When I tell you, you’re going to say, WHAT? Is she kidding? Is this some kind of backward French humor?
And ladies, maybe you won’t want to give up your diamonds…
I’ll stop stalling now.
It’s VINEGAR! Simple, white distilled, 1 penny-a-gallon, regular, old vinegar.
Now why in the world is vinegar our new best friend? Well, dear readers, because it does everything, truly everything around the home; it’s environmentally friendly, and it costs about a cent a gallon as compared to the other cleaners and medications and spices you’d have to buy if you didn’t use vinegar, all costing about 100 times as much.
I used to buy a whole ton of “environmentally friendly” cleaners – some were more effective than others and some were really not that green in the end. I would buy one for the bathroom, one for the kitchen, the dishes, the toilet, the laundry, and on and on. Then I learned an ancient trick from my mother-in-law, which her family has apparently been employing in daily life for hundreds of years. I’m pretty sure this isn’t just French savoir-faire, many of our ancestors probably knew these tricks too in an age gone by, but unfortunately in North America they seem to have vanished from our collective knowledge. Some of this advice I’d heard before somewhere, like the fact that vinegar is good for cleaning mirrors, but I’d never given it any real thought until my belle-mère showed me precisely what to do.
All you really need to clean and disinfect your house is white vinegar, a few lemons and some baking soda, all three of which are neutral to the environment, especially compared to the harsh chemical alternatives.
Even if you are fortunate enough not to be saddled with housework yourself, having these products at the fingertips of whoever does your housework makes you a conscientious fellow citizen and I thank you.
Now let me show you how wonderful vinegar really is, but don’t tell too many people for once our secret is out everybody is going to stock up and the price of vinegar will hit the roof! 😉
Vinegar as a cleaner:
- dilute 1/2 cup with 2 cups water in spray bottle* for windows and mirrors that will sparkle like new
- remove shower mold and scum (with a little baking soda – instructions below**)
- polish chrome to shine like a new silver dollar
- disinfect anything and everything in a single wipe
- in a little soak with warm water, remove those stubborn stickers on new glassware and flatware
- deodorize the fridge, a mildew-ridden freezer after a long vacation, a dank-smelling bathroom, the kitchen after cooking curry or fish, etc, etc
- 2 tbsps with a little sea salt to clean and disinfect poultry so that salmonella is a distant worry
- a small container near the fruit boil discourages fruit flies
- remove animal accident odors from carpets
- clean baby toys with equal parts vinegar and hot water
- remove tough oil/grease stains from bottom of sink/ kitchen walls
- remove calcium buildup (hard water) off chrome fixtures and the bottom of tea kettles/coffee pots
- clean and disinfect cutting boards
- add 1/4 cup to laundry to brighten colors & whites and keep machine clean and disinfected
- fill small dishes and place around to deodorize a room (the vinegar smell quickly evaporates)
- a short dip in a bath of vinegar to remove water marks from crystal
* I have an old spray bottle that I keep filled up with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water. I use this for almost all my cleaning needs, specifically to wipe down the counter, the stove, the backslash after cooking.
**Cleaning solution instructions: three table spoons of baking soda spread evenly over the item to be cleaned (shower floor, sink, etc), pour 1/2 cup white vinegar over the powder. It will bubble, like the old science project. Let it sit a moment and then scrub and rinse.
Vinegar in cooking:
- in a short soak, softens tough meat
- in a pinch, can be substituted for it cousins balsamic et al in a vinaigrette
- revitalizes wilting veggies
- a dash added to boiling water decreases stickiness of noodles and rice
- when boiling veggies, helps keep their color
- removes onion odor from hands after chopping
- will correct a recipe where too much salt was added (this is for my mom!)
- rubbed over a boiled egg, helps with ease of peeling
Vinegar as medicine:
- in tea (or hot water) with a bit of honey, soothes and heals sore throat
- cleans small cuts and scraps
Give it a try!