How To Use Vinegar As Automatic Dishwasher Rinse Aid

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Did you know that you can use vinegar as automatic dishwasher rinse aid?

I didn't until recently. However, I found out that the main ingredient in many commercial dishwasher rinse aids is vinegar. (Another common ingredient is citric acid, which is another type of mild acid.)

The vinegar is used to reduce and eliminate hard water spots on your dishes and glassware, so it comes out sparkling.

You can do the same thing with distilled white vinegar, and make your own homemade dishwasher rinse aid.

You have two options for getting the vinegar into your dishwasher.

The first option is to stop your dishwasher during the rinse cycle and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of white vinegar, in a bowl, to the dishwasher.

The other option is to add the vinegar directly into the rinse compartment of your dishwasher.

***Update - I've gotten a lot of comments on this post below, with some people saying they've been doing this happily for years, while others have discouraged the practice. I would suggest reading the comments as well so you can make an informed choice of whether to do this or not.

I do know this is a MUCH cheaper alternative to store bought products, and I personally know many people that have done it for years, with no problem. ***End Update

If you decide to use a commercial product, check out these dishwasher rinse agent reviews here to choose the best one for you.

Here is a round up of dishwasher rinse agent and rinse aid reviews, including several brand names, generics and eco-friendly products, to find which ones work best {on Stain Removal 101}Click Here For Dishwasher Rinse Agent Reviews

In addition, you can submit your own tips for using vinegar around your home here, or read tips already submitted.

Over 50 uses for vinegar in your home

How to use vinegar in place of automatic dishwasher rinse aid - frugal, eco-friendly and it works! {on Stain Removal 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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Comments for How To Use Vinegar As Automatic Dishwasher Rinse Aid

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Vinegar Works!
by: John

I believe that the dishwasher manufacturers are lying about vinegar causing damage because they make a lot of money recommending retail rinse aids. I’ve been using white vinegar as a rinse aid in my Bosch dishwasher daily for the last 12 years, with no issues and it works great! Also, there is no chance of any chemical residue with vinegar.

They say vinegar is too acidic, yet it has the same pH as retail rinse agents. Vinegar has a pH of 2.5, Finish Jet Dry’s pH is 3, and Ecover Rinse Aid has a pH of 1.

Another smoking gun is Lemi-Shine, which is pure citric acid with added fragrance. It has a pH of 2. It’s recommended to fill the main wash receptacle full and run the machine empty to clean out mineral deposits in the machine. Obviously, putting that much citric acid in a dishwasher will not harm it, or people would be complaining and the manufacturer would stop selling it. I have found no damage complaints online about using vinegar, or citric acid in a dishwasher.

I decided to purchase the Ecover Rinse Aid to see how it compares. It appears to work fine, I do notice one difference over the vinegar. I have a stainless steel rack that goes into the bottom of my sink, which I clean in the dishwasher once a week. With the vinegar, there was always some white mineral buildup on the rack, which I don’t see with the Ecover. Other than that, I see no difference.

One bottle of Ecover lasted me about a month, and I paid $7.50 for it, which comes out to $90 per year, and over 12 years, I would have spent over $1,000 on rinse aid, making it more expensive than many dishwashers! There is a clear financial incentive to discredit vinegar as a rinse aid. I did call Bosch and asked the customer service woman about using vinegar, and she answered in a heightened emotional voice that the vinegar would damage my machine and make it smell bad. She did not have any evidence to support her claim. Obviously, she is wrong and was trained to respond in that way.

I will continue to use vinegar as a rinse aid because it is cheaper and I always have it around, and there is no chance of any chemical residue left on my dishes. All my research and experience tells me it will not harm the dishwasher.

To the person whose dishwasher is stained from vinegar
by: Dixie Jo

I have had this experience with a Porcelain bathtub that acquired rust stains when I cleaned it with bleach and comet cleanser. I freaked because I was rendering the home and knew the owner would have a cow (I never learned what caused it). I used a cleaner called Kaboom, moderately priced at Wal-Mart. Worked like a charm!! I would spray it and leave it for a couple hours then put it thru the rinse cycle. Anyone know if vinegar also helps the dishes dry? That's my only issue, they're always soaking wet n the heat is there. Thank you.

Using white vinegar
by: Anonymous

This does make sense, since the acidity of the vinegar breaks down the mineral deposits usually associated with water spots.

Dry Vinegar
by: Michael

I just add a pinch of dry vinegar to the sealed detergent compartment. It has worked better than baking soda which occasionally left a residue in the concave bottoms of glasses, cups, and mugs. (I haven't tried using liquid vinegar in the rinse-aid compartment.)

