By Lowell & Kaye Christie, F47246
I (Kaye) have been a committed do-it-yourself, make-it-yourself person for many years. So, when I decided to focus this month’s column on creative uses for vinegar, the filing cabinet and my computer’s hard drive were already crammed with ideas “” more than 70 of them. The time-consuming part of assembling this list was to winnow out all but the best uses.
The tips that follow are the ones most applicable to motorhomers, whether you are currently traveling or simply readying the coach for your next outing. I typically use white vinegar, because it’s dirt cheap and will work well for all the tips. Sometimes I use undiluted vinegar, but more often I use the recipe below.
1. First, the recipe
The cleaner has only two simple ingredients “” equal parts of white vinegar and water, which I call “50-50.” Mix it up in a spray bottle and keep it handy. You won’t have to worry about running out, and it takes only a couple of minutes to make more.
2. In the kitchen
I use 50-50 for nearly every cleaning task except washing dishes. The solution works well on the stove, the refrigerator, the range fan, the microwave oven, and especially the countertops. Another plus is that no rinsing is needed.
3. To clean the air
If your motorhome has a musty odor from being closed up, or another cause, it’s easy to freshen the air. Place partially filled saucers of vinegar at both ends of the vehicle. If the smell remains after 15 to 20 minutes, move on to phase two. This time pour 1/4-cup of vinegar and a quart of water into a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Lower the temperature and allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 10 minutes. (Make sure the pan doesn’t boil dry.) Afterward, open the motorhome windows to let the coach air out.
4. Prevent cracked hard-boiled eggs
Adding a couple tablespoons of vinegar per quart of water when hard-boiling eggs will prevent them from cracking. Not only that, the egg shells will peel off faster.
5. Got a cold?
Start by stirring together 1/4-cup vinegar and an equal amount of honey. Here’s the tough part: remembering to take a tablespoon of the mix six to eight times a day. If you still feel crummy the next morning, make up another batch. It won’t hurt you or your wallet. (Obviously, diabetics would not want to use this or any sugar-based cold remedy.)
6. Ease your upset stomach
When you have a tumultuous tummy, mix two teaspoons vinegar in a cup of hot water, and sip as it cools. This is one tip for which you may wish to use flavored vinegar rather than the plain old white.
7. Hick, hick, hiccups
Stir a teaspoon of any flavor of vinegar into a cup of warm water and drink it down. This is much easier than the old method of holding your head upside down while you drink a glass of water.
8. Soothe a sunburn and/or calm an itch
How easy can it be “” just apply undiluted vinegar to the burn or bug bite. You may end up smelling like a pickle, but it’s a lot better than scratching yourself crazy.
9. Ease your arthritis
This tip has been around for generations. Every day, drink a glass of water with a couple teaspoons of apple cider vinegar added. My source says you need to drink the potion daily for at least three weeks before you’ll notice improvement. (Neither Lowell nor I have tested this tip for the best possible reason “” neither of us has arthritis.)
10. Remove labels from glass or plastic
For this task, use vinegar straight and hot. Saturate a cloth, sponge, or several layers of paper towels with the heated vinegar and place them over the label. Allow five to 10 minutes for the vinegar to soak in and do its work, and odds are you’ll be able to peel the sticky thing off with little problem.
11. Clear the drains
We’ve used this tip many times. First, pour 1/2-cup baking soda down the drain. Then add 1/2-cup vinegar. Cover the drain if possible while it bubbles and fizzes. After approximately five minutes, pour a kettle of hot water down the drain to flush out the debris. When you haven’t used the motorhome for a while, it’s a good idea to flush out the system again before you go. We’ve found that it’s easier to prevent a clogged drain than to unclog one.
12. Clean the shower
Finally, a job you’ve always hated becomes almost bearable. Pour 50-50 solution into a microwaveable container, and heat it in the microwave oven until the solution is hot but not boiling. Carefully pour it back into the spray bottle and head to the bathroom. Soak the shower walls, floor, door, and the shower wand with the solution. Let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes and come back armed with a plastic scrub brush to clean off the vinegar, dirt, soap scum, and hard-water deposits.
Should your showerhead become partially clogged with mineral deposits, try this. Pour 1/4- to 1/2-cup of hot, undiluted vinegar in a plastic food storage bag and secure the bag to the showerhead with a rubber band. Let the showerhead soak for two hours or, even better, overnight. Then run water through the showerhead to rinse out the mineral deposits and finish up by buffing the entire wand until it shines.
13. Clean the toilet
Flush the toilet before you start, and then quickly pour a cup of vinegar around the sides of the bowl. Let it stand for at least five minutes before you scrub the inside of the bowl as you normally would. You’ll find that the job doesn’t require nearly as much scrubbing, and the toilet looks great.