Smells Like Savings: 5 Surprising Uses for Vinegar

A person brushes their wet hair after taking a shower.
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Whether you use it to make a stir fry sauce or to sprinkle on your French fries (or chips, if you’re British), chances are your pantry contains some sort of vinegar.

But vinegar is good for more than just your taste buds. This versatile ingredient has many uses — here are just five of them.

1. Hair Rinse

If you’re like most Americans, your shower routine consists of shampoo-lather-rinse-repeat followed by copious amounts of conditioner to help tame your mane. However, some people have chosen to eschew regular hair products in favor of natural ingredients like apple cider vinegar.

The Huffington Post recommends mixing 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water to create a magical hair rinse that can take the place of your conditioner and will leave your locks tangle-free and shiny.

Simply pour or spray the mixture over your hair after shampooing, leave in for a few minutes and rinse thoroughly.

2. Metabolism Booster

A slow metabolism can be a real problem. Not only can it lead to weight gain, but it can also leave you feeling sluggish and just generally blah. Rather than spending money on expensive products that promise to rev up your metabolism, consider adding inexpensive apple cider vinegar to your routine.

DrAxe.com explains that apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which can help lower your blood pressure and eat up the starches found in most grains and some vegetables.

To use apple cider vinegar for a metabolism boost, DrAxe.com recommends drinking the following mixture before breakfast or lunch each day:

1 12 to 16 ounce glass of warm or hot water

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½-1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 dash cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon raw, local honey (optional)

3. Glass Cleaner

A woman cleans the mirror in her bathroom.

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I don’t know about you, but my windows and mirrors are filthy. Between toddler handprints and dog drool patches, I feel like all the glass in my house is dirty about five minutes after I’ve cleaned it.

Unsurprisingly, I go through a lot of cleaning supplies on a weekly basis. But, instead of spending money on window cleaner, I use vinegar to keep my windows and mirrors clean and streak-free — at least for about half a second.

To use vinegar to clean your windows and mirrors, Wellness Mama recommends mixing 2 cups of water with 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray your windows, wipe with a microfiber cloth, and voila! Clean windows for days (or minutes, in my case).

4. Odor Eliminator

As a runner, dog owner and cloth diaper user (for my kid, not for me), I’m always looking for cheap and easy ways to get the stink out of things. In the past, I’ve spent money on products that promise to leave my running clothes smelling fresh, only to find out that they smell just as bad as before or that the smell has simply been masked (and not well).

I have found that vinegar is cheaper and more effective than most odor-eliminating products. For workout clothes, Oprah.com recommends adding 1 cup of white vinegar (½ cup for high efficiency machines) to your machine in place of detergent.

Run as normal and follow with a second rinse using ½ cup of baking soda (¼ cup for high efficiency machines). Vinegar can be used similarly for things like rancid dog blankets and stinky cloth diapers.

5. Ant Repellent

Most of us have probably lived through an ant infestation in our houses. It can be pretty gross, but the products you use to kill them are even worse. Instead of buying products designed to kill ants, consider using vinegar as a natural ant repellent.

Reader’s Digest explains that ants hate the smell of vinegar, so they will soon find a new home if you surround them with it.

Mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a spray bottle and spray wherever you see the little critters. This will serve as their eviction notice and they’ll soon leave your home in search of fresher-smelling digs. Plus, your conscience will remain clean as no ants will be killed in the process (at least not by you).

Vinegar is one of the most versatile things in your pantry, so break it out and try these ideas to save money and live a healthier life.

Catherine Hiles is British writer based in Dayton, Ohio. In her spare time, you can find her running, eating, reading and chasing around her 2-year-old daughter alongside her husband and elderly mutt.

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