apple cider vinegarThere are a few secret weapons in the household arsenal that seem to be the solution to every problem. Vinegar is one of those weapons. You’ve probably heard of its powerful cleaning ability when it comes to fabric stains, but this pantry staple has hundreds of potential uses throughout the house and garden. Below see some surprising examples.

1. Brighten Jewelry

For a quick brightening of your favorite jewelry and gemstones, simply drop the dingy jewelry into pure white vinegar for 10 to 15 minutes. Follow it up with a gentle scrub and rinse using a toothbrush and water. For stubborn caked-on grit, you can add a tablespoon of baking soda to the vinegar and leave the jewelry in the solution for two or three hours. Follow with the same toothbrush scrub and rinse. Voila! Gleaming jewels at a fraction of the price your jeweler would charge.

2. Remove Frost from Car Windows

To prevent frost and ice from forming on your car windshield overnight, try a preventative vinegar spray. Mix three parts vinegar with one part water and use a spray bottle to spray it generously on the exterior of your car windshield the evening before a freeze. The next morning, you should find your windshield frost-free! Repeat on a daily basis before or during freezing weather to prevent windshield from frosting over during the night.

3. Kill Weeds

Spray pesky weeds with strong vinegar to kill them off quickly. Spray once on the leaves and once at the base of each plant; then watch them wither away within a few days. Be careful not to spray your desirable plants, however; vinegar is not selective and will quickly wither any plant it touches. You’ll need a stronger vinegar than what you find in your kitchen cupboard, though. A 20% acetic acid solution is required to kill weeds and this may be found at garden supply stores.

4. Ward Off Pests

Vinegar makes an excellent organic pesticide. For ants, snails, and slugs, spray full-strength vinegar directly onto infiltrators to kill them quickly. You can also spray vinegar onto their common pathways to prevent their friends from returning, at least for a few days. Try wiping down your counters regularly in the spring!  If spraying vinegar around your plants or garden, avoiding spraying it directly onto your desirable plants, since they may also wither or die from the acidic liquid.

For fruit flies or pantry moths, mix a cup of apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap and leave the solution in open bowls wherever the offenders congregate. Leave the mixture out until it catches all visible pests. You can repeat the process every time the insects return.

5. Keep Flowers Fresh

If you love the look of cut flowers in the home, you’ll want them to stay beautiful and fresh for as long as possible. Increase their longevity by adding two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of sugar to the water in your vase. Replace the solution every two days to keep flowers happy for as long as possible.

6. Unstick Stickers

Especially if you have children, stickers may end up on any unsuspecting surface of your home. If you find them too stubborn and difficult to remove, try soaking them in vinegar! Dip a sponge or paper towel in undiluted white vinegar and dab the sticker until it is soaked through. Leave it on for five to 10 minutes and then try to pry the sticker off with a credit card. If some sticky adhesive residue is left behind, repeat the process. Rinse the area with water when you are done.

7. Remove Pen Marks

If your little Picasso has left the walls decorated with unsightly marks from a ball-point pen, white vinegar could be your savior once again. Dab the marks with pure, undiluted white vinegar on a sponge until the pen marks fade away. If it doesn’t work right away, try letting the vinegar soak into the area for five minutes and then try again. Always rinse the area with water after you finish.

8. Prevent Colors from Running

Are you tired of brightly-colored clothing and blue jeans running onto lighter colors in the wash? Try setting the dye before the first few washes by soaking new clothing in a few cups of white vinegar before washing it in the machine. After soaking the clothing for 10 to 15 minutes, put it through the wash as normal. The colors will be much less likely to run during the wash cycle.

9. De-Wrinkle Clothing

No time for ironing? Use vinegar to make those wrinkles vanish! Make a mixture of one part white vinegar and one part water. Add a few drops of colorless essential oil if you wish to offset the scent of vinegar, and spritz onto your wrinkled garments. Smooth and tug the fabric until the wrinkles disappear, then hang to dry.

10. Remove Pet Odors

Pet odors are irritating for several reasons. Besides the unpleasant smell, the odor of urine can encourage pets to continue urinating in the same spot over and over. To remove lingering odors for good, mix a half-cup of white vinegar with one-and-a-half cups of warm water. Pour this entire solution onto the offending area of carpet, rug, or upholstery. Let it soak in for five minutes and then sop up most of the liquid with a towel. Pour baking soda onto the damp area and leave it there until it dries completely. Finally, vacuum up the baking soda and the offending odors should be completely eliminated.

11. Relieve Itching

For any type of epidermal itch, apple cider vinegar can provide quick relief. For a bug bite or other localized itch, just soak a cotton ball in organic apple cider vinegar and apply it directly to the affected area. If the itch is more widespread, such as with chicken-pox or eczema, you can pour two cups of apple cider vinegar into a warm bath and soak for 15 minutes.

How’s that for versatile? These are only a few of the uses for vinegar throughout the home and garden. Do you have more ideas? Share them with us in the comment section! Find more natural tips & tricks for the home on the Living Clean blog:

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