When I was growing up, the small town where I lived was home to a vinegar plant. I don’t mean a plant that grew vinegar. This was a factory where vinegar is made.

Those were the days before anyone had invented political correctness, and without even a thought, people selected colorful words to describe things they didn’t like. This part of town was always blanketed in the stench of fermenting corn in the process of becoming distilled vinegar. The poor people who took residence in that section of town could not avoid the stigma of being known as living in “Goose Nibble.” (Even after a little research, I still have no idea how it got that name.)

Perhaps the agony of holding my breath for half a mile while riding my bike through the far end of town is what created in me a long-standing disdain for vinegar. Whatever the case, I completely avoided, ignored and turned up my nose at its acidic qualities for most of my life.

It wasn’t until a few years ago, that I finally realized one of the many, many amazingly wonderful powers of one of the most stinky liquids money can buy. I was having a horrible problem with one of my children throwing very loud and unending temper tantrums. I read in a parenting book that I should try to think of a punishment that fit that crime. For example, any childhood breach involving one’s mouth could be penalized in a way that would remind the child to use his vocal cords for good.

It only took a few drops of vinegar on a washcloth (followed by a very large glass of water) to get the point across. To this day, our children will immediately change their behavior if I even so much as open the cabinet where we keep the vinegar.

Since then, I have learned that vinegar can solve a multitude of problems in our lives.

Not only can you use it in salad, a cup in the washing machine will take the mildew smell out of laundry.

You can use it to clean the dishwasher or coffee maker.

Apple cider vinegar will remove a wart almost overnight.

I have recently started using a solution involving vinegar to clean nearly every hard surface in my house. Heat up one cup of vinegar and mix it with one cup of Dawn dishwashing liquid to clean the shower, sink, microwave or anything else you can think of. It will make surfaces shine! But the best part is that I can give a big bowl of it to my girls with some sponges and they will happily clean without me having to worry they will ruin their clothes or inhale harmful chemicals.

I have started buying vinegar in the large one-gallon container. When in doubt, I try vinegar. And I know I must be going crazy, but its putrid, fermenting smell actually seems like a fresh, clean scent when I’m done. I’m not quite ready to go shopping for a vinegar-scented candle, but I’m getting there.

I’m really not a very good house cleaner, but after discovering the wonders of vinegar, I started investigating a few other household products that are equally as amazing. One is baking soda. It can take bad smells out of mattresses. (We’ve potty trained three children, going on four!) Freshen a load of laundry. Clean the dishwasher. And yet, it’s still edible!

But the most amazing of all is the Magic Eraser. I’ve used the Magic Eraser for several years to clean marks off of walls, light switch covers and door handles. But only recently did I find out that its magical superpowers can erase all that ails a bathtub and shower. No more scrubbing the shower tiles with an old toothbrush!

The only thing that bothers me about the Magic Eraser is that I don’t know where it gets its magic. I definitely don’t think I will be using it to bake cookies or make a salad anytime soon, like baking soda and vinegar.

So, in honor of vinegar and other household cleaning aids, let’s all give a cheer to my hometown. And let me just say that Goose Nibble is OK in my book. I’m now doing my part to keep that little fermenting factory in business.

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What about you? What is your favorite cleaning product? Do you have any secret home cleaning solutions that really work? Do you love vinegar as much as I do?

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