I first had to do a tiny bit of research because I honestly did not know how vinegar was made. I remembered a joke my husband made once about a special wine we bought on our honeymoon and we are going to save until our 50th anniversary if it hasn't turned to vinegar by then. What makes vinegar a natural product? And what is that white vinegar made of exactly? Turns out it is basically fermented grain alcohol - usually corn. There are lots of other types of vinegar made from a variety of fruits and starchy vegetables. There is a great website, www.vinegarworkswonders.com that does a great job of explaining the process if you want to know more.
chart from www.vinegarworkswonders.com
So now that we know it's a natural product, how do I use it?
I'm glad you asked.
Although there are many more uses for vinegar than listed here, these are the top 20 ways (not necessarily in order) we use vinegar in our home.
1) To get rid of the nasty old coffee smell from mugs - we call it a vinegar bath. Fill the sink with warm water and add a half cup of vinegar. Soak the mugs/cups for an hour or so. Then wash as normal. If they are really bad, you can fill the cup with mostly vinegar and some warm water and let sit over night. You can also use it to get rid of spoiled milk smell or any rotten food smell from dishes. We use this a lot on kids cups that go missing and show up with science projects in them.
2) Remove ink stains from clothes. A little laundry trick to try - 2 parts vinegar 3 parts corn starch after wetting with vinegar first.
3) Put in your rinse cycle of the dishwasher. Instead of using Jet Dry, put vinegar in there. It works great on your dishes and as a bonus, cleans your dishwasher.
6) In salad dressing. Whether you use white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or red wine vinegar, homemade salad dressings are tastier and healthier for you. My favorites are Balsamic Vinaigrette and Zesty Italian.
7) As a hair conditioner (apple cider vinegar). This post, Natural Shower Recipes, tells how I use apple cider vinegar to condition your hair. I've also recently seen a really neat hair mask that I want to try HERE.
8) Fruit fly traps (apple cider vinegar). We don't have air conditioner at our house and the little bambinos don't always close doors. That and the fact that we LOVE our fruit is why we constantly are dealing with fruit flies. To make a trap, mix some ACV and a small amount of dish soap in a small glass. Wrap plastic wrap over the top and poke small holes in it. The flies are will be able to get in but not out.
9) Clean out the coffee maker. Simply place vinegar in the water section of your coffee maker and let it cycle. Rinse it with another cycle of just water.
10) Clean the tea kettle. Boil 3 cups vinegar for 5 minutes. Leave in overnight, rinse with cold water.
11) Clear the air in the kitchen. Boil 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup water until almost all liquid evaporates. This rids the room of cooking (or burning!) smells.
12) In marinades for tender meat. A lot of times I just us our homemade salad dressings as marinades. I have also let my meat soak in vinegar all night and then rinse and season the next day before grilling. The vinegar breaks down the fibers and makes the meat tender.
13) Fruit and veggie wash (apple cider vinegar). Dilute 4 tbsp per gallon of water. To use, spray your fruits or vegetables, let sit for at least 20 seconds and then rinse with water. However - if you use this on strawberries it will break down the fruit! We got kind of soggy strawberries after using this once. I still use it on them, but don't let it sit very long.
14) Remove stains and odors from hands. If I got something icky on my hands like mold, or <cringe> poop from my children, I use vinegar to wash my hands. It gets rid of both the bacteria and the nasty odor. Ever wash your hands and still smell the offending nastiness? That's where vinegar comes in handy.
15) Post swim hair rinse. As an Aqua Fitness instructor I get in the pool a lot. Between my 3 classes a week and my children's love for the pool, my hair can get pretty damaged from the chlorine. I will sometimes use the Apple Cider Vinegar Conditioner after swimming as it effectively strips the harmful chemicals from my hair and leaves it soft.
16) Wrinkle spray. We don't use this as much anymore but we used to buy Downey Wrinkle spray because... well I just don't like ironing. Over the summer we have little use for ironing anything so we haven't used it. The recipe? 1 part vinegar, 3 parts water, essential oils in a sprayer. (We use the old Downey sprayer.)
18) Flower food for fresh cut flowers - 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar with 2 tbsp sugar, change every few days.
19) Cleaning burnt pans. I was amazed at how easy my pan was to clean after doing this. Place your dirty burnt pan on the stove top. Fill with enough vinegar to cover the bottom about 1/2 inch and bring to a boil. The charred mess starts peeling off on its own. After a few minutes, dump out and scrub. It should come right off.
20) Household cleaner to clean and disinfect. Simply dilute in a spray bottle and use to clean counters, mirrors, windows, tables, floors, etc.
I'm sure there will be more uses for us in the future! How do YOU use vinegar in your home?