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Vinegar: Your Other Cleanly Friend

Updated on August 5, 2011

Vin aigre

I lived in the UK for a fair few years, and was lucky enough to spend most my summers growing up there. As a result, when I used to hear the word vinegar slung around I would think of dousing it on a heap of greasy chips from the local chippy, though its bitter taste was never really a favorite of mine.

It wasn’t until I started studying herbs that I was opened to the world of vinegars. Never before did I know that there was a difference between rice vinegar and apple vinegar, and I always thought white wine and red wine vinegars were just really, really bad fermented grape juice (I was close to being on the right track. The term vinegar comes from vin aigre roughly translating to sour wine in frensh). But not only did I discover the medicinal uses for it, but its multiple cleaning benefits as well!

Vinegar makes for an excellent preservative when you’re creating herbal remedies, and doubles as an after sun solution, turning sunburns to tans. However the smell is not for everyone, so What’s Cooking America has offered some excellent herbal combinations for your vinegars here: I personally like to make a lotion with aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, lavender and lemon balm, and find it to work quite well.

Recipes to make your own herbal lotion found here:

Green Spring Cleaning

Vinegar acts as an anti-microbial, hence being used as a preservative, but also works well when diluted as a disinfectant when cleaning counters in the kitchen or bathroom, or even childrens toys. A few drops of lavender or something citrus will take away from its bitter scent. One can even swirl it around the toilet bowl for a few minutes to “de-crust” any stubborn stains before adding baking soda to the bowl as well to polish it up. This will also help to polish your silverware when mixed with hot water and left to soak, a fond trick used in restaurants I used to work in. Mixing one part vinegar to one part water and placed in the microwave until it has come to a rolling boil will soak encrusted bits and help them to wipe clean effortlessly. recommends creating vinegar ice cubes and placing them down the garbage disposal for cleaning and deodorizing.

When mixed with baking soda, there is a true friendship. Together they can tackle the grease of the oven door, the stove top and frying pans. They can help to unclog drains, and work well together in a carpet shampooer. Applying baking soda, allowing to rest, then add vinegar to stains in clothes makes for a far healthier alternative to bleach. Both act with the extra bonus of being a fabric -softener.

This makes for a good weed killer and pest dispeller in the garden – such as ants, cats and slugs - especially when coupled with its friend Sodium Bicarbonate. Soaking cotton balls in vinegar and placing them around the garden will deter rabbits from nibbling at your tender veggies and flowers, and can double as a wash for said yummy vegetables. Vinegar will neutralize garden lime and add acidity to your soil and be there for you after your berry picking to wash your hands in. When flower harvesting time comes adding some vinegar to their water will help them to stay lively longer and perk up the sadder looking ones.

An Apple A Day!

Apple cider Vinegar is very beneficial inside and out. Taken diluted in water and flavored with honey (the latter to preference) it can help to dispel toxins through the urine, aid generally with the metabolism, the respiratory system and the nervous system, as well as help to prevent against urinary tract infections. It helps to alleviate thirst as it stimulates saliva, as well as secretions of the kidneys and the mucous membranes of the respiratory glands. Externally and medicinally it can be used to tone and condition the skin as well as cleans. It can be applied for a cooling effect with a sponge to sprains and bruises.

It has been said to act as a tonic, that is something which helps the body to build back its strength, and even has had claims of helping with diabetes and obesity (studies have hinted, anyway). supports that studies have shown that vinegar has helped to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, aid in weight loss, as well as be effective at times with some forms of cancer (though as always check with your doctor before applying for anything serious)! An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Jeanne Rose’s Herbal Body Book suggests the use of diluted herb-infused vinegar for face washes, douches, salad dressing, mouth wash, and even an after shave lotion. “It is softening,” she says, “and will relieve itchy skin and restore natural acid balance.” She also suggests vinegar as a conditioner and to help stimulate hair growth with the aid of nettle, jaborandi, cloves and rosemary.
In The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook, James Green declares it “Women’s favored potion for retraining the youth and beauty of their hair and skin.”

Learn More! Always!

I went on my vinegar learning binge when I was researching urinary tract infections for a Women’s Health class. It opened me up to a whole variety of reasons as to why I would want to make it part of my daily intake. This is a personal choice. Should you decide you want to do the same, please make sure you are aware of your body’s strengths and weaknesses so as to know how regular consumption of vinegar might react to you as well as anything else you might be take medication or supplement wise. And of course always check with your doctor first.
The Medicine-Maker's Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green, Herbalist
Herbal Body Book: The Herbal Way to Natural Beauty & Health for Men & Women by Jeanne Rose
Prescription for Natural Cures by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.D.


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