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Nick’s Tip: It’s Not Just For Cooking

by Nick Vitrano

Since beginning this little household tips segment, folks have been relentlessly banging the vinegar drum.

“Nick – do a tip on vinegar!”

“Nick, vinegar is great for that too.  You should do a tip on ways to use vinegar.”

“Why don’t you do a tip on ways to use white vinegar?  It’s awesome for a bunch of stuff around the house.”

“Vinegar works way better for that.  Just do a vinegar tip.”

OK!  OK!  Loud and clear, vinegar crazies!  So, yeah, vinegar…it is quite versatile.  You can Google vinegar and get anything from 5-150 household uses.  Most of them are variations of each other, and some are just flat-out goofy, so I’ll try to streamline vinegar’s many uses into a tighter list of things you might actually try.

Here we go:

  • Unclog, clean, and deodorize your drains.  Recipes vary, but I’ve always found equal parts to work just fine – I usually go with ½ cup.  Pour in ½ cup of baking soda, then follow with ½ cup of vinegar.  Let it sit for 15 minutes or so, then flush with hot water for about 2 minutes.  Follow with a cold water flush for the same amount of time.  HINT: adding salt to the baking soda mixture aids in the chemical reaction and can boost the effectiveness. 
  • Clean your hard surfaces (especially floors).  Mix ¼ cup vinegar per gallon of warm water and wipe away.  Your floors will look great, as well sinks and toilets and countertops and the inside of the fridge and windows...
  • Clean soap scum and mildew and other deposits.  Spay down your soap scum coated bathroom surfaces and those areas where mildew collects, let sit, wipe away.  This includes your shower heads which tend to get those hard water deposits.  Soak the head in vinegar and then rinse.  In a similar vein, it works well to clean deposits from the dishwasher, washing machine, and iron.  Run your dishwasher and washing machine with vinegar in place of detergent.  Steam your iron with an equal parts vinegar/water solution.  You can run vinegar through your coffee maker to clean the inside, as well (just be sure to run water through a complete cycle afterwards).
  • Soften your laundry.  Use ¼ cup vinegar in the fabric softener compartment and you’re good to go.
  • Neutralize pet odors.  You got the stain out, but that smell is likely to hang around.  Wet the stained area with a 1 part vinegar/3parts water solution, then blot with a dry cloth.
  • Boost your dish detergent.  Add a couple tablespoons of vinegar to your dish water to boost its grease cutting power.  In fact, to cut through anything greasy or dust-caked, vinegar is awesome – cooktops, blinds, backsplashes, stove hoods, etc.  It’s also great for removing sticky labels – just soak the sticker and rub away.
  • Polish…just about anything.  From furniture to silver to your salt-stained leather surfaces, vinegar solutions are great.
  • Wash your fruits and veggies.  Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a bottle, then spray your fruits and veggies, then rinse.

So there you go, vinegar folks.  There are plenty of other ways to capitalize on vinegar’s versatility, but I’ve found these to be the most useful in an everyday sense. 

So there you go, vinegar folks.  There are plenty of other ways to capitalize on vinegar’s versatility, but I’ve found these to be the most useful in an everyday sense.