Economical House-Cleaning with Vinegar

I have been recommending white vinegar for cleaning and other purposes for five years. It is both non-toxic and a natural deodoriser. Here is an inexpensive source of high-quality white vinegar: Sam’s Club, less than four dollars for two gallons.
From the Vinegar Institute, these Uses for White Vinegar

Cleaning No-wax floors
To wash no-wax floors, add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar to a half-gallon of warm water.
Carpet stain removal:
A mixture of 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent and 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar in a pint of lukewarm water will remove non-oily stains from carpets. Apply it to the stain with a soft brush or towel and rub gently. Rinse with a towel moistened with clean water and blot dry. Repeat this procedure until the stain is gone. Then dry quickly, using a fan or hair dryer. This should be done as soon as the stain is discovered.

Windows & Walls

Streakless windows
Simply wash with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth. This solution will make your windows gleam and will not leave the usual film or streaks on the glass.
Washing woodwork:
You can ease the job of washing painted walls, woodwork and Venetian blinds by using a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, ½ cup white distilled or cider vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda with 1 gallon of warm water. Wipe this solution over walls or blinds with a sponge or cloth and rinse with clear water. Dirt and grime comes off easily and the solution will not dull the painted finish or leave streaks.
Water or alcohol marks on wood:
Stubborn rings resulting from wet glasses being placed on wood furniture may be removed by rubbing with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and olive oil. Rub with the grain and polish for the best results.

Kitchen

Garbage disposal cleaner:
Garbage disposals may be kept clean and odor free with vinegar cubes. Vinegar cubes are made by filling an ice tray with a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar and enough water to fill the ice tray and then freezing it. Run the mixture through the disposal, and then flush it with cold water for a minute or so.
Coffee maker cleaner (automatic):
White distilled vinegar can help to dissolve mineral deposits that collect in automatic drip coffee makers from hard water. Fill the reservoir with white distilled vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly with water when the cycle is finished. (Be sure to check the owner’s manual for specific instructions.)
Clean the microwave:
Boil a solution of 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar and 1 cup of water in the microwave. Will loosen splattered on food and deodorize.
Deodorize the kitchen drain:
Pour a cup of white distilled vinegar down the drain once a week. Let stand 30 minutes and then flush with cold water.
Clean the refrigerator:
Wash with a solution of equal parts water and white distilled vinegar.
Clean and disinfect wood cutting boards:
Wipe with full strength white distilled vinegar.
Brass polish:
Brass, copper and pewter will shine if cleaned with the following mixture. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and stir in flour until it becomes a paste. Apply paste to the metals and let it stand for about 15 minutes. Rinse with clean warm water and polish until dry.
Ant deterrent:
Ant invasions can sometimes be deterred by washing counter tops, cabinets and floors with white distilled vinegar.
Getting Rid of Fruit Flies/Gnats in Your Kitchen
Place a bowl filled with ½ quart water, 2 Tbsps. sugar, 2 Tbsps. of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap to attract the fruit flies.  Always eliminate the source of attraction, i.e., ripened produce and raw bread dough.
Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances
Apply vinegar with a soft cloth to remove streaks from stainless steel appliances.  Try in an inconspicuous place first.
Cleaner Dishes and Glasses
Pour 1 ½ cup to 2 cups white distilled vinegar in the bottom of dishwasher, along with regular dishwasher soap.  Wash full cycle. 
Remove Refrigerator Smells
Place 1 cup apple cider vinegar in a glass and set in refrigerator.  Within 2 days, any smell is gone!

Bathroom

Bathtub film:
Bathtub film can be removed by wiping with white distilled vinegar and then with soda. Rinse clean with water.
Shower doors:
Rub down shower doors with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar to remove soap residue.
Toilet bowl cleaner:
Stubborn stains can be removed from the toilet by spraying them with white distilled vinegar and brushing vigorously. The bowl may be deodorized by adding 3 cups of white distilled vinegar. Allow it to remain for a half hour, then flush.
Unclog the showerhead:
Corrosion may be removed from showerheads or faucets by soaking them in white distilled vinegar overnight. This may be easily accomplished by saturating a terry cloth towel in vinegar and wrapping it around the showerhead or faucet.

Lawn/Garden

Kill grass:
To kill grass on sidewalks and driveways, pour full strength white distilled vinegar on it.
Kill weeds:
Spray white distilled vinegar full strength on tops of weeds. Reapply on any new growth until plants have starved.
Increase soil acidity:
In hard water areas, add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of tap water for watering acid loving plants like rhododendrons, gardenias or azaleas. The vinegar will release iron in the soil for the plants to use.
Neutralize garden lime:
Rinse your hands liberally with white distilled vinegar after working with garden lime to avoid rough and flaking skin. Clean pots before repotting, rinse with vinegar to remove excess lime.
Keep Flowers Fresh Longer:  Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a 1-quart vase of water.  Trim stems and change water every five days.
Plant Nutrients
Mix vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:8.  Mix a separate solution of sugar and water in a mixture of 1:8.  Combine the vinegar and sugar mixtures.  Add to plant as long as needed. 

Pets

Pest fighter:
A teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for each quart bowl of drinking water helps keep your pet free of fleas and ticks. The ratio of one teaspoon to one quart is for a forty-pound animal.
Pet accident:
Test the color fastness of the carpet with white distilled vinegar in an inconspicuous place. Then sprinkle distilled vinegar over the fresh pet accident. Wait a few minutes and sponge from the center outward. Blot up with a dry cloth. This procedure may need to be repeated for stubborn stains.
Treat a smelly dog:
Wet the dog down with fresh water.  Use a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 2 gallons water.  Saturate the dog’s coat with this solution.  Dry the dog off without rinsing the solution.  The smell will be gone!
Laundry Hints
Wine stains:
Spots caused by wine can be removed from 100 percent cotton, cotton polyester and permanent press fabrics if done so within 24 hours. To do it, sponge white distilled vinegar directly onto the stain and rub away the spots. Then clean according to the directions on the manufacturer’s care tag.
Freshen baby clothes:
The addition of 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to each load of baby clothes during the rinse cycle will naturally break down uric acid and soapy residue leaving the clothes soft and fresh.
Clothes washing magic:
Clothes will rinse better if 1 cup of white distilled vinegar is added to the last rinse water. The acid in vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, but strong enough to dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents.
Blanket renewal:
Cotton and wool blankets become soft, fluffy and free of soap odor if 2 cups of white distilled vinegar are added to the rinse cycle of the wash.
Deodorant stains:
Deodorant and antiperspirant stains may be removed from clothing by lightly rubbing with white distilled vinegar and laundering as usual.

Hole removal:
After a hem or seam is removed, there are often unsightly holes left in the fabric. These holes can be removed by placing a cloth, moistened with white distilled vinegar, under the fabric and ironing.
Keeping colors fast:
To hold colors in fabrics, which tend to run, soak them for a few minutes in white distilled vinegar before washing.
Leather cleaning:
Leather articles can be cleaned with a mixture of white distilled vinegar and linseed oil. Rub the mixture into the leather and then polish with a soft cloth.

Scorch marks: Lightly rub white distilled vinegar on fabric that has been slightly scorched. Wipe with a clean cloth.

