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Can I Put Vinegar In My Water Softener?

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Tim Rhodes

Are you asking the question, “Can I put vinegar in my water softener?”

There are numerous mechanical strategies for softening water.

However, vinegar can also work the same magic.

Vinegar is a solution that contains acetic acid (about 5-10%) and water (about 90-95%) produced through the fermentation of ethanol by using acetic acid bacteria.

But can you use it in softener?


Can I Put Vinegar In My Water Softener?

Yes, you can put vinegar in your water softener as a way to clean the water tank. Mixing in vinegar will not harm your water supply, but it may leave an undesirable taste for some time. This obviously depends on the quantity of vinegar that you use.

You can also simply mix vinegar in the water if you prefer to clean the brine tank in place of having to run a complete cycle.

Let’s get into more of the details below.

Origin Of Vinegar

The vinegar cupboard with the aid of the Guild of Food Writers author.

Angela Clutton is a fantastic definitive e-book on varieties of vinegar, there are a lot of fascinating details in there worth reading.

History has it that a courtier in Babylonia discovered wine formed from grape juice that was left unattended for days;

This led to the discovery of vinegar, which was once used to keep food rotting and, eventually, it was used for medicinal functions to control wounds.

What is more exciting is that the word Vinegar originates from the French word “vin aigre” whose definition is sour wine.

Initially, vinegar was also recognized as “poor man’s wine” carried around by Roman soldiers; this is so due to the fact the first batches of vinegar produced through fermentation resulted from blunders in the winemaking process.

Vinegar is as old as civilization, and its making process persevered to evolve over the years into extra efficient techniques of production.

The Production Of Vinegar

Vinegar is processed from a sugar-containing supply in a two-step process.

The first step is fermentation in which the sugars are broken down into alcohol and carbon dioxide using yeast in the absence of oxygen.

The second step involves the wreck down of alcohol to amino acids, acetic acid, water, and different compounds via the acetic acid bacteria.

Vinegar manufacturing for commercial reasons is through the means of both artificial and herbal bacterial fermentation; the artificial means have accelerated its production on a large scale.

Most vinegar today begins its production in submerged tank cultures where fermentation of alcohol into vinegar takes place in a continuously stirred tank and the provision of oxygen via bubbling air through the solution.

By using this method, the vinegar of about 15% of acetic acid can be organized in solely 2-3 days.

The biological route accounts for solely about 10% of the world production as it remains vital that vinegar used in meals ought to be of natural origin as required by the world food purity laws.

The microorganism that is required in the production of acetic acid is from the genus acetobacter, which produces vinegar from a variety of alcoholic foodstuffs in the presence of ample oxygen.

Besides acetic acid, the different chemical compounds in vinegar depend on its source; over the centuries and around the world, a wide variety of vinegar has been created, with their particular shades and flavors.

These varieties of vinegar are useful for culinary (pickling processes, vinaigrettes, salad dressing, condiments), medicinal, agricultural, horticultural, and cleaning purposes.

Types Of Vinegar

There are exceptional kinds of vinegar mainly due to the fact its acquisition is from almost any food containing natural sugars;

Yeast ferments these sugars into alcohol, which is converted to an acid by the acetic acid bacteria.

The most common types of vinegar located in our properties include:

White vinegar

It is the most common type of vinegar available in our kitchens made from both grain-based ethanol or acetic acid produced in the laboratory and then diluted with water.

Its flavor is a bit too harsh for most cooking uses, but it is suitable for pickling and performing many cleaning jobs around the house.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is the second-most-common type of vinegar in our homes; it’s made from apple cider and adds a tart and subtle fruity flavor to your meal.

Apple cider vinegar is best for salads, dressings, marinades, condiments, and most general vinegar needs.

Red or white wine vinegar

It’s a flavorful type of vinegar made from a blend of red wines and white wines.

Most chefs often infuse wine vinegar with extra taste by way of tucking in a few sprigs of well-washed sparkling herbs, dried herbs, or clean berries.

Red wine vinegar is frequently flavored with natural raspberry flavoring, if not with the fruit itself.

The quality of the original wine determines how good the vinegar is, the best wine vinegar is made from excellent wines and undergoes the aging for a couple of years in timber casks, and the result is fuller and more complex.

Wine vinegar brings out the sweetness of fruit, melon, and berries and adds a flavorful punch to a fresh salad.

Balsamic vinegar

It’s usually made from unfermented grape juice, and it’s acknowledged for having distinctive, bold, complex flavors and a tart aftertaste.

There are two types of balsamic vinegar, regular/traditional and commercial.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is comparable to incredible wines with a lengthy historical background of production; It’s solely made by an experienced individual who has spent years tending to vinegar.

Real balsamic vinegar goes through the aging process in barrels for months or even years, and it can be pretty expensive.

On the other hand, commercial balsamic vinegar incorporates no geographical restrictions; additionally, it has no requirement for the type of wood used in aging casks; thus, it is lots extra less costly than the standard Balsamic vinegar.

