I started off the year in a really great way: with a hearty case of tonsillitis! </sarcasm>
Sitting puffy-necked at the clinic, the doctor prescribed me a bottle of expensive chemical medicinals but also took time to recommend more natural remedies, which I appreciated. You know them: ginger, lemon, oil of oregano. “Back in my day,” he said, “we had every illness under the sun but we never used doctors.”
Vinegar is another of those “old school” substances like lemon and Borax, unappreciated in today’s product-saturated society. Here I look at 50 ways to use vinegar ALL over the house and home.
1. Clean your computer and mouse. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water, dampen a clean cloth, squeeze well and wipe—use cotton swabs for tight spaces. Remove mouse tracking ball and clean inside parts too. Let equipment dry before putting it all back together.
2. Get rid of mildew. White vinegar works on almost any surface- –bathroom fixtures and tile, clothing, furniture, painted surfaces, and plastic curtains. To eliminate heavy mildew, use full strength and for lighter buildup, dilute with an equal amount of water.
3. Prevent mildew. You can also prevent mildew from forming on the bottoms of rugs and carpeting by misting the backs with full-strength white vinegar from a spray bottle.
4. Shine your silverware and silver jewelry by soaking them in a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons baking soda for two to three hours
5. Erase ballpoint-pen marks by dabbing some full-strength white vinegar on the stain using a cloth or a sponge.
6. Clean eyeglasses by wiping each lens with a drop of vinegar.
7. Deodorize a room filled with cigarette smoke or paint fumes by placing a small bowl of vinegar in the room. Add cardamom or other fragrant spice to the bowl for added freshness.
8. Remove decals or bumper stickers by soaking a cloth in vinegar and covering the decal or bumper sticker with it for several minutes until the vinegar soaks in. Decals and bumper stickers should peel off easily afterwards.
9. Brighten rugs and carpets. Brush floor coverings with a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar in
a gallon of water.
10. Leather articles can be cleaned with a mixture of distilled vinegar and linseed oil. Rub the mixture into the leather and then polish with a soft cloth.
11. Remove stubborn water rings from glasses on wooden furniture by rubbing with a mixture of equal parts distilled vinegar and olive oil.
12. Get the salt off your shoes. Not only does salt buildup look atrocious, but it can damage your footwear. Wipe fresh salt stains with a cloth dipped in undiluted white vinegar to prevent staining and long term problems.
13. Freshen a musty closet. First, remove its contents, then wash down the walls and floor with a cloth dampened in a solution of 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup ammonia and 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water.
14. Remove candle wax. First soften the wax using a blow-dryer on its hottest setting and blot up as much as you can with paper towels. Then remove what’s left by rubbing with a cloth soaked in a solution made of equal parts white vinegar and water.
15. Conceal scratches in wood furniture by mixing distilled white or cider vinegar with iodine in a small jar and painting over the scratch with a small brush. *Note: Use more iodine for darker woods; more vinegar for lighter shades.
16. Make your own all-purpose cleaners. For glass, stainless steel, and plastic laminate surfaces, fill your spray bottle with 2 parts water, 1 part distilled white vinegar, and a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid.
17. Sanitize jars, containers, and vases. When cleaning out slimy mayonnaise, peanut butter, or mustard jars to reuse, simply fill the item with equal parts vinegar and warm, soapy water and let it stand for 10-15 minutes. If you’re cleaning a bottle or jar, close it up and give it a few good shakes or use a bottle brush to scrape off the remains before thoroughly rinsing.
18. Purge bugs from your pantry. If you’ve got moths in your cupboard or pantry, fill a small bowl with 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar and add a couple of drops of liquid dish detergent. Leave it in there for a week; it will attract the bugs, which will fall into the bowl and drown. Then empty the shelves, and give the interior a thorough washing with dishwashing detergent or 2 cups baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) water.
19. Condition your hair. A terrific and all-natural way to condition limp or damaged hair: combine 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 egg whites. Rub the mixture into your hair, keep it covered for 30 minutes using plastic wrap or a shower cap and when time’s up, shampoo and rinse as usual.
20. Soak away aching muscles. If you’ve pulled a tendon or are just feeling rundown, add 2 cups apple cider vinegar to your bathwater. Mixing peppermint in makes it even fresher.