Setting colors:
When you are color dyeing, add about a cupful of white distilled vinegar to the last rinse water to help set the color.
Shower curtains:
Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to the rinse water when you launder your shower curtain.  Do not spin dry or wash out.  Just hang immediately to dry.
Unclog steam iron:
Pour equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water into the iron’s water chamber. Turn to steam and leave the iron on for 5 minutes in an upright position. Then unplug and allow to cool. Any loose particles should come out when you empty the water.
Clean a scorched iron plate:
Heat equal parts white distilled vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rub solution on the cooled iron surface to remove dark or burned stains.
Cleaning Vintage Lace: Soak the lace in cold water, rinsing it several times.  Next, hand-wash the lace gently with a wool detergent, such as Woolite.  If rust spots are a problem, try removing them with a mixture of white vinegar and hot water.
Food Preparation
Getting the last drops:
When you can’t get the last bit of mayonnaise or salad dressing out of the jar, try dribbling a little of your favorite vinegar into it, put the cap on tightly and shake well. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve been wasting.
Cooking fish:
Try soaking fish in vinegar and water before cooking it. It will be sweeter, more tender and hold its shape better. When boiling or poaching fish, a tablespoon of vinegar added to the water will keep it from crumbling so easily.
Cake icing:
Cake icing can be prevented from becoming sugary if a little vinegar is added to the ingredients before cooking. The same is true when making homemade candy.
Boiling eggs:
When boiling an egg and it’s cracked, a little vinegar in the water will keep the white from running out.
Keeping potatoes white:
A teaspoon of white distilled or cider vinegar added to the water in which you boil potatoes will keep them nice and white. You can keep peeled potatoes from turning dark by covering them with water and adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar.
Freshen vegetables:
Freshen up slightly wilted vegetables by soaking them in cold water and vinegar.
Fruit and vegetable wash:
Add 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar to 1 pint water and use to wash fresh fruits and vegetables, then rinse thoroughly.  Research has shown that vinegar helps kill bacteria on fruits and vegetables.
Frying doughnuts:
Before frying doughnuts, add ½ teaspoon of vinegar to hot oil to prevent doughnuts soaking up extra grease.  Use caution when adding the vinegar to the hot oil. 
Flavor booster:
Perk up a can of soup, gravy or sauce with a teaspoon of your favorite specialty vinegar. It adds flavor and taster fresher.
Meat tenderizer:
As a tenderizer for tough meat or game, make a marinade in the proportion of half a cup of your favorite vinegar to a cup of heated liquid, such as bouillon; or for steak, you may prefer to a mix of vinegar and oil, rubbed in well and allowed to stand for two hours.
Fruit stains:
Remove fruit or berry stains from your hands by cleaning them with vinegar.
Fresh lunch box:
It is easy to take out the heavy stale smell often found in lunch boxes. Dampen a piece of fresh bread with white distilled vinegar and leave it in the lunch box overnight.
Get rid of cooking smells:
Let simmer a small pot of vinegar and water solution.
Fluffy Egg Whites
Soak a paper towel with 1-2 Tablespoons of white distilled vinegar.  Wipe mixing bowl and beaters or whisk with the vinegar-soaked paper towel, then dry with a cloth or paper towel prior to whipping egg whites. 
Fluffier Rice For fluffier and great tasting rice, add a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar to the boiling water before adding rice.  Rice will be easier to spoon and less sticky. 
Health
Relief from Heartburn
For relief of heartburn or acid indigestion, take one or two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine for Sleep Apnea:
To clean the calcium deposit of the humidifier reservoir, heat 450 ml (1 ¾ cups) of vinegar in the microwave for 2 minutes. Pour vinegar into reservoir and replace cap. Let sit for 1 hour. Remove vinegar. Reservoir should be clean and calcium free. Contact manufacturer before cleaning with this method or review manufacturer’s directions.
Soothe a bee or jellyfish sting:
Douse with vinegar. It will soothe irritation and relieve itching.
Relieve sunburn:
Lightly rub white distilled or cider vinegar on skin. Reapply as needed.
Relieve dry and itchy skin:
Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to your bath water.
Fight dandruff:
After shampooing, rinse with a solution of ½ cup vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.
Soothe a sore throat:
Put a teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of water. Gargle, then swallow. For another great gargle: 1 cup hot water, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon vinegar, gargle then drink.
Treat sinus infections and chest colds:
Add 1/4 cup or more vinegar to the vaporizer. (Be sure to check vaporizer instructions for additional water measurement.)
Skin burns: Apply ice-cold vinegar right away for fast relief. Will prevent burn blisters.
Chest congestion:
To clear up respiratory congestion, inhale a vapor mist from steaming pot containing water and several spoonfuls of vinegar.
Toenail fungus:
Soak toes in a solution of vinegar and water, using 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, 15 minutes per day.
Arthritis Relief: Mix a teaspoon of half apple cider vinegar, half honey in a glass of water with a teaspoon of orange flavored Knox gelatine.
Alleviate Morning-Sickness: Drink some apple cider vinegar in water, with honey added.  This concoction can help calm a queasy stomach.
Stop Itching: Apply a paste made from vinegar and cornstarch.  Keep on until itch disappears. 
Cleaning Heavily Soiled Hands: Moisten cornmeal with apple cider vinegar.  Scrub hands, rinse in cold water and pat dry. 
Soft Feet: Combine 1 cup white distilled vinegar to 2 gallons warm water.  Soak feet for 45 minutes then use a pumice stone or file to remove dead skin from heels and callused areas of feet.
Wart Remover: Mix lukewarm/warm water with a cup of white distilled vinegar.  Immerse area with wart and soak 20 minutes everyday until the wart disappears. 


Other Uses for Vinegar

Bumper stickers
Remove bumper stickers by repeatedly wiping the sticker with white distilled vinegar until it is soaked.  In a few minutes, it should peel off easily.  Test on a small invisible area of the car to ensure there will be no damage to the paint.
Paintbrush Softener
Soak the paintbrush in hot white distilled vinegar, and then wash out with warm, sudsy water.
Cleaning the Radiator Vent: Turn down the thermostat.  Unscrew the air vent, soak it in vinegar to clean it, then turn the thermostat all the way up.  After a few minutes, you’ll hear a hissing sound followed by a little bit of water spurting out.  Finally, steam will start exiting that hole.  Turn off the radiator valve and replace the vent.  It should be straight up and hand tight.  You should not need or use a wrench.
Frosted Windows
For those rare winter mornings when there is frost on the car, wipe the windows the night before with a solution of one part water to three parts white distilled vinegar.  They won’t frost over.
Furniture
Mix olive oil and vinegar in a one-to-one ratio and polish with a soft cloth.  Try in an inconspicuous place first.
Cleaning Leather Shoes
Make a solution of one part water to one part white vinegar, and use it sparingly on the shoes. Dip a cloth into the solution, and dab it over the salt-streaked parts of your shoes.
May have to repeat the cleaning a few times before all the salt is removed.  Salt actually can damage leather, so it’s best to clean shoes as quickly as possible. Don’t let the salt stains build up.
Fireplaces
Wash fireplaces with a 50/50 ratio of water and vinegar to remove the blackened soot on glass front doors. If the doors have a spring-loaded clip, remove it, then take out the doors.
Lay them flat on newspapers, spray with the vinegar/water solution and soak.  Wipe it off with newspaper.
Cleaner for Gold Jewelry (Winner of June 2007 Vinegar Online Use Contest)
Use one cup apple cider vinegar.  Submerge solid gold jewelry item in vinegar for 15 minutes.  Remove and dry with cloth. 
Remove Lime Stains from Car
Pour a small amount of white vinegar on a clean cloth.  Gently rub the area of lime staining with the cloth until the stain is gone.  Test a small are first to ensure no discoloration.
Worn DVDs
If you have a worn DVD that has begun to stick or suffers from the occasional freeze-frame, wipe it down with white distilled vinegar applied to a soft cloth.  Ensure the DVD is completely dry before re-inserting in the DVD player.  (Note:  This only works on DVDs that are scratched of dirty through normal wear.)

