Test soil acidity or alkalinity
To do a quick test for excess alkalinity in the soil in your yard, place a handful of earth in a container and then pour in 1/2 cup white vinegar. If the soil fizzes or bubbles, it’s definitely alkaline. Similarly, to see if your soil has a high acidity, mix the earth with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup baking soda. This time, fizzing would indicate acid in the soil. To find the exact pH level of your soil, have it tested or pick up a simple, do-it-yourself kit or meter.
Clean a hummingbird feeder
Hummingbirds are innately discriminating creatures, so don’t expect to see them flocking around a dirty, sticky, or crusted-over sugar-water feeder. Regularly clean your feeders by thoroughly washing them in equal parts apple cider vinegar and hot water. Rinse well with cold water after washing, and air-dry them outdoors in full sunlight before refilling them with food.
Speed germination of flower seed
You can get woody seeds, such as moonflower, passionflower, morning glory, and gourds, off to a healthier start by scarifying them-that is, lightly rubbing them between a couple of sheets of fine sandpaper-and soaking them overnight in a solution of 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 pint (half liter) warm water. Next morning, remove the seeds from the solution, rinse them off, and plant them. You can also use the solution (minus the sandpaper treatment) to start many herb and vegetable seeds.
Keep cut flowers fresh
Everyone likes to keep cut flowers around as long as possible, and there are several good methods. One way is to mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar with the vase water before adding the flowers. Be sure to change the water (with more vinegar and sugar, of course) every few days to enhance your flowers’ longevity.
Wipe away mealybugs
They’re among the most insidious and common pests on both houseplants and in the garden. But you can nip a mealybug invasion in the bud by dabbing the insects with a cotton swab dipped in full-strength white vinegar. You may need to use a handful of swabs, but the vinegar will kill the fluffy monsters and any eggs left behind. Be vigilant for missed targets, and break out more vinegar-soaked swabs if you spot bugs.
Eliminate insects around the garden
If the bugs are feasting on the fruits and vegetables in your garden, give them the boot with this simple, nonpoisonous trap. Fill a 2-liter soda bottle with 1 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 cup sugar. Next, slice up a banana peel into small pieces, put them in the bottle, add 1 cup cold water, and shake it up. Tie a piece of string around the neck of the bottle and hang it from a low tree branch, or place it on the ground, to trap and kill the six-legged freeloaders. Replace used traps with new ones as needed.
Encourage blooms on azaleas and gardenias
A little bit of acid goes a long way toward bringing out the blooms on your azalea and gardenia bushes — especially if you have hard water. Both bushes do best in acidic soils (with pH levels between 4 and 5.5). To keep them healthy and to produce more flowers, water them every week or so with 3 tablespoons white vinegar mixed in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water. Don’t apply the solution while the bush is in bloom, however; it may shorten the life of the flowers or harm the plant.
Stop yellow leaves on plants
The sudden appearance of yellow leaves on plants accustomed to acidic soils-such as azaleas, hydrangeas, and gardenias-could signal a drop in the plant’s iron intake or a shift in the ground’s pH above a comfortable 5.0 level. Either problem can be resolved by watering the soil around the afflicted plants once a week for three weeks with 1 cup of a solution made by mixing 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in 1 quart (1 liter) water.
Treat rust and other plant diseases
You can use vinegar to treat a host of plant diseases, including rust, black spot, and powdery mildew. Mix 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar in 2 quarts (2 liters) water, and pour some into a recycled spray bottle. Spray the solution on your affected plants in the morning or early evening (when temperatures are relatively cool and there’s no direct light on the plant) until the condition is cured.
Clean your lawn mower blades
Grass, especially when it’s damp, has a tendency to accumulate on your lawn mower blades after you cut the lawn — sometimes with grubs or other insects hiding inside. Before you park your mower back in the garage or tool shed, wipe down the blades with a cloth dampened with undiluted white vinegar. It will clean off leftover grass on the blades, as well as any pests that may have been planning to hang out awhile.
Keep out four-legged creatures
Some animals — including cats, deer, dogs, rabbits, and raccoons — can’t stand the scent of vinegar even after it has dried. You can keep these unauthorized visitors out of your garden by soaking several recycled rags in white vinegar, and placing them on stakes around your veggies. Resoak the rags about every 7-10 days.
Exterminate dandelions and unwanted grass
Are dandelions sprouting up in the cracks of your driveway or along the fringes of your patio? Make them disappear for good by spraying them with full-strength white or apple cider vinegar. Early in the season, give each plant a single spritz of vinegar in its midsection, or in the middle of the flower before the plants go to seed. Aim another shot near the stem at ground level so the vinegar can soak down to the roots. Keep an eye on the weather, though; if it rains the next day, you’ll need to give the weeds another spraying.
Keep the kitties away
If you want to keep Snowball and Fluffy out of the kids’ playroom, or discourage them from using your favorite easy chair as a scratching post, sprinkle some full-strength distilled white vinegar around the area or onto the object itself. Cats don’t like the smell of vinegar and will avoid it.
Unmark your pet’s spots
When housebreaking a puppy or kitten, it’ll often wet previously soiled spots. After cleaning up the mess, it’s essential to remove the scent from your floor, carpeting, or sofa. And nothing does that better than vinegar:
- On a floor, blot up as much of the stain as possible. Then mop with equal parts white vinegar and warm water. (On a wood or vinyl floor, test a few drops of vinegar in an inconspicuous area to make sure it won’t harm the finish.) Dry with a cloth or paper towel.
- For carpets, rugs, and upholstery, thoroughly blot the area with a towel or some rags. Then pour a bit of undiluted vinegar over the spot. Blot it up with a towel, then reapply the vinegar-let it air-dry. Once the vinegar dries, the spot should be completely deodorized.
Directly protect against fleas and ticks
To give your dog effective flea and tick protection, fill a spray bottle with equal parts water and vinegar and apply it directly to the dog’s coat and rub it in well. You may have more trouble doing this with cats, because they really hate the smell of the stuff.
Clean your pet’s ears
If you’ve noticed that Rover has been scratching around his ears a lot more than usual lately, a bit of vinegar could bring him some big relief. Swabbing your pet’s ears with a cotton ball or soft cloth dabbed in solution of 2 parts vinegar and 1 part water will keep them clean and help deter ear mites and bacteria. It also soothes minor itches from mosquito bites and such. Warning: Do not apply vinegar to open lacerations. If you see a cut in your pet’s ears, seek veterinary treatment.
Remove skunk odor
If Fido has an unpleasant encounter with an ornery skunk, here are some ways to help him get rid of the smell:
- Bathe your pet in a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid soap in 1 quart (1 liter) 3% hydrogen peroxide. Work the solution deep into his coat, give it a few minutes to soak in, then rinse him thoroughly with clean water.
- Bathe your pet in equal parts water and vinegar (preferably outdoors in a large washtub). Then repeat the procedure using 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, followed by a good rinsing.
- If you happen to have an unscheduled meeting with skunk, use undiluted vinegar to get the smell out your own clothes. Let the affected clothing soak in the vinegar overnight.