, Gloucester, MA

May 3, 2013

Tapping into vinegar's superpowers

Senior Lookout
Anne Springer

---- — A Texas friend’s offhand comment on Facebook about palmetto bugs being her “kryptonite” started this writer thinking about substances with special powers.

Oddly enough, another Facebook post brought the “special powers” back to reality a bit, but nevertheless, there is one substance that seems to have quite a few varied uses around the old homestead — vinegar. Simply, vinegar is oxidized dilute alcohol, made primarily from grapes, fruits, or sugars. Due to acetic acid, it has a decidedly sour taste.

Apple cider vinegar has been cited as a health drink, and there is some science to back up the claim. Diabetes Care published an article in 2007 citing a study by Carol Johnston, Ph.D., head of the nutrition department at Arizona State University, Tempe, who found that patients with Type II diabetes who took 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar together with one ounce of cheese before bedtime had a 4 percent to 6 percent decrease in fasting blood sugar levels.

Vinegar has often been used as a salad dressing, but did you know it can also be used as a marinade with which to tenderize meat or chicken? Unfortunately, if you have osteoporosis or heart disease, you may not want to use it, since it has also been implicated in low potassium levels and lower bone density. If you eat it on salad occasionally, probably no harm done, but if you want to try it for a medical condition, always talk to your own health provider first.

Plain white vinegar has even more uses. In fact, there is even a web site devoted to telling us all about the “1001 Uses for White Vinegar” ( The site lists uses in the following categories: garden; cleaning; laundry; health; automotive; pets; and cooking.

The automotive category was intriguing. Apparently a mixture of 3 parts white distilled vinegar to 1 part water, applied to car windows, will keep them free of frost overnight in the winter. Stubborn decals or bumper stickers can also be removed with vinegar — soak a towel in it and cover the sticker. A couple of hours later, and the sticker is gone.

Silly maybe, but vinegar might even prevent belly button lint! Actually, adding 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the wash cycle is purported to prevent lint from clinging to clothes — and if there’s no lint on the clothes, maybe it can’t get in to our belly buttons, right? And that load of laundry you forgot and left in the machine until it started smelling a bit moldy? Run it through again with a few cups of vinegar in the wash, before you rewash with detergent. No more smell.

Cats making a litter box out of the grandchildren’s sandbox? They can be discouraged by sprinkling some vinegar on the sand.

Are there weeds coming out from cracks in steps or a walkway? No problem — vinegar is a weed killer, too. Just pour some on, full strength, and the weeds wither.

Once all the chores are done, you can even put a shine on your patent leather shoes by wiping them down with vinegar, and leave your spotless home for a night out on the town!

For even more interesting uses for vinegar, go to, the Reader’s Digest “150-plus Household Uses for Vinegar.”

Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann’s local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.