21. Pamper your skin. Using vinegar as a skin toner dates back to the time of Helen of Troy. After you wash your face, mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 2 cups water as a finishing rinse to cleanse and tighten your skin. You can also make your own facial treatment by mixing 1/4 cup cider vinegar with 1/4 cup water; simply apply the solution to your face and let it dry.
22. Ease sunburn and itching. Cool a bad burn by dabbing the area with a cotton ball or soft cloth saturated with white or cider vinegar. The same technique works to instantly stop the itch of mosquito and other insect bites.
23. Banish bruises. Speed healing and prevent black-and-blue marks by soaking a piece of cotton gauze in white or apple cider vinegar and leaving it on the injured area for one hour.
24. Get rid of age or sun spots. Pour full-strength apple cider vinegar onto a cotton ball and apply it to the spots for 10 minutes at least twice a day, and you should see the spots fade or disappear within a few weeks.
25. Soften your cuticles. Soak your fingers and toes in a bowl of undiluted white vinegar for five minutes before manicuring.
26. Make nail polish last longer. Your nail polish will have a longer life expectancy if you first dampen your nails with some vinegar on a cotton ball and let it dry before applying your favorite polish.
27. Whiten your grout. If your shower or bathtub grout’s gone grubby, restore it to its original shade of white using a toothbrush dipped in undiluted white vinegar to scrub away the dinginess.
28. Stop reds from running by new garments in a few cups of undiluted white vinegar for 10-15 minutes before their first washing.
29. Whiten dingy socks. Add 1 cup vinegar to 1 1/2 quarts (1.5 liters) tap water in a large pot. Bring the solution to a boil, then pour it into a bucket and drop in your dingy socks. Let them soak overnight. The next day, wash them as you normally would.
30. Spray away wrinkles. You can often get the wrinkles out of clothes after drying by misting them with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water, and then hanging the garment to air dry. A great trick for gentle fabrics that don’t take well to ironing.
31. Re-shape wool. Shrunken sweaters and other wool items can be stretched back to their former size or shape by boiling them in a solution of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water for 25 minutes. Stretch them back into shape and let them air dry.
32. Kill grass on walks and driveways, or unwanted weeds. Pour or spray full strength.
33. Prolong the life of flowers in a vase by adding two tablespoons of vinegar plus three tablespoons of sugar per quart of warm water.
34. Eliminate animal urine stains from carpet by blotting up the mess with a soft cloth flushed in lukewarm water, then applying a mixture of equal parts vinegar and cool water.
35. Deter ants by spraying vinegar around door and window frames, under appliances, and along other known trails.
36. Clean rust from tools, bolts, and spigots by soaking the rusted items in undiluted vinegar overnight.
37. Relieve itching by using a cotton ball to dab mosquito and other bug bites with vinegar straight from the bottle. (Same with bee or jellyfish stings!)
38. Relieve dry and itchy skin by adding 2 tablespoons to bath water.
39. Take grease off suede. Dip a toothbrush in vinegar and gently brush over grease spot.
40. Remove tough stains. Gently rub on spots made from fruit, jam, mustard, coffee, or tea. Then wash as usual.
41. Get smoke smell out of clothes by adding a cup of vinegar to a bath tub of hot water, and hanging garments above the steam.
42. After a hem or seam is removed, there are often unsightly holes left in the fabric that can be removed by placing a cloth, moistened with distilled vinegar, under the fabric and ironing.
43. Clean a scorched iron plate by heating equal parts vinegar and salt in a small pan. Then rub the solution on the cooled iron surface to remove dark or burned stains.
44. Freshen vegetables by soaking wilted veggies in 2 cups of water with a tablespoon of vinegar.
45. Unclog a drain. Pour a handful of baking soda down the drain and add 1/2 cup of vinegar and rinse with hot water.
46. Clean and disinfect wood cutting boards by wiping with full strength vinegar.
47. Clean the refrigerator and other appliances by washing with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar.
48. Get stains out of pots by filling the pots with a solution of 3 tablespoons of vinegar to a pint of water. Boil until stain loosens and can be washed away.
49. Clean soap scum, mildew, and grime from bathtub, tile, and shower curtains using vinegar instead of expensive chemical-laden cleaning products.
50. Unclog a shower head. Unscrew it, remove the rubber washer, place the head in a pot filled with equal parts vinegar and water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for five minutes.
Which of these 50 ideas will you be using around your home?