Vinegar and its Many Uses

The smell of vinegar immediately transports me to a small chip wagon our family used to visit on the way to my grandfather’s cottage in Quebec. The beat-up old chip stand was on a small promontory with a rushing river behind it, and it was always busy. The chips were delicious! I would always sprinkle a few liberal dashes of vinegar on my French Fries to make them taste that much more flavourful.

Later in life, though, the smell of vinegar became associated with sparkling clean glass.

My mother would refill old Windex spray bottles with a solution of one part white vinegar and one part distilled water, which she used to clean the mirrors in our bathrooms and the windows in our home. It was a means of reducing the chemical substances we had in our house (many of which are seriously toxic) as well as a way to save money on cleaning products: a huge bottle of vinegar is less than the cost of a small bottle of Windex, by far. When I think about it, nothing ever got class quite as clean as this solution of vinegar and distilled water. I do my best to use the solution to this day.

Vinegar has so many practical household uses that I thought it would make an informative piece for the blog. Some people are not aware about the myriad ways vinegar can be used in the home as a cleaning agent, a deterrent to pests and even in beauty and hygiene care.

It can be used as a natural way to kill weeds in the garden, keep bugs away from windowsills and help certain flowers, such as azaleas, which love acidic soil, grow more prolifically. Add a few spoonfuls to a vase of flowers to keep the water fresh. You can even relieve sunburn or the itch of a mosquito bite by gently rubbing vinegar over the affected area.

Vinegar has been made and used by people for thousands of years. Traces of it have been found in Egyptian urns from around 3000 BC. The word "vinegar" derives from the Old French vin aigre, meaning "sour wine." Today, it is primarily used as a culinary condiment in American, Asian and European cultures – an additive to numerous types of foods, including the aforementioned French Fries, sushi rice and numerous kinds of chutney. It is an ingredient in ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise and is an essential component for the process of pickling.

It is made from the oxidation of ethanol in wine, cider, beer, fermented fruit juice, or nearly any other liquid containing alcohol. Commercial vinegar is produced either by fast or slow fermentation processes. Slow methods are generally used with traditional vinegars and fermentation proceeds slowly over the course of weeks or months. The longer fermentation period allows for the accumulation of a nontoxic slime composed of acetic acid bacteria and soluble cellulose, known as the mother of vinegar. Fast methods add mother of vinegar (i.e. bacterial culture) to the source liquid and then add air using a venturi pump system or a turbine to promote oxygenisation to give the fastest fermentation. In fast production processes, vinegar may be produced in a period ranging between 20 hours and three days.

Among the multitude of household uses, here are some to help with your laundry routine:

Add one cup to the rinse cycle of your washing machine to avoid using expensive, chemical-rich fabric softener. The vinegar will leave a fresh, clean scent and keep the fabric fluffy. It will also help reduce the production of lint.

Keep bright colors from running. Immerse clothes in full-strength vinegar for 10 minutes before washing.

Freshen up the washing machine each month, clean the hoses and unclog soap scum, by adding two cups of vinegar to a full cycle without clothing.

Take grease off suede. Dip a toothbrush in vinegar and gently brush over grease spot.

Remove tough stains. Gently rub on spilled fruit, jam, mustard, coffee, tea and then wash as usual.

Get smoke smell out of clothes by adding a few cups of vinegar to a bath tub of hot water. Hang clothes above the steam.

Remove perspiration stains from clothes by applying one part vinegar to four parts water, then rinse.

When dyeing fabric yourself, add a cup full of distilled vinegar to the last rinse to set the color.

Nylon pantyhose will look better and last longer if 1 tablespoon of vinegar is added to the rinse water when washing by hand.

To obtain a sharper crease in your knit fabrics, dampen them with a cloth wrung out from a solution of 1/3 distilled vinegar and 2/3 water. Place a brown paper bag over the crease and iron.

Deodorize a wool sweater: Wash sweater, then rinse in equal parts vinegar and water to remove odor.

Unclog a steam iron by pouring equal amounts of vinegar and water into the iron's water chamber. Turn to steam and leave the iron on for 5 minutes in an upright position. Then unplug and allow it to cool. Any loose particles should come out when you empty the water.

Clean a scorched iron plate by heating equal parts vinegar and salt in a small pan. Then rub the solution on the cooled iron surface to remove dark or burned stains.


Frederic Kahler said...

I am using the tip to add a few tablespoons of vinegar to my bathwater. No more scratchy dry skin! Ah, sweet relief!

Frederic Kahler

Vinegar Uses said...

My favourite tip for vinegar is to add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to my bath in order to help relieve dry and sunburnt skin.

Hurricane said...

Do you use white vinegar to use as a cleaner?