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Top Ten 'Making Your Own' Uses for Vinegar

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 9 Feb 2013 | comments*Discuss
Vinegar Acid Acidic Uses Cleaner Remover

Vinegar is perhaps one of the most versatile substances that you can keep in your store cupboard. It has been put to use for centuries, thanks to its cleaning, culinary and medicinal uses. One bottle of distilled white vinegar could easily replace a multitude of synthetic household products, meaning that vinegar will prove not only environmentally-friendly, but also wallet-friendly too!

Differences in Types of Vinegar

But before you delve in to buy a dozen bottles of finest vinegar, it’s worth making sure you’re aware of the basics. There are, of course, different types of vinegar. These include varieties used in cooking – such as balsamic and malt vinegar – apple cider, and distilled white wine vinegar.

If there’s one piece of advice you need to heed about using vinegar for cleaning in particular, it’s this; do NOT use malt vinegar for anything other than cooking, unless you want your house/clothes/hair/other to smell like a fish and chip shop! Although malt vinegar has pretty much the same chemical makeup that makes it an excellent cleaner and medicinal product, the smell it produces will linger.

So unless you’re a particularly avid fan of ‘eau de chip shop’, you’ll find that more often than not, you’ll need to opt for distilled white wine vinegar instead. It’s comparatively delicate in odour and won’t leave any stains either.

Top Ten Uses for Vinegar

So now we’ve established the best vinegar to use, let’s get started with the top ten ‘making your own’ uses for vinegar!

1. Grease Buster

First on the list is something that vinegar is probably best renowned for – cutting through grease. Because of its acidic quality, neat vinegar can be used for particularly stubborn grease stains and splashes. Or you can opt to water it down for a more general grease-busting cleaner in the kitchen and bathroom.

2. Bacterial Mould Killer!

Number two on the list goes hand-in-hand with number one. Vinegar is widely known to have antibacterial qualities, but perhaps less widely known is its ability to wipe out many types of mould and viruses too. A five per cent solution – which is what you get if you purchase vinegar in a supermarket – is all it takes to make your own economic and environmentally-friendly mould killer!

3. Cat deterrent

If your neighbourhood (or even resident!) cats have taken to digging up your flower borders, or scratching up your fence posts, then you’ll be pleased to learn that vinegar is an effective cat deterrent. All you need to do is sprinkle a little vinegar in the area you want to protect, and you’ll soon see how it quickly becomes a no-feline zone.

4. Soil acidifier

Plants such as rhododendrons, blueberry bushes and camellias thrive in acid-rich soils. If you need to alter the pH of your soil, don’t waste your money on pricey ericaceous soil or feed from the garden centre. All you need is two tablespoons of vinegar per quart (roughly 950ml) of water – cheap, but effective!

5. Cut flower refresher

You might be surprised to learn that a basic vinegar, sugar and water solution is all that’s needed to make this home-made cut flower refresher. Simply add two tablespoons of vinegar and one teaspoon of sugar to a quart of water, and see how quickly your flowers revitalise themselves.

6. Sting relief solution

Vinegar is definitely something you should keep on standby in your first aid box. Its acidic qualities mean that it can be used medicinally as a natural sting relief solution. Just add a few drops to a ball of cotton wall and dab the stung area lightly to help reduce the pain and swelling.

7. Dishwasher glass cleaner

Many people know how effective vinegar is as a grease-busting glass cleaner. But don’t forget it can also be added to your dishwasher in place of commercial glass cleaners – that’s good news for your purse and the environment!

8. Rust remover

Neat vinegar can serve as a brilliantly effective rust remover for small metal objects – if you have a bit of time and patience. Simply take your rusted artefact, such as a metal tool, and place it in a non-metallic bucket. Submerge it in vinegar and leave overnight. You should be careful though – vinegar is acetic acid and will eat away at the metal if left too long, leaving it pockmarked! You have been warned!

9. Sunburn soother

That’s right – a vinegar solution mixed with ice cold water will make a refreshing sunburn soother, which may even help to stop peeling and blistering. Hopefully you won’t have to resort to this though, on account of not forgetting to apply your sunblock!

10. Breath freshener

Too scared to get too close to someone in case they catch a whiff of your bad breath? Then it’s time to start brushing your teeth and tongue twice a week with white distilled vinegar. This helps to combat the bacteria that help to cause bad breath, but don’t overdo it – excessively using vinegar on your teeth could cause erosion! So as with everything, moderation is the key here!

So there you have it – your top ten versatile, economic and environmentally-friendly uses for vinegar. But this list comes with a warning – you’ll probably find that once you switch to vinegar, you’ll never go back again! Remember that there are so many more uses for vinegar around the home, in the first aid kit and in the garden, so keep checking back for more vinegar-related top tips!

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