Bug Spray
Combine equal amounts of water, white distilled vinegar and liquid dish soap in a spray bottle.  Use on skin, as needed. 
 Colouring Easter Eggs
Mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar with each ½ cup of hot water, then add food coloring. (Check egg-coloring booklets or food dye box for specific directions.) Vinegar keeps the food dyes bright and prevents streaky, uneven colours.


ehow presents some good resource-saving tips in Ruby Bayan’s article,  

Economical House-Cleaning with Vinegar

I have been recommending white vinegar for cleaning and other purposes for five years. It is both non-toxic and a natural deodoriser. Here is an inexpensive source of high-quality white vinegar: Sam’s Club, less than four dollars for two gallons.
From the Vinegar Institute, these Uses for White Vinegar

Cleaning No-wax floors
To wash no-wax floors, add ½ cup of white distilled vinegar to a half-gallon of warm water.
Carpet stain removal:
A mixture of 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent and 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar in a pint of lukewarm water will remove non-oily stains from carpets. Apply it to the stain with a soft brush or towel and rub gently. Rinse with a towel moistened with clean water and blot dry. Repeat this procedure until the stain is gone. Then dry quickly, using a fan or hair dryer. This should be done as soon as the stain is discovered.

Windows & Walls

Streakless windows
Simply wash with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and warm water. Dry with a soft cloth. This solution will make your windows gleam and will not leave the usual film or streaks on the glass.
Washing woodwork:
You can ease the job of washing painted walls, woodwork and Venetian blinds by using a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, ½ cup white distilled or cider vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda with 1 gallon of warm water. Wipe this solution over walls or blinds with a sponge or cloth and rinse with clear water. Dirt and grime comes off easily and the solution will not dull the painted finish or leave streaks.
Water or alcohol marks on wood:
Stubborn rings resulting from wet glasses being placed on wood furniture may be removed by rubbing with a mixture of equal parts of white distilled vinegar and olive oil. Rub with the grain and polish for the best results.

Kitchen

Garbage disposal cleaner:
Garbage disposals may be kept clean and odor free with vinegar cubes. Vinegar cubes are made by filling an ice tray with a mixture of 1 cup of vinegar and enough water to fill the ice tray and then freezing it. Run the mixture through the disposal, and then flush it with cold water for a minute or so.
Coffee maker cleaner (automatic):
White distilled vinegar can help to dissolve mineral deposits that collect in automatic drip coffee makers from hard water. Fill the reservoir with white distilled vinegar and run it through a brewing cycle. Rinse thoroughly with water when the cycle is finished. (Be sure to check the owner’s manual for specific instructions.)
Clean the microwave:
Boil a solution of 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar and 1 cup of water in the microwave. Will loosen splattered on food and deodorize.
Deodorize the kitchen drain:
Pour a cup of white distilled vinegar down the drain once a week. Let stand 30 minutes and then flush with cold water.
Clean the refrigerator:
Wash with a solution of equal parts water and white distilled vinegar.
Clean and disinfect wood cutting boards:
Wipe with full strength white distilled vinegar.
Brass polish:
Brass, copper and pewter will shine if cleaned with the following mixture. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of white distilled vinegar and stir in flour until it becomes a paste. Apply paste to the metals and let it stand for about 15 minutes. Rinse with clean warm water and polish until dry.
Ant deterrent:
Ant invasions can sometimes be deterred by washing counter tops, cabinets and floors with white distilled vinegar.
Getting Rid of Fruit Flies/Gnats in Your Kitchen
Place a bowl filled with ½ quart water, 2 Tbsps. sugar, 2 Tbsps. of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap to attract the fruit flies.  Always eliminate the source of attraction, i.e., ripened produce and raw bread dough.
Cleaning Stainless Steel Appliances
Apply vinegar with a soft cloth to remove streaks from stainless steel appliances.  Try in an inconspicuous place first.
Cleaner Dishes and Glasses
Pour 1 ½ cup to 2 cups white distilled vinegar in the bottom of dishwasher, along with regular dishwasher soap.  Wash full cycle. 
Remove Refrigerator Smells
Place 1 cup apple cider vinegar in a glass and set in refrigerator.  Within 2 days, any smell is gone!

Bathroom

Bathtub film:
Bathtub film can be removed by wiping with white distilled vinegar and then with soda. Rinse clean with water.
Shower doors:
Rub down shower doors with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar to remove soap residue.
Toilet bowl cleaner:
Stubborn stains can be removed from the toilet by spraying them with white distilled vinegar and brushing vigorously. The bowl may be deodorized by adding 3 cups of white distilled vinegar. Allow it to remain for a half hour, then flush.
Unclog the showerhead:
Corrosion may be removed from showerheads or faucets by soaking them in white distilled vinegar overnight. This may be easily accomplished by saturating a terry cloth towel in vinegar and wrapping it around the showerhead or faucet.

Lawn/Garden

Kill grass:
To kill grass on sidewalks and driveways, pour full strength white distilled vinegar on it.
Kill weeds:
Spray white distilled vinegar full strength on tops of weeds. Reapply on any new growth until plants have starved.
Increase soil acidity:
In hard water areas, add a cup of vinegar to a gallon of tap water for watering acid loving plants like rhododendrons, gardenias or azaleas. The vinegar will release iron in the soil for the plants to use.
Neutralize garden lime:
Rinse your hands liberally with white distilled vinegar after working with garden lime to avoid rough and flaking skin. Clean pots before repotting, rinse with vinegar to remove excess lime.
Keep Flowers Fresh Longer:  Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons white vinegar in a 1-quart vase of water.  Trim stems and change water every five days.
Plant Nutrients
Mix vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:8.  Mix a separate solution of sugar and water in a mixture of 1:8.  Combine the vinegar and sugar mixtures.  Add to plant as long as needed. 

Pets

Pest fighter:
A teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for each quart bowl of drinking water helps keep your pet free of fleas and ticks. The ratio of one teaspoon to one quart is for a forty-pound animal.
Pet accident:
Test the color fastness of the carpet with white distilled vinegar in an inconspicuous place. Then sprinkle distilled vinegar over the fresh pet accident. Wait a few minutes and sponge from the center outward. Blot up with a dry cloth. This procedure may need to be repeated for stubborn stains.
Treat a smelly dog:
Wet the dog down with fresh water.  Use a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 2 gallons water.  Saturate the dog’s coat with this solution.  Dry the dog off without rinsing the solution.  The smell will be gone!
Laundry Hints
Wine stains:
Spots caused by wine can be removed from 100 percent cotton, cotton polyester and permanent press fabrics if done so within 24 hours. To do it, sponge white distilled vinegar directly onto the stain and rub away the spots. Then clean according to the directions on the manufacturer’s care tag.
Freshen baby clothes:
The addition of 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to each load of baby clothes during the rinse cycle will naturally break down uric acid and soapy residue leaving the clothes soft and fresh.
Clothes washing magic:
Clothes will rinse better if 1 cup of white distilled vinegar is added to the last rinse water. The acid in vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, but strong enough to dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents.
Blanket renewal:
Cotton and wool blankets become soft, fluffy and free of soap odor if 2 cups of white distilled vinegar are added to the rinse cycle of the wash.
Deodorant stains:
Deodorant and antiperspirant stains may be removed from clothing by lightly rubbing with white distilled vinegar and laundering as usual.

