil the vinegar, then pour enough into a container to cover bristles. Do not soak longer than a few hours or bristles may be ruined. Wash the brushes afterward in soap and water, then allow them to air-dry before using.

Windows: When removing dried paint on glass windows, first spray the paint with warm vinegar, then carefully scrape or peel off the paint.



Adhesives: Remove self-adhesive hooks or other sticky accessories from a plaster wall by dripping vinegar behind the base of the accessory. Let the vinegar soak in a few minutes, then peel away.

Plaster: Add 1/2 teaspoon vinegar to 1 quart patching plastic to extend the amount of time you have to work with the plaster before it hardens.



Furniture: If you're trying to take apart a piece of furniture, you can dissolve the old glue by applying warm vinegar to it. Drip vinegar directly onto furniture joints using an eye-dropper. Let vinegar soak in, then carefully pry the joints apart.

Tighten up the sagging seat of a cane chair by sponging it with a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Set the chair out in the sun to dry.


Scratches: Combine an equal amount of vinegar and iodine, then apply the mixture to a scratch in wood using an artist's paintbrush. If you need a deep color, add a little more iodine; for lighter colors, add more vinegar.

Spots and stains: Use coarse steel wool dipped in mineral spirits to scrub a stain on a wood floor. After scrubbing, wipe with vinegar on a scrubbing sponge. Allow the vinegar to penetrate, then repeat and rinse if necessary.


Nuts and Bolts

Rust: Remove rust from nuts, bolts, or nails by placing them in a glass jar, covering them with vinegar, sealing the jar, and letting them sit overnight.

Rusty tools can be revived in the same manner. Soak them in pure vinegar for several hours, then rub away rust. Change the vinegar if it becomes cloudy before rust is softened.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can vinegar be used to clean outdoor furniture?
Yes, vinegar can be an effective cleaner for outdoor furniture. Mix vinegar with water in a spray bottle and use it to clean surfaces like plastic, metal or wood. The acidic properties of vinegar help remove dirt, grime and mildew, leaving your outdoor furniture looking clean and refreshed.
Is it safe to use vinegar on all types of surfaces?
While vinegar is generally safe for many surfaces, it's essential to test it on a small, inconspicuous area first, especially on delicate or porous materials. Avoid using vinegar on natural stone surfaces like marble or granite, as the acidity can cause etching or damage. Always dilute vinegar with water when using it as a cleaner to minimize any potential adverse effects on surfaces.