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10 Surprising Uses for Vinegar

10 Surprising Uses for Vinegar

If you could invent a green-cleaning “wonder” product, it would probably end up being a lot like white vinegar. Safe, readily available and really cheap, there are perhaps hundreds of uses for vinegar, an acidic liquid originally created from wine gone bad. (Who knew bad wine could be so good?)

For some vinegar uses listed below, you’ll need to decide how much you want to dilute white vinegar. On wood floors, for example, cleaning with vinegar requires one cup diluted with about one gallon of warm water. But for cleaning mildewed tile and grout, use full-strength vinegar. And if you have any more vinegar tips, share your ideas with us.

Man cleaning window, view through glass - Laurence Monneret/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Laurence Monneret/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Vinegar as a Natural Weed Killer

Vinegar is strong enough to kill weeds, as well as plants you actually like, so instead of spraying it recklessly around your yard or garden, try painting it directly on the leaves of whatever plant you’re trying to get rid of. Of course, if you’re attacking weeds that sprout up from cracks in your asphalt, fire at will. For best results, use white vinegar on a day of dry, sunny weather — vinegar needs some time in the sun to work its deadly magic on weeds. More »

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Vinegar and Pet Care

Dogs and cats can often be bothered by itchy, scaly ears — especially if you have a dog with floppy ears like a retriever. Dilute white vinegar in a 1:4 ratio (1 tablespoon vinegar to 4 tablespoons water, for example), and let it soak into a clean rag. Then use the rag to wipe out the inside of your pet’s ears. And if your pet gets sprayed by a skunk, vinegar is an easier acid to use than ketchup for getting rid of the smell, since ketchup itself doesn’t rinse off all that easily. Finally, if unwanted cats are creeping around your yard, spray or pour vinegar onto their favorite litter box — felines can’t stand the stuff!

Vinegar in the Dishwasher

There are at least two great uses for vinegar in your automatic dishwasher. First, it can be used as a cheap, effective rinsing agent to get your glasses, plates and other dishes sparkling clean. Second, it can help to clean the dishwasher itself: Once a year or so (more if you have hard water), pour a cup of white vinegar into an empty dishwasher, then run it for a short cycle to get rid of the lime and soap build-up that can prevent your dishwasher from working at peak efficiency.

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Vinegar and Car Care

Still sporting that McCain/Palin bumper sticker from 2008? That’s embarrassing for a number of reasons. Remove the shame with a few squirts of undiluted white vinegar. (You may need to reapply the vinegar a few times to completely loosen the bumper sticker.) Additionally, vinegar can be used as a glass cleaner and deodorizer in your car — you can even add it to your windshield wiper reservoir to keep your glass shiny IF your car’s owner’s manual suggests it. (Vinegar is acidic enough to ruin some motor parts, so don’t add it to your windshield-washer fluid if your owner’s manual recommends against it.) You can also wipe down your windows with diluted vinegar in winter to keep them frost-free.More »

Vinegar and Cut Flowers

There’s all kinds of voodoo about ways to extend the life of cut flowers. Some folks swear by a copper penny, others add Sprite or Seven-Up, some drop in an aspirin, while still others advocate adding a few tablespoons of white vinegar to the water, plus a dash of sugar. (I haven’t tried this, but it probably couldn’t hurt.) Most of the preparations seem to focus on one biocide (vinegar, bleach, copper), plus one source of sugar as a food supply. If all else fails, you could try the commercial preparations, though they aren’t as cheap unless you get them for free with your bouquet.

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Vinegar and Cleaning Tiles

Most people reach for the bleach when confronted with grungy or discolored tile, grout and caulk. But white vinegar is not only effective at cleaning and whitening tiles and grout, it’s also safer than chlorine bleach (especially for households on a septic tank, where bleach should never enter). Just spray full-strength vinegar on grout and caulk in the shower or kitchen, let it soak in for at least an hour, then scrub it off with a brush.

Vinegar and the Laundry

Vinegar has so many laundry uses that it’s often stored right next to the detergent in green laundry rooms. For removing stains like mustard, ketchup, tomato sauce, grass and underarm deodorants, spray a little white vinegar onto the stain before laundering. Soaking whites in vinegar will help bring back their whiteness. And just like in your dishwasher, vinegar helps to break down detergent when added to the rinse cycle, making clothes fresher, more colorful — and it gets rid of funky towel mildew. One cup should be plenty — add less when using a front-loading washing machine. Warning: Never add vinegar to chlorine bleach — it will create noxious chlorine gas, a potentially deadly compound. More »

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Kitchen Cleaning with Vinegar

Clean your coffee maker out with diluted vinegar every month or so. (Remember to run fresh water through it before making coffee.) White vinegar and salt can clean stainless-steel cookware and sterling silver, and undiluted vinegar disinfects cutting boards, especially those made of wood. And for cleaning microwaves, just pour a little vinegar into a bowl of water and microwave it for a few minutes — you can then easily wipe out grunge from the inside of your microwave. Finally, if your sink is clogged or smelly, try pouring 1/4 cup of baking soda down the sink, then add 1 cup of vinegar and cover the drain tightly — the reaction between these two compounds can power out clogs (you may need 2 or more applications for tough clogs).

Hard-Water Stains and Vinegar

If your toilet bowl, bathtub or sink has lime deposits from hard water, soak or spray vinegar onto the grit. It should loosen the deposits enough to remove them easily. And for any appliance or fixture that’s not working right because of hard water — especially irons, showerheads and faucets — soak or spray white vinegar and let the deposits crumble away.

vinegar glass - Getty Images

House Cleaning with Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the world’s best all-purpose green cleaners with dozens of cleaning uses. Diluted white vinegar is excellent at cleaning windows, hardwood floors, carpet stains, fireplace bricks and irons, CDs and DVDs, shower curtains, upholstery, mattresses, wood furniture (when combined with olive oil), glassware — in fact, if it’s in your house, you can probably clean it with vinegar. Warning: The one exception is marble and other stone surfaces. The acid in vinegar (and lemon, and wine) can permanently damage these surfaces, so keep vinegar away from these stones.

