10 Little-Known Household Uses for Vinegar

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Vinegar is more than a dressing ingredient. As many household cleaning aficionados know, the clear liquid is the closest thing to a home's hero as you'll ever find. It does practically everything but sing and dance. Read about 10 top uses for the magical substance, and prepare to be amazed.

  1. Wallpaper Remover: If you want to be sure to get it all on the first try, and without leaving behind any sticky glue residue, then use some vinegar. With a sponge or spray bottle, saturate the wallpaper fully with an equal-part-water-and-vinegar solution, and let it stand for several minutes. Then, just start scraping, and the paper will come off easily.
  2. Paintbrush Reviver: To loosen up and revive gunked-up nylon paintbrushes, soak them in hot vinegar for up to 30 minutes. This will remove paint and soften the bristles. Afterward, wash them in hot, soapy water, brushing off paint as needed before rinsing and letting them hang dry.
  3. Soil pH-Level Tester: To determine your soil's pH level, place a handful of the dirt into a small container. Sprinkle vinegar on it. If the vinegar fizzles, then the soil is alkaline and you can adjust the pH with an acid amendment solution. If not, then your soil is ideal for planting.
  4. Deposit Remover: To clean off those mineral deposits on your showerhead, simply pour ½ cup warm vinegar in a resealable plastic bag. Place the showerhead in the bag, making sure all the holes are completely submerged, and seal the bag shut. Let it sit for one hour. Then rinse and wipe the showerhead clean and reattach it.
  5. Paint Preserver: When painting galvanized metal or concrete, you always risk chipping and paint peeling. To make the paint job last longer, wipe down the surface or object with vinegar, using either a sponge or a lint-free cloth. This will purify the surface, making the paint stay more securely.
  6. Sticker Remover: Stubborn price tags, even when we finally remove them, often leave a trail of sticky glue to your glass, plastic or wooden surface. To help, dab vinegar onto the stubborn tag or sticker. Scrape the surface clean, and then rub the area with more vinegar to remove any remaining sticky residue.
  7. Buildup Banisher: On wood surfaces or furniture, you can use a mix of equal parts vinegar and water to remove buildup of wax or polish. Just be sure to wipe with the grain. For leather furniture, make a weaker solution of two parts water and one part vinegar, and rub the material in a circular motion.
  8. Grout Whitener: For stubborn stains on your ceramic-tile surfaces, you can scrub the grout with a stiff-bristled toothbrush dipped in vinegar. The vinegar will work to immediately whiten the grout. Just be careful. Certain surfaces, such as marble or other natural stone, can be harmed by vinegar, so test a small, non-impact area to test before completing the whole wall.
  9. Rust Dissolver: Old tools and nuts can get corroded and rusty over time. For an easy fix, simply soak them in vinegar for a few days. Then rinse them with water and watch the rust and scale disappear before your eyes!
  10. Hand Protector: For all your DIY-ers out there, projects can be rough on your hands. Caustic ingredients in things like concrete and drywall can cause serious and painful skin irritation. To neutralize the alkaline content of these materials, simple rinse your hands often with a mixture of one part vinegar and two parts water before showering afterward. You'll notice a significant difference.

Vinegar really is the home's helper. So, once your wallpaper is removed, tools clean and buildup reduced, consider investing in some more. After all, you can always use it!

Last Updated: January 18, 2012
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