Vinegar is one of the most versatile ingredients I have in my cupboard. I use it in the house, in the barn and in the tractors. I really hate having to run to town to buy cleaning supplies when I have everything I need to make my own cleaners. I’ve been using vinegar to wash windows, open up slow drains and to refresh my laundry for years. Apparently, I can keep my cut flowers blooming even longer using vinegar.
Vinegar has been made since ancient Babylonian times (around 3,000 BC) using dates, figs and beer. They used the vinegar for cooking and medicinal purposes. It was a very long fermentation process to make vinegar. In medieval times, there were professional fermentation specialists making specific vinegars. The process took a dramatic step when Louis Pasteur (yes, the same one all 4-H dairy knowledge bowl kids know) discovered a specific bacteria as the agent of fermentation to make vinegar. This discovery lead to the development of new processes to cut the fermentation time from several months to one to two weeks. I think someone created vinegar to save wine that didn’t turn out. Kind of like my jellies that don’t set up and become syrup.
The internet is like a large, continuous 4-H demonstration meeting where there is always someone teaching others what they have learned. There are several sites which show me how to make vinegar from apple juice and cider I make every fall. I just have to be patient and let it fail at making cider and wine before I have vinegar, and even that is not a guarantee. I think I’ll work on that project after I get some fall cleaning done with my homemade cleaners.

Window cleaner
3 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons rubbing alcohol
1 1/2 cup water
1 16-ounce spray bottle
Pour all ingredients into bottle using a funnel. Shake to mix. Start cleaning windows. The vinegar will remove the grim while the alcohol will prevent streaks. The key is to wash windows on a cloudy day. The bright sun will cause the cleaner to dry too quickly and leave behind streaks. I will use wadded up old newspapers to wash the windows of the tractors and a microfiber cloth to polish the glass once they are clean. If the windows are really grimy, add a few drops of Dawn dish soap. You will also need to rinse off the cleaner with a hose to prevent streaking.  

Drain cleaner
1/2 cup baking soda
1 cup white vinegar
Hot water
If you have a slow drain or a slight clog, pour baking soda down drain followed by vinegar. Will bubble and foam. Once that stops, flush drain with hot water for a few minutes. Rinse with cold water.

Washing machine cleaner
4 cups vinegar for top load machines or
2 cups vinegar for front load machines
Run on hottest cycle. When agitator has mixed water and vinegar, shut off and let it set for 30 minutes. Once time is up, turn washer on and allow to finish cycle.

Cleaner towels
1 cup white vinegar in place of detergent will freshen towels, killing bacteria and breaking down build up of soap in fabric.  

Rust remover (Bob Vila website)
Soak rusty tools or nuts and bolts in full-strength vinegar for several days. Rinse then dry.

Paint brush restorer (Bob Vila website)
When synthetic bristle paint brushes weren’t completely cleaned and the paint has dried, try soaking them in a cup of vinegar until bristles loosen up. Wash in warm soapy water. Bristles still stuck together? Boil brush in vinegar for 10 minutes and then wash again in soapy water.

Extend life of flowers
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
Use equal parts vinegar and sugar to water. Vinegar lowers pH levels in water and prevents bacteria from growing while the sugar feeds the blooms.
    As their four children pursue dairy careers off the family farm, Natalie and Mark are starting a new adventure of milking registered Holsteins just because they like good cows on their farm north of Rice, Minnesota.