Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Six Uses for White Vinegar Around the House

I buy a lot of vinegar.

Like, grab-a-case-at-Costco-every-few-months-lot of vinegar.

We need so much because we don't only use it in the kitchen. It's incredibly cheap, non-toxic, and can be used in a multitude of ways around the house. I keep it under the sink in our master bathroom, and it's used so often in the laundry room that it never makes it back up onto the shelf.

What do I use it for? Plenty.

  • A de-funk-ifiying laundry soak. Hot hot water + vinegar soak will get nasty smells out of clothes, towels, sheets, Mr Lannis' sweaty karate gi... everything. I pour a few cups in a basin of hot hot tap water (sorry, I don't measure), and toss in the item in question for a time... anything between ten minutes to overnight. Then I wash as per usual.
  • Fabric softener for laundry. Yep, I pour it into the front load washer's softener slot, and I don't notice a difference over store bought. No, you can't smell it on your clothes. Yes, even my line-dried towels and jeans are not stiff, just as if as they were washed with store-bought softeners. And vinegar is very gentle on clothes and doesn't leave residue on your dryer's lint catcher (softener residue on a dryer's lint screen can cause house fires, by the way). What I appreciate most about white vinegar in the laundry is that my clothes smell nothing but clean—no overpowering floral perfumes masking anything. (Full disclosure: I'm allergic to perfume, so commercial fabric softener scents can be migraine triggers. Any reason to avoid that aisle at the grocery story and I'm golden. Keeping it from entering the house is a downright miracle blessed upon me by the white vinegar gods I now worship...)
  • Glass cleaner. Added to a spray bottle with water in equal ratios, and it cleans my windows. Perhaps not as well as commercial cleaners, but guess what? My kids like washing my windows and I'm not going to be as worried if they accidentally spray themselves or anything other than the window's glass when it's simply vinegar and water in the bottle. If they waste it?—it's cheap. If they accidentally consume it?—it's non-toxic. If they leave streaks?—Meh, I have other priorities. (I also use old t-shirts, receiving blankets, or rags made of old sheets to scrub windows—no lint left behind.)
  • Jewelry cleaner. A few tablespoons of hot kettle water and a good splash of vinegar will soften the grime off my wedding rings. I scrub them with a designated toothbrush and give them a quick rinse in regular tap water et voil√†, those diamonds be sparkly again!
  • Hair rinse: Every couple of weeks I'll put 1 cup vinegar with 1 cup hot tap water, and after shampooing I'll pour the mix over my hair and let it sit. After a few minutes of being careful not to let it leak into my eyes, I'll rinse it off, and follow with the tiniest bit of conditioner—quickly in and out, not letting it sit. The vinegar cuts all the build up residue out of my hair, and once dry it'll be super light and clean. My mother used to do this for my hair when I was little, and I've always had glossy, silky hair—I figure she must've been on to something.
  • Weedkiller. Mixed with a touch of water and a tablespoon of dish soap, white vinegar is a non-selective herbicide. Wait until noon on a sunny day and spray the leaves of the offending plants... the sun and the vinegar will shrivel those plants in no time. Just cover anything you don't want to hit because you'll have nice circles of destruction on your lawn...

Believe it or not, I rarely have occasion to cook or eat white vinegar... the odd homemade salad dressing here at Chez Lannis is made with balsamic dressing. So for a house that quite literally buys vinegar by the gallon, I find it amusing that we're not ingesting it... ha!

Do you use vinegar around the house? Can you enlighten me on other uses?


  1. EricisnotagiantsquidJune 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    We have seriously hard water here in Houston. I use white vinegar to clean my coffee maker. I fill up the reservoir half water half vinegar. About once a month keeps it nice n' clean. Or if you prefer, one every six months like me and you can go full strength and run it two or three times. Makes the whole house smell... Well, not good. But the coffee maker is clean! I've heard others use it to clean their dishwasher too. Personally, my favorite thing to use white vinegar for is gutting a penny. Get yourself a US penny dated after 1984, scratch the side to expose the zinc core, soak it in vinegar over night. In the morning, you've got and empty copper skin with Abraham Lincoln's face on it.

  2. Ah! The coffee maker! We're not coffee drinkers here at Chez Lannis (or well, Mr Lannis drinks instant to be truly accurate), but my dad used to do the same thing!

    And our dishwasher was starting to stink like egg not long before I posted this--tried vinegar straight up in a dish on the top level, ran it on the hottest wash possible, and opened to smell egg... ugh... so I took it off the list. Might try again--maybe multiple times might be necessary as per the coffee maker... hm...

    You wouldn't happen to know if that penny trick works with Canadian money, eh? Not like it's all that difficult for us to get our hands on an American penny, but I smell a science project! Haha!