There are up to 11 or even more types of vinegar in the market; the ones cited above are just a few.

Every kind of vinegar has its unique flavor profile and often a specific reason outside of the kitchen.

Therefore, it is capable that the vinegar you use to clean your floors, dishes, and fabrics may not be the same one you are the use of to dress your salad or marinate your chicken

Best Suitable For Use As A Water Softener

White vinegar, as the title suggests, it’s the clear variety of vinegar, and some would refer to it as “spirit” vinegar made from both grain-based ethanol or laboratory acetic acid.

Why is white vinegar used as a water softener?

White vinegar is very acidic, as it has a pH level of 2.5 while on the other hand calcium present in hard water is alkaline, which means that its pH level is more than 7.

It’s in this way that vinegar can help neutralize the calcium content material of hard water and as a result, soften the water.

However, it is not recommended to use vinegar in drinking water; that is why the usage of vinegar as a water softener is solely ideal for cleaning, and you may additionally also use it as a cleansing resource for hand washing clothes.

The Difference Between White And Distilled Vinegar

Most individuals will argue that the dissimilarity between the two is mainly based totally on purity;

Distilled vinegar, commonly referred to as “virgin” vinegar, is considered extra purified than white vinegar;

However, that is no longer the only distinction considering they also vary in chemical structure, production, and usage.

White vinegar can be made by combining acetic acid with water, for that reason having a concentration of about 5-20% acidic content, and it’s viewed as the strongest type of vinegar.

Distilled vinegar as its identity suggests, is extracted from ethanol;

The phrases distilled is derived from the mechanism by which liquid elements are separated from the base combination.

This produces a colorless answer with nearly 5-8% acetic acid in the water, tremendously weaker than white or spirit vinegar.

Both white and distilled vinegar is useful for cleansing purposes;

However, distilled vinegar is the one highly endorsed for softening water for laundry or dishwashing functions due to its level of purity and especially strong acidic content.

The other types of vinegar are not suitable for softening water because they comprise residues that may stain or discolor your fabrics, dishes, and dishwashers when used for dishwashing.

You can also spray some vinegar on appliances and surfaces to do away with hard water and spots.

Also, as mentioned earlier white distilled vinegar tends to have about 7% acetic acid, which is a higher level than the other varieties of vinegar, which is also similar to the acidity level in many everyday multipurpose cleaners;

However, It’s flavor is too harsh for cooking purposes, and that is why it’s hailed as a high-quality cleaning and water softening agent.

Homemade vinegar

Some people may find buying distilled white vinegar costly and desire to prepare it from the comfort of their own homes but then get stuck because they lack the knowledge on how to proceed.

Well, making vinegar from home has been made easy through following the steps below;


  • 4 cups of white or purple wine (avoid wine with sulfites)
  • 4 cups of water
  • Mother of vinegar (Bragg brand is convenient to find online)


Mix wine and water in a nonreactive (preferably glass) container, add mother of vinegar-based on instructions on the package.

Cover with cheesecloth, paper towel or clean kitchen towel, snap-on, a rubber band to keep it secure.

Let it sit down in a dark vicinity with a temperature that is between 70 to 80 F and test on it each few days.

After a couple of weeks, you may note a skin forming on top.

Do not disturb it as it is a new mother, and it helps to facilitate the process, at the cease of two months start tasting and be cautious now not to disturb the mother.

It should start smelling vinegary; if it would not taste tangy, wait two extra weeks, and if it is too tart, add a little water.

Once it tastes like Vinegar, bottle it in a swing pinnacle or airtight bottle.

Since most wines are of 12 to 14 percentage alcohol, it should be diluted.

Wine’s high alcohol content may intrude on the outcome.

This recipe results in a dash of slight vinegar.

For an extra intense-tasting vinegar, make a 2:1 mix, so two cups of wine to one cup of water.

Instructions For Use:

  1. When using white distilled vinegar to soften laundry water, add a half-cup (118ml) of the vinegar to the last rinse cycle
  2. To soften water when washing dishes, use vinegar of the same amount (118ml) in your dispenser, and it will be launched automatically
  3. During the rinsing process, vinegar dissolves away cleaning soap scum, brines left by using hard water and glue on dishes by using stickers

Mechanism Of Action

Two key factors make white distilled vinegar a high-quality water softener.


Distilled white vinegar is naturally very acidic; as noted earlier, it had a pH of about 2.5, which permits it to neutralize the alkaline components (calcium and magnesium) observed in challenging water.


Vinegar incorporates small amounts of potassium and sodium, which softens hard water and dissolves mineral build-up via ion exchange.

Benefits Of Using Vinegar

There are so many benefits attached to using vinegar as a water softener as compared to the other mechanical means and they include;


Some people with sensitive skin tend to be allergic to washing detergents, and vinegar is a top alternative for harsh chemical compounds that cause skin irritations.


