Homemade cleaning products

Published 27 May 2022

You’ve probably heard it before, but vinegar really is the ultimate all-rounder for your home.

Here’s a few simple homemade cleaning products you can make with a few simple ingredients (hint: one of them is definitely white vinegar).

White Vinegar Cheat Sheet

White vinegar can be found in large bottles for under $1 a litre. Make sure you’re buying the bulk, plain variety, not the delicious small bottles you use for cooking.


  • Pre-wash stain removal: Keep a bottle of half vinegar to half water in laundry. Spray on stains.
  • Collars and cuffs + Mildew on vintage clothing: Make a solution of 2 parts white vinegar, 3 parts bicarb and use a soft nail brush or toothbrush to brush onto affected parts. Let sit for half an hour.
  • Old stains, unset: Make a solution of 3 tbls white vinegar, 2 tbls liquid detergent and 4.5 cups warm water. Repeatedly sponge and blot the stained area then launder.
  • Suede stains: Dip a clean toothbrush into neat white vinegar and gently brush on the spot. Let air dry. Do not scrub. Brush with suede brush. Suede can be revived with a wipe over with a vinegar-dipped sponge.
  • Ink spots: Treat by blotting with undiluted vinegar. Then gently rub in a paste of 2 parts white vinegar and 3 parts corn flour. Allow to dry completely before laundering.
  • Brighter whites: As a bleach alternative: 1.5 litres cold water and ⅔ cup white vinegar in a saucepan, bring to the boil. Put dirty socks etc. into a bucket, pour over solution and allow to soak overnight, then launder.
  • Restore white: soak garments overnight in 12 parts warm water to 1 part white vinegar. Launder.
  • Vintage lace: soak in water first. Then give another overnight soak with 24 parts water to 1 part vinegar. Rinse, then aim to dry outside in the sunshine.


  • Dry cleaning alternative: Put ⅔ cup white vinegar in bathtub or large tub and fill with hot water. Hang garment above and close door to allow steam to impregnate item/s for a couple of hours. Then hang in an open space to dry.
  • Vintage and secondhand: Add ½ cup vinegar to wash cycle, or to a bathtub for handwashing.
  • Washing machine: Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into soap dispenser, run on full cycle.
  • Lint: Add white vinegar to final rinse to remove lint
  • Wrinkles: Hang garment on a hanger and spray a mist solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Air dry.

Colour fast

  • Soak coloured fabrics and garments for a few minutes in a bowl of diluted white vinegar pre-wash
  • Soak red items in undiluted vinegar pre-wash to fix colour
  • Use white vinegar in the rinse cycle generally to: fix dye, clean, deodorize, and soften.

Cleaning & Stains

General cleaning: Make a spray of equal parts water to vinegar. Use on counters, handles, in fridge, etc

Metal cleaner/polish

  • Chrome, steel or copper cleaner: Mix tbls salt and tbls flour with a little white vinegar to make a paste. Work around the surface, then rinse.
  • Brass, pewter and copper polish: Mix 2 tbls tomato ketchup and 1 tbls vinegar. Rub with a cloth until shiny.
  • Plain gold (not set with gemstones): Soak in ACV for 10 minutes
  • Adhesive residue: saturate with vinegar, wipe clean with a cloth.
  • Water rings: mix equal parts olive oil and vinegar and apply with soft cloth along grain. Polish with clean cloth.
  • Windows: 1:1 water/vinegar, spray, clean off with newspaper. Polish with fresh paper.
  • Carpet: 2 tbls vinegar/4 tbls bicarb. Work paste into stain, dry overnight, vacuum or brush up powder.


  • Tea and coffee stained cups: scrub with equal parts vinegar and salt, rinse in warm water.
  • Cutting boards: Clean with undiluted white vinegar.
  • Plastic food containers: Wash in 1:1 water/vinegar solution. Rinse clean.
  • Flasks: Fill with warm water and ½ cup white vinegar, sit for 2-3 hours. Lid on, shake, rinse, air dry.
  • Disinfect dishcloths: Soak in neat white vinegar and hot water for a few minutes, let dry.
  • Kettle descale: Fill ¾ full with vinegar and boil (enough to reach this when boiling). Sit overnight, rinse out with cold water.
  • Dishwasher: ½ cup white vinegar into bottom of the unit, run on full cycle.
  • Microwave: Microwave on high for five minutes a shallow bowl of 1:1 vinegar and water. Use solution to wipe down surfaces and plate afterwards.


  • Shower: Wipe down glass after shower with 1:1 solution vinegar and water, clean off with squeegee, dry.
  • Tiles: Wash with ½ cup vinegar to 4 cups warm water.
  • Grout: Use a clean toothbrush to scrub with neat white vinegar.
  • Plugholes: Pour 4-5 tbls of bicarb soda down plughole. Then pour in ½ cup white vinegar. Flush through with hot water (almost boiling), wait 5 minutes, flush through with cold water.
  • Mineral build-up: Immerse in a deep bowl of white vinegar and very hot water and leave for several hours. Can use a bag over the head too, filled with water and secured with elastic.
  • Toilet bowls: Weekly, pour 2 ½ cups white vinegar slowly over the sides of the bowl last thing at night.


  • General room refresh: Flap a tea towel moistened with white vinegar around the room.


  • Cut flowers: For each litre of water, add 2 tbls sugar and 2 tbls vinegar. Change every 4-5 days
  • Rust, black spot and powdery mildew: Mix 1 tbls ACV with 1 litre water, spray onto affected plants early morning or evening
  • Weeds: Spray with undiluted white vinegar
  • Pet/pest deterrent: Tie rags soaked in vinegar to sticks, resoak weekly
  • Gnat, fly, mosquito trap: Empty plastic water bottle, fill with ½ cup ACV, 4 tbls sugar, ½ cup water. Cut a banana skin into small pieces and put inside. Shake well. Hang up to catch insects
  • Ants: Spray white vinegar to create a barrier between you and ants (e.g. around picnic blanket)