IN olden times before the advent of super household cleaners, vinegar was a staple item in many homes. As seen from the following list, it has many uses (and is not too expensive). From shower heads to soapy heads, copper to microwaves, vinegar (especially distilled white vinegar) is a versatile and environmentally safe option. > MICROWAVE: Boil a solution of ¼ cup of white distilled vinegar and one cup of water in the microwave until steam forms on the window. Wipe away food residue. > COPPER, BRASS AND PEWTER CLEANER: To remove tarnish, apply a mixture of one teaspoon of salt, ½ cup of white distilled vinegar and enough flour to make a paste. Apply to the metal and allow it to stand for 15 minutes. Rinse with clean water and polish with soft, dry cloth. > SHOWER DOORS: To prevent soap scum build-up, wipe shower doors with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar. No need to rinse. > CLOGGED SHOWER HEAD: Use vinegar to dissolve mineral build-up in shower heads. Add a cup of vinegar to a plastic storage bag. Position the bag so that the shower head sits in the vinegar. Allow it to soak overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and turn on the shower to rinse. > BOILING A CRACKED EGG: When boiling a cracked egg, add vinegar to the water, about two teaspoons to a quart of water. > TO SOFTEN A PAINT BRUSH: Soak the paintbrush in hot white distilled vinegar until the brush softens. Then wash with warm, soapy water. > CLOTHES RINSE: Remove dingy soap and detergent residue in clothes by adding one cup of white distilled vinegar to the final rinse. To remove soap residue from heavier blankets and quilts, add two cups of vinegar to the final rinse. > DEODORANT AND ANTIPERSPIRANT STAINS: Rub the underarm areas of white or light-coloured clothing with white distilled vinegar then wash as usual. If stain remains after washing, retreat the area with vinegar and place garment in the sun. > UNCLOG STEAM IRON: To dissolve mineral residue in steam irons, pour equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water into the water reservoir. Turn the iron to the steam setting and allow it to steam for five minutes in an upright position. Unplug and cool the iron. Empty the reservoir and the dissolved minerals. > CLEAN A SCORCHED IRON BOTTOM: Heat equal parts white distilled vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rub mixture onto the bottom of a cooled iron to remove scorch marks. > CLEAN MOST SURFACES: Mix one part vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle and use it to clean sinks, counters, shower walls, mirrors, and windows (wipe glass with newspaper instead of paper towels to minimise streaking). > DISINFECT WOOD CUTTING BOARDS: Don’t mix vinegar with water for this one. Simply wipe with plain vinegar to disinfect wood cutting boards and neutralise odors. > STOP ANTS: Washing counters and floors with vinegar will keep ants away. > UNCLOG DRAINS: Sprinkle 1/4 cup of baking soda into your drain, then add 1/4 cup of vinegar. Wait for the mixture to bubble up, then rinse with water.