It costs hardly anything, is available in every grocery store in the universe and is so useful around your home that you are going to have a hard time believing it. That's the power of vinegar. Yep -- plain, cheap, 5 percent acidity, white vinegar.
1. Add 1/4 cup white vinegar to a quart of very warm water to make a good window cleaner. Wipe with crumpled newspaper and your windows will sparkle.
2. Instead of fabric softener or dryer sheets, add 1/2 to 1 cup vinegar to the last rinse in your washing machine (as you would liquid softener). Your clothes will come out soft because the vinegar helps to remove every trace of laundry detergent, which cause fabrics to stiffen.
3. Vinegar will dissolve hard-water marks like those on shower doors, faucets and in vases. If the vinegar is hot (heat in the microwave) it works even faster.
4. Instead of pricey commercial rinse agents, fill that little reservoir in your dishwasher with white vinegar. Your dishes will sparkle. Refill often. If your dishwasher does not have this feature, simply add 1/2 to 1 cup (depending on the hardness of your water) into the last rinse.
5. Wash your windshield with vinegar to help keep ice and frost at bay.
6. Vinegar makes a great wallpaper remover. First remove all the wallpaper you can by simply pulling it off. You'll probably get only the top layer of the paper, but that's okay. Now spray full-strength vinegar on what remains. This will begin to dissolve the glue. Once softened, you'll be able to remove the rest without harsh chemicals.
7. Use the acidity of vinegar to tenderize meat. I add several tablespoons to pot roast, soups and stews. If you have balsamic vinegar it will add a wonderful flavor, but white vinegar tenderizes just as well. Your guests will think you are serving them filet mignon.
8. You can clean copper-bottom pots with a paste made of salt and vinegar. Caution: Do not use this on decorative copper that has a lacquer coating.
9. Wash your vinyl and ceramic tile floors with a mixture of hot water and white vinegar (1 cup per gallon of water). No need to rinse and you will never have that nasty film that plain water leaves behind. And Wow! Your floor will shine line a new penny.
10. White vinegar will take the sting out of sunburn. Just soak a towel and apply to the burn. The smell is far more tolerable that the pain of a sunburn. Caution: Never self-treat a severe burn. Contact your health professional immediately if you have any doubts.
11. Clean your steam iron. Fill the steam reservoir with white vinegar and heat to the hottest setting (after you've consulted the owners manual to make sure your iron is compatible with this). It's going to steam vinegar so get prepared for a strong smell. You will see all kinds of hard water deposits come out of the steam holes. Empty remaining vinegar, fill with water and allow it to steam well to remove all traces of vinegar. Repeat as necessary
Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630.