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What’s Cracking With Organic Eggs?

What’s Cracking With Organic Eggs?

download (5)Regardless of which came first — the chicken or the egg — you can bet the first one was organic, raised outdoors without added drugs or chemicals. And as more people discover the health and environmental benefits oforganic food, industrial poultry and egg production have fallen out of favor due to their heavy use of chemicals, drugs and factory-farm settings.

Organic eggs as well as conventional eggs are described by weight per USDA standards.

The six weight classes are Jumbo, Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small, and Peewee.

In addition to weight, the USDA also sets quality grade standards for eggs. The standards measure the appearance and quality of the eggshell as well as the quality of the yolk and the egg white, or albumen. Eggs are rated AA, A or B based on the factor with the lowest rating. Therefore, even an egg with an AA yolk and albumen will be rated B if its eggshell is a B.

USDA Standards for Organic Eggs

To qualify as organic, eggs must come from chickens that are fed only organic feed, i.e., feed that is free of animal by-products, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other chemical additives. No genetically modified foods can be used. Additionally, organic eggs must come from chickens that are given antibiotics only in the event of an infection — commercial chickens, on the other hand, are given antibiotics on a routine basis. No hormones or other drugs can be used in organic egg production.

Molting — when birds shed their older feathers to make room for new ones — is sometimes induced in commercial egg and chicken production by withholding food, water or by other means.

Molting extends the productive life of laying chickens, but it cannot be induced in chickens laying organic eggs; only natural molting is allowed to occur.

Organic eggs must come from chickens that live in cage-free environments and have access to the outdoors, even if their outdoor area is just a small pen or enclosed yard area. Pens are used to protect the chickens and their eggs from predators like hawks, foxes, raccoons, coyotes and other animals.

Organic Eggs vs. Free-Range Eggs vs. Vegetarian Eggs

Are organic eggs affordable? They’re not cheep — er, cheap. Organic eggs can cost up to $4/dozen, roughly double the cost of commercial eggs. This is largely due to the extra expenses involved in meeting organic certification requirements.

Finally, be aware that free-range eggs aren’t necessarily the same as organic — the USDA requires that free-range eggs come from chickens that have some access to a small, fenced patch of cement (which they may or may not use). Additionally, free-range chickens might eat non-organic feed and are sometimes given antibiotics or other drugs.

Similarly, sellers of vegetarian eggs, antibiotic-free eggs or so-called “natural eggs” aren’t subject to the same scrutiny as organic eggs. Since nobody’s really checking, it’s up to the manufacturer to set their own standards for what constitutes a vegetarian egg. As always,caveat emptor when buying eggs, since you might or might not get what’s advertised.

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What’s Green Living All About? Facts and Myths About Organic Living


What’s Green Living All About? Facts and Myths About Organic Living


When you hear someone say ‘green living’ or ‘go green’, are your eyes alight with curiosity? Or do you think that since you ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’, you’re living green? If you’re like most people today, you do the standard ‘green’ things, almost entirely unaware that there’s a greener, cleaner world of options available to you. The truth is, opportunities to live better, cleaner and healthier abound. Cleaning green, eating organic, being kind to the environment, urban gardening and incorporating organic ingredients into your everyday life are all aspects that you can adopt in whole or in part. Even if you only chose to adopt one aspect of living greener, such as cleaning green, you’re a leap ahead of where you were before. Let’s discuss some aspects of organic living.

The biggest myth about eating organic is that, if you’re eating organic, your diet consists of sprouts, roots and berries, in that order. The fact of the matter is there are different levels of eating organic, so your diet can contain a wide variety of foods, all of which will be healthy and good for you, without sacrificing taste. For example, if you eat organic fruits and vegetables, you’re not ingesting pesticides and herbicides which commercial farms use on regular produce found in your grocery store, so you’re already eating healthier having changed one thing. Most people who eat organic enjoy free-pressed juice, almond and other nut butters, home-made wheat bread and chocolate, too!

Cleaning green is another practical aspect of organic living. So, what does ‘cleaning green’ mean? In a nutshell, you’re using natural ingredients to clean, thus eliminating harsh ingredients that require you to ‘open a window for ventilation’. Did you know that salt, sugar, vinegar and lemon juice, among other common household finds, double as cleaning products? There are many recipes online for homemade, organic cleaning solutions as well as commercially available products for everything from cleaning the windows to cleaning clothes.

What does it mean to be kind to the environment? When you are being kind to people or pets, how do you behave? Offering a shoulder to cry on, an ear for listening, an uplifting hug and advice are all acts of kindness to those you love or care about. You reach for things that are out of reach for someone else or you stoop when someone cannot bend. You cuddle and feed your pets because you love them; these, too, are acts of kindness. Since you cannot hug the earth or give it advice, how do you show the environment kindness? Eating organic, pesticide-free foods and foods, planting trees, driving environmentally friendly cars or riding bikes or walking and simply recycling, which keeps plastics, paper and cans out of landfills, are just a few things you can do to be kind to the environment.

These are just three of the many different aspects of organic, green living that the average person can adopt without doing anything terribly life-altering. There are many websites that allow you to explore urban gardening, alternative energy, creative uses for various products to keep them out of landfills and many other so-called green topics that enrich your life and the world around you at the same time.

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