Vinegar’s magic ingredient is acetic acid, which comprises about 5 percent of the finished product. Vinegar has been produced commercially for about 2,500 years, making it one of the oldest products in use by humans. There are many different types of vinegar out there, all produced by the oxidization of alcohol into acetic acid, but white vinegar is the most useful and the most versatile by far.
White vinegar has dozens of household applications, and the best part is that it’s green. Although best known for its culinary uses, white vinegar is also great for cleaning and laundry. But don’t confuse it with brown ‘malt’ vinegar, which is good on chips but not so much as a fabric conditioner!
- Get rid of ink marks
One of the most useful household uses of vinegar is removing accidental pen marks on your favorite shirt or blouse. Dab the spots with white vinegar on a sponge. Repeat until the marks are gone. And there’s no need to worry about ruining the color, since vinegar is used to set colors in new cotton clothing. Got a budding young artist child using the walls as a canvas? Just wipe it off with vinegar.
2. Reinvigorate hair
Wash away product buildup and improve shine with a simple rinse. Mix 1 cup distilled water and ¼ cup vinegar, then pour over freshly washed wet hair. Let it sit for 15 to 30 seconds before rinsing with cool water.
3. Clean cloudy glassware.
Soak a paper towel or cloth in white vinegar and use it to cover both the interior and exterior surfaces of the glass; let sit for 10 minutes, then rinse clean. Acetic acid, the main ingredient in vinegar, will work to dissolve any lingering mineral deposits, grease and soap scum that’s dulling the glass.
4. Unclog and deodorize drains
The combination of vinegar and baking soda is one of the most effective ways to unclog and deodorize drains. It’s also far gentler on your pipes (and your wallet) than commercial drain cleaners.
Use a funnel to pour 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar into the drain. When the foaming subsides, flush with hot tap water. Wait five minutes, and then flush again with cold water. Besides clearing blockages, this technique also washes away odor-causing bacteria.
5. Eliminate grease stains
Eliminate grease stains from your stove, broiler, kitchen table, or counter by wiping them down with a cloth dampened in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. This method takes advantage of multiple vinegar uses: in addition to removing the grease, the vinegar will neutralize any odors on the surface (once its own aroma evaporates, that is). For daily grease-fighting action, pour 3-4 tablespoons white vinegar into your favorite brand (especially bargain brands) of liquid dishwashing detergent and give it a few shakes.
The added vinegar will not only increase the detergent’s grease-fighting capabilities but also provide you with more dishwashing liquid for the money because you’ll need less soap to clean your dishes. You can also boil 2 cups vinegar in your greasy pan for about 10 minutes to give it a natural non-stick quality that lasts several months, or boil 1 cup vinegar and water in a stainless steel pot to melt off stubborn slicks.
6. Refresh your refrigerator
Did you know that vinegar might be an even more effective safe cleanser for your refrigerator than baking soda? Use equal parts white vinegar and water to wash both the interior and exterior of your fridge, including the door gasket and the fronts of the vegetable and fruit bins. To prevent mildew growth, wash the inside walls and bin interiors with some full-strength vinegar on a cloth. Also, use undiluted vinegar to wipe off accumulated dust and grime on top of your refrigerator. Of course, you’ll still want to put that box of baking soda in your refrigerator to keep it smelling clean when you’re done.
7. Remove water rings on tables
Use vinegar to get rid of those unsightly water rings on your favorite table. Apply equal parts vinegar and olive oil to the stain with a soft, clean cloth. Wipe in the direction of the wood grain. Use a clean cloth to polish it up. For water rings on leather, use full-strength white vinegar on a sponge to remove them.
8. Clean sinks and bathtubs
Put the shine back in your porcelain sinks and bathtubs by giving them a good scrubbing with full-strength white vinegar, followed by a rinse of clean cold water. To remove hard-water stains from your tub, pour in 3 cups white vinegar under running hot tap water. Let the tub fill up over the stains and allow it to soak for four hours. When the water drains out, you should be able to easily scrub off the stains. To whiten the grout, dip a toothbrush in white vinegar and scrub away.
9. Soften fabrics, kill bacteria, eliminate static, and more
There are so many benefits to be reaped by adding 1 cup white vinegar to your washer’s rinse cycle that it’s surprising that you don’t find it prominently mentioned inside the owner’s manual of every washing machine sold. Here are the main vinegar uses that boost your laundry game:
- A single cup of vinegar will kill off any bacteria that may be present in your wash load, especially if it includes cloth diapers and the like.
- A cup of vinegar will keep your clothes coming out of the wash soft and smelling fresh—so you can kiss your fabric-softening liquids and sheets good-bye (unless, of course, you happen to like your clothes smelling of heavy perfumes).
- Added to the last rinse, a cup of vinegar will keep your clothes lint- and static-free.
10. Get rid of rust
If you want to clean up those rusted old tools you recently unearthed in your garage or picked up at a sale, soak them in full-strength white vinegar for several days. The same treatment is equally effective at removing the rust from corroded nuts and bolts. And you can pour vinegar on rusted hinges and screws to loosen them up for removal.