How to cook, clean & live via vinegar

I recently became a vinegar convert after acquiring this book whose intriguing subtitle says it all: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of. What’s behind the cover fulfilled its title’s promise: I am now using vinegar in several of the ways it suggests, primarily (so far) as a spray-bottle cleanser and flavoring agent/foodstuff. While I can’t say for sure that all 400 uses will work as promised, I’ve had success with a number of them. Next up, I plan to leave a gallon of it overnight, with a gallon or two of water, in the bottom of my bathtub the next time it needs a major touch-up. Some other uses: deodorizer (e.g., of pet stains); recipe-helper (in a wide variety of roles); laundry-cleaning-helper; home remedy (e.g., against bug-bites and burns); pet cleaner/medicine; beauty/grooming aid. Compared to its alternatives, vinegar is inexpensive, easy on the environment, and versatile, which cuts down on my household “inventory.” The author also wrote a book called Baking Soda, which I’m just about to plunge into.

Here are a few vinegar recommendations I’ve already used:

– Clean the microwave by boiling a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar until it steams up. Wipe clean.

– Add vinegar to a hand-pump compressed-air sprayer to kill weeds and grass growing in crevices in a patio and walkways.

– Make any dried bean dish less gassy or stinky by adding 1/4 cup vinegar to the soaking water.

– Make catsup and other condiments last longer when the bottle is almost empty by adding a little vinegar and shaking.

– Spread a cloth soaked in vinegar over a price tag you want to remove and leave overnight.

– Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of vinegar—it will attract and drown them.

— Roger Knights

Vicki Lansky
120 pages, 2003
Available from Amazon

Sample recommendations:

Make creamy scrambled eggs: as eggs thicken when scrambling, add a tablespoon of vinegar for every two eggs.

Rub vinegar on the cut end of uncooked ham to prevent mold.

Add a tsp. of vinegar and sugar to correct a too-salty taste (in any recipe).

Pour a dash of white vinegar on a cloth and lay it over a burn, including sunburn.

Try vinegar ice cubes to clean and deodorize a garbage disposal.

Pour a cup of vinegar into the dishwasher and run the empty machine through the whole cycle to get rid of soap buildup and odors.

Use a paste of vinegar and salt to clean tarnished brass, copper, and pewter, or the scorch marks on the bottom of an iron.

Renew sponges, loofahs, dingy white socks, and dish rags by letting them soak overnight in dilute vinegar.

Remove grease and grime from fan blades, oven interiors, tops of refrigerators, etc.

Pour 1 cup vinegar into a sandwich-sized or quart-sized plastic bag and tying over a scummy shower-head for an hour. If that doesn’t work, unscrew shower-head and immerse in vinegar and salt, heating if necessary.

Clean toilet bowl rings by removing water from the bowl (you can use the toilet brush as a plunger to remove it), and laying vinegar-soaked paper towels on the ring for an hour or more.

Stretch any commercial window cleaner by combining it with 1/3 water and 1/3 vinegar.

Scrub fireplace bricks with vinegar.

Decrease static or dust accumulation of plastic or vinyl surfaces by wiping them down with vinegar and water.

Use vinegar on mildewed garments that cannot take bleach.

Wash new clothes with 1/2 cup white vinegar to eliminate manufacturing chemicals.

Remove odor and perspiration or deodorant stains by spraying vinegar on underarm or collar areas.

Make nylon hose look smoother and last longer by adding a tablespoon over vinegar to the rinse water.

Get salt stains off shoes with a dilute vinegar wipe.

Stop itching from insect stings or poison ivy by dabbing or spraying with vinegar.

To cut appetite and reduce weight, drink one glass of a mixture of vinegar, honey, and grapefruit juice before meals.

Pour vinegar wherever you don’t want ants to congregate.

Add it to the kids’ sandbox to discourage cats from employing it. Also, spray vinegar on outdoor surfaces you want a cat to leave alone.

Get rid of rust on spigots, tools, or bolts by soaking them. If necessary, add salt or heat (caution: stinky). Wash thoroughly afterwards and/or neutralize the vinegar with baking soda; then protect with oil or WD-40.

Tighten the cane in a sagging chair by sponging it with a heated solution of 50/50 vinegar and water.

Wash skinned game with a 50/50 vinegar/water solution to reduce the gamey taste.

Add vinegar to a pet’s drinking water to discourage fleas and mange.

I saw in the blurb today for Vinegar uses, that it can be used as a weed killer — that’s true, but you have to be really careful because if you don’t do it right you’ll also sterilize the ground around the weeds. Vinegar can nuke all the beneficial biological processes soil. My neighbor found out about this the hard way. The previous owner got tired of weeds so he used vinegar all over the back yard and killed everything off. Nothing would grow. To ‘restart’ the soil my new neighbor had to work in a couple of cubic yards of compost for a year and a half. What a lesson.

— Mark

Related items previously reviewed in Cool Tools:

Tips 23: White Vinegar vs. Toilet Bowl Rings

Gonzo Gizmos

Rough Science


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