And for the near-related Whatever Record, I occasionally place a dry bleach packet in the dishwasher for disinfecting and cleaning outdoor crockery and small animal equipment. I order them at Target.

by: Tishs

I have been fighting cloudy dirty looking not clean dishes! I've been hand washing dishes!! Rinse aid was not working! I used vinegar in rinse compartment of my dishwasher tonight and OMG my dishes are sparkling!! Yay!!

Still Having Trouble
by: Anonymous

My sister finally got me to start using vinegar in the dishwasher.
I was washing most of the dishes before I was putting them in the dishwasher. Annoying! I'm still having to wash them before I put them through the dishwasher! At least the silverware mostly comes clean now. I'm still having a terrible time with my Tupperware and plastic though. I have been doing this for over a year now. She has me run the dishwasher as always until it gets to the rinse cycle and then I have to put 3/4 cups of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher
Do I need to use a different amount of vinegar?

I've used for years
by: Anonymous

I had a Meile dishwasher for about 10 years. They suggest vinegar as a rinse aid in their instruction book. Dishwasher is as good as new.

by: Anonymous

After a year if no issues, our glasses and silverware, and even Tupperware started coming out extremely cloudy. We switched rinses hoping this would fix it. Nope. Saw a YouTube video about vinegar. Put about 1.5 cups in a Pyrex measuring cup on the top rack, and ran our dishes through a regular cycle. SPOTLESS!! We are using less and less each time to determine the minimum required. We're probably at .25 cup now and still spotless. Haven't tried the auto-rinse dispenser, yet.

Don't use vinegar as a rinse aid
by: Anonymous

Unfortunately, vinegar is acidic and will attack the rubber components of the Rinse Aid dispenser causing a failure over time. Commercial Rinse Aids also lubricate the bearings in the the water jets to maintain them.

difference in old and new dishwashers
by: Anonymous

The newer dishwashers (2010+) dry dishes differently than the old. The new ones (having to come into compliance with federal energy use regulations) no longer use a heating element on the bottom to dry the dishes. Rather, it uses a "heated rinse" and the key to that heated rinse drying your dishes properly is to use the recommended rinse aid - and actually they are now beginning to refer to it as a "drying aid." Your dishes will not dry properly without it and I'm not so sure that just plain vinegar will do the trick. Probably the reason why some comments are claiming that the vinegar trick doesn't work. Personally, I have very hard water and I have an old dishwasher (Mom is the one with the new one) so I just pour half a cup of vinegar right into the machine, put the soap in the dispenser, close it up and turn it on. Perfect dishes, clean dishwasher. Easy Squeezy!

by: Lisa

I'm nervous about using full strength vinegar in my brand new dishwasher. My husband thought of the idea of diluting the vinegar. Has anybody tried that? I'm nervous about using full strength vinegar and ruining the rubber seals.

Vinegar rinse aid
by: Anonymous

I've been using vinegar in my rinse aid compartment for 12 years without a problem. The inside of my dishwasher is white, not stainless and it helps keep the glasses spotless. I don't use the drying option either and it's been fine. I think my dishes and glasses come out cleaner because of the vinegar.

For those who have damaged seals
by: Anonymous

Vinegar is safe for natural rubber seals and parts constructed from ethylene-propylene, silicone, fluorocarbon, virgin Teflon and butyl synthetic rubber seals.

Because vinegar is an acid, it can pit the surface of some synthetic rubber seals. Full-strength vinegar should be avoided for seals made from polyacrylate, fluorosilicone and Buna-N because vinegar may weaken them with long-term use and cause eventual failure.

Consult your owners manual and if you can get one, a spare parts manual to be sure. Basically older American and European made appliances and modern higher priced appliances will typically have high quality natural rubber seals. If you bought a cheap appliance manufactured and assembled in China, and having some brand name known for low quality, expect substandard cheap parts, and expect that vinegar ruin it.

Add that Vinegar!
by: Anonymous

My daughter just texted me that she tried the vinegar trick - one cup of vinegar in a dishwasher safe bowl in top rack. (Make sure it doesn't get knocked over.) She then ran a regular cycle. She was nearly sick to her stomach at the gunk that showed up! She's surprised that no one has been ill from the stuff left in the washer. She then ran a second cycle with baking soda. Her dishwasher has never been so clean and fresh-smelling.

I've used other rinse aids but not vinegar. I'm definitely trying this tonight.

Tang as a rinse aid
by: Anonymous

I use vinegar as a rinse aid in every cycle and occasionally citric acid for descaling but I read a blog by someone who had a plumber fix her machine who remarked on how clean the interior was and asked if she used Tang in the dishwasher because many customers with clean dishwashers used this.

Guaranteed that Tang contains a significant amount of citric acid (to get that tang), and the orange oils probably don't hurt either.

