Some of the most effective cleaning tools are ones you already have at home. There’s a time and a place for specialty cleaners, but everyday pantry items can also work overtime to help keep your space clean. According to TikTok cleaning influencer Vanesa Amaro, one of the best all-purpose tools in the kitchen is distilled white vinegar, an inexpensive and surprisingly powerful solution for killing germs, cutting through grease and grime, and even staving off gross smells. Ahead, five of our favorite places to clean with vinegar—and exactly how to do it.
1. On Your Faucet
One of the very best ways to use vinegar: Cleaning build-up from your sink faucet. Amaro suggests filling a plastic baggie with vinegar, then using a rubber band to secure it around the faucet. Allow the bag to sit for 10 to 20 minutes—longer if your faucet is especially gross—then use a bristle brush and dish soap to work away any lingering grime. Then, rest assured that the water you’re drinking and using to clean your dishes isn’t as grimy as your faucet once was.
2. In Your Microwave
Vinegar is great at cutting through greasy buildup in the microwave and keeping old food smells at bay. To give your appliance a much-needed spa treatment, fill a microwave-safe bowl with equal parts vinegar and tap water. Microwaving the solution for five or so minutes should create steam that loosens stuck-on gunk, so it’ll be easier to scrub or wipe clean afterward.
3. In Your Coffee Maker or Kettle
Over time, coffee makers and tea kettles can accumulate mineral buildup, which can affect the taste of your favorite morning beverage. A process called descaling can clean this buildup, and vinegar’s one of the best ways to do it. Simply pour equal parts vinegar and water in the reservoir, then run the coffee maker. Afterward, rinse the pot thoroughly. To descale the inside of a kettle, just boil the same mixture inside, then rinse.
4. In Your Dishwasher
Like your coffee maker, your dishwasher can accumulate mineral deposits that can affect how clean your dishes get. If you notice white or gray buildup on the inside of your dishwasher, or your dishwasher smells bad, time to grab the vinegar. Pour a cup or so into a dishwasher-safe bowl, then put it on the top rack of an empty dishwasher. Running a hot water cycle with vinegar can help remove stubborn buildup and even break down food bits that can clog the drain.
5. In Your Garbage Disposal
A stinky garbage disposal can quickly cause your whole kitchen to smell (and prevent you from wanting to tackle that huge pile of dishes). The culprit? Food buildup that’s become lodged in your drain. To keep your disposal clean and smelling fresh, Amaro recommends removing the drain stopper, then pouring vinegar and dish soap down as you run the garbage disposal. To finish, run hot water down the drain. If it still smells, try running a few ice cubes down the disposal—they’re great at knocking down stubborn food bits. If you don’t have a disposal but your drain smells, you can still pour vinegar and dish soap down to freshen things up while running hot water. The more you know!