These days, whether we’re dealing with a spot on the rug or fumes in the oven, many of us tend to reach for a chemical solution (literally and figuratively). It doesn’t have to be that way. This may surprise you, but vinegar is one of the most powerful cleaning agents there is—and not only for hardware and fabric. Vinegar may even help give the human body a little more sparkle.
I first heard of vinegar as a “folk remedy” from an old lady who lived next-door to my grandmother in Kingston, England. She used to swear that swallowing a teaspoon of vinegar every day was the antidote to illness. She is not alone in singing vinegar’s praises. Search the Internet, and you will find hundreds of uses for vinegar, and some of them are quite surprising.
For example, you can remove skunk odor from a dog by rubbing full-strength vinegar into the animal’s coat. Vinegar polishes car chrome, relieves symptoms of colds if poured into a vaporizer, unclogs steam irons, and freshens fresh-cut flowers.
Once, in Cancun, I overdid my first day at the beach. By the time I got off the bus, people were staring at me. That’s because I looked like hell or, at least, as if I had spent my day roasting in hell’s fires. The housekeeper disappeared into the kitchen and returned with squashed tomatoes floating in vinegar. She indicated that I should smear the stuff all over my sizzling skin. To this day, I think she threw in the tomatoes as a joke, but that concoction took the sting out and allowed me to touch my flesh without screaming!
People still stared, but this time it was because I smelled like salad dressing.
There are many cheaper and more ecologically sound ways to clean things and take care of your person and possessions than to buy commercial products that contain harsh compounds and chemical toxins. If you are interested in a more natural approach to housekeeping, here are a few ideas.
- Mix vinegar and salt together for a good surface cleaner.
- Pour some baking soda and vinegar on a damp sponge. It will clean and deodorize all kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
- Place partially filled saucers of vinegar around the room.
- Boil 1 tablespoon of vinegar in 1 cup of water to eliminate unpleasant cooking odors.
- Baking soda is excellent for absorbing odors.
Removing Grease Spots
- Immediately pour salt on grease spots to absorb and prevent staining.
- Mix equal parts lemon juice and vegetable oil, and rub against scratches with a soft cloth until they disappear.
- While the oven is still warm, pour some salt on grimy areas. If the areas are dry, dampen with water before applying the salt. When the oven cools down, scrape the grime off and wash clean.
- Spray grimy areas with water or vinegar-water, and apply a layer of baking soda. Rub gently with fine steel wool and wipe off. Rinse with water and wipe dry.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner
- Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl, then drizzle with vinegar and scour with a toilet brush. This combination both cleans and deodorizes. Note: Do NOT mix this combination with store-bought toilet cleaners. The combination will create toxic fumes.
- Mix equal amounts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Wipe the glass with newspaper for a streak-free shine.
- For a clogged drain, pour a handful of baking soda down the drain, add ½ cup of vinegar, and close with a plug for 20 seconds. Rinse with hot water.
Excerpted from Newkirk’s book, Making Kind Choices: Everyday Ways to Enhance Your Life Through Earth- and Animal-Friendly Living