If you thought vinegar was just for making pickles and coloring Easter eggs, you’re in for a surprise. The humble liquid has uses ranging from medicinal applications to household cleaning, and a slew of uses in between. It also has a very long history. Did you know it was “discovered” over 10,000 years ago?
The name vinegar comes to us from the French, who aptly named it “vin aigre,” literally meaning sour wine. A cask of wine that went bad turned out to be a wonderful new product! Through the centuries vinegar has been produced from a variety of raw materials other than grapes, ranging from fruits and berries to honey, beer, potatoes, and grains. Regardless of what source product is used, the process remains virtually unchanged – fermentation of natural sugars to alcohol, and then secondary fermentation to vinegar.
Vinegar is a truly versatile product. Around 5,000 BC, the Babylonians used it as both a condiment and preservative; they are also credited with the practice of adding herbs and spices to flavor it. History reports that the Greeks were the first to make pickled vegetables, the Romans considered it a beverage, and Hippocrates praised its medicinal qualities. There are even references to its soothing and healing properties in the Bible.
In spite of modern technology, isn’t it interesting that we have so many uses for a product that is virtually ancient? Vinegar is safe, non-toxic, and has a multitude of useful applications. Check out this list from The Vinegar Institute for handy ways to use vinegar in the home and around the garden. In our next post, we’ll share the many health benefits of vinegar along with food preparation tips and fun “Kid’s Stuff.”
Carpet stain removal:
A mixture of 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent and 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar in a pint of lukewarm water will remove non-oily stains from carpets. Apply it to the stain with a soft brush or towel and rub gently. Rinse with a towel moistened with clean water and blot dry. Repeat this procedure until the stain is gone. Then dry quickly, using a fan or hair dryer. This should be done as soon as the stain is discovered.
Window cleaning with vinegar will make your windows gleam and will not leave the usual film or streaks on the glass. Mix equal parts of white distilled vinegar and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth.
You can ease the job of washing painted walls, woodwork and Venetian blinds by using a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, ½ cup white distilled vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda with 1 gallon of warm water. Wipe this solution over walls or blinds with a sponge or cloth and rinse with clear water. Dirt and grime comes off easily and the solution will not dull the painted finish or leave streaks.
Water or alcohol marks on wood:
Stubborn rings resulting from wet glasses being placed on wood furniture may be removed by rubbing with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and olive oil. Rub with the grain and polish for the best results.
Garbage disposal cleaner:
Garbage disposal cleaning with vinegar cubes keeps disposals clean and odor free. Vinegar cubes are made by filling an ice tray with a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar and enough water to fill the ice tray and then freezing it. Run the mixture through the disposal, and then flush it with cold water for a minute or so.
Coffee maker cleaner (automatic):
White distilled vinegar can help to dissolve mineral deposits that collect in automatic drip coffee makers from hard water. Fill the reservoir with white distilled vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly with water when the cycle is finished. (Be sure to check the owner’s manual for specific instructions.)
Clean the microwave:
Boil a solution of 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar and 1 cup of water in the microwave. Will loosen splattered on food and deodorize.
Deodorize the kitchen drain:
Pour a cup of white distilled vinegar down the drain once a week. Let stand 30 minutes and then flush with cold water.
Clean the refrigerator:
Wash with a solution of equal parts water and white distilled vinegar.
Clean and disinfect wood cutting boards:
Wipe with full strength white distilled vinegar.
Cleaning with vinegar helps your brass, copper and pewter to shine. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and stir in flour until it becomes a paste. Apply paste to the metals and let it stand for about 15 minutes. Rinse with clean warm water and polish until dry.
Ant invasions can sometimes be deterred by washing counter tops, cabinets and floors with white distilled vinegar.
Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances:
Cleaning with vinegar makes it easier to remove streaks from stainless steel appliances. Apply vinegar with a soft cloth. Try in an inconspicuous place first.
Cleaner Dishes and Glasses:
Pour 1 ½ cup to 2 cups white distilled vinegar in the bottom of dishwasher, along with regular dishwasher soap. Wash full cycle.
Remove Refrigerator Smells:
Place 1 cup apple cider vinegar in a glass and set in refrigerator. Within 2 days, any smell is gone!
Bathtub film can be removed by wiping with white distilled vinegar and then with soda. Rinse clean with water.
Rub down shower doors with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar to remove soap residue.
Toilet bowl cleaner:
Stubborn stains can be removed from the toilet by cleaning with white distilled vinegar and brushing vigorously. The bowl may be deodorized by adding 3 cups of white distilled vinegar. Allow it to remain for a half hour, then flush.
