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

You’re in luck.

Distilled and/or synthetic vinegar will work better for cleaning.

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

When you use distilled vinegar instead of apple cider vinegar, you put less stuff into the solution you create. This means that more of the stuff you want to clean off of your surfaces can go into the solution.

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?)

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 unsafe 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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cleaning with vinegar
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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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