Hole removal:
After a hem or seam is removed, there are often unsightly holes left in the fabric. These holes can be removed by placing a cloth, moistened with white distilled vinegar, under the fabric and ironing.
Keeping colors fast:
To hold colors in fabrics, which tend to run, soak them for a few minutes in white distilled vinegar before washing.
Leather cleaning:
Leather articles can be cleaned with a mixture of white distilled vinegar and linseed oil. Rub the mixture into the leather and then polish with a soft cloth.

Scorch marks: Lightly rub white distilled vinegar on fabric that has been slightly scorched. Wipe with a clean cloth.

Setting colors:
When you are color dyeing, add about a cupful of white distilled vinegar to the last rinse water to help set the color.
Shower curtains:
Add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to the rinse water when you launder your shower curtain.  Do not spin dry or wash out.  Just hang immediately to dry.
Unclog steam iron:
Pour equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water into the iron’s water chamber. Turn to steam and leave the iron on for 5 minutes in an upright position. Then unplug and allow to cool. Any loose particles should come out when you empty the water.
Clean a scorched iron plate:
Heat equal parts white distilled vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rub solution on the cooled iron surface to remove dark or burned stains.
Cleaning Vintage Lace: Soak the lace in cold water, rinsing it several times.  Next, hand-wash the lace gently with a wool detergent, such as Woolite.  If rust spots are a problem, try removing them with a mixture of white vinegar and hot water.
Food Preparation
Getting the last drops:
When you can’t get the last bit of mayonnaise or salad dressing out of the jar, try dribbling a little of your favorite vinegar into it, put the cap on tightly and shake well. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve been wasting.
Cooking fish:
Try soaking fish in vinegar and water before cooking it. It will be sweeter, more tender and hold its shape better. When boiling or poaching fish, a tablespoon of vinegar added to the water will keep it from crumbling so easily.
Cake icing:
Cake icing can be prevented from becoming sugary if a little vinegar is added to the ingredients before cooking. The same is true when making homemade candy.
Boiling eggs:
When boiling an egg and it’s cracked, a little vinegar in the water will keep the white from running out.
Keeping potatoes white:
A teaspoon of white distilled or cider vinegar added to the water in which you boil potatoes will keep them nice and white. You can keep peeled potatoes from turning dark by covering them with water and adding 2 teaspoons of vinegar.
Freshen vegetables:
Freshen up slightly wilted vegetables by soaking them in cold water and vinegar.
Fruit and vegetable wash:
Add 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar to 1 pint water and use to wash fresh fruits and vegetables, then rinse thoroughly.  Research has shown that vinegar helps kill bacteria on fruits and vegetables.
Frying doughnuts:
Before frying doughnuts, add ½ teaspoon of vinegar to hot oil to prevent doughnuts soaking up extra grease.  Use caution when adding the vinegar to the hot oil. 
Flavor booster:
Perk up a can of soup, gravy or sauce with a teaspoon of your favorite specialty vinegar. It adds flavor and taster fresher.
Meat tenderizer:
As a tenderizer for tough meat or game, make a marinade in the proportion of half a cup of your favorite vinegar to a cup of heated liquid, such as bouillon; or for steak, you may prefer to a mix of vinegar and oil, rubbed in well and allowed to stand for two hours.
Fruit stains:
Remove fruit or berry stains from your hands by cleaning them with vinegar.
Fresh lunch box:
It is easy to take out the heavy stale smell often found in lunch boxes. Dampen a piece of fresh bread with white distilled vinegar and leave it in the lunch box overnight.
Get rid of cooking smells:
Let simmer a small pot of vinegar and water solution.
Fluffy Egg Whites
Soak a paper towel with 1-2 Tablespoons of white distilled vinegar.  Wipe mixing bowl and beaters or whisk with the vinegar-soaked paper towel, then dry with a cloth or paper towel prior to whipping egg whites. 
Fluffier Rice For fluffier and great tasting rice, add a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar to the boiling water before adding rice.  Rice will be easier to spoon and less sticky. 
Health
Relief from Heartburn
For relief of heartburn or acid indigestion, take one or two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine for Sleep Apnea:
To clean the calcium deposit of the humidifier reservoir, heat 450 ml (1 ¾ cups) of vinegar in the microwave for 2 minutes. Pour vinegar into reservoir and replace cap. Let sit for 1 hour. Remove vinegar. Reservoir should be clean and calcium free. Contact manufacturer before cleaning with this method or review manufacturer’s directions.
Soothe a bee or jellyfish sting:
Douse with vinegar. It will soothe irritation and relieve itching.
Relieve sunburn:
Lightly rub white distilled or cider vinegar on skin. Reapply as needed.
Relieve dry and itchy skin:
Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to your bath water.
Fight dandruff:
After shampooing, rinse with a solution of ½ cup vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.
Soothe a sore throat:
Put a teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of water. Gargle, then swallow. For another great gargle: 1 cup hot water, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon vinegar, gargle then drink.
Treat sinus infections and chest colds:
Add 1/4 cup or more vinegar to the vaporizer. (Be sure to check vaporizer instructions for additional water measurement.)
Skin burns: Apply ice-cold vinegar right away for fast relief. Will prevent burn blisters.
Chest congestion:
To clear up respiratory congestion, inhale a vapor mist from steaming pot containing water and several spoonfuls of vinegar.
Toenail fungus:
Soak toes in a solution of vinegar and water, using 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, 15 minutes per day.
Arthritis Relief: Mix a teaspoon of half apple cider vinegar, half honey in a glass of water with a teaspoon of orange flavored Knox gelatine.
Alleviate Morning-Sickness: Drink some apple cider vinegar in water, with honey added.  This concoction can help calm a queasy stomach.
Stop Itching: Apply a paste made from vinegar and cornstarch.  Keep on until itch disappears. 
Cleaning Heavily Soiled Hands: Moisten cornmeal with apple cider vinegar.  Scrub hands, rinse in cold water and pat dry. 
Soft Feet: Combine 1 cup white distilled vinegar to 2 gallons warm water.  Soak feet for 45 minutes then use a pumice stone or file to remove dead skin from heels and callused areas of feet.
Wart Remover: Mix lukewarm/warm water with a cup of white distilled vinegar.  Immerse area with wart and soak 20 minutes everyday until the wart disappears. 


Other Uses for Vinegar

Bumper stickers
Remove bumper stickers by repeatedly wiping the sticker with white distilled vinegar until it is soaked.  In a few minutes, it should peel off easily.  Test on a small invisible area of the car to ensure there will be no damage to the paint.
Paintbrush Softener
Soak the paintbrush in hot white distilled vinegar, and then wash out with warm, sudsy water.
Cleaning the Radiator Vent: Turn down the thermostat.  Unscrew the air vent, soak it in vinegar to clean it, then turn the thermostat all the way up.  After a few minutes, you’ll hear a hissing sound followed by a little bit of water spurting out.  Finally, steam will start exiting that hole.  Turn off the radiator valve and replace the vent.  It should be straight up and hand tight.  You should not need or use a wrench.
Frosted Windows
For those rare winter mornings when there is frost on the car, wipe the windows the night before with a solution of one part water to three parts white distilled vinegar.  They won’t frost over.
Furniture
Mix olive oil and vinegar in a one-to-one ratio and polish with a soft cloth.  Try in an inconspicuous place first.
Cleaning Leather Shoes
Make a solution of one part water to one part white vinegar, and use it sparingly on the shoes. Dip a cloth into the solution, and dab it over the salt-streaked parts of your shoes.
May have to repeat the cleaning a few times before all the salt is removed.  Salt actually can damage leather, so it’s best to clean shoes as quickly as possible. Don’t let the salt stains build up.
Fireplaces
Wash fireplaces with a 50/50 ratio of water and vinegar to remove the blackened soot on glass front doors. If the doors have a spring-loaded clip, remove it, then take out the doors.
Lay them flat on newspapers, spray with the vinegar/water solution and soak.  Wipe it off with newspaper.
Cleaner for Gold Jewelry (Winner of June 2007 Vinegar Online Use Contest)
Use one cup apple cider vinegar.  Submerge solid gold jewelry item in vinegar for 15 minutes.  Remove and dry with cloth. 
Remove Lime Stains from Car
Pour a small amount of white vinegar on a clean cloth.  Gently rub the area of lime staining with the cloth until the stain is gone.  Test a small are first to ensure no discoloration.
Worn DVDs
If you have a worn DVD that has begun to stick or suffers from the occasional freeze-frame, wipe it down with white distilled vinegar applied to a soft cloth.  Ensure the DVD is completely dry before re-inserting in the DVD player.  (Note:  This only works on DVDs that are scratched of dirty through normal wear.)

