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White Vinegar vs. Distilled Vinegar: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on December 20, 2023
White vinegar is made through fermentation of grain alcohol, producing a strong, clear vinegar; distilled vinegar refers to vinegar derived from distilled alcohol, often with a milder taste and less acidity.

Key Differences

White vinegar, known for its clear and strong nature, is often made from grain alcohol. It has a robust, versatile profile suitable for cleaning, cooking, and pickling. Distilled vinegar, while also clear, is made from distilled alcohol, which can be derived from a variety of sources including grain.
In the culinary world, white vinegar is commonly used in recipes for its strong acidic flavor and preserving qualities. On the other hand, distilled vinegar, due to its milder nature and less intense acidity, is often preferred for more delicate culinary uses.
White vinegar is highly valued for its antibacterial properties and is a popular choice for natural cleaning solutions. Conversely, distilled vinegar, while still effective for cleaning, is often chosen for its less pungent smell and milder composition.
In terms of production, white vinegar typically undergoes a fermentation process of grain alcohol, resulting in higher acidity. Distilled vinegar, though similar in process, uses distilled alcohol, resulting in a vinegar that is generally less acidic and milder in flavor.
White vinegar is often the go-to vinegar for pickling due to its strong acidity, which is effective in preserving vegetables. Distilled vinegar, while it can be used for pickling, is often chosen for salad dressings and marinades due to its subtler flavor.

Comparison Chart

Base Ingredient

Typically grain alcohol
Distilled alcohol from various sources

Acidity Level

Higher acidity
Generally less acidic

Flavor Profile

Strong and robust
Milder and subtler

Common Uses

Cleaning, pickling, bold flavoring in cooking
Delicate culinary uses, salad dressings, mild cleaning


More pungent
Less pungent

White Vinegar and Distilled Vinegar Definitions

White Vinegar

A clear vinegar with high acidity, used in cooking and cleaning.
White vinegar is essential for my pickling recipe.

Distilled Vinegar

A type of vinegar with a subtle flavor, derived from distilled alcohol.
Distilled vinegar complements the dish without overpowering it.

White Vinegar

A versatile household product for culinary and non-culinary uses.
I add white vinegar to my laundry for extra freshness.

Distilled Vinegar

A less pungent vinegar, used in both culinary and cleaning contexts.
For a gentler cleaning solution, I use distilled vinegar.

White Vinegar

A strong vinegar made from grain alcohol fermentation.
I used white vinegar to clean the windows.

Distilled Vinegar

A milder vinegar, often used in cooking for delicate flavors.
Distilled vinegar is perfect for this salad dressing.

White Vinegar

A common type of vinegar used for its antibacterial properties.
White vinegar helps disinfect kitchen surfaces.

Distilled Vinegar

A multi-purpose vinegar with lower acidity than white vinegar.
Distilled vinegar is my go-to for homemade window cleaner.

White Vinegar

A culinary ingredient for adding a strong acidic flavor.
A dash of white vinegar balanced the soup's flavor.

Distilled Vinegar

Vinegar made from distilled alcohol, suitable for various uses.
I use distilled vinegar in my marinade for a subtle tang.


Does white vinegar have a stronger smell?

Yes, it typically has a stronger, more pungent aroma.

Can distilled vinegar be used for cleaning?

Yes, it's effective for cleaning, though milder than white vinegar.

Is white vinegar natural?

Yes, it's made through a natural fermentation process.

Is distilled vinegar better for sensitive skin?

Its milder nature may be more suitable for sensitive skin.

Does white vinegar expire?

It has an almost indefinite shelf life if stored properly.

Does distilled vinegar contain alcohol?

No, the distillation process removes alcohol content.

Can white vinegar lighten hair?

It can be used as a natural hair lightener.

Is distilled vinegar effective against weeds?

Yes, but it may be less effective than more acidic vinegars.

Can white vinegar be used in salad dressings?

Yes, but its strong flavor might overpower delicate dishes.

Can distilled vinegar be used to descale appliances?

Yes, it can be used for descaling due to its acidity.

Is white vinegar suitable for baking?

Yes, it can be used in baking for leavening and flavor.

Does white vinegar kill mold?

Yes, it's effective against mold and mildew.

Is distilled vinegar good for pickling?

It can be used, but it's less acidic than white vinegar.

Is white vinegar safe for pets?

In diluted form, it can be safe for various pet-related uses.

Can white vinegar be used on colored clothes?

Yes, but it's advisable to do a spot test first.

Can distilled vinegar be used for preserving food?

Yes, but it's less acidic than white vinegar.

Does distilled vinegar have any health benefits?

It may offer similar benefits to other types of vinegar, like aiding digestion.

Can distilled vinegar be used in hair care?

Yes, it can be used as a mild hair rinse.

Is distilled vinegar a good meat tenderizer?

Yes, its acidity can help in tenderizing meat.

Does white vinegar help with sunburn?

It can provide relief due to its astringent properties.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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