Monday, August 20, 2012

So much more than a salad dressing...

The many uses of vinegar

Simply Living
August 20, 2012

Are mosquitoes biting?  Have you stepped on an anthill, been stung by a bee or been bitten by a wasp?  Is an itchy spot driving you crazy? 

Spray it with vinegar.  Feel the relief. 

Even though I rarely use vinegar for cooking, a gallon-size container occupies a prominent place in our pantry.  Easy access is essential for useful items and vinegar holds the gold for versatility and function. 
In our household, vinegar’s chief purpose – and one it does very effectively – is to ease the pain, itch and swelling from insect bites.  It also works well reducing the discomfort of jellyfish stings.  I keep a spray bottle of undiluted vinegar in the car and when we go to the shore, it goes into the beach bag.

Because there are more insects in one square mile of rural land that there are people on the planet, bug bites are bound to happen.  Many products provide relief for stings but simple white vinegar does the job effectively, inexpensively and without any of the questionable chemicals in commercial creams, salves or sprays.

We started using vinegar shortly after settling in Florida.  Our children were little and it seemed like every day somebody stumbled upon an insect encounter.  We quickly learned the usefulness of positioning several spray bottles of vinegar around the house and in the car.  Whenever one of us was stung, we squirted several sprays of the sour substance onto the bite and rubbed it in.  We may not have been the sweetest smelling family but at least we weren’t the itchiest.

In addition to bug bites, vinegar helps with housekeeping chores.  If our windows need washing, mirrors are smudgy or fixtures have lost their shine, a quick spritz of vinegar on a clean rag rubs away the problem.  An added bonus is that vinegar acts as a disinfectant, especially handy in the bathroom and kitchen. 

There are countless other uses for this versatile liquid composed predominantly of acetic acid.  Folk remedies tout vinegar for aiding everything from arthritis to the common cold.  A quick search online yields numerous sites proclaiming its many virtues.  One of the most extensive is, which lists 1001ways to use vinegar under the categories cooking, laundry, gardening, pet care, health, cleaning and automotive.  Spend time reading through the long list of potential uses and you might think you chanced upon a miracle cure-all.  You wouldn’t be alone.  People have been trumpeting the properties of this fermented byproduct of vegetables, fruits or grains for thousands of years. 

Personally, I take such laudatory claims with a grain of salt (although in this case, mixing salt with vinegar can create a cleansing agent that removes tarnish from metals).  I’d rather rely upon personal experience.  In our family, vinegar has repeatedly proven its effectiveness at relieving the discomfort of insect bites and for keeping my windows, mirrors and fixtures clean.

Sometimes simple things work best.  Sure, you can spend big bucks for name brand products professing to fix this and solve that or you can fall back on time-tested standards like white distilled vinegar.  If you have an itch to try something different, fill a bottle with vinegar and spray away that next bug bite.  Until then, you might want to give the kitchen faucets a good shine.

Do you have a favorite use for vinegar?  Share it by posting a comment below.

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