Bug Spray
Combine equal amounts of water, white distilled vinegar and liquid dish soap in a spray bottle.  Use on skin, as needed. 
 Colouring Easter Eggs
Mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar with each ½ cup of hot water, then add food coloring. (Check egg-coloring booklets or food dye box for specific directions.) Vinegar keeps the food dyes bright and prevents streaky, uneven colours.


ehow presents some good resource-saving tips in Ruby Bayan’s article,  

Using a Dishwasher the Cool Way in Summer

When the weather is hot, use your dishwasher in the late evening, and turn off the heated drying feature. The glasses and dishes will dry naturally overnight. Your place will not heat up as much, and because heat has a bad effect on polymers, rubber and plastics, the items made with those components will last much longer without it.

lave-vaisselle

How to Iron a Man’s Shirt

Ironing a Man’s Shirt

My Swedish grandmother taught me how to iron men’s shirts. Like Scandinavians of all social strata, she adored being at the ironing board. I don’t know how other people do it, but here is our system:
Flattening and folding the yoke (found under the collar at the back of shirt) at its bottom seam, iron it. You can iron-out the resultant crease later, when ironing the whole of the back.Iron the underside of the collar, then its topside, then iron a crease at the seam where it meets the shirt.
Iron the insides and outsides of the cuffs, before doing the two sleeves. Then you are ready to execute the easy parts: the two front sides and the back.
Hint: keep a spray bottle of water nearby to mist the shirt’s stubborn wrinkles, even if you have a steam iron. Spraying with water is generally safer than using the shot-of-steam feature on your iron. If do you use steam, empty the iron, refill it, and test-run for rusty water which can be difficult to remove once it is on the shirt. Do not use the highest temperature setting: crispy brown edges are for tortes, not chemises!
Besides the great feeling of accomplishment one gets finishing each shirt, it saves money which one may have spent having a cleaning outfit doing the work. There is dignity in ironing; don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
UPDATE: The very best iron that I have ever owned is this one from Panasonic. I have owned irons from Germany that cost three times as much, and each one ruined my silk clothes by dripping on them. This one is totally reliable, and costs about $30.00 US. I choose the the Japanese over the Germans here, and if given the same choice in cars, I would do the same.
Washing Your Shirts
Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Wet the grimy, sweaty and stained spots and rub them with a bar of Zote Soap (in the absence of Zote, a bar of Octagon will do). Soak them overnight in a small tub of water, then agitate and rinse by hand, preferably. Hang to dry. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. My husband has been treating his shirts this way for decades, and some of them have lasted for twenty years. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt’s fibers. You’d be surprised at how swiftly they dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, shirts are easy to iron. Sending your expensive or custom-made shirts to the cleaners may seem luxurious, but will sound an early death-knell for them. Getting up-close and personal with your shirts will ensure that they enjoy the good, long life that their maker intended.
~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton; August, 2007

Yams and Sweet Potatoes: Versatile, Health-Promoting Vegetables

Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Eating yams or sweet potatoes every day is believed to be one of the reasons  the people of Okinawa, Japan, have the longest average life expectancy in the world.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the yam is “neutral” in nature–somewhere between yin and yang. Its properties can help to tranquilise the mind, preserve youthful skin, nourish the spleen, stomach, kidneys, aid in digestion, and contribute to a feeling of fullness, something that can aid both dieters and poor people.

Yams contain vitamin B6, which can soothe the mind as well as boost immunity. Rich in linoleic acid and fibre, yams not only help to alleviate constipation, but can also reduce cholesterol build-up blood vessels, a process which helps prevent arteriosclerosis and thrombosis.

The yam is rich in protein, vitamins A , E and C, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Although its vitamin B1 and B2 content is six and three times higher than that of rice respectively, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of yams produce only 99 calories, a one-third the amount that rice contains. Because yams are alkaline foods, they can help decrease body fat. Acid foods lead to fat-storage in the human body. Yams and sweet potatoes also contain lycopene, which is believed to help prevent prostate cancer. A hormone-like, anti-inflammatory  compound called dioscin exists in both yams and sweet potatoes, as well as vitamin C and carotenoids.

Sweet potatoes and yams have the same qualities, even though they are from different families, so substituting the root-vegetable known as sweet potato for yams is perfectly acceptable and will yield the same health-results when eaten. If the yam or sweet potato is too sweet for your liking, there are several ways to incorporate them into your diet that will make them seem less so. For example, a well-scrubbed yam may be chopped into matchsticks or slivers, fibrous skin and all, and added to a stir-fry. Adding soy sauce to sweet potatoes and yams will give them a more balanced taste. Soaking them in Himalayan salt solution will also do wonders for the flavour of sweet potatoes and yams.

The shirataki noodle, which contains soya and yam flour, is considered an excellent weight-loss food because it is low in carbohydrates while being high in glucomannan, a high-quality fibre (fiber).

A stir-fried dish of shirataki noodles, yams, onions, ginger, pineapple and peanuts is pictured here in a previous post at Elegant Survival News.

~~M-J de Mesterton, January 2nd 2010

M-J’s Winter Health Smoothie

cropped-aeedd-elegant_smoothie_winter_health_copyright_de_mesterton.jpg

Green_Smoothie_M-J_de_Mesterton_Recipes
One half-cup of water, one fourth-cup of lemon juice, one jalapeño or serrano pepper (roasted, pickled or fresh), two stalks of celery, one-half of a cucumber, one tablespoon of thick yoghurt or one half-cup of buttermilk, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of parsley, all whirled in a blender till smooth. Add water if necessary for processing.

big grinCopyright M-J de Mesterton 2009

2009 Miscellaneous

 

USPS News, 2009:

New Forever Personalized Stamp Envelope

WASHINGTON — A noted author, a philanthropist and a racehorse champion are among the subjects featured on the Postal Service’s 2009 price-change stamps. In addition, a new Forever personalized stamped envelope is being introduced.“The stamps we are issuing cover a variety of subjects and will have wide appeal across many audiences,” said David Failor, manager, Stamp Services. “We are especially pleased to introduce a new Forever personalized stamped envelope. It will make quite an impression.” Most of these stamps will be issued on or before the May 11 stamp price change, Failor noted.

