Five Ways Vinegar Is a Secret Weapon For Cleaning And More

You may not realize it, but vinegar is one of the most powerful cleaning agents out there. Using vinegar as a household cleaner is the kind of wisdom your mother might offer you when you first move out on your own, or it may be something that completely surprises you. Either way, when it comes time to clean up, all too often the bottle of this versatile (and affordable!) cleanser languishes in the back of your pantry. After all, with all the specialized cleansers out there, how could one liquid possibly be the best tool for every cleaning job?

Here are just a few ways you can use this natural product to make short work of jobs big and small, whether you want to do the dishes or you want to make your home more valuable.

Cleaning Your Windows

When it’s time to wash away the smudges built up on your windows, your first instinct may be to reach for a bottle of the bright blue stuff. But, fortunately, you probably already own something better that won’t leave your house smelling like chemicals. All you need is some water, vinegar, and dish soap. Use this homemade window cleaner recipe to really make your windows shine.

Removing Rust

Apart from being unsightly, rust can severely damage your metal tools and appliances over time. Rather than hopelessly sanding or scrubbing away the rust, let vinegar do the hard work for you!

If you have smaller tools or objects in need of rust being scrubbed away, try filling a large container with white vinegar and submerging the object for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours if the rusting is more severe. If the object is too large, simply spray some vinegar on the rusty areas. After 30 minutes, lightly scrub away the surface rust with either a steel wool pad, or an old toothbrush for more delicate objects. 

After you have finished scrubbing, be sure to rinse with water and let dry. You can repeat this process if any rust remains.

Make Your Dishes Really Sparkle

If you have a dishwasher, you may just throw every dish, glass and pan you have into the dishwasher without a second thought. And for those special dishes and glasses that are not dishwasher-safe, or if you don’t have a dishwasher, it is tempting to just use dishwashing soap and scrub away, hoping for the best. Usually this method works fine, but maybe you have noticed that even with your best efforts, some dishes just seemed like they could use something extra. 

Good news. That something extra is vinegar – especially if you cook with oils. 

In food, oils impart wonderful flavor. Unfortunately those same oils can cling to your dishes and cookware, even after your most diligent scrubbing efforts with regular dish soap. When you wash dishes in a large batch, those same oils can leave a thin film on everything you wash. This dulls your glassware, stains your food containers, and can leave everything else feeling unpleasant and slick.

All you need to combat this is a quick pre-soak in vinegar. If this is impractical, you can spray your dishes and glasses with a spray bottle filled with vinegar and wash your dishes as you normally would. The natural acidic properties of vinegar do a wonderful job of cutting through the leftover fats and oils from cooking without damaging your dishes. Try this out on your dishes, your food containers, and even your wine glasses stained with the deepest red Syrah. You’ll be glad you did. 

A Cheap (and Safe!) Wood Stain Alternative

If you want to give untreated wood a unique look, then look no further than your standard bottle of white vinegar. All you need is a quart of vinegar, some steel wool, and a bag of tea. Pour the quart of vinegar into a bottle and cut up a steel wool pad. Place the pieces of steel wool into the vinegar and shake up the bottle. Then, place the bag of tea into the same bottle. Let this mixture rest for 24 hours at least. 

Afterwards, you can use this mixture to stain a piece of wood. Make sure your wood is sanded, dip a paintbrush into the mixture, and apply to the wood. After you cover the wood and let it rest, you will be greeted with a beautiful and unique patina unlike any you could find with a commercial wood stain. Your beautifully stained wood will take on a rustic, weathered look that appears professionally done. 

Great For Your Own Skin

One of the best uses of vinegar has nothing to do with the items in your house. Just as it can transform your home, it can transform your body for the better.

A little known secret of white vinegar is it is a fantastic sunburn cure. After you have soaked up a few too many rays, gently apply some white vinegar to your skin with a cotton swab or soft sponge. The downside is you might smell a bit sour at first. The upside is the tomato red skin you have developed will soften in the next day, and your burn will feel a whole lot better. With a consistent application of vinegar, you might sacrifice a pleasant smell but gain skin much less likely to peel, and feels much better the following day.

Additionally, the acid in vinegar can help plenty of skin ailments. Whether you suffer from acne or other unsightly marks, a quick spray or wash of vinegar will do wonders for your skin. Feel free to wash again with a standard soap so you don’t smell like a marinade, but enjoy one of the many less obvious benefits of this versatile liquid.

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