CARLA BUSH: Household uses for vinegar
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By CARLA BUSH

Clear dirt off PCs and peripherals
Your computer, printer, fax machine, and other home office gear will work better if you keep them clean and dust-free. Before you start cleaning, make sure that all your equipment is shut off. Now mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a bucket. Dampen a clean cloth in the solution — never use a spray bottle; you don’t want to get liquid on the circuits inside — then squeeze it out as hard as you can, and start wiping. Keep a few cotton swabs on hand for getting to the buildups in tight spaces (like around the keys of your keyboard).

Clean your computer mouse
If you have a mouse with a removable tracking ball, use a 50/50 vinegar-water solution to clean it. First, remove the ball from underneath the mouse by twisting off the cover over it. Use a cloth, dampened with the solution and wrung out, to wipe the ball clean and to remove fingerprints and dirt from the mouse itself. Then use a moistened cotton swab to clean out the gunk and debris from inside the ball chamber (let it dry a couple of hours before reinserting the ball).

Clean your window blinds
You can make the job of cleaning mini-blinds or venetians considerably less torturous by giving them “the white glove treatment.” Just put on a white cotton glove — the kind sold for gardening is perfect — and moisten the fingers in a solution made of equal parts white vinegar and hot tap water. Now simply slide your fingers across both sides of each slat and prepare to be amazed. Use a container of clean water to periodically wash off the glove.

Unclog and deodorize drains
The combination of vinegar and baking soda is one of the most effective ways to unclog and deodorize drains. It’s also far gentler on your pipes (and your wallet) than commercial drain cleaners.
To clear clogs in sink and tub drains, use a funnel to pour in 1/2 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup vinegar. When the foaming subsides, flush with hot tap water. Wait five minutes, and then flush again with cold water. Besides clearing blockages, this technique also washes away odor-causing bacteria.
    To speed up a slow drain, pour in 1/2 cup salt followed by 2 cups boiling vinegar, then flush with hot and cold tap water.

Get rid of smoke odor
If you’ve recently burned a steak — or if your chain-smoking aunt recently paid you a surprise visit — remove the lingering smoky odor by placing a shallow bowl about three-quarters full of white or cider vinegar in the room where the scent is strongest. Use several bowls if the smell permeates your entire home. The odor should be gone in less than a day. You can also quickly dispense of the smell of fresh cigarette smoke inside a room by moistening a cloth with vinegar and waving it around a bit.

Wipe away mildew
When you want to remove mildew stains, reach for white vinegar first. It can be safely used without additional ventilation and can be applied to almost any surface –bathroom fixtures and tile, clothing, furniture, painted surfaces, plastic curtains, and more. To eliminate heavy mildew accumulations, use it full strength. For light stains, dilute it with an equal amount of water. You can also prevent mildew from forming on the bottoms of rugs and carpeting by misting the backs with full-strength white vinegar from a spray bottle.

Clean chrome and stainless steel
To clean chrome and stainless steel fixtures around your home, apply a light misting of undiluted white vinegar from a recycled spray bottle. Buff with a soft cloth to bring out the brightness.

Shine your silver
Make your silverware — as well as your pure silver bracelets, rings, and other jewelry — shine like new by soaking them in a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons baking soda for two to three hours. Rinse them under cold water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

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