How to Clean Chicken with Vinegar: A Step-by-Step Guide
how to clean chicken with vinegar

For many people, chicken is an essential source of protein in their diet. However, before cooking chicken, it’s important to rid it of any harmful bacteria. That’s where vinegar comes in! Vinegar contains acidic properties that remove dirt and bacteria from the chicken, making it safer to eat.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of how to clean chicken with vinegar, including the benefits, steps, and additional tips and tricks to help you with the process.

Benefits of Cleaning Chicken in Vinegar

There are several benefits to using vinegar to clean chicken. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that helps to destroy harmful bacteria. This is especially important for raw chicken which may carry salmonella or campylobacter.

In addition to its disinfectant properties, vinegar can also help remove unpleasant odors from the chicken, particularly with chicken that has been frozen or refrigerated for an extended period that can develop a slightly off smell.

Another benefit of cleaning chicken with vinegar is that it can help tenderize the meat. Vinegar contains an acid that helps break down the chicken’s muscle fibers, making it tender.

How to Clean Chicken with Vinegar

vinegar and chicken on kitchen table

Learning how to clean chicken with vinegar is an easy and natural way to ensure your chicken is safe to consume. 

In this section, we’ll go over the steps for cleaning chicken in vinegar.

Prepare the Chicken and Your Work Area

Before you start, you should properly prepare your work area to prevent cross-contamination and foodborne illness.

Below are some steps to follow:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soapy water before handling the raw meat.
  2. Prepare a clean cutting board and knife.
  3. Place the chicken on the cutting board and remove any packaging or wrapping.
  4. Properly thaw the chicken and ensure it is at room temperature.
  5. Rinse the chicken under cold running water to remove any excess debris or blood. You can also trim any excess fat or skin from the chicken.
  6. Have a bowl ready to hold the vinegar solution and another container to hold the cleaned chicken. 
  7. Ensure all surfaces and utensils are clean and free of any debris or contaminants.

Prepare the Vinegar Solution

apple vinegar on table

The type of vinegar you use will depend on your personal preferences and what you have available. Keep in mind that each type of vinegar has different strengths and flavors, which can impact the results.

White vinegar is a popular choice for cleaning chicken as it is very effective at killing bacteria. Apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar are also commonly used.

To clean the chicken, you’ll need to prepare a solution of water and vinegar. The ratio of vinegar to water will depend on the strength of the vinegar you are using, but a good rule of thumb is to use one part vinegar to three parts water (1:3).

  1. Fill a large bowl or container with cold water.
  2. Add vinegar to the water, stirring gently to ensure it mixes properly.
  3. Use a measuring cup or spoon to ensure you’re adding the correct amount of vinegar.

Clean the Chicken with the Vinegar

Now that you’ve prepared your work area and vinegar solution, it is time to clean the chicken. 

Here are the recommended steps to follow:

  1. Dip the chicken into the vinegar solution, making sure it is fully submerged.
  2. Use your hands to gently rub the chicken, ensuring the vinegar solution covers all parts of the chicken.
  3. Let the chicken soak in the vinegar water for at least 10-15 minutes to give the vinegar enough time to penetrate the meat and remove any bacteria, without over-tenderizing the meat or altering the flavor.
  4. After soaking, remove the chicken from the vinegar solution and rinse it thoroughly with clean water. This will help remove any excess vinegar and ensure that the chicken is safe to eat.
  5. Place the cleaned chicken in a separate bowl or container.

The length of time you soak your chicken in vinegar will depend on the strength of the vinegar you are using and the temperature of the chicken. Avoid leaving it in for more than 30 minutes.

If you’re using a stronger vinegar like white vinegar, you may only need to soak the chicken for a few minutes to achieve the desired effect. If you are using something milder, such as apple cider vinegar, soak the chicken for longer to achieve similar results.

Dry the Chicken Thoroughly

After cleaning the meat with vinegar, you’ll need to dry it thoroughly. Drying it thoroughly helps to prevent the growth of bacteria and ensures that the chicken is safe to cook. 

Below are some steps to follow to allow proper drying:

  • Use paper towels or a clean cloth to pat the chicken dry.
  • Make sure all parts of the chicken are dry, including the inside of the cavity and folds in the skin.
  • Discard the paper towels or cloth and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Alternative Methods for Cleaning Chicken

While knowing how to clean chicken with vinegar is a popular option, it is not the only way to ensure your poultry is safe to eat. 

Here are a few alternative methods to consider:

  • Saltwater soak: Soak your chicken in a saltwater solution. This can help kill bacteria and remove any unpleasant odors from the chicken. To make a saltwater solution, dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt in 4 cups of water, and soak the chicken for 30 minutes.
  • Lemon juice soak: Lemon juice contains acid that can help kill bacteria and tenderize the meat. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water, and soak the chicken for 10-15 minutes.
  • Dry brine: A dry brine involves rubbing the chicken with salt and other seasonings, and letting it sit in the fridge for several hours or overnight. This can help tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor, while also helping to kill any harmful bacteria on the surface of the chicken.

Tips for How to Clean Chicken with Vinegar 

  • If you’re using a whole chicken, remove the giblets and other internal organs before cleaning with vinegar.
  • Add herbs, spices, garlic, or lime juice to the vinegar solution to enhance the flavor of the chicken.
  • Use a clean cutting board, knife, and kitchen surface when preparing and cleaning the chicken. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Avoid chicken that has gone bad or past its expiration date. Ensure it is fresh meat.
  • Store the cleaned chicken in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it.


While there is no one-size-fits-all rule to how to clean chicken with vinegar, by following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your chicken is safe to eat and free from contaminants.

Remember to always follow proper food safety precautions when handling raw poultry to prevent the risk of food poisoning. With a little bit of care and attention, you can enjoy delicious and safe chicken dishes for yourself and your loved ones.

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