Synthetic or Distilled Vinegar, Is It the Same as Apple Cider Vinegar for Cleaning?

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Dear Home-Ec 101,
I came across your blog via Stumbleupon… I thought you would be the right person to ask this question… In a lot of homemade cleaning products people use vinegar as a component. I get only the synthetic vinegar here in India. I do get apple cider vinegar but its far too expensive (Rs 160 per 0.5L against Rs 30 per 1L of synthetic). Can I use that to make those cleaners? Or do I use the Apple Cider one?

Unsure in Udaipur

Heather says:

You’re in luck. Distilled and/or synthetic vinegar will work just fine for cleaning.

cleaning with vinegar

Solubility, in very simplified terms, is the amount of stuff that can go into solution. When we are talking about cleaning solutions, the stuff is usually dirt and oil. We want to the dirt to come off of a surface and go into the cleaning solution where it can be wiped away. Lowering the pH (increasing the acidity) of a solution can increase the amount of dirt that can be wiped up.

Creating homemade cleaners is playing chemist in your kitchen.

Vinegar is a common ingredient in most household cleaners; it’s relatively cheap and known to be a safe and effective cleaning agent. Distilled vinegar is your go to for cleaning recipes. You know the pH and therefore have a good idea of its effectiveness as a disinfecting agent. (Do you know the Difference Between Clean, Sanitary, and Sterile?)

guide to chemical cleaners
Click this picture to learn more!

Please remember that creating your own cleaning solutions is a great way to save money, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

1) Never mix chlorine bleach and vinegar.

2) Know that acidic cleaners are not safe for some surfaces and fabrics.

3) Vinegar is a good disinfecting agent, but if someone in a household has a compromised immune system, it may not be effective enough.

Thank you for sending in your question.

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7 thoughts on “Synthetic or Distilled Vinegar, Is It the Same as Apple Cider Vinegar for Cleaning?”

  1. If you use Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (the kind that has the cloudy “mother” in it) then I have a handy little cheap-o tip for you!

    If you buy the store brand or inexpensive ACV just add a little of the more expensive Organic one and it will “seed” the store brand one. The good “mother” will grow in the cheap-o one and save you money.


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