Eugene writes a variety of articles on the Maven coalition network of sites, covering topics such as gardening, DIY, photography, and STEM.
Vinegar is a natural substance containing acetic acid. The two main types are malt vinegar made from barley and apple cider vinegar. It has a wide range of uses around the home as a cleaning agent. It can also aid digestion and can help to relieve skin ailments.
This article will detail some of the many uses for vinegar in and around the home.
Vinegar and Acetic Acid
The active ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid, also known by its more modern name, ethanoic acid. When alcohol turns sour, ethanol is chemically converted to ethanoic acid. The formula for the acid is CH3COOH.
Vinegar has a 5% acetic acid content.
Cleaning Agent for Bathrooms and Home Stains
- Baths, showers, toilets: Vinegar is great for removing brown iron stains and limescale from baths, showers and toilets. The stains can be sprayed with vinegar stored in a window cleaning pump spray bottle.
- Scum, grime, mildew: It can be used for removing scum from baths and grime and mildew from tiles and shower curtains.
- Coffee mugs: If you mix a teaspoon of salt in a cup of vinegar, this is great for cleaning coffee and tea stains from cups and mugs. It will also clean brass.
- Windows: Vinegar can be used for cleaning windows.
- Clothing: When rubbed into stains in clothing and allowed to soak for a while before laundering, vinegar helps to loosen the stains. Baking soda reacts with vinegar and the resulting froth helps to loosen stains.
Health and Hygiene
- Digestion: A few teaspoons of vinegar in a glass of warm water aids digestion.
- Athlete's foot and nail fungi: When applied regularly to the toenails over a period of months, vinegar can help to cure athlete's foot or nail fungi. The fungus which causes the disorder doesn't like to live in acid conditions.
- Itchy skin: Applying vinegar to itchy skin and bites helps to relieve the itching.
- Dandruff: Vinegar helps to remove dandruff and relieve itching of the scalp.
- Natural deodorant: If you buy a small pump spray from a pharmacy, this can be filled with white vinegar and used as a deodorant spray. You won't smell like French fries after the spray dries, and vinegar is a very effective sterilizer, killing the germs which cause BO! It won't cause insoluble white stains on clothing like conventional antiperspirant/deodorant and you won't be ripped off by the toiletry companies!
DIY and in the Garden
- Removing rust: Nuts and bolts which have become seized can be released by soaking in vinegar. The acetic acid will dissolve the rust. In fact, rust can be removed from any surface by soaking in vinegar.
- Promoting acid-loving plant growth: Water acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons and hydrangeas with a solution of vinegar every so often to increases the acidity of the soil.
- Killing weeds: If you spray vinegar onto the leaves of weeds, it will scorch the leaves and kill the weeds.
- Deterring ants: Vinegar deters ants if sprayed on their trails or around door and window frames.
Vinegar as a Buttermilk Alternative in Baking
When baking brown and white soda bread, buttermilk and baking soda are normally used as leavening (raising ) agents. If you don't have any buttermilk on hand, vinegar is a good alternative.
- 5 dessert spoons vinegar
- 12 fluid ounces (US) / 350 ml whole milk
Combine vinegar and milk and mix completely.
Use this as a basis for making soda bread.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Eugene Brennan
Eugene Brennan (author) from Ireland on November 10, 2015:
Thanks Glenn, it's very effective at burning top growth on weeds, but needs to be applied regularly, especially with deep rooted weeds. Acetic or ethanoic acid is the "active ingredient" in vinegar and the concentration is about 5%. You can also buy natural weedkillers which have a 50% concentration of acetic acid. Glacial acetic acid is also the active ingredient in wart removing compounds.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on November 09, 2015:
I use vinegar for cleaning. And I also take a teaspoon of it every so often with water for improved health. But I never knew it can be used to kill weeds and to keep ants away. I learn something new every day! Great hub and very informative.
Becky Bruce from San Diego, CA on July 30, 2012:
I love vinegar! If your towels ever get that musty scent.. a load with vinegar erases the problem! Plus it tastes delicious added to recipes!