Richard Wright (61 cents)

Richard Wright stamp

With this 25th stamp in the Literary Arts series, the U.S. Postal Service honors author Richard Wright (1908-1960). Best remembered for his controversial 1940 novel, “Native Son,” and his 1945 autobiography, “Black Boy,” Wright drew on a wide range of literary traditions, including protest writing and detective fiction, to craft unflinching portrayals of racism in American society. The stamp artwork by Kadir Nelson features a portrait of Richard Wright in front of snow-swept tenements on the South Side of Chicago, a scene that recalls the setting of “Native Son.” Nelson’s portrait of Wright was based on a circa 1945 photograph.

Polar Bear (28 cents)

Polar Bear stamp

This stamp features a stylized illustration of a polar bear. Polar bears, found throughout the Arctic region, are among the largest land carnivores in the world. Newborn cubs weigh just over one pound, while full-grown males can weigh more than 1,500 pounds. Illustrator Nancy Stahl used a collection of photographs to create this design. Stahl has created several stamp designs for the Postal Service, including the Florida Panther in 2007 and Dragonfly in 2008.

Koi Fish Stamped Cards (28 cents)

Koi fish stamped card
Koi fish stamped card

These stamped cards feature colorful carp known as koi. Many Americans collect koi, prizing these large freshwater fish for their bold, bright colors in striking combinations and patterns. The stamp art is by Kam Mak, who left Hong Kong as a child and grew up in New York City’s Chinatown. He based the art on his own photographs of koi.

Purple Heart (44 cents)

Purple Heart stamp

With the reissuance of the Purple Heart stamp, the Postal Service honors the sacrifices of the men and women who serve in the U.S. military. The Purple Heart is awarded in the name of the president of the United States to members of the U.S. military who have been wounded or killed in action. The medal is the oldest military decoration in the world in present use and the first award made available to a common soldier. The stamp features a photograph by Ira Wexler of one of two Purple Hearts awarded to James Loftus Fowler of Alexandria, VA, who was battalion commander of the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines serving in Vietnam. This stamp was first issued in 2003.

Wedding Rings (44 cents)

Wedding Rings stamp

This new one-ounce stamp featuring wedding rings is intended for use on the response envelope enclosed with a wedding invitation. Photographed by Renée Comet of Washington, DC, the rings rest on a small white pillow united by a slender ribbon of white silk.

Wedding Cake (61 cents)

Wedding Cake stamp

Sure to add a touch of beauty and romance to wedding correspondence, the 2009 Wedding Cake stamp is being issued at the two-ounce mailing rate in order to accommodate the heavier weight of an invitation. In addition, the price covers other mailings such as oversize cards or small gifts that require extra postage. The stamp depicts a three-tier wedding cake topped with white flowers, their green stems and leaves a delightful contrast to the cake’s creamy white frosting. The cake was photographed by Renée Comet of Washington, DC.

King and Queen of Hearts (44 cents)

King and Queen of Hearrts stamps

These stamps pay a clever tribute to the world’s favorite game—the game of love—with the issuance of the King and Queen of Hearts, the latest stamps in the Love series. As the English poet, John Donne, wrote, love is “got by chance” but “kept by art.” With all its risks and pleasures, love is sure to keep writers busy for a long time to come. And with these stamps, love letters and other correspondence will have a delightful, playful touch. Using images from 18th-century French playing cards as reference, artist Jeanne Greco created the stamp art.

Forever Personalized Stamped Envelope

Forever Personalized  stamped envelope

Whether it’s for business or personal correspondence, the way you send your mail sends a message. Make an impression with this new Forever personalized stamped envelope. You can include your name, your company’s name, address, and even a short message or slogan as part of the personalization. There’s lots of extra convenience with personalized stamped envelopes, and no need to affix postage or type in your name and return address. This envelope is available only through the Personalized Stamped Envelope Program. Call 1 800-STAMP-24 to order.

Seabiscuit Stamped Envelope (44 cents)

Seabiscuit stamped envelope

An unassuming champion, Seabiscuit raised the hopes and spirits of a beleaguered nation during the Great Depression with a series of unlikely victories. A small, dull brown, unattractive horse, he ran perhaps his greatest race against just a single horse: the 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral. Held on Nov. 1, 1938, at Pimlico in Maryland, the race drew around 40,000 spectators and was broadcast on the radio to 40 million listeners across the country, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt. War Admiral, the favorite to win, ran his fastest time at the track distance by 1-3/16 miles. However, Seabiscuit won the race by four lengths and set a blazing track record in the process. Artist John Mattos created the design, which depicts a scene from the exciting 1938 match race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral.

Later in the year, the following stamps will be issued:

Mary Lasker (78 cents)

Mary Lasker stamp

This stamp in the Distinguished Americans series honors Mary Woodard Lasker (1900-1994), philanthropist, political strategist, and ardent advocate of medical research for major diseases. Lasker persuaded the nation’s leaders to adopt dramatic increases in public funding for biomedical research, and her efforts helped make cancer research a national priority. Created by Mark Summers, the stamp artwork is based on an undated, black-and-white photograph. Summers is noted for his scratchboard technique, a style distinguished by a dense network of lines etched with exquisite precision.

U.S. Flag (44 cents)

U.S. Flag stamp

This stamp depicts one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. The American flag has regularly appeared on definitive stamps intended for mail use, and recent commemoratives have displayed the flag as well. This new stamp, a photograph by Rick Barrentine of Duluth, GA, depicts a detail of an American flag. The detail, showing a softly folded flag, features most prominently the starry blue field, with red-and-white stripes occupying the remaining space.

Celebrate! (44 cents)

Celebrate! stamp

This stamp, first issued in 2007, helps to acknowledge a host of happy occasions, from birthdays to engagements to anniversaries and more. When good times call for good wishes, this stamp will add a touch of cheer to special greeting cards and gift-bearing packages. Artist Nicholas Wilton of San Geronimo, CA, designed the Celebrate! stamp

Dolphin (64 cents)

Dolphin stamp

This stamp features the bottlenose dolphin, a marine mammal noted for its high intelligence and playful behavior. The bottlenose dolphin belongs to the family Delphinidae, which includes over 30 species of dolphins that swim in oceans and bays around the world. Found mainly in temperate and tropical waters, bottlenose dolphins are social animals that live in groups ranging in size from two to several hundred. They eat a variety of fish, as well as squid and crustaceans. This stamp was illustrated by Nancy Stahl.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (98 cents)

Grand Teton National Park stamp

This international rate stamp in the Scenic American Landscapes series features a photograph by Dennis Flaherty (Bishop, Calif.) of Grand Teton National Park in northwestern Wyoming. The photograph was taken from the Snake River Overlook at dawn. Originally established in 1929 to protect part of the Teton Range and lakes near its base, the park was expanded in 1950 to include much of the adjacent Jackson Hole valley. Renowned for its climbing and hiking trails, the park, which encompasses nearly 310,000 acres, receives most of its nearly 2.5 million recreational visitors a year in the warm summer months, where they marvel at the park’s wildlife, including moose, bald eagles, and trumpeter swans.

Zion National Park (79 cents)

Zion National Park stamp

This stamp in the Scenic American Landscapes series features a photograph of a sandstone formation on the east side of Zion National Park in Utah. Established in 1909 as Mukuntuwean National Monument, the park was expanded and designated a national park in 1919. Now encompassing more than 229 square miles, Zion National Park is characterized by high plateaus and mesas with deep standstone canyons carved into towering cliffs. One hundred twenty miles of hiking trails are available to the approximately 2.5 million people who annually visit the park. The photograph featured on the stamp was taken by Richard Cummins of Temecula, Calif.

In addition to these stamps, the Postal Service is introducing a new Forever Personalized Stamp Envelope, as well as a stamped envelope featuring the racehorse champion Seabiscuit and a stamped post card featuring the koi fish.

