Is Distilled Malt Vinegar the Same as White Vinegar?

is white vinegar the same as distilled malt vinegar

Distilled malt vinegar is not the same as white vinegar. They have different uses and benefits in cooking and household use. Malt vinegar has a milder flavour, and is sweeter and less acidic than white vinegar. White vinegar is more purified, colourless, easy to make, and is often the more affordable option. 

Although white vinegar and malt vinegar are both types of vinegar, there are some critical differences between the two. And depending on what you’re planning on using them for, you might want to avoid mixing the two up.

For example, white vinegar is not really intended to be digested, whereas malt vinegar has a lovely deep nutty flavour that works perfectly in salads and on fries. 

But when it comes to cleaning, malt vinegar might leave a strong odour behind, whereas white vinegar is a powerful degreaser that cuts through bad smells. 

Differences Between White Vinegar and Distilled Malt Vinegar


When we think of malt vinegar we tend to picture a brown liquid, but distilled malt vinegar is actually clear. Because of this, it’s easy to mix it up with white vinegar. 

Brown malt vinegar shouldn’t be used for cleaning because it can stain surfaces and leave a residue. And, most importantly, it will leave a pungent smell behind that isn’t very pleasant. 

White vinegar is colourless, cuts through grease and grime, and doesn’t leave behind a strong smell.


The strength of vinegar usually comes down to two factors: pH level and acetic acid content. 

Any substance containing acid will have an acidic pH level, usually between 2 and 3.5. White vinegar has a higher pH level than distilled malt vinegar, of around 2.5. This is one of the highest pH levels we see in the vinegar family.

Both malt vinegar and white vinegar contain acetic acid but at different variations. Distilled malt vinegar has around 4% acetic acid content, whereas white vinegar has up to 10%. The rest of the substance in white vinegar is made up of water. 

The strength of the acetic acid content in vinegar is what makes it a good or bad cleaning product. Acetic acid cuts through grease and stains, which is why white vinegar is so good for cleaning. 

Is distilled vinegar the same as white vinegar for cleaning

No, white vinegar is not the same as distilled malt vinegar for cleaning. White vinegar contains more of the active cleaning ingredient, acetic acid, making it a far superior cleaning product. 

Distilled malt vinegar can also leave behind a not-very-pleasant smell. Not what you want when cleaning your home. And if you’re using normal malt vinegar, then there’s also a danger of staining light-coloured surfaces. 

White vinegar is the preferred product to use for cleaning, as it cuts through grease easily and leaves no smell or residue behind. 

It also leaves no staining behind because it’s completely clear. It may cause damage to porous surfaces or delicate fabrics, but as long as it’s diluted and used correctly there shouldn’t be any issues. 

And another benefit of using white vinegar for cleaning is that it can be bought in bulk. This saves you money in the long run and can even replace some branded cleaning products like floor cleaner and surface disinfectant. 

How to use white vinegar for cleaning

Mix one part vinegar with one part water, and you have a quick and easy cleaning solution that can be used in more areas of your home. In a spray bottle, white vinegar and water are great for cleaning surfaces, bathrooms and glass. And when mixed with hot water, it makes an excellent floor cleaner. 

For added cleaning power, or for a nice smell, you can also add lemon juice or a small amount of dish detergent to your homemade cleaning solution. 

You might enjoy some of our vinegar-related Clean and Tidy Living articles for more tips:

Where to Buy White Vinegar for Cleaning in the UK 

How to Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine With Vinegar And Baking Soda

How to Clean a Washing Machine With White Vinegar

Does Vinegar Kill Mold? 

Is distilled malt vinegar the same as white vinegar for cooking

When it comes to cooking, white vinegar adds little more than a hint of acidity, without any flavour. Distilled malt vinegar has a rich, toasted, sweet, nutty flavour that can enhance the flavour of a dish. 

Malt vinegar was originally a by-product of ale, that went too far in the fermentation process. This means it’s a lot sweeter than other vinegar, because of the sugars in the ale. 

Also, because of the barley in the ale mixture, malt vinegar isn’t gluten-free. You might get away with it with a mild intolerance, as it has around 20 parts per million of gluten or less. This is sometimes considered a safe quantity for those who are gluten intolerant. 

So although we don’t recommend white vinegar for cooking, if you are celiac then white vinegar may well be the next best thing to get that acidic hit! 

Difference between distilled malt vinegar and white vinegar FAQs

How is white vinegar made? 

Most kinds of vinegar are made through fermentation. White vinegar is produced through the fermentation of an alcoholic liquid similar to vodka – most likely grain-based. During the fermentation process, bacteria break down the alcohol. Acetic acid, which causes acidity in vinegar, is the byproduct of this process. 

How is distilled malt vinegar made?

Distilled malt vinegar, like most kinds of vinegar, is made through fermentation. It was originally created by accident, by fermenting ale for too long. Now it is produced by fermenting a barley-based liquid, similar to beer or ale. The acetic acid crucial to vinegar is produced by acetic acid bacteria, which breaks down the alcohol caused by fermentation. After the malt vinegar is ready, it’s then distilled to take away the brown colour. 

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