It would be difficult to find a household in the United States that does not contain at least one bottle of vinegar. Indeed, this strong-tasting liquid, which comes in many varieties but is primarily made from acetic acid and water, has been considered an essential ingredient in food preparation for centuries. Aside from being a condiment, it was used to pickle vegetables, make vinaigrette and other salad dressings, and flavor sauces such as ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. It was even used as an ingredient in certain beverages such as posca, a sour wine that was popular in Ancient Greece and Rome.
Despite its popularity in food preparation, however, vinegar was revered first and foremost as a cleaning agent. In fact, before the advent of chemical cleaning products, vinegar – which usually contains at least four percent acidity, and is a proven antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial – was one of Europe’s cheapest and most effective household cleaners. It still is cheap and effective, of course, and remains an excellent natural alternative to the toxic cleaning products found in most supermarkets.