Written by Grove Collaborative

What is cleaning vinegar and how does it work?

Last Updated: October 6, 2021

What is cleaning vinegar, and how does it work? Learn all about the cleaning power of vinegar and whether vinegar wipes, spray, and floor cleaner really work.

Grove writer Phoenix Griffin made the switch from her DIY vinegar cleaning concoctions to vinegar wipes, spray, and floor cleaner from Aunt Fannie’s, and she’s here to tell you all about it — with before and after pics!

First, what is cleaning vinegar?

Cleaning vinegar (not to be confused with straight white vinegar or apple cider vinegar) is a versatile product that can tackle just about any tough job, including removing dust, dirt, and grime from hard and soft surfaces around the house.

Like other types of vinegar, cleaning vinegar is environmentally friendly and completely nontoxic, so it’s safe to use around kids and pets. It’s also an incredibly affordable, all-natural, and all-purpose cleaner.

Grove Tip

Is cleaning vinegar the same as white vinegar?

The only difference between cleaning vinegar and the distilled white vinegar is their levels of acidity. White vinegar is usually 95 percent water and 5 percent acid.

By contrast, cleaning vinegar contains up to six percent acid and is around 20 percent stronger than regular white vinegar. That means it can help you power through some tough household chores with a lot less hassle — and less muscle!

Shop Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar now!

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Why is vinegar good for cleaning?

Although vinegar has some disinfecting properties, it’s not as effective as bleach or other EPA-registered disinfectants. But vinegar’s acidity helps break down tough stains — including hard water buildup — on a variety of surfaces.

So if your main goal is getting rid of dirt and grime, cleaning vinegar is a great alternative to other household cleaners. But if you need to disinfect — and you want to do it naturally — you need thymol, an all-natural, EPA-registered disinfectant derived from thyme.

Seventh Generation offers a variety of thymol-based disinfectants that kill 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses.

Shop Seventh Generation products from Grove

Grove Safety Tip

Never mix bleach and vinegar!

Never mix bleach and vinegar. When these substances are combined, they quickly react and create dangerous chlorine gas.

What is cleaning vinegar made of?

Vinegar is an acidic liquid that results from the fermentation of ethanol by acetic acid bacteria. Store-bought vinegar is typically five percent acetic acid and 95 percent water.

Now, I honestly love the smell of vinegar — it smells fresh and clean, and it makes me crave a salad with a yummy vinaigrette dressing — but many folks have an aversion to the odor.

That’s why many cleaning vinegar formulas contain extra ingredients like essential oils to neutralize the vinegary smell.

Popular essential oils used in cleaning vinegar include:

  • Rosemary
  • Eucalyptus
  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Lemon peel oil
  • Orange peel oil

5 ways I used Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar

1. Shine the stove with vinegar wipes

It seems like any time I try to clean up grease, it just spreads everywhere! So I decided to put Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar Wipes to the test to see how well they handled this greasy mess from cooking dinner.

Step 1: Wipe it

First, I used a couple of vinegar wipes on the stovetop. Unlike other cleaners, the wipes didn’t spread the grease! But they did leave a milky-white residue on the stove.

Step 2: Spray it

To get rid of the residue, I reached for Aunt Fannie’s Glass & Window Vinegar Wash, and it worked like a charm! I sprayed a minimal amount onto the stove then wiped away — and it took very little elbow grease (no pun intended) to get the job done!

The verdict

Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar Wipes definitely work! But I’m only going to use them on non-shiny surfaces, like my white bathroom countertops or the natural stone countertops in my kitchen.

For glass or other reflective surfaces, like the stove or microwave, I’ll stick to Aunt Fannie’s Glass & Window Wash!

Before cleaning

I’m not gonna lie — I’m a spaghetti junkie! What I’m not a fan of is spilling spaghetti sauce on the counter, completely forgetting to wipe it up — thanks, OCD! — and coming back later to find it dried and stuck fast.

During cleaning

I sprinkled on a bit of Bon Ami, then used one Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar Wipe to scrub away. I was pretty surprised at how easily the stuck-on sauce came up!

The verdict:

The combination of Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar Wipes and Bon Ami definitely cleaned my counter! The vinegar wipes also left a great-smelling lemon scent behind.

3. Say au revoir to a dirty microwave

I heated up last night’s spaghetti in the microwave hoping to avoid another mess, but the sauce had other ideas. For this mess, I used both Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar Wipes and Aunt Fannie’s Glass & Window Wash to show the sauce who’s boss!

I removed the glass turntable and used one cleaning vinegar wipe to clean the entire interior of the microwave. Then, I liberally sprayed the Vinegar Glass Cleaner on the turntable and gently scrubbed to remove the stubborn bits.

The verdict

And just like that, the microwave was returned to its prior state without streaks. Although there was a hint of a vinegar smell it didn’t linger long at all.

4. Make your dirty floors shine with vinegar

My dog, Barkley, surprised me before I had a chance to fully wake up, and I spilled a bit of my cup of Morning Joe on the floor. Once the stain dried, I knew it was time to quit procrastinating, so I put Aunt Fannie’s Vinegar Wash Floor Cleaner to work.

Step 1

After I swept, I grabbed the bucket and mop, and diluted one-half cup of Aunt Fannie’s Vinegar Floor Cleaner with two gallons of warm water.

Step 3

The combination of water with the vinegar solution created a bubbly blend, but it didn’t leave any kind of soapy mess on my floors.

The verdict:

I barely scrubbed, just to see how well the product worked for floor cleaning. The coffee came right up, and my floor looked clean and smelled great after! I was also surprised that I only smelled a hint of vinegar (which quickly went away).

5. Make your windows transparent again

I decided to let the light shine in a little brighter, so it was time to do a deep cleaning of the glass door leading to the front door.

I sprayed it liberally with Aunt Fannie’s Glass & Window Wash and wiped it away.

Better, but still not clean — so I sprayed it again and let the solution sit for a few minutes. When I came back to finish the job, it was super easy.

The verdict

I could barely tell I was looking through glass!

I learned two things: I should definitely clean my windows more often, and Aunt Fannie’s Glass & Window Wash works like a charm!

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