Imagine, Tang as a rinse aid.

used for 8 years with no problem
by: BigDan

I used vinegar in my old machine and saw no problems for 8 years. I have a new one and plan on doing the same. I noticed no seal damage or unusual wear. Same machine, just newer. I had hard water at my old place. Not so hard at this one. NOTE, put the vinegar in the rinse aid or throw some in the machine to the end of the wash time. Don't mix it with the detergent in the detergent cup/dispenser.

One more note. If you put the vinegar in the machine and start it, the cycle purges any liquid in the bottom of the tub, then fills. Of course this may be a good way to break up crap in the bottom? Good Luck.

I use hydrogen peroxide
by: Anonymous

In the place of Jet Dry I use hydrogen peroxide, mixed with a few drops of edible lemon oil and one drop of blue food color. It works perfectly, the glasses sparkle and best of all there is a pleasant smell in the machine. Plus, the glasses feel clean. I don't like Jet Dry residue on my dishes.

works the same
by: misswham

I have a Kitchenaid and it works fine. I put some in the rinse aid compartment AND put a bowl on the top rack at the beginning. Now, I just started doing this January 2016 so I can't say that it hasn't hurt my dishwasher yet because I have only used it 3 times but the glasses came out just as clear and sparkling.

Rinse Aid vs Vinegar
by: Anonymous

I never used vinegar in my old dishwasher and the seals wore out with Jet Dry!!!

I will switch to vinegar - Can't be any worse. For those of you whose seals wore out - they may have worn out anyway - ever think of that?

Hard water, dirty dishes.
by: Jan

Clean your dishwasher once a month, faithfully. ALWAYS rinse your dishes thoroughly before putting them in the washer. Keep the interior of your machine clean with vinegar AND baking soda. Clean the sides, bottom and top with baking soda diluted in warm water. Be sure to pay attention to the rubber. Then put a small bowl of white vinegar in your washer and run it a whole cycle. Keep food out of the "trap" so the water can flow freely. Clean your washer like this once a month. Do the same with your clothes washing machine. Fresh, fresh, fresh.

I have no trouble with vinegar
by: Jaya

I put in a teaspoon of citric acid with the first wash, as we have soft water and the detergent tablets are too harsh. Then I have neat vinegar in the rinse aid compartment. My dishwasher is like new after five years!

So now I don't have any fading or etching on my crockery from too harsh detergent.

I believe most kettle and dishwasher cleaners and descalers are citric acid, and the manuals direct you away because they want you to buy name brands at inflated prices.

It should be illegal for them to claim a warranty invalidation for using a product which is an ingredient in what they recommend!

Clean dishwasher and dishes
by: JaniceT

I have a dishwasher which I bought in 1997 which is still running very well and cleaning my dishes wonderfully. The people who I bought it from told me to use Finish and Lemishine. That is all I ever used and the inside still looks and cleans very well.

I also learned a trick from the same dealer that my washing machine would do well with Lemishine once a month with the same measure I use in the dishwasher. All you do is fill the machine with hot water measure the Lemishine and drop it in - swish a little and shut it down for a couple of hours or let it sit over night - then let it do a full wash with no clothes and you will have a clean machine - it took all the soap buildup away.

Vinegar and Koolaid lemonade
by: Pat

I use vinegar as my rinse aid and Koolaid lemonade to cut the hard water. Works great.

Multi things for vinegar
by: Jenny

Vinegar works great for a lot of things -- dishwasher, the oven door with baking soda, old muffin tins, I use it for everything!!!!!

Broke my dishwasher
by: Anonymous

I have a Whirlpool and using vinegar in the rinse chamber damaged the rubber and it no longer works. I had only been using the vinegar for a couple of months.

might be corrosive
by: Anonymous

We have hard water and I started adding just a splash of white vinegar to the rinse cycle -- this made my glassware clean, less cloudy, however -- and I'm not completely sure -- but since starting this the racks corroded and the tines started snapping off. Could be the hard water, could be the chemical reaction, could be just wear although this machine wasn't that old. (yes, had to replace) I think lemon juice might be just as effective and less corrosive. Also, I read that using less detergent is best for avoiding cloudiness.

no luck for me!
by: Cindy

After reading all the comments for great results using vinegar in the dishwasher for water spotting I can't figure out what I've done wrong. After about a week I noticed my clear glassware was etched and cloudy and my plastic glasses were spotted and films. We have hard water here. I put straight vinegar into my rinse aide dispenser and these were the results. Needless to say, I immediately starting using a rinse aide instead, but the damage is done.

It works great, and hasn't harmed my dishwasher at all
by: LLSM

About 30 years ago my dishwasher repairman told me to use regular vinegar in the open soap dispenser and I've been doing it ever since. That dishwasher lasted over 20 years and the current one is 10 and going strong, neither ever needed a repair. (The repairman was there the first time as one of the kids sat on the door and broke the springs.)

vinegar is my cleaner by choice because of allergies
by: Ruth

Since I have many allergies vinegar is my cleaner by choice. Dishwashers have small round screw on the same side of door as the soap dispenser. Unscrew and put the vinegar in here, it will last about a month. If you look at the manual you will see that the maker of the dishwasher is also the maker of the rinse they are touting you to use. What does this tell you? If you use it they make money.

reason for seeing rust
by: Anonymous

The reason you had rust on your door is because the vinegar cleaned out your dishwashing lines. You must have very rusty water.

