Triplicate Staff

I was a little girl when I came in before supper, spotted a glass of apple juice on the table, and quickly took a big gulp while Gram wasn't looking.

Unfortunately, the apple juice turned out to be apple cider vinegar, which led to choking, gagging, gasping and getting busted. The rest of the family enjoyed it, and the incident became part of the family folklore.

I thought of that incident just the other day while making up a batch of all-purpose cleaner by pouring half a cup of vinegar into an old dish soap container and adding a quart of water. That quart of cleaning solution can be used full strength to wipe down doorways and appliances that you're likely to tackle now that the weather is driving us in. You might want to dilute it a bit when you put it in a spray bottle to use on windows.

We hear about spring cleaning, but virtually everyone I know does

their major cleaning this time of year. We want the house nice and clean

for family and visitors during the holiday season, when we're most

likely to entertain indoors. In the spring, I'm outta here as fast as

the weather permits, and House is lucky to get a lick and a promise.

There are a lot of reasons for using vinegar for cleaning. It's

certainly inexpensive! It's found in virtually every store, and it's

non-toxic, which is a big issue. Every year more than 80,000 children

are treated in emergency rooms for accidental poisoning, and over half

the cases are related to household cleansers. Vinegar not only won't

poison us, it'll practically cure a rainy day. When I wash it down the

sink, it helps create a healthy environment for the bacteria that keep

my septic system working properly.

While vinegar has been used for thousands of years, it was French

biologist Louis Pasteur who discovered how it was created less than 200

years ago. Before that, wine went sour and vinegar happened. Pasteur

discovered that bacteria in the air fell into wine left open, worked its

invisible bacterial magic, and vinegar was born.

Vinegar can be made from anything that has fermented, from grapes to

rice to potatoes, but it's apple cider vinegar that has more health

benefits than any other sort. A couple tablespoons in rinse water makes

hair shiny. Patted on skin, it closes pores and helps cure acne.

Apple is rich in protein and carbohydrates and contains many

essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sodium. In

the fermentation process, none of these are destroyed, so apple cider

vinegar keeps all the qualities of the apple.

We all want our homes sweet, clean and welcoming, especially during

the coming season. We'll be indoors, we'll be entertaining, we'll be

cooking fragrant foods and generally trying to show our homes and

ourselves in the best possible light. Using vinegar as your primary

cleanser is a good, safe start.

Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at