Sometimes the old staples really are the best choices for products around the house. My grandmother always had a spray bottle of vinegar that she kept for “this and that.” Then today’s “wonder” products surfaced on the market, and they are promoted to clean, shine, disinfect, remove stains and generally do everything better. The trouble is they are all chemical-based and you need a different product for each use.
With the emphasis shifting back to a greener environment, vinegar is making a comeback. Not only is it versatile and natural, it is also inexpensive. Derived from any fruit or substance containing sugar, vinegar is made in a two-step process. The first is the alcoholic fermentation that occurs when yeasts change natural sugars to alcohol. The second step is when bacteria converts the alcohol to acid. Proper bacteria and timing is the key to the whole process.
Whether it is white, apple cider or balsamic, vinegar is a natural disinfectant and has antimicrobial properties. When used as a cleaner it eliminates 99% of bacteria, kills 98% of microbes, destroys 82% of molds and makes 80% germs vanish. It is non-toxic, biodegradable and cheap.
About this time I can hear the counter-argument that bleach is also an effective germ killer. True, but unlike vinegar, bleach is bad for the planet and hard on lungs. When bleach is manufactured it releases cancer-causing dioxin and brain-damaging mercury into the air. My cousin was using bleach to scrub stains from the driveway before sealing it and some soaked through her jeans on her knees. Even though she immediately washed it off, she ended up with severe chemical burns.
So, what exactly can that bottle of vinegar do? Here’s just a partial list:
– Add 2 tablespoons to 1 pint of water to make a wash for fruits and vegetables that kills bacteria.
– Soak slightly wilted greens in cold water and 2 tablespoons vinegar to bring them back to life.
– Apply ice-cold vinegar immediately on burns. It will help soothe the burning and prevent blistering.
– To relieve respiratory congestion, inhale a vapor mist of steaming water with several spoons of vinegar added.
– For that nasty toenail fungus, soak toes in 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water for 15 minutes a couple times daily.
– Apple cider vinegar has been touted as a health food for generations. People use it to lower cholesterol, lose weight, improve bowel irregularity, relieve joint pain and stiffness, break down fats, reduce glucose levels and a host of other conditions. One tablespoon in 32 ounces of water is a good starting point. A tablespoon of honey may also be added to sweeten things a bit, as apple cider vinegar is very tart. Beware though, you may want to sip the mixture through a straw as the acidity is hard on teeth enamel.
– Fish soaked in vinegar and water before cooking makes it sweeter, more tender and helps it hold its shape while cooking.
– Adding 1 cup vinegar to the last rinse of the laundry will make clothes fresher and softer.
– Submerge solid gold jewelry in 1 cup of apple cider vinegar for 15 minutes to remove dirt and grind and bring back the razzle dazzle. Pewter, copper and brass can also be shined using 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup vinegar mixed with enough flour to make a paste then rub it on the metals. Leave 15 minutes, then rinse and polish.
– Equal parts of vinegar and warm water will make windows sparkle. You can outsmart Jack Frost by mixing 1 part water to 3 parts vinegar and wiping car windows with the mixture the night before a frost. Windows will not frost over.
– Keep fresh flowers longer by adding 2 tablespoons vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar to a 1-quart vase of water.
– Acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, gardenias and azaleas love to drink a mixture of 1 cup vinegar to a gallon of water.
– Those nasty gnats and fruit flies that come this time of year will be attracted to a bowl filled with 1/2 quart water, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and a couple drops of dish soap.
– A couple cups of vinegar in drains and toilet bowls will deodorize and remove stains.
– Cleaning the refrigerator and microwave with a vinegar/water solution will make them shine and smell fresh.
– To remove bathtub film, wipe shower walls and bathtubs with vinegar and then with soda and rinse. Corroded shower heads can be cleaned by soaking in vinegar.
– Disinfect cutting boards by wiping with full-strength vinegar then washing in hot, soapy water.
– Mop no-wax floors with a 1/2 cup vinegar added to 1/2 gallon of water to disinfect and shine.
– Dirt and grime will easily come off woodwork and blinds using a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 gallon warm water. Then rinse with clear water.
– Remove water marks and those white rings on wood from wet glasses by mixing equal amounts of vinegar and olive oil. Rub with the grain of the wood then polish with a soft cloth.
– Spray full-strength vinegar on weeds, re-applying as necessary, until weeds are starved and wilt.
– One teaspoon for each quart of drinking water helps keep pets free of fleas and ticks.
– Love this one … for a smelly dog, wet the dog down using 1 cup vinegar per 2 gallons of water. Saturate the dog’s coat, then dry without rinsing. Fido will smell better! (Not sure if this works on skunk odor!)
Who knew vinegar could be so versatile! It’s a cheaper alternative to most cleaners and it’s good for you and the environment. Vinegar is definitely the greener cleaner!