Unclog the showerhead:
Corrosion may be removed from showerheads or faucets by soaking them in white distilled vinegar overnight. This may be easily accomplished by saturating a terry cloth towel in vinegar and wrapping it around the showerhead or faucet.
To kill grass on sidewalks and driveways, pour full strength white distilled vinegar on it.
Spray white distilled vinegar full strength on tops of weeds. Reapply on any new growth until plants have starved.
Increase soil acidity:
In hard water areas, add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of tap water for watering acid loving plants like rhododendrons, gardenias or azaleas. The vinegar will release iron in the soil for the plants to use.
Neutralize garden lime:
Rinse your hands liberally with white distilled vinegar after working with garden lime to avoid rough and flaking skin. Clean pots before repotting, rinse with vinegar to remove excess lime.
Keep Flowers Longer:
Keep flowers fresh longer. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a 1-quart vase of water. Trim stems and change water every five days.
Mix vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:8. Mix a separate solution of sugar and water in a mixture of 1:8. Combine the vinegar and sugar mixtures. Add to plant as long as needed.
A teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for each quart bowl of drinking water helps keep your pet free of fleas and ticks. The ratio of one teaspoon to one quart is for a forty-pound animal.
Test the color fastness of the carpet with white distilled vinegar in an inconspicuous place. Then sprinkle distilled vinegar over the fresh pet accident. Wait a few minutes and sponge from the center outward. Blot up with a dry cloth. This procedure may need to be repeated for stubborn stains.
Get Rid of Odor on a Smelly Dog:
Wet the dog down with fresh water. Use a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 2 gallons water. Saturate the dog’s coat with this solution. Dry the dog off without rinsing the solution. The smell will be gone!
To remove bumper sticker residue, try cleaning with vinegar. Wipe the surface repeatedly with white distilled vinegar until it is soaked. In a few minutes, it should peel off easily. Test on a small invisible area of the car to ensure there will be no damage to the paint.
For those rare winter mornings when there is frost on the car, wipe the windows the night before with a solution of one part water to three parts white distilled vinegar. They won’t frost over.
Mix olive oil and vinegar in a one-to-one ratio and polish with a soft cloth. Try in an inconspicuous place first.
Cleaning Leather Shoes:
Make a solution of one part water to one part white vinegar, and use it sparingly on the shoes. Dip a cloth into the solution, and dab it over the salt-streaked parts of your shoes.
May have to repeat the cleaning a few times before all the salt is removed. Salt actually can damage leather, so it’s best to clean shoes as quickly as possible. Don’t let the salt stains build up.
If you have a worn DVD that has begun to stick or suffers from the occasional freeze-frame, wipe it down with white distilled vinegar applied to a soft cloth. Ensure the DVD is completely dry before re-inserting in the DVD player. (Note: This only works on DVDs that are scratched of dirty through normal wear.)
Spots caused by wine can be removed from 100 percent cotton, cotton polyester and permanent press fabrics if done so within 24 hours. To do it, sponge white distilled vinegar directly onto the stain and rub away the spots. Then clean according to the directions on the manufacturer’s care tag.
Freshen baby clothes:
The addition of 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to each load of baby clothes during the rinse cycle will naturally break down uric acid and soapy residue leaving the clothes soft and fresh.
Clothes washing magic:
Clothes will rinse better if 1 cup of white distilled vinegar is added to the last rinse water. The acid in vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, but strong enough to dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents.
Cotton and wool blankets become soft, fluffy and free of soap odor if 2 cups of white distilled vinegar are added to the rinse cycle of the wash.
Deodorant and antiperspirant stains may be removed from clothing by lightly rubbing with white distilled vinegar and laundering as usual.
Keeping colors fast:
To hold colors in fabrics, which tend to run, soak them for a few minutes in white distilled vinegar before washing.
Leather articles can be cleaned with a mixture of white distilled vinegar and linseed oil. Rub the mixture into the leather and then polish with a soft cloth.
When you are color dyeing, add about a cupful of white distilled vinegar to the last rinse water to help set the color.
Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to the rinse water when you launder your shower curtain. Do not spin dry or wash out. Just hang immediately to dry.
Unclog steam iron:
Pour equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water into the iron’s water chamber. Turn to steam and leave the iron on for 5 minutes in an upright position. Then unplug and allow to cool. Any loose particles should come out when you empty the water.
Cleaning Vintage Lace:
Soak the lace in cold water, rinsing it several times. Next, hand-wash the lace gently with a wool detergent, such as Woolite. If rust spots are a problem, try removing them with a mixture of white vinegar and hot water.