To make wine, the sugar has to be converted to alcohol in a process known as fermentation. After the sealed bottle has been opened, there’s a second kind of fermentation that happens. During this process, the alcohol is turned into acetic acid, the main compound in vinegar.
Acetic acid isn’t the only compound in vinegar, but it’s the one that makes vinegar acidic. In fact, with a pH of 2.4, distilled white vinegar is a pretty strong acid, more acidic than coffee or orange juice, but still less acidic than your stomach juices or, say, the liquid inside batteries (luckily).
Vinegar’s acidity is what makes it such a good cleaner. Because vinegar is so acidic, it can counteract some icky buildups. It can dissolve away soap scum, brines left by hard water, and glue left behind by stickers.
Vinegar is great for giving windows and mirrors (use a combination of vinegar and water and wipe with a newspaper instead of a paper towel to avoid streaks), no-wax floors, and wood paneling or cabinets an extra-clean shine.
Another use for vinegar? Getting rid of stubborn stains. Lots of stains, whether from sweaty armpits or grass, are slightly acidic, which means they will dissolve away in the presence of another acid, like vinegar.
Scented All-Purpose Cleaner
One part white vinegar
One part water
Combine the above ingredients together, pour into a spray bottle, shake, and then let infuse for a week before using. Once done, you can use the natural solution to remove hard water stains, clean trash cans, wipe away wall smudges, and much more. Besides a fresh scent, the lemon rind may help boost cleaning power. Caution: Do not use acidic cleaners on granite, as they will etch the stone.
DIY Glass Cleaner
2 cups water
1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol 70% concentration
1 to 2 drops of orange essential oil for smell (optional)
The next time you need to wash your windows and mirrors, combine these ingredients and pour them in a spray bottle. Hint: Don't clean windows on a hot, sunny day, because the solution will dry too quickly and leave lots of streaks. For mirrors, spray the solution on a paper towel or soft cloth first before wiping.
De-clog a drain
Clear a stubborn drain by pouring a 1/2 cup of baking soda down it, followed by a 1/2 cup of vinegar Cover with a wet cloth to contain the science fair-like effects (remember DIY volcanoes?). Wait five minutes, then flush with hot water.
Stain and smell remover
A paste of vinegar and baking soda can dissolve set red wine stains. Vinegar can even get cat or dog urine out of carpets or other cloths and, bonus, that pungent smell can keep pets away from places you don’t want them to go.
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