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How to Dilute Cleaning Vinegar

Amanda LaForest different types of vinegar how to dilute vinegar vinegar vinegar concentrations vinegar dilution calculator vinegar dilution tool

vinegar cleaning solutionIn the last few years, vinegar has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity thanks to an increasing interest in green cleaning options. From cleaning countertops to killing weeds, vinegar has many applications beyond simply making salad dressings. With this increase in interest, so too have the options for cleaning vinegars increased, which can leave one wondering which vinegar is the best to use, as well as how to use it properly. So what do all of these different percentages mean, and how should you use them?

The Difference is in the Dilution

When you look up cleaning vinegar, what you will find aren’t different types of vinegars but instead different percentages. These percentages refer to the vinegar’s concentration of acetic acid, which is the compound in vinegar that makes it such an effective cleaner. The most commonly available vinegars typically range from 5 to 30 percent acetic acid. Standard cleaning vinegar is 6 percent acetic acid, and is the most common concentration for household use. It can be used undiluted on tough stains, as well as to remove calcium or mineral build-up on faucets and shower doors. For every day cleaning, such as wiping down counters and sinks, mixing the vinegar at a ratio of ½ cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water provides a gentler cleaning solution. When cleaning any kind of wood or natural stone, vinegar must be diluted as strong concentrations can damage these surfaces.

Stronger concentrations of vinegar can be referred to as either agricultural, horticultural, or industrial vinegar. The most common contain either 12, 20, or 30 percent acetic acid. With these higher concentrations come greater cleaning abilities, but also a higher risk of mild skin irritation, so always be sure to wear gloves when handling them. These concentrations are great for use on tougher cleaning jobs, such as heavy rust, calcium, or mineral buildup, and tough grease stains or spills. They are also a very effective and non-toxic option for weed control around your yard and in your garden. Young, tender grass and weeds can be killed with a more diluted vinegar, whereas older, more established weeds will require a stronger concentration. Simply apply the vinegar to the unwanted plant with a spray bottle, and it should be dead within just a day or two. This technique is especially handy for taking care of unwanted growth along driveways or in the cracks between sidewalks and pavers.

While industrial vinegar with concentrations above 30 percent are available, it becomes increasingly noxious as the percentage of acetic acid goes up, which requires very careful handling to avoid skin or respiratory irritation. These concentrations are recommended for use by professionals in commercial settings only.

Figuring Out How to Dilute Stronger Vinegars

In order to figure out how to dilute a more concentrated vinegar for a variety of uses, we have this handy calculator. Use the first dropdown menu to choose the concentration of vinegar you are starting with, then use the second dropdown menu to choose the concentration that you would like to end up with. The last step is to enter the number of gallons of the diluted vinegar that you need, then click ‘calculate.’ The results will display below, telling you exactly how to mix vinegar and water to get your desired dilution.

We hope that this article helps to answer some of your questions about vinegar concentrations, as well as how to best utilize this natural cleaner for your home and garden!

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  • Bryan on

    Thank you for this very informative and helpful article…

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