Vinegar is the frugally-, environmentally- and health-minded person’s best friend. Vinegar derives its potency from acetic acid, CH3COOH. The acidic nature of vinegar gives it the ability to kill bacteria, dissolve unwanted substances, and kill and deter insects and pests. Keep in mind that vinegar will corrode certain metals if not wiped away promptly. Because vinegar is very potent, test a small spot or do a little research before using on delicate or very costly items. Here are a few suggestions for saving money and your health by substituting vinegar, which can be had for as little as $2.50 a gallon at your local supermarket, for common cleaning agents and pesticides around your house.
- Killing and deterring ants. In order to be effective, you must spray ants with undiluted vinegar. DO NOT WIPE AWAY THE DEAD ANTS. I find that ants only stop coming if you leave the bodies for their fellows to carry away and a lingering sour smell. Spray doors, windows, and perimeters of beds with vinegar.
- Spray flying or crawling insects. This is more effective than a fly swatter because flies don’t think they have to flee from a spray of “water”. It’s also nice to not have smeared insects or poison in your house.
- Removing water stains from glass, bathrooms, dishes, fish tanks, dish racks, etc. Hard water deposits are alkaline (basic) and vinegar being an acid will break them down.
- Removing tea and coffee stains from cups and teapots. Spray and let sit for a minute, then wash as usual. This is also useful for very greasy cookware or burnt grease.
- Washing dog dishes which are often coated with a thick layer of slimy saliva that is not easily removed with dish detergent.
- Disinfecting sink drains, shower drains, and your throat. When drinking, dilute with water and add honey. Honey is not necessary for drains.[ad]
- Cleaning windows. Much cheaper than window cleaners.
- Removing stains from fabric and carpets. Can be added to laundry.
- Polishing varnished wood and other surfaces.
- Clearing drains. Pour baking soda down the drain and then add vinegar.
- Cleaning your pets’ ears. Swab with a vinegar and water solution.
- Cleaning and conditioning hair. Mix with shampoo to remove styling products and excessive oil. I once read that vinegar contains enzymes which are good for hair.
- Deodorize your pet. Mix with shampoo and wash. May be good for pets with skin problems, but you may want to check with your vet in case certain conditions makes skin sensitive to acid. Undiluted vinegar is not recommended for cats as they have very thin skin.
- Soak your feet. Kills bacteria and odor and helps remove old skin cells.
- Polishing coins. We did this in 6th grade science class.
- Making a bang. Fill a small Ziploc bag with vinegar. Put baking soda in a smaller, unsealed plastic bag. Put the small bag inside the Ziploc bag. Seal, shake and throw. The bag expands with the gas produced by the two substances and explodes with a bang. Rather an exciting event for a kid.