Vinegar and Rust
by: Anonymous

I read so many posts on Pinterest about vinegar as a JetDry replacement. So, I tried it!

When I opened the door it had a huge rust stain all over the plastic of the front door.

I have tried every removal technique known to man. Nothing has worked.

I now buy JetDry. oh well...

Vinegar for most everything
by: Ladybug

I've been filling the rinse aid reservoir with vinegar for a long time as well. I make most of our cleaners. Great to hear from you!

It works!
by: Mary Barber

I've been putting vinegar in the last rinse in my dishwasher. Besides having sparkling dishes my dishwasher is about 20 years old and still going. I credit the vinegar.

response to "confused"
by: Taylor

This suggestion is not to use vinegar in place of your dishwasher detergent, but in place of the rinse agent you currently use, such as Jet Dry as you mentioned. The detergent is still needed to clean the dishes. Rinse agents are used to reduce spotting, and hard water film, and this is one of the things vinegar does a really good job doing! Hope that helps!

by: Anonymous

I'm confused. Does it go in place of your liquid detergent or does it go along with your liquid detergent in the spot where Jet Dry goes? Or just don't use detergent at all?

comparison to commercial rinse aid
by: Anonymous

I have been using vinegar and I have no water stains, but for some reason my dishes don't get as dry as when I use a commercial rinse aid. Using vinegar is sill much cheaper than rinse aid.

great in homes with small children
by: Anonymous

I have been doing this quite some time now. I did not empty mine before I started adding vinegar and have had no problems. With small children around, vinegar is a great disinfectant along with cutting the soap film. I also use in the washer in place of fabric softener to remove excess soap and it leaves clothing, especially towels, soft and clean smelling.

I put it in, at the beginning
by: Anonymous

I just dump it in at the beginning of the wash, is that wrong??

dishwasher advises against this
by: Yvonne

My dishwasher manual advises against regular use of vinegar. So check your manuals.

been using for years
by: Sunny

I've been using vinegar in the dishwasher for years. My dishwasher's just fine!

breaks down rubber
by: Amanda

Vinegar will break down the rubber pieces that are near the rinse aid dispenser.

works for me
by: Janet

I've been using vinegar instead of commercial rinse aid for years. It works perfectly.

Use as rinse aid only
by: Anonymous

My understanding is that the detergent is a strong base. Adding vinegar (an acid) during the wash cycle neutralizes the detergent, thereby making it less effective. It's best saved for the rinse cycle only, where it is needed to cut through the detergent and hard water deposits.

Vinegar in a small bowl works well too.
by: Annette

Putting the vinegar in a small bowl on the top rack of dishwasher works well too.

For dishwasher cleaning and deodorizing, about once a month, put up to a cup of vinegar in a bowl in the empty dishwasher and sprinkle baking soda on the bottom or put in the detergent dispenser.

vinegar eroding seal?
by: Jennifer

I have read that putting the vinegar in the dispenser on a regular basis can erode or cause the seal in the dispenser to disintegrate. Has anyone had experience with this?

works great, if not better than store-bought
by: Anonymous

I also have been doing this for years with good results. Once the original rinse aid level got low, I just refilled with whichever vinegar I had on hand. Usually I buy the white though. Works great if not better!!

add to rinse compartment
by: Anonymous

I've always done this and it really works!

Squeeze bottle, anytime
by: Anonymous

I use a squirt bottle to squeeze about a cup of vinegar all over the dishes before closing the door and starting it. I never have spots and have done it this way about two years now because my machine doesn't tell me when its in rinse cycle. Works fine this way too! :)

I use hydrogen peroxide
by: Beth

I use hydrogen peroxide instead of a rinse aid. Works much better!

I use bowl method
by: Tammy

I use a half-filled ramekin size bowl of white vinegar every load. My dishwasher and dishes look like new!

Add the vinegar at any time
by: Taylor

You can add the vinegar to the dispenser at any time, as far as I know. It will not cause an adverse chemical reaction, or anything.

Does anyone else have experience with this, and want to weigh in with their opinion? If so, share your comments with me!

Add vinegar any time?
by: Anonymous

Do you have to wait until the rinse agent compartment is empty, or can you just add the vinegar any time?

I've been doing this for years
by: Anonymous

I have done this for years, with great results.

I haven't had to buy rinse aid at the grocery store in years, and my glasses never have hard water spots on them.

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