Vinegar, from Old French, vinaigre, meaning “sour wine,” is not just for salads anymore! The uses and benefits of vinegar stretch well out of the kitchen pantry — from industrial applications, to medicinal treatments, to interior and exterior household uses.
I’ve been using vinegar around the house for decades! In fact, this past week I whipped out the distilled white vinegar bottle four times at my brother’s house while caring for my nieces and nephews — to remove gum from the couch, clean a scale frosted glass shower door, de-stick kitchen scissors, and clean off the chalky buildup inside of the dishwasher.
Distilled white vinegar is cheap, non-toxic to humans and pets, eco-friendly, and with a low pH, its acidic nature makes for an effective anti-mold and anti-bacterial cleanser. So for this Fix-it Friday I give you…
12 Terrific Household Uses for Distilled White Vinegar
1. Remove gum, resin, glue, stickers, etc. — Pour or spray straight vinegar over the blotch, and start scraping/wiping off bits as the acidity starts to breaks down the sticky stuff.
2. Clean fruits and vegetables — washing produce with vinegar breaks down any wax coating and kills bacteria and mold. Use approximately 1 cup vinegar in a ½ water filled sink.
3. De-scale and de-grease glassware, mirrors, windows, etc. — use a 50/50 water-vinegar solution in a spray bottle or bucket with a sponge and squeegee. For very stubborn scale, use it undiluted, but be careful not to damage delicate adjoining surfaces, like a bronze finish shower door frame.
4. Clean the dishwasher interior — to clean chalky residue and sanitize the inside of your dishwasher pour 2 cups of white vinegar in a deep glass measuring cup or bowl, place it in the lower rack of an empty dishwasher and run a normal cycle with any “heat dry” option turned off. Do not use any detergent.
5. Remove showerhead calcium buildup — Soak a crusty showerhead in a plastic bag mixed with equal parts of white vinegar and hot water, taping the bag closed at the shower-arm and letting it penetrate for a couple of hours. Scrub the face of the showerhead with a plastic scrub brush. For more details, see one of my previous Fix-It Friday columns, How To Get Rid Of Nasty Showerhead Buildup.
6. Herbicide — For an eco-friendly weed killer spray undiluted vinegar directly on to weeds (avoid the grass). Repeated applications may be necessary. Note: regular white vinegar contains about 5% acetic acid, but you can find 10% and higher vinegars in garden supply stores and home centers, which are stronger and more effective herbicides.
7. Clean and deodorize the microwave —in a large microwave safe cup, steam up a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar, then wipe down the interior to remove now loosened crud.
8. Remove wax or silicone buildup on furniture and floors — mix 1 cup vinegar with ¼ cup cream of tartar. Wipe mixture over the surface in the direction of the grain, rinse clean with a wet cloth, then wipe dry. Warning: Always test on an inconspicuous surface first to be sure this process doesn’t destroy your finish.
9. Unstick gooey scissors, can openers, etc. — Wipe down sticky moving parts and surfaces with a cloth soaked in vinegar. Don’t rinse with water.
10. Make wall and floor tile sparkle — Mix a 3:1 ratio of water to vinegar in a bucket and add a few drops of lavender or citrus oil. Wipe down or mop your tiles and watch how they’ll shine!
11. Clean grout — Spray grout with a 50/50 warm water and vinegar solution, then scrub with a stiff bristle brush. For more stubborn stains, make a paste with baking soda and water, brush the paste into the grout lines, then spray with the vinegar solution. Once it’s stopped foaming, scrub some more, then rinse with warm water.
12. No scour pot cleaning — If you have a stuck-on, even burnt bottom of a pot, wipe out what you can, then pour in a 3:1 vinegar to water solution and let it simmer on the lowest flame. Keep an eye on it. The acid and heat scours for you!
Bonus Tips: Let me restate that if you’re working on or near a delicate fabric or surface, always try a test spot first in an inconspicuous area. When soaking with vinegar, keep an eye on it. Also, it’s best to try diluted solutions before using straight vinegar.
I’ve covered 12 white vinegar uses, but there are certainly dozens more! Please feel free to share your favorite vinegar fixes in the comments below…
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Fix-It Friday is an exclusive Women You Should Know® editorial series authored by seasoned veteran of home improvement, Norma Vally, the former host of Discovery Home Channel’s series “Toolbelt Diva” and a show on Sirius Satellite Radio by the same name. The weekly column is designed to inspire women – weekend warriors, aspiring handywomen, and even seasoned DIYers – to take on home repairs and maintenance projects with confidence and gusto.