Every now and again I come across a book that really excites me. Today’s post is based on such a book. It’s Vicki Lansky’s book on vinegar. The book is an extremely handy reference for all the great uses of this acid. Some of them I knew but most of them are new to me.
This post is a collection of my personal favourites from Vicki’s book. I’m focussing in particular on vinegar as a cleaning product so I’m excluding any tips on cooking with it here. If you want to dive into the cooking part, I suggest a look in Vicki’s book (reference at the end of the post). And for some background on preserving food, I suggest my posts on pickling and preserving food.
Before I get to the many handy tips, a few words of advice. There are many kinds of vinegar for sale, from white to creamy balsamic vinegar. When it comes to cleaning, however, white distilled vinegar is the way to go. The reason is simply that any other type could stain whatever you’re wanting to clean. For home remedies, I recommend apple cider vinegar because it simply tastes better.
The reason vinegar is such a versatile product is that its acidity kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of moulds, and 80 percent of all germs (according to Vicki). This makes it a good neutralizer, cleaner, preservative, health remedy and condiment. And with all that, it’s cheap, safe, and environmentally friendly.
Vinegar is great and safe to clean the kitchen with. Although it doesn’t eliminate all harmful bacteria (such as salmonella) it is extremely useful to have sitting on your kitchen counter.
- A spray of full-strength vinegar on the chopping board at night will kill off any odour and potential bacteria.
- The fridge is best cleaned with a water-vinegar solution. It reduces odour and is food-safe.
- Vinegar will clean any scum on the inside of the dishwasher. Simply run the dishwasher empty with one cup of it in a bowl on the top rack.
- If plastic or glass containers smell, simply wash out with some vinegar. For stronger odour, let it sit for a bit.
- It cuts through any grease on the stove top and inside the oven. It might need some time to work its magic, but it works.
- Vinegar will also clean soap scum in the bathroom. I spray everything in my bathroom with full strength white vinegar and let it sit for about 30 min before washing it off with water.
- A good tile cleaner is this: 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1 cup vinegar, and 1 cup ammonia to 4 litres of warm water.
- A showerhead becomes shiny again with 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar. Simply submerge the showerhead into the solution and let it sit for an hour.
- I also spray vinegar into my toilet. Combined with a brush and some elbow grease, that’s all I need.
- It also freshens the air, if you like the smell. Simply spray the full strength or a water mix.
Around the house
- Carpet stains are best removed with a paste of baking soda or salt and vinegar. Just test its effect on your colour first before using the paste on a large area.
- You can also freshen up carpets with one cup of vinegar in a bucket of water for a rug wash.
- Cleaning windows and mirrors with vinegar is easy and streak-free.
- Being a bacteria-killer, a spritz of it on every doorknob (and other frequently touched surfaces) during flu season eliminates the spread of bacteria.
- In case of mould and/or mildew on walls, a water-vinegar solution is great to wipe them clean and inhibit further growth.
- Vinegar is also great as a fabric softener. Simply add to the last wash cycle.
- I also clean my washing machine with it. A strong solution for my top loader is about 1l of vinegar into hot water with extra boiling water, left for about two hours. Works like a charm.
- A stain remover for clothing is this: equal parts vinegar and milk.
- Vinegar will also remove odour from clothing. Simply spray onto underarm and collar areas in full strength before washing.
- And for those of us with kids in the house, vinegar also removes glue from clothing. Soak a cleaning cloth in it and tab onto the glue stain on the clothing until the glue softens. Wash as usual.
I already use vinegar as part of my hair care but also for skin and muscles it can do wonders.
- For hair, it can aid to relieve itchy scalp and dandruff. Simply rinse clean hair with diluted vinegar. I like using apple cider vinegar (ACV).
- ACV can also substitute any hair conditioner.
- A steam bath for the face with ACV and hot water can help to clear pores and relieve signs of acne.
- It can also be a deodorant substitute if you like the smell.
- A bath in warm water with one cup of ACV with dried herbs or flower petals can relieve sore muscles and itchy skin.
I talk elsewhere about home remedies, which include ACV but this post wouldn’t be complete without it. I recommend using ACV rather than white vinegar for any of these remedies because ACV originates from apples which add some flavour and potentially some minerals and vitamins.
- Against a sore throat, gargle with water and ACV to eliminate bacteria.
- Use ACV as a face wash against acne and facial blemishes.
- A bath in warm water and vinegar can reduce yeast infections.
- Ice-cold ACV helps to relieve sunburn.
- And it also works great against insect bites.
These are my personal favourite uses of vinegar and the list could go on. But please, do use vinegar with caution. It is an acid and can have adverse effects on your health in particular if ingested excessively. Make sure to use no more than a 5 percent (or 50 grains) acetic solution for everything I describe above.
I encourage you though to give vinegar a chance to clean your house and yourself.
Source: Vicki Lansky: Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile, and Very Good Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought Of. Minnetonka, 2004. Google offers free access to most parts of the book.