The Greatest (or Silliest) Home Tips Story Ever Told

by Bill Primavera

The Home Guru

You may find this either the greatest or silliest story ever told about home tips. You’re free to choose which. It’s about a substance that may be the single-most valuable natural household remedy in the universe:  vinegar, yes, vinegar.

But there’s a back story I must first share, one of those mother-in-law tales, but one of great respect.

My mother-in-law passed away at 92 years of age, but I always expected her to live until at least 120.  She was the first person I ever met who was into all-natural, all-green living in every way, from never eating anything that wasn’t from the earth, and preferably organically grown, to composting her kitchen scraps. And she was doing all this years before it became fashionable.

Mamyte, as I called her in her native tongue, was born on a farm in Lithuania where her family had their own cows, sheep and chickens and most of what she ate came from her own land.  When she married a university professor and army officer, she became a more sophisticated city girl and lived in Vilnius in a fashionable apartment, complete with maid.

But World War II upended her life and she had to leave her native land with nothing but some clothes and photographs, and a baby who grew up to become my wife. She did not know whether she would ever be reunited with her husband who had been taken as a prisoner of war. 

She did finally reunite with him in Germany and was able to immigrate to America where, rather than employing a maid, she became a maid herself while her husband found his first job as a hotel porter.  But they both learned English and found good jobs before they retired to Cape Cod.

Mamyte was a wonderful cook and hostess who had taken courses at the equivalent to the Cordon Bleu in Lithuania, and she had also absorbed some wonderful tips about ways to live better and healthier.

Whenever she visited us, staying for a week at a time, she always recommended home-made remedies, and more often than not, they included the use of vinegar.

When she was with us, I was aware that each morning she would drink a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with water. She claimed that it prevented wrinkles, and sure enough, she had none, even into her late 80s. She also rinsed her hair with it, but really got busy with vinegar when it came to household cleaning.

It was her miracle product, and indeed I found that it worked well with all the applications she recommended. She obviously knew that vinegar is a strong killer of bacteria, mold and germs. She would always keep a spray bottle of straight white distilled vinegar handy to clean her cutting board and the sink.

Once when she stayed at our home with our daughter while my wife and I traveled to Europe, we were surprised to learn upon our return that she had cleaned all of our windows, inside and out, with a mix of two tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water, dispensed with a spray bottle. The real trick, she told us, was to scrub the sprayed windows with newspaper, not paper towels, which can cause streaking.

Through the years, it seemed that I was always bumping into more and more uses for vinegar to add to Mamyte’s list.  In truth, vinegar is not a miracle substance, but simply acetic acid, something discovered accidentally in ancient times from some wine gone sour. But it can originate in many other products such as corn, many fruits, and grains.

Used straight, it cuts grease no matter where it might be found, from kitchen counter tops to the insides of ovens. And combined with other products, such as baking soda, it makes a great scouring cleanser.

It can even be used outside where, for instance, it can deter cats from doing their business in the garden or in the sandbox because they hate the smell of vinegar

Thinking that I had become somewhat of an expert on vinegar, I was humbled when I recently found a website called which boasts 1001, count ‘em, 1001 different tips for using vinegar. Certainly that makes my list seem paltry, so I’ll refer you to the website for more cool – and cleansing ideas.

When I discovered the site, I remember thinking to myself that it’s a wonder they don’t claim that vinegar cures cancer too. And then I found that, sure enough, there are sites that claim vinegar is credited with preventing certain types of cancer.

But before we set out to cure the world with vinegar, try it with a little elbow grease to keep any area of your home clean and green.

Bill Primavera is a licensed Realtor® affiliated with Coldwell Banker and a lifestyles journalist. Visit his website at: and, if you would like to consult with him about buying or selling a home, contact him directly at 914-522-2076.