Vinegar vets share tips

I've been getting a big response to this morning's column about using vinegar to clean.

One caller wanted to know if he could use it on grout -- yes.

Another asked about marble -- no, it will stain the stone.

One woman said she uses vinegar after washing her rugs to remove any soap residue.

Another just wanted to call and chat. She's had it with toxic chemicals. She thinks the stuff our grandmothers used is best, and that we should all return to their wisdom.  Speaking of which: a good remedy for indigestion, she said, is a bit of baking soda. Her mother used to pour some in her hand a lick it.

A 67-year-old man who called -- and who miraculously does all the family cleaning! -- says he uses vinegar full-strength on wood floors, and they gleam beautifully.

The topic comes up because Heinz has introduced a new vinegar, a stronger version the company is calling cleaning vinegar.

It sounded really interesting. But for some inexplicable reason, I had to badger the company repeatedly to get an interview. A publicist even requested written questions, which is more what you'd expect from someone who's been indicted, not someone who's trying to sell a product. Repeatedly, I was told the "Heinz team" -- an entire team?! -- was working on my request to talk to an informed human being.

Even when I got to talk to someone, the publicist cautioned me the conversation would not be about the scientific aspects of vinegar. In this $11.6 billion global company with more than 35,000 employees worldwide, I was informed that no one would be available to explain how and why it works. Go figure.

So, I apologize for not having more information from the company for the column. But, fortunately, Canada saved the day with an explanation. Here's a link to the report from the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health.

Long ago, my father-in-law gave me a book, "Vinegar: 1001 practical household uses." It's a goldmine of information. But you can find 1001 tips here as well:

And here are more sites with more information and tips:

For those into more technical aspects, epidemiologist Wiliam Rutala of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and colleagues published this paper about the effectiveness of hosehold disinfectants -- including vinegar.

Here's another paper that found vinegar could be used as a low-cost way to inactivate the flu virus.