CLOSE
iStock
iStock

Beyond Salad Dressing: 15 Genius Uses For Vinegar

iStock
iStock

There’s a hidden weapon in your house, probably sitting in a kitchen cabinet somewhere, just hoping for its shot at salad dressing stardom. Vinegar is more than just a cooking ingredient. The acidic, fermented liquid can also be an all-purpose cleaning fluid, a home remedy, a stain remover, and more. Are you using it to its full potential? You should be carrying it wherever you go, basically. Here are just some of the situations in which vinegar should be your go-to tool: 

1. Surface cleaner

Dilute distilled white vinegar with water and use the mixture to clean countertops, bathrooms, refrigerator shelves, mirrors, windows, hard water stains, and pretty much anything else. The acid makes it a natural anti-bacterial agent, including against some food-borne bacteria like E. coli, but is less toxic than many commercial cleaning products. It won’t kill every germ in its path, but it’s effective enough for normal household use. Just be careful using it on natural stone and hardwood floors. 

2. Coffee pot refresh

Over time, minerals from the hot mixture of water and coffee build up inside coffee makers, slowing down the drip process. Instead of buying a special cleaning solution, brew a pot of vinegar and water. Once a month, mix equal parts vinegar and water, and run it through the machine with an empty filter. Halfway through brewing, turn it off and let the coffee maker stew for 30 minutes. Then, turn it back on and let the mixture run through completely. Brew another pot of plain water to eliminate any leftover vinegar.  

3. Clean up dentures

Soaking dentures in white vinegar can disinfect them and remove stains and calcium deposits, according to dentists

4. Easy microwave cleanser 

Caked-on food scum can be steamed off the inner surfaces of a microwave with vinegar. Just stick a bowl of equal parts vinegar and water in the microwave, uncovered, until it’s hot enough to steam. The burnt, crusty remains of your latest Hot Pocket should be easy to wipe off now. 

5. Duster for blinds 

It’s hard to clean between the slats of horizontal window blinds with a feather duster or cloth. Put on a pair of gloves (or, in a pinch, cover a finger with an old sock) and dip your finger in vinegar until it’s damp (but not dripping wet). Run your fingers between two slats to clear out any dust. 

6. Dieting tool

A small study from Sweden found that consuming white bread with vinegar, rather than dry, increased satiety 30, 90, and 120 minutes after a meal. But take this one with a grain of salt (or a dash of vinegar): it only tested 12 subjects. 

7. Get rid of bumper stickers

Vinegar softens the bonds of adhesives, meaning you can use it to help remove stubborn bumper stickers. Some anti-sticker fanatics recommend using a straight vinegar solution, while others suggest mixing it with liquid dishwashing soap. Either way, let the vinegar sit on the sticker for five minutes or so before scraping at it. 

8. Peel off old wallpaper

Wallpaper is kind of like a giant bumper sticker applied to the walls, and it can be stubborn about being torn away. Try spritzing it with hot water and vinegar for easier removal. 

9. Get rid of smoke smells 

Tobacco smoke is notorious for seeping into surfaces, leaving the lingering, stale smell of cigarettes in clothes, carpets, and couches for years. To deodorize a whole room, try leaving a bowl of vinegar in the middle of the floor overnight. For clothes and other portable items, the vinegar-makers at Heinz recommend two cups of vinegar in a bathtub of hot water. Hang the clothes above the tub and let the smell steam away. 

10. Cook fish

Raw fish can be "cooked" without any heat just by soaking it in an acidic marinade. In Central or South American cuisine, you may know this as a dish called ceviche. The acid from vinegar and citrus juices causes proteins in the fish to denature, just like they would if you stuck the filet on the grill. 

11. Revive old rugs

Rugs tend to flatten out after enduring years of foot traffic and heavy furniture loads. You can perk up your pile with vinegar and baking soda. Brush baking soda into the carpet to get rid of odors, and let it sit. The next morning, vacuum up the baking soda, and spritz the rug with a vinegar and water mix. After it dries, the pile should rise. Just remember to vacuum up the baking soda first, or you’ll create a foamy mess. 

