It’s delicious on salads and a must-have for pickling, but what is apple cider vinegar anyway? Glad you asked. Apple cider vinegar is made from twice-fermented apple juice—and it’s loaded with B and C vitamins, probiotics and acetic acid. The final product is a pretty magical elixir that has a wide range of applications that go way beyond the kitchen, including in your skincare, cleaning and beauty routines (to name a few). Read on for the full scoop on the many uses for apple cider vinegar and prepare to have your mind blown.
22 Unexpected Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar
1. Pots And Pans
Much like its stronger cousin, distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar does a bang up job of cleaning just about everything around your home, including scorched pots and pans. Simply fill a pan with water, add one cup of vinegar and bring it to a boil. Take the pan off the hot burner and toss in two tablespoons of baking soda. Let the mixture work its bubbly magic and scour until it looks like new. Easy-peasy.
Due to its antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar can be used to tackle the source of unpleasant odors. To do this, simply add one part apple cider vinegar to one part plain old water or rubbing alcohol and voila—a deodorizing spray that you can spritz on everything from your underarms to your smelly sneakers.
3. Fruit Flies
The best way to eliminate a fruit fly problem is with a DIY trap, and every good trap needs bait. Enter, apple cider vinegar. Put some of this liquid gold into a glass jar, cover the jar with plastic wrap, and poke several small holes; the flies will swarm to the apple cider vinegar but alas, they’ll have no way back out of the jar.
4. Hair Rinse
If your hair has been looking a little weighed down lately, apple cider vinegar can help. Dilute the vinegar with equal parts water (more if you have sensitive skin) and pour the solution over your head. Wait a few minutes and then wash it out. This clarifying hair rinse will remove product build-up and restore your locks to their former glory.
5. Skin Toner
Fans of apple cider vinegar say that it clarifies and tones the skin and reduces signs of aging when used as a facial toner. To try it yourself, combine one tablespoon of vinegar with two cups of water (undiluted vinegar can burn or irritate the skin). Leave the toner on for one to two minutes before rinsing off with warm water and applying a moisturizer. Start off using this once a week before working it into your daily routine and increasing the time the toner stays on your face, without exceeding 15 minutes.
6. Poison Ivy Treatment
A brush with poison ivy is a big bummer, but the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may provide some relief from the itching and discomfort, our friends at Medical News Today tell us. For this remedy, a weak solution of one part apple cider vinegar to two parts water is dabbed directly on to the affected area with a cotton pad.
7. Homemade Dog Spray
We’re wild about apple cider vinegar, but apparently fleas and ticks are not such big fans. For a DIY flea-killing spray, make a solution of three parts apple cider vinegar and one part water. Spray your dog’s fur with it and these pesky parasites will be put off by the acidic environment and look elsewhere for their lunch.
8. Perfect Poached Eggs
Add just a splash of apple cider vinegar to the simmering water before poaching eggs: The acidity will help the whites of the eggs coagulate, which is a fancy way of saying you’ll get perfectly-formed eggs every time. Bonus: This same trick will prevent shells from cracking when you’re making hard or soft-boiled eggs, too.
9. Marinate Meat
Pro tip: For a sweet, tangy and succulent piece of meat, add a dash of apple cider vinegar to your marinade. The highly-acidic apple cider vinegar will tenderize the protein while giving it a flavor boost, to boot.
10. Wash Produce
It might seem weird to wash fruits and veggies in vinegar, but it’s the best kind of weird, friends. Evidence shows that acetic acid (i.e., the main ingredient in apple cider vinegar) is more effective than water at killing foodborne illnesses, like E. Coli and Salmonella. Who knew? Here’s an easy recipe for making your own fruit and vegetable wash with vinegar.
11. Salad Dressing
It’s no secret that vinegar makes a fine dressing (hint: it’s called vinaigrette)—but before you reach for the balsamic, consider opting for apple cider vinegar for a less sweet, but equally tasty alternative. (The harissa-spiked vinaigrette in this healthy breakfast bowl will make you a believer.)
12. Weed Killer
That’s right—this single ingredient can be used to wash produce, dress salads and kill off the weeds in your garden. For this one, you don’t even need to dilute the stuff—just spray pure apple cider vinegar directly on unwanted weed and watch them perish. (Note: The acidity in the vinegar will also kill any other plant it’s applied to so spray carefully.)
13. Acne Spot Treatment
For those with sensitive skin, an ACV facial toner may be a tad too intense. That said, most skin types can tolerate the stuff as an acne spot treatment. Just mix one tablespoon of ACV and two tablespoons of purified water together before soaking it in a cotton pad or ball and applying a small amount to the affected areas. Do this two to three times a week for the best results.
14. Buttermilk Substitute
Apple cider vinegar is an excellent substitute for buttermilk—simply add one to two tablespoons of the stuff to regular milk to measure one cup. And this clever swap works just as well when it comes to vegan buttermilk substitutes—use the same method described above but with a plant-based milk alternative (such as soy milk or almond milk).
15. Natural Preservative
The high acidity of apple cider vinegar makes it an obvious choice for preserving foods (i.e., keeping bacteria at bay) and—thanks to its mellow, fruity flavor—it’s a preferred pickling agent. Case in point: These pickled red onions that you’ll want to put on everything.
16. Liver-cleansing Tonic
The theory behind this trendy detox is that the “mother” in apple cider vinegar contains beneficial enzymes, minerals and probiotics that help restore the body’s own detox system (i.e., your liver and kidneys) to peak performance when they become overloaded. The science is limited here, but an ACV cleanse is considered to be safe and there is some research to suggest that it may have benefits for the liver. If you want to give it a try, add one tablespoon of ACV to a glass of warm water and drink the tonic down once a day.
17. Treat Dandruff
Again, there’s not enough hard science to support or refute this, but it’s thought that the acidity of apple cider vinegar can help fight off dandruff-causing fungi, whilst mitigating the irritating alkaline effects of shampoo and other hair care products and balancing the pH of the scalp. To try this homemade dandruff treatment, fill an empty spray bottle with three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar for every cup of water. In the shower, apply the solution to your scalp and massage for a few minutes before rinsing and styling as you normally would. Use this ACV rinse once or twice a week to help clear things up.
18. Dishwasher Cleaner
We hate to tell you this, but even though the whole purpose of the dishwasher is to clean stuff, this handy appliance doesn’t actually clean itself. To clean your dishwasher, put one cup of vinegar in a dishwasher-safe bowl or mug on the top rack of your dishwasher. Next, add one cup of baking soda in a separate bowl for extra freshness. Run a hot, steamy wash cycle with no detergent and no dishes. Genius.
19. Flavor Booster
Apple cider vinegar has a host of culinary uses outside of salad dressings, baked goods and marinades: Just a splash of the stuff will brighten the flavor profile of soups, enhance the taste of bone broths and add a pleasant tang to stir-fries, lentil dishes and just about everything else.
21. Foot Soak
Apple cider vinegar is the secret ingredient to a healing foot soak that can eliminate athlete’s foot, neutralize odor and soften dry, cracked skin. For best results, just fill a large basin with one cup of ACV for every two cups of warm water and let those puppies bathe for 10 to 20 minutes.
22. Clogged Drains
Skip the harsh chemicals and opt for this genius trick for unclogging your shower naturally. First, remove the drain cover with a screwdriver. Then remove as much gunk as possible with a toothbrush or gloved fingers. Use a snaking tool or plastic zip ties to remove more gunk. Now pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain followed by ½ cup vinegar. Cover with a wet washcloth and let it fizz for ten minutes. Remove the washcloth, rinse with boiling hot water and replace the drain cover. Ah, so fresh and so clean.