Renovation & Design

SOLUTIONS: Vinegar effective against mold and bacteria

QUESTION: Could you enlarge please on the antiseptic properties of vinegar? I am using it exclusively now and feel very good doing so, but I would like some info on just how effective it is.

What I do suggest also is that you look into its benefits as a toothbrush disinfectant, particularly at this time of year when colds seem prevalent. Without giving it much thought, we put a toothbrush in our mouths several times a day. We'd think twice about doing that with a spoon or straw and NOT washing it well afterward.

I've started putting my toothbrush (and tongue scraper) into a quarter-cup of water with maybe a capful of vinegar in it every few days for a good soak and think this must be worthwhile, but I would like this verified. And then, tell people please! Thanks, Karen (Russell, MB)

ANSWER: I agree that disinfecting your toothbrush is important. After researching the effectiveness of household vinegar, I've come across several studies that say vinegar is effective in reducing microbial contamination.

In fact, one experiment was carried out and reported on CBS News. A Good Housekeeping microbiologist wanted to find out whether or not vinegar kills mold and germs.

"We put the mold into the grout of tiles," said the microbiologist, Gina Marino, adding that this mold and bacteria had to grow for a few days. The results? "Well, with mold, it's sort of effective," she said. "It reduced it by 90 per cent, actually."

But what was really exciting is how well vinegar worked against bacteria. It was 99.9-per-cent effective. Vinegar worked far better than anyone expected, and better than many of the products on the market today.

Consider soaking your toothbrush in 1 tbsp. baking soda to 1 cup of hot water for 30 minutes following a cold. If using vinegar, use the same amount. Vinegar is one of those household superstars that has an endless amount of uses, so I always make sure that I'm fully stocked up on the stuff.

QUESTION: Would you know how to remove polyurethane from countertops? When I was finishing the cupboards, some dripped onto the counter and now it will not come off. I am afraid to use sandpaper as this might scratch the countertop. Please help! Bill, Winnipeg

ANSWER: Although I don't know what your countertops are made of, I can tell you that when it comes to polyurethane you will need to use acetone, denatured alcohol or mineral spirits to dissolve the spill. These are the products that wood-finishing experts use to clean excess polyurethane when installing woodwork.

Be sure to test any product that you use on an inconspicuous area first, perhaps under the lip of the counter.

QUESTION: My fiance stored her bike on top of a pink-cushion wing chair. Of course, grease from the bike chain got onto the chair. How would one get this grease stain out of the chair? It's on the arm and I believe there is one on the cushion. If you can help me with this it would be appreciated. Rene, Winnipeg

ANSWER: There are a few products that have had great results on bike-chain grease. Begin by scrubbing the area with Sunlight laundry bar soap, rinse with water. Other products that have had great results are Resolve Carpet Spot Remover, waterless hand cleaner, brake cleaner and Murphy's Oil, or WD-40. Apply clear dish soap onto area to avoid product stains. Test on inconspicuous area first. (Taken from Household Solutions 1)

If products were already applied to the area, the stain may be set and difficult to remove.

Fantastic Readers Respond

Re: Your article in today's Free Press about hummingbird food. In one place, you wrote that honey is bad for these birds and then you suggest to "substitute honey for plain old white sugar". Don't you mean substitute plain white sugar for honey?

I'm also curious about your comment about red food coloring. If it has not been tested satisfactorily for safety, why can it be called "food" coloring? Chuck

Reena's Note: Yes, I meant plain white sugar instead of honey! While red food coloring is approved for human consumption, no tests were done to determine safety for hummingbird bodies. Good catch, Chuck!

Hi Reena,

I've discovered the easiest way to remove mascara from a face cloth is to hold it close to the shower head or the laundry sink faucet set in the spray-action mode. If the shower head has adjustable settings, the strongest setting gets the mascara off very quickly. Jo-Ann

Dear Reena,

Further to the lady about pillows and allergies, I suggest she try a water pillow. They are a bit more expensive but are worth it since they don't lose their shape and conform well to the head and neck. I've had mine for a few years now and I love it. Grace

Dear Reena,

I am very grateful for your response to my problem regarding tree resin on pants and thank you with all my heart.

One good turn deserves another, so I will share my latest "brainstorm". It falls into the category of cleaning.

I have problems reaching and cleaning the outside of my windows, so I bought one of those telescopic mops which have a swivel flat head and microfibre cloth. I took two buckets of water, one with a warm vinegar solution and another with plain water for rinsing. Then I used that swivel flat-head extendable mop, which really is meant for your floors. It worked like a charm, so easy, so fast. In the summer you could use a hose instead of the second bucket. Anne

I enjoy your questions and tips, keep them coming. Missed a column? Can't remember a solution? Need a speaker for an upcoming event? Check out my brand new videos/blog/website:!



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