10 Creative Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar

Discover the unsung hero of your pantry, and learn clever ways to use this versatile vinegar.

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Image by Kelly Pretsch

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Photo By: Julie Martens Forney

Toss a Salad, and More

If the only time you reach for apple cider vinegar is when you’re whipping up a tasty vinaigrette, you’re missing out. Apple cider vinegar has loads of uses beyond the salad bowl. Known as ACV among aficionados, apple cider vinegar is basically apple cider that’s fermented. The fermentation process results in a vinegar packed with probiotics and enzymes. You’ll often hear people speak of using ACV with "the mother," which refers to the murky, globular substance found in the bottom of organic, unfiltered ACV. The mother contains beneficial bacteria and strands of proteins and enzymes—all good stuff for your body. Read on for different uses for apple cider vinegar, but always remember to check with your doctor before using apple cider vinegar for any medicinal or cosmetic uses.

Treat a Sting

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) helps neutralize the formic acid in bee venom (that’s what causes the stinging, burning sensation). Simply soak the stung body part in ACV, or soak a cloth with ACV and place it over the sting. Repeat every 15 minutes as necessary. With honey bee stings, remember to remove the stinger before applying ACV. Grab ACV for treating all kinds of bug bites beyond bee stings, as well as a poison ivy rash. ACV helps relieve swelling and reduce itching thanks to the potassium it contains.

Create an On-Trend Cocktail

Apple cider vinegar can easily stand in for a fruit mash syrup in a cocktail, often referred to as a shrub. Combine apple cider vinegar with apple cider, a bit of sugar, lemon juice, and bourbon—and shake. Strain and pour over ice for a perfect fall sip. Such combinations of vinegar and fruit are known as a shrub. This cocktail’s been around for a few centuries, so it’s tried and true.

Apple Cider Vinegar Shrub Cocktail

- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) apple cider vinegar

- 3/4 cup apple cider

- 1 teaspoon sugar

- 1 teaspoon lemon juice

- 3 ounces bourbon

- Garnish with apple

- Strain before serving over ice. This amount makes 2 cocktails.

For a non-alcoholic ACV beverage, try the switchel, the traditional drink of field harvesters. Blend ACV, honey, ginger and a twist of lime with water for a refreshing, healthful beverage.


- 2 tablespoons ACV

- 3 tablespoons honey (or molasses or sorghum syrup)

- 1.5-2 inch piece of fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced

- 1 quart water

- Juice from half a lime (or lemon)

- Lime (or lemon) zest

Mix and refrigerate overnight. Pour over ice. You can substitute seltzer or even ginger ale for some of the water. If so, reduce water by that amount in the initial mix. I often make it as a concentrate for easier storage and then add the desired mixer in the glass. I freeze it sometimes, too, and just toss the ice cubes into water.

Clean the Kitchen

Mix equal parts unpasteurized ACV and water in a clean spray bottle. Use this mixture to cut through grease, clean up grime and wipe out bacteria. The smell disappears as the vinegar evaporates. This cleaner is ideal for stove tops, counters, sinks and laundry room surfaces. It’s great for cleaning up metal tea kettles and the plastic touch pad on microwave and stove control panels. It also makes cleaning the inside of a microwave super easy. Spritz it inside the microwave on all surfaces, heat for 25 seconds, and wipe with a paper towel.

Keep Fleas Away

Some dog owners rely on an apple cider vinegar and water spray to keep their pets flea-free. Blend a 50-50 mix of ACV and water, add a few drops of flea-repelling lavender or cedar essential oil, and spritz your pooch before Fido heads outside. Use care when spraying your dog, avoiding eyes, nose and ear areas. Check with your pet’s vet before using this flea repellent.

Get Beautiful Skin

Apple cider vinegar is said to bring natural healing to skin cells, and some claim it can help to prevent break-outs and reduce acne scarring (thanks to its anti-inflammatory qualities). It has antibacterial properties that some think may help eliminate acne-causing bacteria. For a simple toner, steep fresh curly parsley in boiling water for roughly 10 minutes (parsley helps boost collagen production). Mix one-quarter to one-half cup of cooled, drained parsley water with 1/2 teaspoon unpasteurized ACV and up to 20 drops of tea tree oil (antifungal, antiviral). Store in a cool, dry place for daily use. Stash in the fridge for long-term storage (several weeks). Apply with a cotton ball, or use a spray bottle to spritz on skin.

Give Your Locks Some Love

Unpasteurized ACV can help hair look great, adding shine, beating dandruff and reducing scalp inflammation associated with dry scalp and dandruff. To use ACV as a hair rinse, for hair up to shoulder length, mix 2 tablespoons of ACV with 1/2 cup of water. Shampoo, rinse hair with water, and then pour the ACV mixture over your hair, letting it sit for 1-2 minutes. Rinse and dry. The smell disappears when your hair dries. Use this one to two times per week.

Beat the Heat

Reduce body temperature by wiping skin down with apple cider vinegar diluted in water (adjust the ratio as needed up to 50 percent water and ACV). Apply the water-ACV blend to arms, legs and torso to bring down fevers fast. ACV also helps cool sunburns. Apply ACV with a cool cloth to red skin, or fill a lukewarm bath with 1 cup ACV and 1/4 cup coconut oil for a cooling soak.

Catch Fruit Flies

The fermented nature of apple cider vinegar makes it an excellent lure for fruit flies. Add some ACV to the bottom of a jar, and cover the top with clear plastic wrap held in place with a rubber band. Poke a few holes in the wrap, and fruit flies will fly in but not be able to exit. Eventually, they’ll drown in the ACV. Alternatively, whip up a batch of fruit fly magnet: 1 1/2 tablespoons each ACV and sugar dissolved in 8-16 ounces of water, with a few squirts of dish soap added. Pour the mixture into a container with a wide, open mouth. Fruit flies zip into the sudsy fermented brew and can’t escape.

Kill Weeds

Eliminate weeds with a DIY blend of 1/2 gallon apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup salt and 1 teaspoon dish soap. This type of weed killer doesn’t kill plant roots—just any leaf it touches. Apply to young seedlings for best killing results. Use care not to let spray drift onto plants you want, because this brew kills plants indiscriminately.

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