American Treasures: Edward Hopper (44 cents)

Edward Hoppert stamp

A sunlit painting by Edward Hopper is showcased in the ninth entry in the American Treasures series. “The Long Leg,” painted in oil on canvas around 1930, depicts a boat sailing against the wind near Provincetown, MA. As a child, Hopper enjoyed drawing and reading. He determined early that he wanted to be an artist. One of his teachers at the New York School of Art was Robert Henri, the noted realist painter. Today, Hopper’s work remains highly popular and influential. The American Treasures series was inaugurated in 2001. It is intended to exhibit beautiful works of American fine art and crafts.

# # #

Please Note: For broadcast quality video and audio, photo stills and other media resources, visit the USPS Newsroom at www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/welcome.htm.

An independent federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that visits every address in the nation — 146 million homes and businesses. It has 37,000 retail locations and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses, not tax dollars. The Postal Service has annual revenues of $75 billion and delivers nearly half the world’s mail.

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Miscellaneous Items from M-J

My latest housecleaning formula: water, vinegar, lemon juice, eucalyptus oil, and banana extract–smells lovely!

New Article in the Telegraph U.K. on the Recession, Citing some of the Advice I Have Given on Elegant Survival for Three Years

Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Gardening, Spring 2009:

Buy eggs in cardboard cartons, rather than in styrofoam ones. Fill them with dirt, and start your seeds in them, one per egg-cup.  Then, when the danger of frost has ended, you do not need to transplant each seedling individually. All you do is dig an area and set in the egg carton (minus the lid, of course, which you tore off earlier). Cover up the edges with soil. The cardboard egg carton will bio-degrade inside your garden.
Spray a solution of 30% hydrogen peroxide and 60% water on your seedlings and plants to give them an oxygen-boost.

From The Clothes Line: Elegant Survival of Your Clothing

The Clothes Line, an Elegant Survival Original, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006
The Clothes Line, an Elegant Survival Original, Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2006

Clothes dryers are energy-wasters, and will ruin your clothes as well, through fiber-loss and shrinkage. Hand-washing and line-drying your shirts will extend their lives. I use Zote soap and a microfiber cloth to rub dirt out of cuffs and collars. Underarms need special attention, too. I use a microfibre cloth instead of a brush because it is more gentle on the fabric, while strong enough to grab what I like to call “café crud” from cuffs. You don’t need a fancy contraption for clothes-drying; a five-dollar investment in a clothesline from Walmart, and a packet of wooden clothespins for about three dollars will do. Having a couple of trees to hold your clothesline at each end is lucky indeed, but in their absence, wooden posts can be installed.

When travelling, pack a small piece of Zote or Octagon bar-soap for hand-washing dainties and shirts in your quarters. The shower is a nice place to hang them; they will likely dry overnight, and probably not need ironing.  You might pack a couple of clothes-pins as well.

The sun and Zote soap both act as  fabric-brighteners, and your clothes will have a clean, fresh scent if treated to a sun-bath.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, 2009

Health-Enhancing Blueberries

M-J de Mesterton Still Life with Fruit Smoothie, Copyright 2009
M-J de Mesterton: Still Life with Fruit Smoothie, Copyright 2008

Blueberries contain vitamins A and C, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium, are high in fiber and low in calories. The USDA Human Nutrition Center (HNRCA) has ranked blueberries at the very top of antioxidant activity within a range of forty-one fruits and vegetables.

Blueberries contain natural health-enhancers, including vitamin C,  vitamin A, zinc, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium. They also have many antioxidant properties, and help in the prevention of:

  • Urinary-tract infections
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Age-related brain disorders
  • Brain-damage from ischemia and strokes

Blueberries have recently acquired a reputation for enhancing one’s cardiovascular health, and their antioxidants naturally help in the prevention of cancer. Recent research has added to the blueberry’s list of powerful properties.

Metabolic syndrome, or pre-diabetes, is exhibited in those with a particular combination of health anomalies,  including larger-than-normal  amounts of abdominal fat, elevated blood-sugar, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides. Together, those conditions are likely to cause diabetes, cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes.

Laboratory-rats that for 90 days consumed blueberry-enriched powder as two percent of their diet had less abdominal fat, lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol, and improved fasting glucose and insulin sensitivity than the control-group, who had no blueberry component in their diets.

Blueberry ingestion was determined to have a positive affect on specific genes related to fat-burning and fat-storage.  Where muscle tissue is concerned,  alterations in genes related to glucose-uptake were discovered to have been caused by the intake of blueberries.

Research also indicated that “metabolic syndrome” is  caused not only by abdominal fat, as previously believed by the medical industry, but by insulin resistance in one’s skeletal muscle system, an anomaly which alters energy-storage and causes metabolic syndrome.

Eating blueberries can help to prevent insulin-resistance, lower the related belly-fat, reduce cholesterol levels, and its numerous antioxidants can help to stave-off age-related brain disorders.

Blueberries  contain an antioxidant compound called pterostilbene, a compound similar to resveratrol, which has been found to reduce cholesterol as well as dangerous prescription drugs.

Just as dried cherries do, blueberries, when added to ground beef before cooking, help reduce the formation of  cancer-causing heterocyclic amines (HCA).

In Europe, the bilberry has most of the same properties as the blueberry. One of the many things they have in common is anthocyanin, the substance that makes them blue, which is beneficial to the cardiovascular system and is believed to lower blood-pressure. Bilberries have been used to enhance eyesight since World War 11, when pilots who ate bilberry jam attributed their improved night-vision to the tiny fruit. Bilberries are also said to aid in relief of varicose veins and gum-disease as they promote healthy circulation. Caution must be taken with bilberries by those who are taking blood-thinnning drugs, as they are a natural blood-thinner.

Blueberries can be added to a morning smoothie that you make with yogurt in a blender, together with whatever other fruits you have in stock. Frozen blueberries can be much less expensive than fresh ones, easier to store, and retain most of their antioxidant properties. When used in a smoothie, frozen blueberries make it ice-cold. This preparation makes a health-promoting breakfast, and is delicious as well. Staying well is the best thing you can do in this ailing world.

~~M-J

The Sonya Apple, an Elegant Survival Favorite

Sonya, Elegant Survival's Ideal Apple (photo copyright M-J de Mesterton 2008)
The Sonya apple originated in New Zealand, and has been internationally available since 2002.  Its unique flavor is owed to its two parent-apples, the Red Delicious and the Gala.The Sonya apple is pleasantly sweet and crisp, with an intense, fresh apple-juice flavor. Sonya apples are perfect for snacks, and the ones available now are small and perfectly shaped for packing in lunches. In my recent experience with Fuji apples, Elegant Survival’s former favorite for pie-making as well as eating, they have become less crisp, juicy and flavorful. Though that anomaly may be only temporary, I intend to make pies with Sonya apples henceforth. M-J’s Fuji Salad will now be called “Sonya Salad”–stay tuned for the recipe.

