A miracle tonic that facilitates weight loss, clears up acne, and cleans the whole house—sounds too good to be true, right? Actually, it’s called apple cider vinegar.
You can drink it, eat it, and even use it as a bona fide beauty booster. In fact, the fermented liquid (also known as ACV) has been an obsession among natural living enthusiasts for decades. While not all its hacks are backed by research, more and more of its health benefits are being proven through anecdotal (and sometimes even scientific) evidence, which has catapulted apple cider vinegar to more mainstream exposure in recent years.
Regular ACV doesn’t contribute high levels of nutrients and minerals, but the organic, raw, undistilled, and unfiltered variety (like Bragg’s) has plenty thanks to something called the “mother.” This is the cloudy sediment visible inside the bottle, which boasts proteins, enzymes, amino acids, and fiber (particularly from the pectin in apples). It also has plenty of prebiotic power, which feeds the “good” bacteria in your gut.
ACV is high in naturally antimicrobial acetic acid, too, giving it the ability to kill bacteria and pathogens. That makes it a great cleansing agent for the body and disinfectant in the home, too.
As you can see, we may be a little obsessed, but get ready to jump on the bandwagon with us. Especially after uncovering these 51 unexpected ways to use apple cider vinegar for just about everything.
Apple cider vinegar for overall health
To harness all the health benefits, it’s best to take a shot of apple cider vinegar diluted in water before or after meals (we usually do three parts water to one part ACV). Or, create a flavorful tonic with maple syrup and ground ginger. As always, be sure to check with your doctor first before jumping into any new health regimen.
Here are some ways drinking ACV on the regular can boost your health.
1. Lower blood sugar
One study in the journal “Diabetes Care” found that diabetic individuals that took 2 tablespoons of ACV at bedtime had lower blood sugar levels upon waking up than when they took a placebo.
2. Improve insulin sensitivity
According to another study in “Diabetes Care,” ACV may help boost insulin sensitivity. That means the body has to produce less insulin to keep blood sugars stable and also has an easier time converting carbs into energy, rather than storing them as fat.
3. Aid digestion
The mother substance in organic, raw, undistilled, and unfiltered ACV has plenty of fiber, which is known to lead to better digestion.
4. Lower LDL cholesterol
Excessive LDL—also known as the “bad” cholesterol—can increase the risk of serious cardiovascular conditions like heart disease and hypertension. However, the acetic acid in ACV can help to reduce LDL levels, according to a study published in “Life Science.”
5. Suppress appetite
The acetic acid in ACV can slow the stomach from emptying contents, which may make you feel fuller, longer.
6. Minimize water retention
The trace amounts of potassium in ACV can help balance sodium levels and de-puff the body.
7. Lose weight
Scientists also believe that ACV can inhibit the digestion of starch, which will lead to fewer calories entering the bloodstream. Along with ACV’s effects on LDL, appetite, and water retention, this may help you drop some pounds.
8. Lower blood pressure
A study published in the journal “Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry” found that the acetic acid in vinegar lowered blood pressure in rats, suggesting that there may be the same potential in humans. Lower blood pressure also improves overall heart health.
9. Ease inflammation
The gut is home to 70 percent of the body’s immune system, so it has a great role in regulating immune responses and corresponding inflammation (the body’s reaction to injury or infection). This is where a daily dose of ACV is important. Just like other fermented foods, it can feed the friendly bacteria in the GI tract and nourish a healthy gut microbiome, which can help lessen chronic inflammation.
10. Get energized
For a much-needed jolt, drink 1 to 2 tablespoons of ACV diluted in a glass of water or juice. Doing so will provide fatigue-fighting potassium and enzymes.
Quick remedies using apple cider vinegar
ACV is revered by many as an organic cure-all. Try it the next time you’re experiencing any of these conditions.
11. Settle stomachaches
A cup of hot apple cider vinegar and honey can ease tummy troubles. Stir 1 teaspoon ACV and 1 teaspoon raw honey into a cup of hot water. Then sip, and feel the pain melt away.
12. Relieve heartburn
The soothing ACV-honey combo above can help with heartburn, too.
13. Treat constipation
Drinking a cup of ACV and honey every day, followed by a few glasses of water, could help move things along.
14. Stop diarrhea
The fibrous pectin in the “mother” can firm up stool when you are sick or have indigestion.
15. Ease muscle cramps
Some cramps can be a result of low potassium levels. Drinking a bit of diluted ACV once or twice a day can help restore the essential mineral, and ultimately relax your muscles.
