Saturday, February 2, 2013

Victorious Vinegar: Amazing Uses

After my last post, I pulled my book on vinegar and all it's many, many, many uses off the shelf to refresh my memory and so I could share with you some of the cool things that you can use it for to replace some of  the harsh (and toxic) chemicals that overpopulate our grocery store shelves.

Vinegar is created by over fermenting wine- to put it simply. There are more modern methods that take less time, but rather than bore you with how it is made, I am going to wow you by reciting the cool things it can do from Margaret Briggs's book "Vinegar, 1001 Practical Uses".

In general, unless otherwise specified, use plain white vinegar for the following uses.

Laundry Uses

Underarm Marks, deodorant stains, and odor can all be removed by soaking the offending shirt in white vinegar before washing like normal. Cuffs and Collars may be cleaned by making a thick paste of baking soda and viengar and rubbing it into the stains before washing. Other stains such as grass, coffee, berries, tar (for tar- can apply just to affected area), etc., may be removed by soaking the clothing in full strength vinegar. But don't worry about damaging the clothing- adding vinegar to your laundry wash will cut down on lint when put in the rinse cycle, and will prevent color bleeding in your wash. Soak items so they won't fade- like a quilt with 1 1/4C vinegar when washing for the first time. To save money, use vinegar as you would a fabric softener- it works just the same! To remove grease from suede, dip a toothbrush in vinegar and gently brush over the spot.

House/Garden Uses

If you have a pet, you know that brown patches of grass are just part of the territory. But adding 1 tbsp of vinegar to your dog's drinking water (new water every day) and bye bye brown spots!! If you need to keep kitties away, sprinkle vinegar along garden paths and patios- this works for children's sandboxes as well. Apply vinegar directly to concrete to remove stains. Adding a tbsp of Apple cider vinegar to 1 quart of drinking water will help repel mosquitoes and deal with heat stress. Ants can be a bother but they don't like to cross a path that has been cleaned by vinegar as the smell is offensive! To keep your pool fly free, pour vinegar around the edges thereof. Vinegar mixed with water based inks is a very cheap wood stain! To remove rust from metal, soak item in full strength vinegar, seal container and shake-- if you can, and let soak overnight. Dry thoroughly to prevent corrosion. To keep windshields ice and frost free, mix 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water and coat the windows with solution. Remove water stains from leather by rubbing a cloth dipped in water and vinegar solution. Revive leather by wiping a damp cloth sprinkled with vinegar. Clean a Jacuzzi once a year with 1 gallon of white vinegar- it will prevent clogging from soap scum, etc.


Vinegar is great for removing stains from plastic, china cups, and on pots and pans. A 50/50 mixture works well for me. To brighten stainless steel rub with white vinegar- this will not damage the metal- only soaking for too long will. To remove kettle lime deposite by adding a dash of vinegar to the water in the pot, boil, drain, and rinse well. To get your dishes and dishwasher clean, pour vinegar into the rinse cycle. This also keeps your glasses from water spotting. Clean chopping boards with full strength vinegar- it will cut grease and absorb odors. To clean your coffee maker, fill half way with vinegar and run as you would if making coffee, then run again with water- you may have to do this more than once to get rid of the smell. If your c. maker isn't too dirty use a 50/50 mix instead of full strength. Brass and copper cleaner can be made by combining equal parts lemon juice and vinegar. Wipe on with paper towel and dry with a soft cloth. Tarnished copper can be cleaned using a paste made of salt and vinegar. Remove rust from cast iron with a solution of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water. Soak the pan overnight to dissolve rust.

Odor Control

To get rid of paint fumes, place a small dish of white vinegar in the room. This also works for rooms where someone has been sick (vomiting etc.) Put out a bowl of vinegar after cleaning. For sour milk that may have spilled in your car, place a bowl of vinegar in the car keeping the doors and windows shut. Vinegar and water 50/50ish is a good smoke or perfume neutralizer. For animal urine- which can be brutal to try and get rid of- after blotting up urine and washing area, apply a mixture of equal parts vinegar and cool water, blot up again, rinse and let dry. 

Pets and Animals

Adding cider vinegar to animals drinking water has many benefits- as many (and similar) as it does for humans. Chickens will lay better, peck at each other less, and produce more tender meat. To prevent fleas from setting up camp, add cider vinegar to pet/animal's water a little at a time so the adapt to the taste, until you reach 1 tsp for small animals and 1 tbsp for larger animals. Repel flies from goats and horses by adding 2 tbsp to 5 gallon bucket. Alternatively, add 5 tsps of cider vinegar to horses's morning and evening oats to dramatically reduce fly bites. Female rabbits that don't want to breed will change their mind after having water dosed with 1 tbsp white vinegar. Litter boxes without smell: empty and fill half way with white vinegar and allow to set for 20 minutes. Swish, drain, rinse, and dry. A cleaning solution for pet's ears: 1/3 rubbing alcohol, 1/3 white vinegar, and 1/3 water in a dropper bottle. Put 8-10 drops in animal's ear, head tilted to the side, massage ear in a circle, wipe out gently with a tissue.

Decorating and Renovating

Remove cloudy appearance from varnished wood by rubbing with soft cloth soaked and wrung out in a solution of 1 tbsp white vinegar to 1 liter of lukewarm water. Buff dry with another soft dry cloth. Remove ring stains from wooden furniture with equal parts distilled vinegar and olive oil. Rub with the grain and polish for best results. To prevent plaster from drying out too quickly when applying or patching, add on tbsp vinegar to the water when mixing. Remove wallpaper paste by applying a solvent of 1 C white vinegar to 2-3 quarts of very warm water. After you get a corner of the paper to lift, start applying to the wall to remove glue. Work the area very damply using a sponge, changing out the water when it cools or becomes murky. Remove tempera paint by sponging straight vinegar over paint, wipe off residual paint with paper towels. Soften paint brushes by soaking them in hot vinegar, then rinse with warm soapy water.

Miscellaneous Uses

Nail polish will go on smoother and stay on longer if you clean your nails with white vinegar beforehand. Keep flowers fresher longer, by adding 2 tbsp of vinegar and 1 tbsp of sugar to each liter of water. Dust silk flower arrangements by spraying vinegar on them using a spray bottle! Propane lantern wicks will burn longer and brighter after being soaked in vinegar for several hours and then air dried. Remove winter salt stains from shoes by wiping with a clothe dampened in a vinegar solution of 1 tbsp to 1 C of water. Patent leather will shine better if you wipe it with a soft cloth moistened with distilled vinegar.

There are also many uses for vinegar- and it's many types in cooking applications as well as for personal health. I will discuss some of each in my next post but I highly recommend getting this book or one similar to it to keep on hand for any sticky situation that arises!