More than just a bit of extra flavour for your fish and chips, vinegar has many handy household uses. There are many varieties of vinegar, from malt to balsamic and for the purpose of this entry, it doesn't matter which kind you use unless a specific kind is stated.
What is Vinegar?
From the French vin aigre meaning 'sour wine', vinegar is basically dilute acetic acid. It is believed to have been discovered quite accidentally some 10,000 years ago by wine makers. Vinegar is made by the fermentation of pretty much anything including sugar or starch. For example, Balsamic vinegar is traditionally made with Trebbiano grapes and rice vinegar is made with rice.
In the Home
If your vegetables are wilting, freshen them up by placing them in 2 cups of water and a teaspoon of vinegar.
A mixture of salt and vinegar will get those difficult tea and coffee stains off your china cups when rubbed on gently.
Tenderise your meat, killing germs in the process by marinating it in vinegar with added herbs of your choice.
Help prevent your boiled eggs from cracking by adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar to the water before boiling.
A small bowl of vinegar left in a room will help remove tobacco smells and other odours.
Vinegar is great for making spectacles and drinking glasses really sparkle.
White and apple cider vinegar can be used for general surface cleaning such as kitchen worktops, bath tubs and so forth, and will also make your taps shine, especially if you wrap cling film around them while the vinegar soaks in.
Wipe your oven with a cloth dipped in distilled vinegar and water to prevent grease build-up.
Clothes will rinse better if vinegar is added to the final rinse water.
Hot white vinegar can be used to remove traces of glue; for example, if you have removed a sticker from a flat surface.
Vinegar is also great for creating a fruit fly trap: Pour 2/3 vinegar, 1/3 syrup and 1 drop of washing-up liquid1 into a high narrow glass. By combining vinegar and syrup you create that smell of decay that these flies love so much - and the drop of washing up-liquid breaks the surface tension. When trying to land on the surface, the flies will drown.
Give the colour of your carpets and rugs a new lease of life by brushing them with a mixture of 1 cup vinegar to 1 gallon water.
Leather will shine better if wiped over lightly with distilled vinegar.
Health and Beauty
Drinking a mixture of 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water will help to settle an upset stomach and may also help to relieve arthritis symptoms.
Some insect bites and stings2, sunburn and rashes such as urticaria (hives) can be relieved by applying a little vinegar directly to the affected area.
Soothe hot swollen feet by putting a little apple cider vinegar in a foot bath.
A teaspoon of vinegar swallowed straight down rarely fails to cure hiccups.
Help keep dandruff at bay by rinsing with vinegar and warm water after shampooing.
A little vinegar in your bath water will help to relieve dry skin.
In the Garden
Full strength vinegar makes a good weed killer when sprayed on directly.
In hard water areas you can add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of tap water to increase soil acidity.
Freshen up and prolong the life of cut flowers by adding a little vinegar to their water.