Vinegar: Sixty-four uses for vinegar, the all-purpose household wonder.
ILLUSTRATION: KENNETH LIN
MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers share their farming advice, fun tips and country folklore. Here are sixty-four ways to use vinegar, including deterring ants, unclogging steam irons, dissolving rust and much more.
MOTHER's Country Farming Advice and Folklore
1. Kill grass on walks and driveways. Pour full-strength on unwanted grass. (Be careful not to pour on wanted plants.)
2. Kill weeds. Spray full-strength on tops of weeds. Reapply on any new growth until plants have been starved.
3. Increase soil acidity. In hard-water areas, add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of tap water for watering acid-loving plants like rhododendrons, gardenias, or azaleas. The vinegar will release iron in the soil for the plants to use.
4. Neutralize garden lime. Rinse your hands liberally with vinegar after working with garden lime to avoid rough and flaking skin.
5. Deter ants. Spray vinegar around door and window frames, under appliances, and along other known ant trails.
6. Keep car windows frost free. Coat the windows the night before with a solution of three parts vinegar to one part water.
7. Polish car chrome. Apply full-strength with a soft cloth.
8. Power up the propane. Soak new propane lantern wicks in vinegar for several hours. Let dry before using. Will burn longer and brighter.
9. Clean milking equipment. Rinse with vinegar to leave system clean, odorless, and bacteria free without harmful chemical residue.
10. Remove skunk odor from a dog. Rub fur with vinegar.
11. Keep cats away. Sprinkle vinegar on an area to discourage cats from walking, sleeping, or scratching on it.
12. Keep dogs from scratching ears. Clean the inside of the ears with a soft cloth dipped in diluted vinegar.
13. Keep away fleas and mange. Add a little vinegar to your pet's drinking water.
14. Keep chickens from pecking each other. Add cider vinegar to their drinking water.
Use vinegar when cooking to ...
15. Make a buttermilk substitute. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk and let it stand five minutes to thicken.
16. Tenderize meat. Soak in vinegar overnight.
17. Freshen vegetables. Soak wilted vegetables in a quart of cold water and a tablespoon of vinegar.
18. Replace a lemon. Substitute 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar for 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
19. Firm up the gelatin in desserts. Add a teaspoon of vinegar for every box of gelatin used to keep those molded desserts from sagging in the summer heat.
20. Boil better eggs. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to each quart of water before boiling to keep eggs from cracking.
21. Prepare fluffier rice. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water when it boils.
22. Make wine vinegar. Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar with 1 teaspoon of dry red wine.
23. Debug fresh vegetables. Wash leafy greens in water with vinegar and salt. Bugs will float out.
24. Scale fish more easily. Rub with vinegar five minutes before scaling.
25. Dampen your appetite. Sprinkle a little vinegar on prepared food to take the edge off your appetite.
Use vinegar on yourself to ...
26. Soothe a bee or jellyfish sting. Douse with vinegar. Will soothe irritation and relieve itching.
27. Relieve sunburn. Lightly rub white or cider vinegar on skin. May have to reapply.
28. Condition hair. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to your rinse to dissolve sticky residue left by shampoo.
29. Relieve dry and itchy skin. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to your bath water.
30. Fight dandruff. After shampooing, rinse with a solution of 1/2 cup vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.
31. Soothe a sore throat. Put a teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of water. Gargle, then swallow.
32. Clear up warts. Apply a lotion of half cider vinegar and half glycerin.
33. Treat sinus infections and chest colds. Add 1/4 cup or more vinegar to the vaporizer.
34. Feel good. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water, with a bit of honey added for flavor, will take the edge off your appetite and give you an overall healthy feeling.
Use vinegar when cleaning to ...
35. Deodorize the kitchen drain. Pour a cup down the drain once a week. Let stand for 30 minutes and then flush with cold water.
36. Eliminate onion odor. Rub on your fingers before and after slicing.
37. Clean and disinfect wood cutting boards. Wipe with full-strength vinegar.
38. Remove fruit stains from hands. Rub with vinegar.
39. Cut grease and odors on dishes. Add a tablespoon of vinegar to hot, soapy water.
40. Clean a teapot. Boil a mixture of water and vinegar in the teapot. Wipe away the grime.
41. Freshen a lunchbox. Soak a piece of bread in vinegar and let it sit in the lunchbox overnight.
42. Clean the refrigerator. Wash with solution of equal parts vinegar and water.
43. Unclog a drain. Pour a handful of baking soda down the drain and add 1/2 cup of vinegar. Rinse with hot water.
44. Clean and deodorize the garbage disposal. Make vinegar ice cubes and feed them down the disposal. After grinding, run cold water through for a minute.
45. Clean and deodorize jars. Rinse mayonnaise, peanut butter, and mustard jars with vinegar when empty.
46. Clean the dishwasher. Run a cup of vinegar through the whole cycle once a month to reduce soap buildup on the inner mechanisms and on glassware.
47. Clean stainless steel. Wipe with a vinegar-dampened cloth.
48. Clean china and fine glassware. Add a cup of vinegar to a sink of warm water. Gently dip the glass or china in the solution and let dry.
49. Get stains out of pots. Fill pot with a solution of 3 tablespoons of vinegar to a pint of water. Boil until stain loosens and can be washed away.
50. Clean the microwave. Boil a solution of 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 cup water in the microwave. Will loosen splattered-on food and deodorize.
51. Dissolve rust from bolts and other metals. Soak in full-strength vinegar.
52. Get rid of cooking smells. Let simmer a small pot of vinegar and water solution.
53. Unclog the steam iron. Pour equal amounts of vinegar and water into the iron's water chamber. Turn to "steam" and leave the iron on for five minutes in an upright position. Then unplug and allow to cool. Any loose particles should come out when you empty the water.
54. Clean a scorched iron plate. Heat equal parts vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rub solution on the cooled iron surface to remove dark or burned stains.
55. Get rid of lint in clothes. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
56. Keep colors from running. Immerse clothes in full-strength vinegar before washing.
57. Freshen up the washing machine. Periodically, pour a cup of vinegar in the machine and let it run through a regular cycle (no clothes added). Will dissolve soap residue.
58. Brighten fabric colors. Add 1/2 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
59. Take grease off of suede. Dip a toothbrush in vinegar and gently brush over grease spot.
60. Remove tough stains. Rub gently on fruit, jam, mustard, coffee, tea. Then wash as usual.
61. Get the smoke smell out of clothes. Add a cup of vinegar to a bathtub of hot water. Hang clothes above the steam.
62. Remove decals. Brush with a couple of coats of vinegar. Allow to soak in. Wash off.
63. Clean eyeglasses. Wipe each lens with a drop of vinegar.
64. Freshen cut flowers. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar for each quart of water.