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What if we told you there is one item in your kitchen pantry that can do it all? This homekeeping multitasker can whiten your laundry whites, wash your windows and mirrors, drive out pests, eliminate odors, and remove stains, and leave your surfaces sparkling clean. Enter: vinegar, your secret weapon.
Deodorize the Room
Unpleasant odors lurk in the carpets, rugs, and upholstery. To remove these musty smells, fill a dish with half an inch of white vinegar and leave it out in the room until the smell dissipates.
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To clean sharp edges on a dirty knife or pair of shears without cutting yourself, pour white vinegar over the blade. Then sprinkle with coarse salt and rub with a cork. Rinse with water and wipe dry to prevent rusting.
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Keep Colors Bright
If you think that the colors of your clothing may run in the wash, try this time-honored easy treatment: Prerinse laundry in a solution of distilled white vinegar and cold water, using 2/3 cup vinegar for each gallon of water. Let the garments soak for up to 15 minutes, then wash and dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.
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Whiten Your Whites
On the flip side, vinegar is naturally acidic, and will whiten fabrics when added to the rinse water. Add it to the first rinse so it can be washed out by the second rinse. Depending on the size of the load, add anywhere from 1/8 cup to 1/2 cup.
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Clean the Faucet
Cut through the crusty buildup of mineral deposits on your faucet with this trick: Soak a paper towel in full-strength white vinegar, then drape over the buildup. Leave for about an hour, then scrub scum away.
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Wash Your Windows and Mirrors
Reflective surfaces such as these should have a streak-free shine. You can make your own cleaner by mixing one part vinegar and one part water.
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Get a Fresher Cup of Coffee
This is a natural way to clean your coffeemaker: Fill the carafe with equal parts water and white vinegar. Pour into the reservoir and turn the machine on. When several cups have filled the carafe, turn it off and let it sit for an hour. Then turn it back on and rinse it out with a few cycles of fresh water before brewing a cup.
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Sanitize Your Garbage Disposal
It's no surprise that a trash bin can harbor the worst odors in your home. But a rinse-down doesn't always do the trick. After rinsing with fresh water, use a long-handled brush to scrub the inside with a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Rinse once more and let dry.
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Remove Hard-Water Stains
Use a clean rag to rub each piece with distilled white vinegar. This will remove the hard water's calcium and magnesium buildup. (And don't worry -- the items won't smell like vinegar once dried.)
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Drive Away Pests
Keep the ants from marching in: Pour equal amounts of water and white vinegar into a spray bottle, and shake to mix. Then, spritz the solution in areas where ants tend to gather, like kitchen floors or the crevices in painted baseboards. You can also use the repellent outside to spray your patio, porch, or picnic table where you host gatherings.
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Unclog the Showerhead
If it becomes clogged, fill a plastic bag with undiluted white vinegar and place the bag over the head so it is submerged; secure and seal the bag with a rubber band. Soak overnight and then scrub the face with a toothbrush.
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Warm weather means more weeds. But don't go for the chemical weed killer. Douse the offending foliage with vinegar instead. The weeds will likely shrivel in a day or so; resilient ones rarely withstand a second treatment.
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Restore Your Stained Rug
Oops. Have a spill? Blend white vinegar and water together in equal parts, and pour the solution over the stain. After a few minutes, wipe it away for a rug that's as good as new.
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Furbish Wood Floors
Vinegar works as an efficient cleaner for wood floors as well. If yours becomes really dirty, try a solution of 1/8 cup plant-based liquid soap and 1/8 cup distilled white vinegar to 1 gallon water (add 10 drops essential oil for fragrance, if you prefer).
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Tidy up the Toilet
To remove a hard-water ring from inside the toilet, pour white vinegar into the bowl and let set for an hour. Scrub clean and flush.
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Clean Bath Toys
Wash bacteria and mildew from bath toys by giving them a bath of their own: Fill a bucket or large bowl with warm water, adding 1/2 cup white vinegar per gallon of water. Soak toys for 10 minutes, then rub gently with a sponge and allow to dry. The acetic acid in vinegar cuts through dirt buildup and works as a natural disinfectant.
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Save Your Shoes
Leather and suede are some of the hardest materials to maintain. Stains can easily result when our shoes come in contact with rain or salt. So rub shoes with a paper towel dampened with white vinegar. The white vinegar will dissolve the salt.
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Refresh the Furniture
To remove musty smells from old furniture, try this: Fill plastic containers with white vinegar; seal, and punch holes in the lids. Put one inside each drawer or cabinet overnight to absorb odors. For extreme cases, you can clean interiors with a vinegar-dampened cloth.
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Shine the Silver
Silver is easily scratched and tarnished. Restore its sparkle: Gently buff with vinegar and a soft cotton cloth. Finish by rinsing and drying the pieces with the cloth.
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Get Rid of Fruit Flies
Set out a shallow dish of apple-cider vinegar. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap; using a needle, punch a half dozen holes in the surface at least a half inch in from the edge of the bowl. The fruit flies will fly in and get trapped.
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