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

arrow
History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
The Force Field Cloak
arrow
Design
This Glowing Blanket Is Designed to Ease Kids' Fear of the Dark
The Force Field Cloak
The Force Field Cloak

Many kids have a security blanket they bring to bed with them every night, but sometimes, a regular blankie is no match for the monsters that invade their imaginations once the lights are off. Now there’s a glow-in-the-dark blanket designed to make children feel safer in bed, no night light required.

Dubbed the Force Field Cloak, the fleece blanket comes in several colorful, glowing patterns that remain invisible during the day. At night, you leave the blanket under a bright light for about 10 minutes, then the shining design will reveal itself in the dark. The glow lasts 8 to 10 hours, just long enough to get a child through the night.

Inventor Terry Sachetti was inspired to create the blanket by his own experiences struggling with scary nighttime thoughts as a kid. "I remember when I was young and afraid of the dark. I would lie in my bed at night, and my imagination would start getting the best of me," he writes on the product's Kickstarter page. "I would start thinking that someone or something was going to grab my foot that was hanging over the side of the bed. When that happened, I would put my foot back under my blanket where I knew I was safe. Nothing could get me under my blanket. No boogiemen, no aliens, no monsters under my bed, nothing. Sound familiar?"

The Force Field Cloak, which has already surpassed its funding goals on both Indiegogo and Kickstarter, takes the comfort of a blanket to the next level. The glowing, non-toxic ink decorating the material acts as a gentle night light that kids can wrap around their whole body. The result, the team claims, is a secure feeling that quiets those thoughts about bad guys hiding in the shadows.

To pre-order a Force Field Cloak, you can pledge $36 or more to the product’s Indiegogo campaign. It is expected to start shipping in January 2018.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios