Danger! Warning! Caution! Is this what your household cleaning product’s label says? In our post How to Make Clean, Safe and Non-Toxic Household Cleaning Products, we discussed the health and environmental risks of many household cleaners and provided recipes for a few natural homemade cleaners, many which use vinegar.

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My grandma, Roosh, used white distilled vinegar for just about everything. Years ago she gave me a small booklet called “Versatile Vinegar” published in 1979 by The Vinegar Institute. Did you know that vinegar was used in World War I to treat wounds? Vinegar has been used for 10,000 years (according to The Vinegar Institute). Safe, non-toxic distilled white vinegar can be eaten (popularly used in cole slaw, potato salad, salad dressings, etc.), used as a household cleaner (to clean your garbage disposal, microwave, coffee pot, etc.) and as a first aid remedy for sunburn, bee stings, etc. And I haven’t even touched on the health benefits of apple cider vinegar or the uses for flavorful specialty vinegars like balsamic (look for future posts!).

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One cool use for any kind of vinegar is to add a few drops of vinegar to the last bit of mayonnaise in a jar, put the cap on, and shake well. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve been wasting! Check out the many uses of versatile vinegar.

I recently put white distilled vinegar to the test. I decided to buy new bath towels because our old ones (purchased ~ 15 years ago) have a mildew odor that laundry detergent was not removing. Still in perfect condition and “reuse” being part of my personal mission, I did a little research and found that good ‘ole distilled white vinegar can remove this mildew odor. Here’s the technique that I used and it worked!!

1. Put your towels in the washing machine, using the hottest water available. Add one to two cups of white vinegar. Do not add detergent, fabric softener, or any other products at this time. Run the washer.

2. Leave the towels in the washer and wash the same load again just as you would normally with laundry soap or baking soda.  Again, use the hottest water available. Don’t use fabric softener or any other products.

3. Dry the load in the dryer using a high heat setting. Towels should be thoroughly dry when you pull them out. If they’re not dry, put them back in, or move them immediately outside and hang them in the sunlight.

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Now I can hear what you’re saying…this uses lots of hot water (not very efficient). But, considering that I did this 4 months ago and the mildew odor has not returned, I think reusing my towels instead of purchasing new ones saves more energy in the long term. I’ll bet the production used to make towels, package them and transport them across the country probably uses more energy than I will this year even if I have to repeat this procedure a 2nd time. Extra bonus — I’m not embarrassed when friends come to stay and I hand them a clean-smelling towel!

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