There are a variety of vinegars on the market - from plain distilled white vinegar to vinegars made from fruit, herbs, cider, malt and wine. All of them are somewhat corrosive, with a level of acidity between 4% and 6%; this is why they are sold in glass or plastic containers with cork or other corrosion-proof tops. Since they contain vinegar and are acidic, marinades, vinaigrettes and pickles should be mixed in glass, enamel or stainless steel vessels and kept well away from copper, zinc, aluminum, iron and galvanized metal.
Distilled white vinegar, based on dilute distilled alcohol fermented to a 4% acetic acid count, is an effectual inexpensive household cleaner and stain remover. Being acid (with a pH below 7), it will NOT remove the majority of stains which are caused by acid substances (oils, fats, etc. ). Vinegar is very effective, however, against stains caused alkaline substances such as soap, mustard, ketchup, coffee, tea, beer, gum, glue, calcium, rust, grass, etc.
Only distilled white vinegar should be employed for household uses, as the other varieties of vinegars could stain what you want to clean. Make use of the vinegar at full strength to absorb offensive odors in a room or to remove tannin build-up from teapots and coffeemakers. Mix it 50/50 with water to take out salt from the carpeting in your car after winter. Add a small quantity to water when rinsing your fine china and glassware, machine-washing your clothes, cleaning your wood floors. You should never use vinegar on cotton, linen or acetate.
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