Thursday, August 30, 2012
Bluegrass Pride: Vinegar as hair rinse? Fabric softener? Weed killer? Yes – and much more!
By Pattie Stivender
I’ve always liked the taste of vinegar. There are many cherished family recipes I love that wouldn’t be the same without it (think German potato salad – yum!). And I’ve used it for years as part of my beauty routine.
Apple cider vinegar is a great rinse that leaves your hair super shiny and clean. Acne-prone skin? Wipe it down with vinegar. Too much fun in the sun? Soothe sunburned skin with vinegar. But it’s only been in the past few years that I have discovered just how versatile good ole’ vinegar is.
My road to vinegar adoration started with a quest to remove lint from my washing machine. After scouring my machine in search of a lint trap without any luck, I began to research how to cut down the amount of lint I was finding in each load. I finally settled on adding some vinegar to the rinse cycle every month or so. It did the trick!
I had to share this miraculous solution with everyone. Soon enough a friend shared that vinegar is an excellent replacement for fabric softener. Somewhat dubious, I decided to give it a try anyway. My first load came out of the dryer as soft as ever and without a vinegar smell. Here was a product that kept my clothes soft, gave my washing machine a cleaning AND saved me money. On average a gallon of white distilled vinegar costs $2.59 while the same amount of fabric softener is $9.99. That’s over $7 savings per bottle. That certainly adds up. I was hooked!
I have since given up most of the commercial cleaning products I once used. There was a time that cleaning meant a different product for each job: one bottle for toilets, another for the bathtub, yet another for mirrors and glass. Now I have one bottle. A 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water, with a squirt of dish soap, can clean almost anything.
I can clean my bathroom now without having to open windows and doors to air out the strong bleach smell. Sure vinegar has a strong odor, too. But it doesn’t burn, and I don’t feel the urge to do a surgical scrub of my hands after each use.
Tougher stains? Rub some baking soda onto the surface, squirt with the vinegar mixture and apply some elbow grease. Need to clean your furniture? Add some lemon to the mixture and shine away. Gunky buildup on your no-wax floors? Vinegar again!
Vinegar is useful outside of the house as well. I am a lazy gardener, at best. I have the greatest of intentions every spring, but by midsummer I have gotten over it and have lost the battle with weeds. Vinegar to the rescue!
A mixture of vinegar, water, soap and salt will do battle with any plant. Spray directly onto the plant and sit back and wait (surrounding the plant with an old lampshade, or something similar, will help keep from spraying other plants as well). The weed is no match for vinegar. We’ve had problems with weeds sprouting up in the cracks of our sidewalks. By carefully pouring the vinegar mixture into the cracks my weed problem is gone. Be warned though. If you pour vinegar onto an area, nothing is going to grow there for a while.
My most recent adventure with vinegar came about from a particularly rough summer for my dogs. They were overrun by fleas. Our usual treatment just wasn’t working this year. What to do that wouldn’t add more chemicals to my pups? Vinegar and water again.
I was skeptical of this one as well. But since I’ve been rinsing my own hair with vinegar for years without any ill effects, I decided to give it a try. I can tell you my dogs didn’t like this any better than they like getting bathed. But I sprayed them down, being careful to avoid their eyes and other sensitive areas, and rubbed the mixture into their fur. It hasn’t totally gotten rid of the fleas, but the scratching and chewing is considerably less. I have to wonder if I had been using it all summer if my results wouldn’t be even better. I’m still experimenting with this one!
Note: There are two types of vinegar mentioned in this article. Apple cider vinegar is good for rinsing your hair or using as a facial cleanser. Distilled white vinegar is used for cleaning and plant eradication
Pattie Stivender is education coordinator for Bluegrass PRIDE. She has worked with the organization for five years.