16. Dull joint pain
The trace minerals in the vinegar may help with chronic joint pain, too.
17. Get rid of candida
The prebiotic fiber in ACV can help regulate an overgrowth of candida, the yeast that often leads to infections and other complications.
18. Relieve sinusitis and allergies
Another benefit of ACV is the ability to break up mucus throughout the body and cleanse lymph nodes, both of which will help alleviate sinus issues and pesky allergy symptoms.
19. Soothe a sore throat
Feel a tickle in your throat? Make a do-it-yourself throat-coat tea made of hot water infused with honey and ACV.
20. Stop hiccups
The next time you have a never-ending fit of hiccups, reach for a bottle of ACV. Dilute a tiny bit into a shot glass of water, and bottoms up!
21. Treat sunburn
Forgot to reapply the SPF? Soothe the burn with apple cider vinegar. It’s pH-balancing so it can cool skin, prevent blisters, and promote healing. Simply dilute the vinegar with water in a spray bottle, and spritz on the affected areas. Or, add one cup of ACV to a warm bath and soak the pain away.
22. Fade bruises
ACV’s acetic acid can increase circulation and help diminish bruises more quickly. Before it turns into a full-on shiner, you’ll want to soak a cotton ball with a little of the vinegar and set with a bandage for 10 to 15 minutes.
23. Cure nail fungus
Simply clip and file infected nails, and then soak in a foot bath with some apple cider vinegar. Do this twice a day for 15 to 25 minutes until the condition improves.
24. Get rid of warts
Anecdotal evidence has shown that the antiviral properties in ACV might also help get rid of warts. To remedy, infuse a cotton ball with ACV, apply to the affected area, and hold in place with a band-aid overnight or for 24 hours. Repeat every evening for one week until the wart disappears. (According to some, the wart may swell, throb, or change color within 48 hours, which is not a cause for panic—it should heal in the next few days.)
25. Kill lice
ACV and coconut oil can provide a natural alternative to treating lice infestations. Proponents say ACV helps dissolve the adhesive that binds lice eggs to hair follicles, while coconut oil suffocates live bugs and keeps them from moving easily throughout the hair. Though it’s a bit of a process, it may spare you from having to use harmful chemicals on your head. To try, first coat hair thoroughly with ACV, let air dry, and then apply coconut oil all over. Cover hair with a towel or shower cap and let it sit for three to five hours. Comb hair to remove residual lice and eggs, then shampoo and condition.
26. Treat ear infections
The natural antibacterial and antiviral properties can also help clear ear infections. Here’s how to do so: Soak a cotton ball with a solution of equal parts ACV and water, then use it to plug the affected ear for about five minutes. After removing, lay down for a few minutes on the same side as the affected ear in order to drain the fluid.
Cooking with apple cider vinegar
Here are just a few reasons why apple cider vinegar earned its status as a pantry staple in the kitchens of health-minded cooks everywhere.
27. Make salad dressing
The sparkly-sour taste of ACV adds brightness to any dish, including a plate of greens. For the only dressing you’ll ever need, whisk together ¾ cup organic extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, 2 to 3 tablespoons stone-ground mustard, and the juice from ½ of a fresh organic lemon.
28. Boost savory dishes
Try a showstopping recipe of sautéed rainbow chard with bacon, complemented by a sparkling note of ACV.
29. Elevate soup
Add a little apple cider vinegar to your favorite soup for an extra flavor punch.
30. Amp up a smoothie
Give your morning smoothie added nutrients and health benefits with a little splash of ACV.
31. Make guilt-free chips
ACV is the secret ingredient to these amazing homemade Brussels sprouts chips that’ll make you forget about conventional potato chips forever.
32. Bake with it
In a pinch, a little apple cider vinegar plus baking soda can replace baking powder as a leavener. The mixture creates tiny bubbles, which allow muffins and cakes to rise. To account for 1 teaspoon baking powder, sub in ¼ teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients in the recipe and 1 teaspoon ACV to the wet ingredients.
33. Make vegan buttermilk
You can still have thick, creamy buttermilk even if you don’t eat dairy. ACV thickens up milk alternatives and gives it that signature sour taste. Just fill one cup with almond milk and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Done!
Apple cider vinegar for bath, body, and beauty
Turns out ACV is also an all-star beauty booster. Here are some of our favorite ways to use it for healthier skin, hair, and nails.
