Eight smart uses for vinegar
By Brian Clark Howard – May 12, 2009
Now that you know ketchup can be used for shining copper and repairing hair, or that vodka can be used to repel insects and freshen laundry, you may have been wondering what tasks you can get done for cheap with other household items.
Since May is National Vinegar Month (did you forget?), we thought we’d take a closer look at this inexpensive, versatile good.
According to the Vinegar Institute, the useful stuff was probably discovered by accident (most wine drinkers know what happens when you leave a bottle sitting around too long). In fact the word vinegar comes from a French translation for „sour wine.”
Over the centuries vinegar has been produced from many stocks, including molasses, dates, sorghum, fruits, coconut, honey, beer, maple syrup, potatoes, beets, grains, and more. But the principle is the same: You get acetic acid (a.k.a. vinegar) after first fermenting natural sugars to alcohol, and then fermenting again.
As Michael de Jong, The Daily Green’s Zen Cleaner and author of the Clean series of books, points out, vinegar has been pressed into service for many uses over the centuries. It has been prized as a foodstuff, condiment, preservative, and natural remedy.
What’s so great about vinegar? Besides being effective, vinegar is cheap and widely available. It is nontoxic and lasts for a very long time without losing strength. It does not pollute land, air, or water, and it doesn’t combust. It’s much safer to have under your sink than bleach, ammonia, or other toxic cleaning products. Many folks also swear by the benefits of apple cider vinegar.
In the spirit of green cleaning, green thrift, and green creativity, we put together this list of alternative uses for vinegar. Add your own in the comments!
Some have said they were able to cure pesky hiccups instantly by swallowing a teaspoon of vinegar. Most folks use white vinegar, but people have also reported success with apple cider, balsamic, and rice varieties. So you have a few options as far as taste and aroma. Hey, if the Roman legions drank it, it must be good for you, right?
If you often get foot or leg cramps in the middle of the night, you may want to try boosting your potassium levels. There are a number of great superfoods rich in potassium (way beyond bananas). Some folks have also suggested trying this remedy: Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of honey, and a cup of hot water. Then drink before bed. Yummy!
Break bad bonds
Having trouble getting that annoying sticky label residue off a product? Or accidentally glue something together? Vinegar can be used as a solvent to dissolve many common adhesives. Vinegar is also good at cutting grease.
We love cats (even LOLcats!). But sometimes you don’t want them doing their business in the kids’ sandbox or in your flower bed. According to HomeEnvy, a simple solution is to pour vinegar around the edges of the area you want to protect every few months.
According to the green team at Ideal Bite, vinegar can help remove bacteria and pesticide residues from fruits and veggies. Mix three parts water to one part white vinegar, and dispense in a spray bottle. Then rinse with water. The site claims this wash kills 98% of bacteria on produce.
Instead of spending money on window cleaning chemicals – especially ones that include toxic or potentially toxic chemicals – make your own! Mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water, and dispense into a used spray bottle. Squirt on, then scrub with newspaper, not paper towels, which cause streaking.
Get spring-fresh laundry
Got grass stains? No problemo, says Michael de Jong. Make a mixture of one-third cup white vinegar and two-thirds cup water. Apply the solution to the stain and blot with a clean cloth. Repeat this process until you’ve removed as much green as possible, and then launder as usual.
When your big washing day comes around, toss in a capful of white vinegar. Your colors will come out bolder and your whites whiter. If you’ve recently had an encounter with a skunk, it will take more than a capful.
After washing, get a sharper crease in pants by dipping the cloth in a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. Then wring out the cloth and press the creases. Now you look like Dilbert!
According to this The Daily Green community member: „Spots in carpets often remove with a simple dilution of one part vinegar, one-sixteenth part lemon juice, and eight parts distilled water.”
Thanks for the tip!