Research has proven that some of the chemical substances used to soften water for laundry and different cleansing functions are toxic to the environment and are consequently harmful to both plants and animals, especially in view that these chemicals are no longer biodegradable


Vinegar can now not only be used as a water softener but additionally as a whitener and a brightener for white clothing.

It’s also a facilitator for spotless dishes when used for dishwashing.

The procedure of making a bleach solution entails mixing 1/2 cup of vinegar, half cup of lemon, and one tablespoon of borax, which can be put to your washing machine detergent compartment.

Alternatively, garments can be soaked in a mixture of water, and this bleach solution.


White distilled vinegar usually does not stain clothes; it is clear and does not have residues that may stain clothes or lead to discoloration on dishes.

Fabric softener

Have you realized that vinegar can also be used to soften fabrics?

It not only softens fabrics but also prevents static and lint-built ups in those fabrics.

Removes odor

Vinegar can be used to kill smell from smoke, pets, deodorant, and perfumes on your clothing, leaving them smelling fresh.

As it breaks through the stains, so does it break your apparel free from the awful smell


As we have viewed earlier, vinegar can be made from low-priced substances discovered in our kitchen, and this does now not affect its efficiency.

Inexpensive distilled white vinegar, when used in the laundry, will now not solely soften water but also whiten, brighten, reduce odor, and soften clothes without harsh chemicals

It’s additionally safe to use in both fashionable and high-efficiency washers and is beneficial to septic tanks and the environment.


Vinegar has a bad odor that does not come off quickly

Vinegar has a terrible smell that does not come off quickly;

Vinegar’s pungent smell ought to no longer worry you or stop you from considering to use it as a water softener.

The smell is robotically washed away during the final rinsing cycle leaving your garments and dishes odorless.

Alternatively, you can turn vinegar into a scented cleaner by mixing it with 1.5 drops of vital oil before using it in your washing machines.

Vinegar effectively cleans surfaces without the aid of other detergents

Well, let’s be sincere although vinegar is wonderful in softening water and cleansing grime it can’t be used to stop the want for soap and other detergents that aid in the elimination of filth from fabrics, surfaces, and dishes.

In genuine feel vinegar on its very own does not efficaciously get rid of dirt.

When it comes to actual cleaning, just like washing our hands, basic soap and water are most superb for absolutely cleaning surfaces of dust and grime.

That is why vinegar is used in the final rinse cycle after the dirt has been dislodged by soap.

Vinegar does not introduce any sodium to the water.

Vinegar softens water through ion exchange, which is simply the mechanism of motion for most water Softeners.

The definition of ion exchange is the change of one ion for one or greater different ions; Ions are the electrically charged dissolved form of an element.

Calcium and magnesium ions which make the water hard carry a double positive charge (++)while vinegar contains particles of sodium which carry a single (+) electric charge.

Thus, for every calcium ion removed by a whole house water softener, two sodium ions are introduced to the water; for this reason, it is, therefore, a fact that water softeners introduce sodium to the water.

Water Softeners Purify Water

Water Softeners refers to a group of water treatment products that reduce or eliminate hard water conditions in water with high levels of calcium and magnesium.

Water softeners, therefore, only take away multivalent minerals or metals from the water, any microorganisms, chemicals, and most sediment present in the raw water will still exist after softening.

If you are interested in removing things like chlorine and other chemicals, you would want to look into a whole house carbon filter system.

Moreover, vinegar in this case is not used to soften consuming water due to its harsh tart taste.

Baking soda and vinegar are a dynamic duo of green cleaning power.

It is a particularly new myth, looking at that tremendous fizzing motion – that has to be an equally perfect natural cleaner, right?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

The combination of the vinegar and baking soda does create a fun fizzy reaction, but that reaction precisely breaks down the aqueous solution into basic water with a little bit of sodium acetate, and vast salt.

Point to note;

Vinegar is an acid; it can soften water, cut through dirt, and kill bacteria but solely if you use it at it’s full or almost full acidic strength.

Final Thoughts

In short the answer is yes to the question, “Can I put vinegar in my water softener?”

Although there are other means of softening water, from this article, it is evident that vinegar can be put in your water softener.

Based on this evidence, we support that vinegar is much more than just a food product and that it is indeed a powerhouse cleaning agent with the potential of removing the hard ions from water and replacing them with non-hardness ions.

Vinegar contains acetic acid, which is highly reactive with the components found in hard water, such as calcium and magnesium.

Besides, it also contains small amounts of potassium and sodium, which naturally softens hard water and can dissolve mineral build-up.

Vinegar doesn’t just soften water; it can be used for a wide range of detergent needs, including as a fabric softener, a bleaching agent, and also as a deodorizer when an essential oil is added to it.

Furthermore, it is possible to use vinegar as a complete substitute only for certain types of detergents such as bleach used in laundry and dishwashing since it’s effective as a bleaching agent that is non-toxic to the environment, and also affordable.

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