Guest Article & Giveaway From Author Of ‘Clean Body:The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing Yourself’.


May 5, 2009

This giveaway is now closed.This is a guest post by Michael DeJong, Author of Clean Body:The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing Yourself. You can win a copy of this book by checking out the end of this post.

May:Vinegar Month

Although the fine folks in Roslyn, South Dakota hold an International Vinegar Festival in June, May is actually National Vinegar Month. However, if you do make it to Roslyn in time, you’ll see a mighty fine small-town parade consisting of the Roslyn marching band, children dressed as pickles, the Roslyn Firefighters (in my opinion — the best part), the guy who mows all of the municipal lawns (okay, he’s pretty swell too), horse drawn carriages, tractors, tractors and yet even more tractors and the Day County Veterans being pulled by — yes — a John Deere tractor. The festivities also include the crowning of the Royal Vinegar Court (a sour looking lot), cooking demonstrations and food at the nation’s only Vinegar Museum.

Vinegar, from the French translation meaning “sour wine,” can be produced from all kinds fruits, berries, melons, coconut, honey, beer, maple syrup, potatoes, beets, malt, grains and whey. But the fundamental process remains unchanged no matter what the initial ingredients may be — first a fermentation of sugar to alcohol, and then a second go-round to vinegar. Viola! Acetic acid (aka vinegar) is born.

Whether rice, red wine, distilled white, aged balsamic or apple cider, the overwhelming essence of vinegar, to most of us, is always the same — sharp, tart and biting. But compared one to another, the subtle and not-so-subtle flavors are very different and are as varied as fine and not-so-fine wines are.

Vinegar has been around for millennia, and every faith, it seems, parables references to it, whether it be Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism or Christianity. When and how their deity or followers responded to the tangy flavor of vinegar was then metaphorically used as a symbolic view of life and its situations.

The ancients stumbled upon the versatility of vinegar probably 10,000 years ago. The Babylonians used it as medicine, and also mixed it with herbs to flavor their meals. The Romans drank it as a beverage. Cleopatra dissolved pearls in it to prove she could devour a fortune in a single meal. (Ladies, please do not try this at home!) Biblical references show how it was used for its soothing and healing properties and yet as recent as World War I, vinegar was still being used to treat wounds in the battlefields.

Susan B. Anthony, referred to as the “vinegar” of the Female Suffrage movement was aggressive, ebullient, frisky, spunky, a fighter, and a no-nonsense kinda woman, who displayed all the classic traits of being full of “piss and vinegar.” The earliest citation of that term, however, is from 1938 in John Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath:

Vinegar? Why am I writing about vinegar? Well . . . not because it’s new-fangled, or is in any way ultra-modern. And it can’t be confused for something that’s state-of-the-art, or attempts to be up-to-the-minute or high-tech. But what it is, is a highly affordable and super-safe eco-cleaning staple we should all get familiar with. Distilled white vinegar easily neutralizes alkaline soaps, effortlessly breaks down stubborn urine odors, quickly polishes patent leather, instantly removes static cling from clothing, flawlessly cleans mirrors and glass, simply deodorizes the air, effortlessly polishes chrome, carefully removes soap scum and hard water spots, dependably cleans your automatic drip coffee maker and, in a pinch, even lifts accidentally spilled white glue. This 10,000 year-old elixir is a modern-day cleaning miracle!

It’s said, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” So be a sweetie and just simply clean with the sour stuff. Store it in a sealed container full strength, dilute it 50/50 with water in a recycled spray bottle for everyday use, or mix 1 tablespoon in 1 quart of water in another recycled sprayer for a great window cleaner. There is never a need for refrigeration. Vinegar’s shelf life is eternal.

Don’t find yourself in a pickle by letting Vinegar Month pass you by. There are 1,001 uses for it other than dressing a salad — so why not invent the 1,002nd eco-friendly way to celebrate vinegar for yourself.

For more eco-Clean tips by Michael DeJong (aka Ask Mr. Green) go to .

DeJong and Joost Elffers are generously donating all of the royalties from each of the books in the Clean Series to the OneCleanWorld Foundation. a philanthropic, not-for-profit organization that supports environmental projects worldwide with grants, technical assistance and/or microfinancing.

