Five Uses for White Vinegar that Don’t Involve Food

I was surprised last week when there was a decent amount of interest in my post with five uses for coconut oil that don’t involve food.

So, this week I thought I’d share a similar type of post with something else I use a lot, but rarely for cooking-related purposes: White Vinegar. White vinegar is cheap – I mean really cheap – readily available, and fantastic for a lot of uses. If you are cooking with it, please be sure to find organic white vinegar – it’s worth the extra cost because it is made from corn and corn is one of the most heavily GMO products in our food supply. If you feel strongly about GMOs, you may want to just buy organic all the time, regardless of its purpose.

In any case, white vinegar is a chemical conscious consumer’s (say that three times fast) best friend. Here are some of the ways I use it around our house:

  • Laundry additive to get the stink out. Anyone that has a dog knows what dog laundryIMG_0021 smells like! I wash dog and cat laundry separately from people laundry, and add white vinegar to the pre-rinse compartment in our front load washing machine to help get the dog smell out of towels and blankets. (The cat would of course add that cats do not have a “smell.”) After all, even pets deserve fresh linens! If you don’t have a pre-rinse compartment because of a more traditional top load washer, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup directly to the washer. You can also use as a fabric softener by adding about 1/4 cup to the last rinse cycle. This will help get out any leftover detergent and help reduce static cling as well.
  • Grout haze remover. Okay, I know this one is only appealing to folks with a DIY home improving nature, but a solution of 1 part white vinegar to 1 part water is the best grout haze remover I’ve ever found! When applied with a scouring pad, it takes up haze lickety-split. Sure, you can buy expensive chemicals to do this, but why? White vinegar works as well or better and is not toxic.
  • Weed killer (for real). If you are burdened by weeds – and who isn’t? – you can use white vinegar to kill them without chemicals. This works really well in situations where they are growing in a concrete crack, like in a sidewalk or driveway. Pour the full strength vinegar on them and you’ll be weed free in no time (I just put it full strength into a pump sprayer and spray like I am using weed killer chemicals). Incidentally, boiling water works well to kill weeds also – especially if not around lawn, as it will kill pretty much all vegetation.
  • Vegetable wash. This technically involves food, but not as an ingredient. An easy vegetable wash is 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar in 1.5 quarts of water. I use this mostly for times when I can’t get organic fruits or veggies, especially strawberries.
  • Prevention of ear infections after swimming. When I was a kid, ear infections from swimming pool water hanging out in my ears was a problem. As a result, my grandma made us wash out our ears after swimming in the ocean or in a pool with a solution of 1 part rubbing alcohol and 1 part white vinegar (stored in a dropper bottle) to prevent ear  infections. This works well and I do it to this day after I swim. I find I get water that just stays in my ears, and, by putting a dropper full of this solution in my ear, covering it with a tissue or cotton ball, and then tilting my head to let it drain, the pool water drains away as well and the ear canal is clean as a whistle.

And, there you have it – five uses for white vinegar. I know you guys must also have uses for it, so please let me know in the comments!

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