~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton, March 2009

Elegant Survival Household Tips

New Additions, November 29th, 2007:
Microwave Safety
Always cook with glass dishes when using a microwave oven. Even if your crockery was made after the lead-poisoning alert, it could still be produced by a manufacturer whose products have slipped past the inspections/standards process. Pyrex and Corningware are safe, as are inexpensive glass dishes and cups made by Arcoroc of France. I have one glass mug in which I reheat my coffee.
Speaking of Coffee…
I’ve found that Douwe Egberts is my favourite brand of coffee in Europe, and I am also very fond of their Senseo pods which are used in the eponymous brewing system. I liked it so well that I bought them for two of my friends. However, the pods can be punitively expensive if one wants to have five or six cups a day of Senseo coffee. In my Utopian vision of a perfect world, that is what I would do. But, I’m loath to be so self-indulgent, and only use the Senseo brewer when I have guests. For daily coffee in the U.S., I recommend Yuban. You can purchase a two-and-a quarter pound can of Yuban Original Colombian Coffee for about $5.00 US. It smells heavenly–even more so than Chock-Full-O’Nuts in New York claims to do. I like to percolate it in a stainless steel coffee pot. It tastes wonderful, for those who don’t like their coffee beans blackened beyond recognition Starbucks-style. Speaking of coffees available in the U.S.A., I subscribed to Gevalia Swedish coffees for twelve years until I sensed that their quality had gone down–that was just before I discovered the Senseo system. If you use powdered, non-dairy creamers, avoid Coffee-Mate. It contains aluminum (see my health section). Brands that don’t are offered at Sam’s and Wal*Mart; anywhere else, you only have to read the ingredients and see that your choice doesn’t include aluminates (popular flow-agents) of any kind.
Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ironing a Man’s Shirt
My Swedish grandmother taught me how to iron men’s shirts. Like Scandinavians of all social strata, she adored being at the ironing board. I don’t know how other people do it, but here is our system:
Flattening and folding the yoke (found under the collar at the back of shirt) at its bottom seam, iron it. You can iron-out the resultant crease later, when ironing the whole of the back.Iron the underside of the collar, then its topside, then iron a crease at the seam where it meets the shirt.
Iron the insides and outsides of the cuffs, before doing the two sleeves. Then you are ready to execute the easy parts: the two front sides and the back.
Hint: keep a spray bottle of water nearby to mist the shirt’s stubborn wrinkles, even if you have a steam iron. Spraying with water is generally safer than using the shot-of-steam feature on your iron. If do you use steam, empty the iron, refill it, and test-run for rusty water which can be difficult to remove once it is on the shirt. Do not use the highest temperature setting: crispy brown edges are for tortes, not chemises!
Besides the great feeling of accomplishment one gets finishing each shirt, it saves money which one may have spent having a cleaning outfit doing the work. There is dignity in ironing; don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
UPDATE: The very best iron that I have ever owned is this one from Panasonic. I have owned irons from Germany that cost three times as much, and each one ruined my silk clothes by dripping on them. This one is totally reliable, and costs about $30.00 US. I choose the the Japanese over the Germans here, and if given the same choice in cars, I would do the same.
Washing Your Shirts
Your shirts will last much longer if they are washed by hand and hung to dry. Don’t use so much detergent that it takes a rinsing marathon to remove it. “A little dab’ll do ya”, as the old Brylcreem jingle said. Wet the grimy, sweaty and stained spots and rub them with a bar of Zote Soap (in the absence of Zote, a bar of Octagon will do). Soak them overnight in a small tub of water, then agitate and rinse by hand, preferably. Hang to dry. If you don’t want to get hanger-marks on the shoulders, just put wash-cloths under them, over the ends of your hanger. My husband has been treating his shirts this way for decades, and some of them have lasted for twenty years. The worst thing to do, even if you wash your shirts in cold water in the gentle cycle, is to dry them in a machine–doing so will quickly degrade your shirt’s fibers. You’d be surprised at how swiftly they dry naturally, and when they are just a wee bit damp, shirts are easy to iron. Sending your expensive or custom-made shirts to the cleaners may seem luxurious, but will sound an early death-knell for them. Getting up-close and personal with your shirts will ensure that they enjoy the good, long life that their maker intended.
~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton; August, 2007

Because Swiffer-type cloths are expensive, and not re-usable after a certain point, I now use large microfiber cloths for dusting furniture and floors. They pick up just as much dust and hair as the aforementioned product. Large microfiber cloths are available in bulk at Sam’s Club, in blue, yellow, chartreuse and orange. At our last purchase, they were 15 USD for 25 of them. They’re soft and washable. Here is what I devised today for dusting floors and cars–it leaves those disposable electrostatic gadgets in the dust:

M-Jeanne’s Home-Made Microfiber Dust-Mop

Take three large microfiber cloths and lay them on top of each other, at varying angles. Center your stack of cloths over the end of an old broom/mop stick, and then, a couple of inches from the end of stick, strap them on with a tightly-pulled, heavy-duty plastic cinch (available at Sam’s and office-supply stores–alternatively, you may use a rubber band). Invert this and run it around your floor, under furniture, or over your car. Clean the mop by shaking it outdoors. You could even use a lint-brush on the cloth, then when you have enough dirty ones, wash them together in the machine. Repeat construction process after they are dry, using a fresh cinch (I use multipurpose ties/cinchos by Thomas Betts). Attach the Cloths to the Broomstick; Invert and Use Dust-Mop

Microfibre Dust-Mop and Photos Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2007

Update: I have found that a microfibre rag will adhere to a sponge-mop. Tie the ends and you will be ready to clean and polish a smooth floor with very little moisture. Fill a one-litre spray bottle with water, leaving room to add a third-cup of white vinegar and one teaspoon of lavender oil. Shake it. This is my preferred cleaning fluid. Mist the floor with it, and go over it with the dry microfibre mop until it is dry and shiny. This cleaning mist can be used on sinks and fixtures, mirrors, microwave ovens, jugs, anything that needs cleaning and shining about the house. It is also a deodorant. The scent of the lavender overpowers that of the vinegar. Careful–this method of cleaning is so easy that you may be cleaning as a hobby if you don’t temper your enthusiasm!

M-J’s Miscellaneous Hints

Keep newly-polished silver free of tarnish by storing it with a piece of aluminum foil (one of the safer uses for aluminum).

Omit the fabric-softener when washing and drying towels. It leaves a coating which reduces their absorbency. I prefer a sun-dried white cotton towel, which is excellent for an invigorating rub. Lightweight cotton towels for the kitchen and bath can all be washed in a solution of detergent and a little bleach. They dry much faster than coloured velour ones, and lend a look of sparkling cleanliness. Lightweight, white cotton towels may be bought in bulk at wholesale stores like Sam’s Club in the U.S.

To keep rarely-used garlic fresh, peel it and store it in a jar in the freezer.

Use salt in your wash-water to help remove stains.

To rid old books of odors, dust the pages with talcum powder, and let them sit for a day. Brush out the powder.

To make cake rise higher, add a half-teaspoon of white vinegar to the batter.

Use old-fashioned wooden clothespins to close bread and chip-bags. They’re cute, easier to manipulate than twist-ties, and are cheaper than chip-clips.

To remove red and burgundy wines from tablecloths after dinner parties, wash them immediately afterwards in the machine, with the laundry detergent of your choice, in hot water with the addition of a half-cup of white vinegar and perhaps some table salt. This routine has always worked for me.

Conserving Candle Wax
I have noticed a jump in candle-prices. Many candles are unusable before their wax disappears. Then, you may have a considerable amount of unused candle wax which could go to waste. I save old candle wax, scented or plain, and when I have enough of it, I melt it in an old pan and pour it into a container into which I have put a standing wick. Then I have a new candle. The wicks can be purchased at crafts stores.
Keep defunct candles in a plastic bag until you have enough to melt. A plain metal pot is best, and I recommend melting wax together from similarly colored candles. Shown are stubs from beeswax tapers and a yellow pillar candle. Old wicks and metal anchors for them are not a problem; just use a metal ladle to transfer hot wax, omitting the debris. Caution: don’t melt used candles in a microwave oven–there will likely be a metal wick or anchor in it.

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