This giveaway is now closed.So…want to win a copy of Clean Body:The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing Yourself by Michael DeJong? I bet you do. All you have to do is leave a comment (be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win) about a way you have gone green at home, and you will be entered to win the book. A random number generator will be used to select the winner out of all comments. The contest is open to US residents who have not won anything from The Good Human in the last 60 days, and it closes on May 7th at 12noon MST. Winner will be notified by email. Good luck!


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  1. Ever trying go greener, I went out to buy stakes for my tomato plants…but I wanted the cheap, wooden ones, not the big ol’ honkin’ metal cages…..My search turned up zero wooden stakes, and as I watched my plants tilt over during the evening watering, I looked around and noticed some dead sticks and appropriately small tree limbs on the ground. Talk about an A-Ha moment! My garden now looks about as rustic as they come, with the branches all twisting this way and that, but holding my ‘maters straight up!



  2. we use vinegar around the house all the time, and lemons with coarse salt for tough kitchen messes – cleaning with old, holey towels that we’ve turned into rags! my parents used to do that all the time, and it was called being “resourceful”. they were green the whole time & never knew it.

  3. I’m thinking I need to make my own vinegar…I love cleaning with the stuff!

    Like Cate, I’m doing composting, growing veggies, and trying to use green cleaning products. Newest problem is a mouse in our pantry! Too bad vinegar won’t scare it away…

  4. Recent green changes: cloth diapers, make our own cleaning products, raised bed gardens, and righteous composting. I’ve always composted, but now we’re making a science out of it.
    Also, I’ve made it my business to write about green parenting, without being too gloom and doom or shrill about it. 😉

  5. Sounds like an interesting book. I’ve been using vinegar to clean the grout on my tile and to help neutralize the smell on my cloth diapers.

  6. I adored this article about as much as I absolutely love vinegar!! I could probably drink the stuff straight if I weren’t afraid of the negative effect on my stomach 😉 I now use vinegar on my counters, hair (the most amazing conditioner ever!), and my laundry. Thanks for the great read!

  7. I’ve found vinegar and baking soda to be household staples. We’ve tried to do a bit with essential oils as well (baking soda and a few drops of oil put in a blender makes for a great cleaning powder…)

  8. We use cloth diapers and wipes, reusable bags, I eat a high raw foods diet and have all but taken meat out of my diet. We are currently converting over half of our backyard into a garden (I’m growing about 97 varieties of edible plants this year!) with plans to turn the front yard into an herb garden, eliminating all but a small patch of grass for the dogs. We are a one car family and stive to live simply, buying second-hand, when at all possible. All small steps, but they add up! We have dreams to do so much more, and we will certainly get there in time!

  9. I’ve switched to CFLs, purchased a share in a local organic CSA farm, have switched to eating vegetarian or raw whenever possible and have enrolled in my electric utility’s renewable energy generation program. I have also switched to another car that doubles my gas mileage. Switched outlets and power strips are great too.

  10. Like many already listed we are growing a garden, we compost, use reusable bags for shopping, and that is all shopping. I use a steam mop so I need no cleansers on my floors, but there is one green thing that we practice that I do not hear much about. Reusing plastic produce & bulk food bags when shopping.

    Plastic bags are washable and FREE, which is a wonderful thing when you consider how expensive the trendy produce bags run. When a bag has lived a good long life, it goes into a even larger bag to be taken to Walmart since it’s the only place in my area who will recycle plastic bags of all kinds, even plastic wrap if it’s clean!

    It seems such a small thing, but one that adds up.

  11. Been cleaning with vinegar for years! Used it as a kiddo on swimteam to get chlorine smell out of hair. Deodorized diapers with it 20 years ago. Now deodorizing new puppy piddles, along with general cleaning.

    When rinsing lettuce, add a tblspn to the water bath for a moment to get off any residual ickies (even w/ organic lettuce).

  12. Clean with vinegar and baking soda, have been a vegetarian for 10 years, switched to cfl’s, and am car free – I haven’t even driven one in 10+ years. We also used cloth diapers when my kid was a baby.


  13. We have used cloth diapers since my daughter’s birth, recycle as much as we can, and use reusable grocery bags.
    Great article on vinegar =)

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