June 17, 2013 at 5:36 PM ET
That humble, no-frills bottle of vinegar in your pantry isn’t just a salad staple; it’s an effective household cleaning agent. Here, 20 practical (but surprising!) uses for the acidic wonder.
1. Keep your morning cup of coffee fresh. Mix two cups of water with one cup of undiluted white vinegar. Run it through your coffee maker and repeat the process two to three times before brewing a fresh pot.
2. Disinfect household sponges. Soak sponges in undiluted white vinegar overnight, and let air-dry before reuse.
3. Dissolve crayon marks from the walls. Moisten a toothbrush with undiluted white vinegar, lightly scrub the scribble and voila—your walls no longer resemble giant pages out of your kid’s coloring book.
4. Eliminate hard-water rings in flower vases. Pour undiluted white vinegar slightly past the dirty line. Cover the opening with a cloth, swish the liquid around and let it sit overnight. Dump, and rinse with warm water to remove any remaining remnants.
5. Prevent germapalooza from happening on your cutting board. Dampen a clean cloth with undiluted white vinegar and wipe the board down after each use.
6. Make a quick substitute for gum remover. Scrape off as much of the wad as you can from the fabric (e.g. pants, carpet, etc.). Heat up undiluted white vinegar in a microwave-safe container. Soak the head of a toothbrush in the solution, and scrub at the remaining gum until it’s gone.
7. Turn finished holiday ornaments into clear, trendy bulbs. Mix baking soda and water to form a paste. Using a paper towel, rub the paste onto the outside of the bulbs until the finishing starts peeling off. Fill the insides with undiluted white vinegar, and swish around until the inside coating wears away.
8. Do away with the gunk on chrome hardware. Soak a few stacked paper towels in vinegar, ring them out and wrap around the faucet, handles or showerhead for 10 minutes. Remove the wrap, and let dry.
9. Salvage a shirt with mild sweat stains. Turn the shirt inside out and soak the perspiration-stained areas with undiluted white vinegar. Let it sit for 15 minutes, and then gently scrub with a toothbrush. Wash the shirt in a normal rinse cycle using warm water to remove any excess build-up.
10. Keep the car windshield and windows frost-free. Moisten a cloth or a sponge with undiluted white vinegar and wipe down to prevent ice from forming overnight.
11. Get rid of greasy fingerprints on your smart phone screen. Mix a half-cup of undiluted white vinegar and a half-cup of water in a spray bottle and shake. Squirt the solution onto a microfiber cloth and wipe away any streaks or smudges.
12. Prevent an ant invasion. Dampen a cloth or sponge with undiluted white vinegar, and run it along the perimeter of windows and door frames leading to the outside.
13. Refresh your eyeglass lenses. Put a drop on each lens, and wipe.
14. Do away with old wallpaper. Combine one part white vinegar and one part water in a paint tray. Soak the roller brush, run along the unwanted wallpaper, and peel off.
15. Remove excess wax from candle jars. Pick away as much of the hardened wax as you can. (Can’t get it off? Try chipping away at it with a butter knife.) Moisten a paper towel with undiluted white vinegar, and wipe the insides until the wax is completely gone.
16. Deodorize a stinky lunch box. Remove unwanted odor by dampening a paper towel in undiluted white vinegar and wiping down the inside.
17. Kill unwanted weeds infiltrating the cracks of your walkway or yard. Fill a spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar and spritz. (Beware: Don't spray the vinegar on the plants you actually want to grow—it will kill them!)
18. Nix scorch stains on the bottom of a cool iron. Dampen a rag with white vinegar, and rub the marks off. Repeat until they are removed completely.
19. Prevent mold from forming on a shower liner. Pour one part water and white part undiluted white vinegar into a spray bottle. Spritz the solution onto the liner after each time you shower.
Christine Petrozzo is a freelance writer living in San Francisco, Ca.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.