12. Remove stains

Clean up after a messy pet or a messy human by pouring a vinegar and baking soda mixture onto the stain. The bubbling combination works like a DIY Oxyclean, working out stains. Let it dry for a few hours and vacuum the whole mess up. For clothing stains, pour full-strength vinegar on the stain within a day, and then throw it in the wash after it dries. 

13. Make a volcano 

It’s a technique time-tested by middle school scientists everywhere: when you mix vinegar and baking soda, things get explosive. When the acidic vinegar comes in contact with the basic baking soda, they form carbonic acid, an unstable compound that immediately fizzes into water and carbon dioxide—a fizzy eruption. 

14. Keep dye from running in the wash

To keep bright colors from bleeding when you wash them, soak the clothing in white vinegar before you throw it in the washing machine. This will keep your blue jeans blue, not a washed-out gray. 

15. Get rid of bugs

To get rid of flies around the house, make a trap with apple cider vinegar mixed with a little sugar. Put it in a cup or jar with a piece of cling wrap over the top, with small holes poked through it so the flies can enter. Once they fly through the plastic wrap in search of the vinegar and sugar, they’ll be trapped. You can also try cutting the tops off plastic water bottles and inverting them to form a funnel.  

All images courtesy iStock

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Dan Bell
arrow
Design
A Cartographer Is Mapping All of the UK’s National Parks, J.R.R. Tolkien-Style
Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park
Dan Bell

Cartographer Dan Bell makes national parks into fantasy lands. Bell, who lives near Lake District National Park in England, is currently on a mission to draw every national park in the UK in the style of the maps in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Kottke.org reports.

The project began in September 2017, when Bell posted his own hand-drawn version of a Middle Earth map online. He received such a positive response that he decided to apply the fantasy style to real world locations. He has completed 11 out of the UK’s 15 parks so far. Once he finishes, he hopes to tackle the U.S. National Park system, too. (He already has Yellowstone National Park down.)

Bell has done various other maps in the same style, including ones for London and Game of Thrones’s Westeros, and he commissions, in case you have your own special locale that could use the Tolkien treatment. Check out a few of his park maps below.

A close-up of a map for Peak District National Park
Peak District National Park in central England
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Cairngorms National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Cairngorms National Park in Scotland
Dan Bell

A black-and-white illustration of Lake District National Park in the style of a 'Lord of the Rings' map.
Lake District National Park in England
Dan Bell

You can buy prints of the maps here.

[h/t Kottke.org]

All images by Dan Bell

nextArticle.image_alt|e
The North Face
arrow
Design
The North Face's New Geodesic Dome Tent Will Protect You in 60 mph Wind
The North Face
The North Face

You can find camping tents designed for easy set-up, large crowds, and sustainability, but when it comes to strength, there’s only so much abuse a foldable structure can take. Now, The North Face is pushing the limits of tent durability with a reimagined design. According to inhabitat, the Geodome 4 relies on its distinctive geodesic shape to survive wind gusts approaching hurricane strength.

Instead of the classic arching tent structure, the Geodome balloons outward like a globe. It owes its unique design to the five main poles and one equator pole that hold it in place. Packed up, the gear weighs just over 24 pounds, making it a practical option for car campers and four-season adventurers. When it’s erected, campers have floor space measuring roughly 7 feet by 7.5 feet, enough to sleep four people, and 6 feet and 9 inches of space from ground to ceiling if they want to stand. Hooks attached to the top create a system for gear storage.

While it works in mild conditions, the tent should really appeal to campers who like to trek through harsher weather. Geodesic domes are formed from interlocking triangles. A triangle’s fixed angles make it one of the strongest shapes in engineering, and when used in domes, triangles lend this strength to the overall structure. In the case of the tent, this means that the dome will maintain its form in winds reaching speeds of 60 mph. Meanwhile, the double-layered, water-resistant exterior keeps campers dry as they wait out the storm.

The Geodome 4 is set to sell for $1635 when it goes on sale in Japan this March. In the meantime, outdoorsy types in the U.S. will just have to wait until the innovative product expands to international markets.

[h/t inhabitat]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios