Dear Home Ec 101,
Can white vinegar be used as a natural dishwasher rinse aid? It seems that I remember reading that somewhere. White vinegar seems as though it would be more environmentally friendly and less expensive than the commercial dishwasher rinse aid products. Is there any harm in using white vinegar as a rinse aid?
There is no harm in trying white vinegar in your automatic dishwasher. The effectiveness of vinegar as a rinse aid is going to depend entirely on how hard your water is. To experiment, simply refill your rinse aid dispenser with full strength (undiluted) white vinegar, when it has run out of commercial rinse aid.
To get a true idea of whether or not vinegar will work as a long-term solution, you’re going to have to dismiss that first cycle as your indicator of success. The first few cycles will be clearing the last of the commercial rinse aid from the dispenser.
White vinegar may work well as a rinse aid.
This will not be true for everyone, especially those in areas with very hard water. If after several washes you begin to see water spots, go ahead and switch back to a commercial rinse aid. It’s guilt-free, you tried.
While rinse aids aren’t generally environmentally harmful, some don’t list all of the ingredients, only the active ones. If this is a concern, Seventh Generation Rinse Aid, Free & Clear lists all of its ingredients and has been rated highly on Good Guide.
Have an additional question about dishwashing or vinegar? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.