Our oceans and rivers are suffering from ever-growing amounts of toxic chemicals that are shed and transported with rain and sewage. One of the largest pollutants in our water is cleaning solution. This includes body soap, shampoo, detergents, air fresheners, glass cleaners, de-greasers and stain removers. All of the products we use in our home and on our bodies get washed down the drain and end up in the water supply. You can help curb this problem by switching to biodegradable, non-toxic cleaners. As I heard it said recently, one grasshopper on the tracks won’t stop a freight train, but a billion grasshoppers will surely slow it.
One of the best and most gentle alternative cleaners and household products is vinegar. Vinegar is readily available in several forms and is good for replacing all of the above mentioned cleaning products, plus more. All forms of vinegar are suitable to replace some chemical or another for household purposes, except perhaps brown cider vinegar, which may stain some porous surfaces.
Here I have accumulated a list of several useful ways to use vinegar that replace those toxic and sometimes expensive chemicals.
1. Weedkiller – pour undiluted on weeds or unwanted grass to get rid of it. Works great for killing grass on the driveway.
2. Flea and Mange deterrent – add a little vinegar to your cat or dog’s water to keep fleas and mange away.
3. Rust Remover – soak rusty tools, bolts, spigots and showerheads in undiluted vinegar overnight to remove rust and corrosion and unblock any clogs.
4. No Frost – Coat car window with a solution of 3 parts vinegar to 1 part water to keep your windows frost-free.
5. Salve – Relieve sunburn, itching, and insect stings by pouring some vinegar on a cotton ball and applying to affected area. If you’re itchy all over, add a few tablespoons to a bath.
6. Hair Care – Add 1 cup of vinegar plus 1 cup of warm water in a glass and rinse your hair with it after conditioning to add natural highlights and relieve dandruff. It also restores the pH of your hair and scalp, and removes excess oil and shampoo residue.
7. Miracle Cold Cure – Soothe a sore throat by adding 1 teaspoon to a glass of warm water and gargling and swallowing. To cure a cold, mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup honey and take 1 tablespoon every two hours. This cure is also said to help relieve arthritis. You can also treat sinus and respiratory infections by adding 1/4 cup vinegar to a humidifier.
8. Cough Relief – get rid of a cough by mixing 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tsp cayenne pepper and 4 tsp honey. Take 1 tablespoon every hour until cough subsides.
9. Color care – To keep colors bright in clothes, soak in full-strength vinegar before the first wash. You can also add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle to brighten fabrics.
10. Stain remover – Gently rub on fabrics to remove most organic stains, then wash as usual. You can also remove perspiration and deodorant stains, as well as smoke smell and other persistent odors, by adding 1 cup of vinegar to the wash cycle. You can also remove scorch stains from your iron plate or coffee maker by heating equal parts vinegar and salt in a small pan and rubbing the solution on the cooled surface.
11. All-purpose cleaner – Use vinegar to clean and disinfect your dishwasher, garbage disposal, kitchen counters, refrigerator, stainless steel surfaces, china and glassware, microwave, cutting boards, dishes, and teapots.
12. Deodorize or unclog your kitchen drain by pouring a handful of baking soda down the drain and adding 1/2 cup vinegar.
13. Make buttermilk by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to a cup of milk and let it stand for 5 minutes.
14. Substitute lemon with vinegar in a recipe by adding 1/4 teaspoon vinegar per 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
15. Prevent grease buildup in your oven by wiping it down (while cool) with a rag that has been moistened with vinegar and water.
16. Naturally Antibacterial – Vinegar will naturally kill any bacteria it comes into contact with. Use it to clean surfaces and fixtures in the bathroom by mixing it half and half in a spray bottle and use on sink, counters, toilets, and even floors.
17. Remove soap scum and film on showers and bathtubs by spraying or wiping on vinegar and ten dust with baking soda. Rinse with water.
18. Air freshener – Vinegar is a natural deodorizer – spray into the air to freshen it up. You can also set out a bowl of vinegar to rid a room of paint fumes or cigarette smoke. To add a scent to the air, place a bowl of vinegar in a warm spot and add spices or scented oils. This takes the bad smells out while scenting the air with the good smells!
19. Remove bumper stickers and decals by soaking a cloth in vinegar and then pressing it over the sticker for a few minutes. The sticker should peel right off.
20. Leather can be easily cleaned with a mix of distilled vinegar and linseed oil. Rub the mixture in and then polish with a clean cloth. Also wipe onto patent leather to make it shine brilliantly.
21. Create your own wood polish to remove water stains and make surfaces shine. Mix equal parts distilled vinegar and olive oil. Apply with a soft cloth and rub with the grain for best results. You can also use this mixture on wood paneling to clean and remove dust and grime.
22. Prolong the life of cut flowers by adding 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 3 tablespoons of sugar per quart of warm water.
23. Increase the acidity of your garden soil by adding 1 cup of vinegar per gallon of tap water. This will release iron into the soil for plants to use and increase acidity in clay or alkaline soils. Some acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons, gardenias and azaleas will benefit from adding diluted vinegar to the soil.