Vinegar and Conservation

Sometimes you’re in the grocery store, about to buy something on your list, and you think, “Wow – this crap is really expensive.”

Our dishwasher keeled over last year (figuratively speaking – it was bolted underneath the countertop so keeling wasn’t an option – although had it had the chance to do so I’ve no doubt it would).  So we got a new one.  And we discovered that the new ones are a lot more efficient with water and energy use – which is kinda cool – but take much longer to run a cycle.  And along with the reconditioned detergents being phosphate-free due to contamination of rivers and other bodies of water, we discovered that glasses tend to come out pretty cloudy unless you use a rinse agent.

The sample one that came with the dishwasher worked fairly well.  And it does last awhile.  When it ran out, I tried a store brand whose ingredients seemed the same.  Cirrocumulus clouds yielded to cirrus – a pretty design on glasses but not quite what I had in mind.

So I decided to try vinegar, and boy does it work.  It’s less expensive by a wide factor, and let’s face it – the fewer chemicals we splash over the things we eat and drink with, the better.  A lot of folks have caught on to filling their rinse agent dispensers with vinegar.  If glasses are already cloudy and need a fast fix, you can also put about a cup of vinegar standing up in the bottom rack with all your glasses on the bottom shelf as well so they receive the best effect, and running a cycle.

If the inside of your dishwasher is stainless, it’s also going to come out quite shiny each time, which is a plus.

And vinegar, as smelly as it is, washes quickly away in the rinse after it does its work.  You don’t end up with smelly glasses, dishes, or silverware.

Along with this, I decided, what the heck, I’ll try vinegar in the clothes washer since people have been doing that for a century or longer for washing clothes.

You add about 1/2 cup vinegar to your rinse cycle.  Some clothes washers have a fabric softener dispenser that will dispense softeners during the rinse cycle.

Your clothes will not smell like vinegar – the vinegar washes away after doing its work.  And here’s what it does do:

* Gets rid of any smells clinging to clothes – stale, mothballs, create your own

* Eliminates a need for fabric softener sheets in the dryer.  Fabric softener sheets have all kinds of exotic chemicals, while vinegar is just…vinegar.  A big jug of vinegar is also a lot less expensive than a box of dryer sheets.

* I’ve seen a huge reduction in lint produced in the dryer since we began using vinegar rather than dryer sheets last year.  I assume the dryer sheets would strip off a lot of the surface of clothes as part of their action.  End-result – clothes last longer.

* Vinegar is safe for colors

* Clothes have come out softer than they ever did even with dryer sheets

I’m pretty practical at heart, and I’ve definitely become a believer in vinegar.  We’re talking distilled white vinegar, of course.  If anyone wants to experiment with balsamic, be my guest.

Here’s an interesting factoid – we generate less than a 13-gallon bag of trash every two weeks.  We recycle plastic, cans, paper, and cardboard.  Food waste goes outside on the plants if it’s vegetable matter.  Otherwise, the few leftovers we might have are shared with whatever possum or raccoon wanders by during the night.  We use dishtowels a lot more than paper towels as well.  So the only thing we have in the single bag of trash we put out every two weeks ends up being mostly plastic packaging and a little waste paper that can’t be recycled.  So there is no smell to the trash.

We don’t drive Priuses or live in a solar powered off-the-grid home, or anything.  But these are a few things we do, for whatever it’s worth.