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10 Uses for Vinegar

Forget about salad dressing. This inexpensive kitchen staple—the distilled white kind, that is—can multitask in any room of the house

White Lightning

Photo by Mark Weiss

Forget about salad dressing. This inexpensive kitchen staple—the distilled white kind, that is—can multitask in any room of the house. Here are 10 smart ways to use it

1. Peel off Wallpaper

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Using a sponge or spray bottle, saturate wallpaper with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water. Let stand for several minutes, then start scraping. The paper should come off easily.

2. Revive Old Paintbrushes

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Soak gunked-up nylon brushes in hot vinegar for up to 30 minutes to remove paint and soften the bristles. Afterward, wash them in hot, soapy water, brushing off paint as needed, then rinse and let dry—good as new.

3. Test Your Soil's pH

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Place a handful of dirt into a small container and sprinkle vinegar on it.

If it fizzes, the soil is alkaline; adjust the pH with an acid amendment.

4. Remove Mineral Deposits from Showerheads

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Pour ½ cup of warm vinegar into a resealable plastic bag. Drop in the showerhead, making sure the holes are submerged, and seal the bag. Let sit for 1 hour. Rinse and wipe clean, then reattach.

5. Keep Paint from Peeling

Photo by Wendell Weber

Before painting galvanized metal or concrete, wipe down the object or surface with vinegar, using a sponge or lint-free cloth. This little

trick will help your paint job last longer.

6. Banish Decals and Stickers

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Dab vinegar onto stubborn price tags and stickers affixed to glass, plastic, or wood. Scrape the surface clean, then rub the area with more vinegar to remove any sticky residue.

7. Wipe off Wax or Polish Buildup

Photo by Nancy Andrews

On wood surfaces or furniture, use a mix of equal parts vinegar

and water to remove buildup, wiping with the grain of the wood. For leather furniture, make a weaker solution—2 parts water to 1 part vinegar—and rub the material using a circular motion.

8. Whiten Grout

Photo by Wendell Weber

For stubborn stains on ceramic-tile surfaces, scrub grout with a stiff-bristled toothbrush dipped in vinegar and watch it whiten before your eyes.

CAUTION: Vinegar can harm marble and other natural stone surfaces, so avoid using on these materials. Test a small, unobtrusive area first if you want to be extra careful.

9. Dissolve Rust

Photo by Nancy Andrews

Soak old tools and corroded nuts and bolts in vinegar for a few days. Rinse them with water and watch rust and scale disappear.

10. Protect your Hands

Photo by Wendell T. Webber

Caustic ingredients in concrete, drywall, and other building materials can cause painful skin irritation. If you handle them often, rinse your hands with a mixture of 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water before washing up—the acid neutralizes their alkaline content.