Want to discover a superhero hiding right in your pantry? Look no further than the humble bottle of vinegar. Here are a few of its household powers.
What single product can wash floors and surfaces, loosen tough stains, shine windows, clean the fridge and disinfect doorknobs?
Distilled white vinegar works for most cleaning needs:
- Floors: Combine one-half cup of distilled white vinegar with 1 gallon warm water. Use to mop wood, laminate and tile floors, and clean tile surfaces.
- Multi-surface: Place undiluted vinegar in a spray bottle and use to clean countertops – not marble or granite – and cutting boards.
- Appliances and hardware: Mix equal parts water and vinegar. Use to wipe down a refrigerator or microwave. Also disinfect doorknobs and faucet handles.
- Windows and mirrors: Mix one-third cup of vinegar and one-quarter cup of rubbing alcohol in a 32-oz. spray bottle and fill with water.
In marinades, vinegar flavors and tenderizes meat as it breaks down the enzymes on the surface.
Laundry stain buster
- Keep a spray bottle with 1 part distilled white vinegar and 1 part water on hand to pretreat laundry stains before washing. For tough stains, add a little extra vinegar to the solution and use to soak the stain. Mildew smell? Add a little salt to the solution and soak the musty item.
- The natural acidity of vinegar makes it a powerful enemy of ants, spiders, fruit flies and other insects that invade your home. Place vinegar in a spray bottle to spray on sills and doorways or wherever you find pests. Add water if you want to dilute it. To trap fruit flies, add about an inch of apple cider vinegar to a jar because the smell attracts them. Top with a paper funnel or coffee filter with the pointed end snipped, point side down. Once the flies are trapped, release them outside.
The Flavor Balancer
Vinegar helps cut the fat-forward and sometimes overpowering nature of mayo-centric dressings and vinaigrettes. Because it’s so acidic, vinegar also helps to balance cloyingly sweet dishes with the right touch of sour; think strawberry shortcake dressed with a drizzle of balsamic. Along the same lines, vinegar also cuts the heat when a dish is too spicy. Add 1 tablespoon to flat-tasting soups and sauces as well to perk up the flavor.
Buy a gallon of distilled white vinegar for a just a few dollars, which works out to pennies per use, and keep it on hand. The bottle may have an expiration date, but generally it can be safely kept and used indefinitely. Its pH of 2.4 makes it spoil-resistant.
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