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11+ Uses for Vinegar You Need to Know About

When I buy vinegar, I buy it in bulk from Costco. Why on earth do I need that much vinegar, you ask?

Because vinegar, like baking soda uses, is one of those miracle products that I use for dozens of different things. I use it  to can vegetables, to clean my house, to remove stains – it’s a truly amazing, versatile, and eco-friendly product.

The wonderful thing about vinegar is that, because it can be used in so many different ways, you really will save money by using it. You don’t need 5 or 10 different household cleaners – you just need two.

Here are just a few of the literally dozens of ways you can use this miracle product.

1. Clean Your House
I haven’t bought commercial cleaners in years. Vinegar, baking soda, and sometimes lemons, fit the bill just fine. With these 3 products, you’ll be able to attain cheaper household cleaning.

To clean your toilet, dump 3/4 cup of baking soda into the bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then, dump in a few glugs of vinegar and clean with your toilet brush. This works on porcelain sinks and bathtubs, too (minus the toilet brush).

Vinegar also works great for cleaning windows and other hard surfaces. I mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water and keep it in a spray bottle under my sink. And of course, you’ll still need to utilize a house cleaning schedule or checklist in order to maximize the benefits.

2. Freshen Your Air
Don’t waste money on Febreeze (which is loaded with harmful chemicals anyway). Vinegar neutralizes odors just as well!

Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. After it has stopped frothing, spritz wherever odor is bad. Or you can mix half water and half vinegar in a small spray bottle with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and make your own “room fragrance.”

3. Deter Ants and Cats
Ants (in fact, all insects) don’t like vinegar. Spray it on doors and windows to keep them at bay get rid of household bugs.

Cats also don’t like vinegar. If you want to keep them off the sofa, or out of a room, spray the carpet or fabric with vinegar. Just make sure you test the fabric for colorfastness first – vinegar will bleach some fabrics.

4. Keep Frost off Your Windshield
I hate scraping off those thin layers of frost on cold mornings. You can keep frost off your car windows by coating them with 3 parts vinegar and 1 part water the night before.

5. Soothe a Sore Throat
Gargle a mixture of one tablespoon apple cider vinegar in eight ounces of warm water. Swallow at least two mouthfuls every hour, for several hours.

6. Fight Dandruff
Mix a few glugs of apple cider vinegar in two cups of warm water, and use it as a rinse after you shampoo. This will help keep dandruff at bay, and make your hair super shiny.

7. Unclog Drains

Vinegars Unclog DrainsCommercial drain cleaners are not only expensive but they’re incredibly bad for the environment, as well as your plumbing. I never use them!

Instead, I pour 1/2 cup baking soda into the drain, followed by at least 1 cup of vinegar. After it foams, pour hot water (boiling is best) down the drain. Wait a few minutes, and then flush with cold water. Do this regularly and it will prevent clogs.

This is also a great way to deodorize your drain when it gets stinky.

8. Deodorize Containers
Back in grade school, I had a Care Bears lunch box. A month or so into the school year, it would start to smell like an unpleasant mixture of stale sandwiches and old fruit.

If you pack your own kids’ lunches, then you know the smell I’m talking about. The good news? Vinegar gets rid of it! Soak a piece of white bread in a bowl of vinegar, and then put that soggy bread in the lunch box (or thermos, or car trunk, or any other small space that stinks). The smell will be gone the next morning. This trick may allow you to reuse household items like boxes and food containers much longer.

9. Remove Water Rings from Wood
You had a big Super Bowl party last weekend, and your rowdy guests neglected to use the coasters you discreetly left out for them. Now, your furniture is dotted with pop-art-style “O” rings from their wet glasses. Not good.

You can remove water rings from your wood furniture by combining equal parts vinegar and olive oil. Rub the mixture into the wood, going with the grain, and then buff with a clean cloth.

You can also get rings off leather furniture by rubbing it with full strength vinegar, and then buffing with a clean cloth.

10. Clean Your Microwave

Microwaves can get pretty nasty. Especially when weeks, or months, worth of baked food is left on the sides. Yuck.

Fortunately, you can easily steam-clean your microwave with vinegar. In a glass bowl, mix 1/4 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water, and nuke it for 5 minutes. After the water has cooled a bit, wet a cloth in the mixture and wipe out the microwave. The food will come right off.

11. Disinfect Cutting Boards
Cutting boards can harbor bacteria when they’re not cleaned correctly, especially when you use your boards to chop up meat and fish. This bacteria can quickly give you and your family food poisoning if you’re not careful.

Make sure this doesn’t happen by regularly disinfecting your cutting boards with vinegar. Wash your boards with hot soapy water after each use. Then, wipe them down with full strength white vinegar.

You can also clean wooden chopping boards by spreading baking soda on them, and then pouring on the vinegar.

Bonus Tip
Vinegar also works great for cleaning out your coffee pot. I use a 1960’s-era percolator, and it’s easy for coffee oils to build up on the inside especially since I frequently make coffee recipes at home. But filling it halfway with vinegar and letting it run through a cycle leaves it sparkling clean!

Do you use vinegar around the house? Do you have any clever vinegar tips you’d like to share? Please share them here!

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a writer with over 15 years experience covering personal finance, natural health, parenting, and green living. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons, where they're often wandering on frequent picnics to find feathers and wildflowers.

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