34. Condition hair
Each strand of hair is protected by a cuticle comprised of tightly woven scales that lay flat against the shaft and reflect light—that’s what makes it shiny! But when hair’s normally acidic pH balance goes out of whack—usually from a buildup of alkaline products—the cuticle comes undone. That leaves hair prone to breakage and a frizzy and dull appearance. The acidity in vinegar can help restore the pH balance and repair the cuticle. Just mix ½ cup distilled water and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and spritz generously onto wet hair, work into scalp, and rinse.
35. Eliminate dandruff
Raw, unfiltered ACV also has natural alpha-hydroxy acid that can gently exfoliate the scalp and hair to remove dead skin cells and product buildup. Use the same solution listed above to get rid of flakes.
36. Deep-clean pores
ACV pairs perfectly with bentonite clay powder to produce a facial mask that draws out all the dirt and impurities from pores (seriously, you’ll feel your face tingle as proof!). Combine equal parts of each, smooth over the face, leave on 15 to 20 minutes, and rinse. You’ll have the best skin ever!
37. Exfoliate and tone
Make your own exfoliating and acne-fighting toner with just a few ingredients: ½ cup ACV, ½ cup of water, 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, and 2 tablespoons fresh mint. To see how simply it comes together, watch this video.
38. Soothe skin all over
Who needs the spa? Treat yourself to a luxurious head-to-toe treatment by soaking in a bath with eight ounces of ACV and several drops of a calming essential oil like rosemary. It will help restore the skin’s natural pH balance and leave you feeling your best.
39. Relieve razor bumps
Mixed with a little antibacterial tea tree oil, the acetic acid in ACV can clear dead skin cells and help prevent infection and ingrown hairs.
40. Replace deodorant
Soak a cotton ball with ACV and swipe it under the arms. This will help lower the skin’s pH, and kill the bacteria that causes odors.
41. Fight foot odor
Since ACV is antifungal, regularly spraying feet with a mixture of equal parts ACV and water can combat the dreaded smell.
42. Freshen breath
An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the digestive tract could be the cause of stinky breath. But ACV can help. Simply swallow a tablespoon of vinegar diluted with water or juice before or after meals.
Apple cider vinegar around the house
ACV is also an excellent all-natural alternative to bleach and other harmful, endocrine-disrupting chemical cleaners.
43. Polish wood
For an organic polish that can restore the shiny, classic look of wooden furniture, mix ¼ cup ACV with 2 cups water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. (The formula is generally safe for both finished and unfinished wood.)
44. Dissolve dirt
Apple cider vinegar mixed with water makes a powerful all-purpose cleaner around the house that really picks up dirt and makes surfaces sparkle.
45. Kill mildew
The same solution above can be used as a safe and effective mildew spray for the shower.
46. Degrease dishes
To make hard-to-clean pots and pans spotless, combine equal parts ACV and dish soap directly on the surface and scrub. Trust us: it works!
47. Unclog drains
The fizzy reaction that comes from mixing together baking soda and ACV can help clear clogged drains. First, sprinkle a cup of baking soda down the sink, followed by a cup of apple cider vinegar. Let it sit for at least five minutes (or longer, depending on how serious the blockage is). Then, run hot water down the drain. Hair and other debris should dislodge and clear the way.
48. Kill weeds
Want a safe, natural, and eco-friendly way to kill weeds? Mix a ½ gallon ACV with a ¼ cup table salt and ½ teaspoon liquid dish soap. Add to a water bottle and spray directly at the target. Be careful to use it strictly as a spot treatment though since it can kill other plants.
49. Fertilize your garden
On the flip side, ACV can also act as a fertilizer for certain species that love acidic soil, such as blueberry bushes, hydrangeas, and hibiscus. Mix 10 ounces ACV with 10 gallons water and pour on soil to help cultivate these kinds of plants.
Apple cider vinegar for cats and dogs
Even pets can get down with apple cider vinegar.
50. De-flea pets
Fleas despise the acidic taste of ACV, so if your dog is itching, try adding just a little of the vinegar to their bowl of water. For a 40-pound dog, 1 teaspoon ACV to 1 quart water is recommended (adjust according to weight). (Do not add ACV to a cat’s water.) For both dogs and cats, a 1:1 mixture of ACV and water can be sprayed directly onto fur and skin. (Dilution is especially important for cats, who tend to have more sensitive skin.)
51. Get rid of the smell of urine
If your cat has sprayed on any linens around the house, some have said that adding a splash of apple cider vinegar to the laundry can help neutralize the ammonia odor.
Told you so! ACV really does have amazing benefits and all-around uses—and at just $3 a bottle, you can really stock up.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho