Vinegar: it flavours food, can help you lose weight, it can clean kitchen surfaces brighter than bright, in fact vinegar has many many uses which few people realise. Here are just 35 ideas for getting the most out of a bottle of vinegar . . . .
* Add a cupful of apple cider vinegar to bathwater to soothe tired muscles and relieve dry itchy skin and sunburn.
* The tell-tale aroma of fish and onions on the hands can be removed by rubbing in neat vinegar before rinsing thoroughly in warm water.
* Treat greasy hair after washing to a few cupfuls of neat vinegar added to the final rinse.
* Make your own mint by gathering and stripping leaves from the stalks when dry. Tear into tiny pieces and spread evenly in a shallow dish. Cover with vinegar and leave for two or three hours before straining and pressing leaves lightly in a screw-top jar. Store in a cool, dry place.
* Make your own playdough by mixing two cupfuls of flour with one cupful of salt, one-half cupful of water and one teaspoonful of vinegar. Mix the flour and salt first then slowly add water and vinegar, stirring all the time until the mixture is stiff. Use your hands to kneed the dough. You've now got playdough that is ready to use. You can brighten up your playdough with the addition of a little food colouring.
* Add a few drops of vinegar to shop-bought polish to improve the shine on wooden furniture.
* Half a pint of paraffin mixed with half a pint of vinegar makes a great cleaner and polisher for most kinds of furniture and can also be used on lino, kitchen and bathroom tiles, marble and paintwork.
* Keep colours fast on striped towels by washing in hot, soapy water mixed with a cupful of vinegar.
* Make a cleaner for brass and copper by mixing equal parts of lemon juice and vinegar which should be applied carefully and left to stand for several minutes. Polish off with a fluff-free cloth.
* Remove heavy dirt stains from children's toys and baby hardware, tiles and other heavy duty surfaces by using a cloth wrung out of lukewarm water to which a little vinegar has been added. Leave to dry before buffing with a clean fluff-free cloth.
* Clean windows with a solution of two teaspoonfuls of vinegar to one pint of warm water.
* Clean and polish stainless steel pans and other kitchen utensils using bicarbonate of soda on a cloth moistened with vinegar.
* Make your own fabric softener by mixing bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and water (parts: 2-2-4). Add a quarter cupful of the mixture to the final rinse for hand or machine washing.
* Add a teaspoonful of vinegar to water when boiling fish to keep it firm and white.
* Add a little vinegar to water used to clean leafy vegetables. You'll find insects and caterpillars will float to the surface and make cleaning easier.
* To prevent cheese becoming mouldy, wrap it in a piece of muslin which has been wrung out in vinegar. If you don't have muslin try a piece of closely woven net instead.
* To help tenderise inexpensive joints of meat, pour on a little vinegar before cooking in a very slow oven.
* Make your own red food colouring by mixing one cupful of beetroot juice (tinned or fresh) and two tablespoonfuls of vinegar and water to your desired colour. Bottle and leave in a cool place.
* Make your own yellow colouring by placing the dark outer skins of five onions in a saucepan with one cupful of water and half a cupful of vinegar. Allow to boil for 10 minutes. Strain and bottle the juice and leave to stand in a cool place.
* Add a teaspoonful of white vinegar to egg whites used to make meringue. Leave to stand for 30 seconds before whipping in the usual way. The vinegar increases stiffness and makes meringues brilliantly white. If you run out of eggs, replace them with one tablespoonful of white wine vinegar per egg, as long as the recipe includes another rising agent such as self-raising flour.
* Use hot vinegar compresses to relieve pain from injury or arthritis and rheumatism. The lotion also benefits common sprains and strains.
* Mix together equal amounts of cider vinegar and cold water to produce a toner for greasy and combination skin. The mixture can also be used as a soothing wash for tired puffy eyes.
* In folk medicine vinegar is considered an elixir for a long healthy life and is recommended for internal and external use. Make a daily drink from one tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar to a cupful of warm or cold water, according to preference. The practice is believed to benefit the memory and to help the body fight many diseases of advancing years.
* Lighten age spots with a daily application of pure apple cider vinegar.
* If linen is badly scorched take a cupful of vinegar to which is added half an ounce of soap, two ounces of fuller's earth and the juice of one lemon. Boil well and spread over the damaged parts. Leave to dry and wash the linen. You'll find the stain has completely disappeared!
* Remove mineral deposits from a steam iron by filling it with equal parts of white vinegar and water. Let it steam until dry before rinsing thoroughly with clean water.
* Make your own airspray by mixing two cupfuls of white vinegar with one cupful of crushed herbs, choosing from rosemary, lavender, cloves, thyme or pine needles. Place the ingredients in a saucepan and boil gently for 10 minutes then leave to cool. Pour into a large jar with a close-fitting lid. Leave to stand for three or four weeks. Strain and add the mixture to a spray container or atomiser. Use in the same way as commercial air sprays.
* When a dishcloth or face flannel gets slimy and starts to smell, immerse it in a solution of water and vinegar in equal parts. Leave to stand overnight and in the morning rinse thoroughly with clean water.
* Ink stains can be removed by soaking the fabric in vinegar for an hour or two before washing in the usual way.
* Hot vinegar quickly removes whitewash and distemper splashes from most surfaces, including fabrics.
* Remove even stubborn stains from the inside of tea and coffee pots using a mixture of equal parts of white vinegar and water. Fill the pot and leave to stand for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
* Stickers and their gooey remains can be removed by soaking the article in vinegar until the pieces float free.
* Remove salt stains from shoes in winter by wiping them with a cloth wrung out in a mixture of one tablespoonful of vinegar to a cupful of water.
* Remove grime from collars and cuffs by rubbing with a thick paste of baking soda and vinegar in equal parts. Leave to stand for half an hour before washing in the usual way.
* Remove rust from bolts and other small metal objects by immersing in neat vinegar until the residue dissolves.
Avril Harper is a triple eBay PowerSeller and editor of eBay Confidential and webmaster of http://www.publishingcircles.com and offers many free articles and reports at http://www.pimpernels.com