what not to clean with vinegar

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Vinegar is an amazing thing to use for household cleaning, but there are some things you should stay away from when cleaning with vinegar. Follow this guide on what not to clean with vinegar to keep your belongings from getting ruined.

I love Vinegar as a cleaning agent, in fact I use it often in my own home. I do prefer Method cleaners, and the occasional lysol wipes for disinfecting, but vinegar has been a staple for many years.

The thing I love most about using vinegar as a cleaner is that it’s not toxic to my pets and kids. There are many non-toxic cleaners out there for that though and you don’t need to use vinegar to keep a green home.

*This post contains affiliate links. Full disclosure here.

One word of caution when it comes to using Vinegar for cleaning…
Mixing vinegar and bleach can produce dangerous gasses that are harmful to the human body and can cause immediate reactions.

You should always be aware of the products you are using in your home, whether it is for cleaning, eating or playing with. Being aware of the things you use around your house will help your family stay healthy and safe.

Vinegar Doesn’t Clean Everything

While I have a post on things that you can clean with vinegar, there are so many things that you simply should not clean with vinegar.

You can certainly remove soap scum from your shower door with vinegar, because vinegar is acidic and it eats away at that hard water. If it can eat away at hard water stains on your shower door, imagine what else it can eat away at and potentially damage.

Marble Countertops

Do not use vinegar on marble countertops because even one use of acidic substances on marble can cause the surface to become dull. in fact, avoid Windex and bleach on marble as well. Also, avoid using abrasive cleaners and pads because marble can be scratched. It is an expensive part of the home, so you should be extra careful when caring for marble.

You actually don’t need special cleaners for marble countertops at all, simply use hot water and mild soap and a microfiber cloth or soft sponge. You can remove all the dirt and grime on a marble countertop while avoiding scratching or etching the surface when you use a soft and non abrasive sponge or cloth.

If you spilled something on your marble countertop and have created a stain, try rubbing hydrogen peroxide mixed with a few drops of ammonia on it. Ammonia is very acidic, so just add a few drops to the hydrogen peroxide. A little dab will do ya.

If you have etching problems on your marble countertop then you can use a marble polishing powder to buff it out.

Granite Countertops

You want to wash your granite countertops with simple hot water and soap as well and avoid any acidic cleaners such as vinegar, windex and bleach to avoid damage.

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To remove stubborn stains off of Granite countertops, you can try gently using a razor blade and scratching off the stain.

Here is a helpful video showing you how to clean granite countertops properly.

This is the cleaner I use to clean granite countertops, from my favourite cleaner line.

Washing Machines

I’m sure you have heard of the advice to add 1 cup of vinegar to your load of towels to keep them smelling fresh and feeling extra fluffy. Giving new life to your towels is great, but it could mean taking some life away from your washing machine. Vinegar can actually damage the rubber seals in the hoses in some washing machines which can cause leaks.

This can lead to additional damage to the home, which you can avoid and maybe have towels that aren’t as fluffy as you like.

Vinegar is not very useful when removing stains that have already set in such as food and blood stains, so other than making towels fluffy, it’s quite useless in the washing machine.

Avoid using vinegar in the washing machine altogether despite popular advice.

Kitchen Knives

It’s popular advice to soak knives in vinegar to remove rust stains, but you may want to avoid the vinegar if the knives aren’t rusty but are simply dirty. Use hot water and dish soap to remove dirt from your kitchen knives and wipe them well before putting them away into your knife block. Leaving them to dry on a tabletop drying tray is fine as well.

Dishwasher

Just as vinegar can ruin a washing machine, it can ruin a dishwasher too. The rubber seals in particular are the main culprit that gets damaged by the vinegar. While using the vinegar in the washing machine once or twice won’t cause much damage, if any at all, using it over time can damage all the rubber parts and pieces inside the machine. Keep your dishwasher running smoothly by avoiding cleaning it with vinegar, and using simple soap and water to wash it out regularly.

Screens

It is popular advice to wipe screens with vinegar, but it’s a big no-no and is definitely one of those what not to clean with vinegar items. Computer, TV, cell phones and other device screens have a protective coating on them which vinegar can eat away at, leaving your device damaged.

Instead, grab a clean and dry microfiber cloth and wipe away the dirt and grime on your screen. You could use rubbing alcohol to clean your screens if you are in a pinch, but it’s best to purchase a screen cleaner to regularly wipe the screens in your home and minimize the dust build-up.

All Rubber

Vinegar eats away at rubber materials so avoid washing anything that has rubber on it with vinegar. Try simple hot water and soap to wash anything rubber, and if the stain is really tough, add in baking soda.

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Iron

Descaling your clothing iron with vinegar is recommended by some manufactures, however, if your manufacturer does not recommend it in the manual, avoid avoid avoid. Most clothing irons have a protective coating on the inside chamber and the vinegar can eat away at it, causing damage. To cut down on future scale buildup, use only distilled water in the reservoir and empty it out after every use. Some irons even have a self-clean option!

Hardwood Floors

Washing hardwood floors should be a weekly task for every homeowner, and it should be done with a proper floor cleaner instead of a vinegar solution. Use your spin mop and your favourite pet safe floor cleaner to wash your hardwood floors. Hardwood floors are one of the most important things on the list of what not to clean with vinegar.

Some manufacturers will void warranty if there is any sign on the flooring that vinegar was used for cleaning. Vinegar can strip off the protective coating on the floors, so it can be easy to tell if you washed the flooring with vinegar, even if you diluted it water.

Grout

Grout is a tricky one because you can use vinegar on grout if your grout is nice and strong, however, if your grout is deteriorating away then it’s best to skin the vinegar. Try my homemade grout cleaner if you have grout that needs cleaning in your home. If you have seen the tutorials all over the internet about using Clorox to bleach your grout, that’s fine to do once or twice, but repeated use of bleach and other cleaners with acid can cause irreparable damage to your tiles which can get expensive.

Egg Mess

If you made a mess with raw eggs, use a wash cloth with hot water and dish soap to clean it up instead of vinegar. The vinegar will actually create a more sticky, harder to clean up mess and will leave you frustrated.

Metal Surfaces

It’s ok to wash down baking soda and vinegar down your drain in a pinch, but doing so often can damage your sink and drain pipes. (if they are metal like in older homes) Using vinegar often to clean your kitchen sink can also cause damage. Instead, try baking soda and dish soap to wipe your sink down everyday.

Grease

Vinger doesn’t work on grease. Period. If you have a greasy surface, try baking soda, or even salt to get rid of it. Good old dishwasher soap and hot water works well with grease a swell.

When I’m cooking dinner and I end up with a greasy baking pan, I sprinkle salt all over it, then add a dash of dish soap and some hot water and let it sit for 5 minutes before washing it out. This makes it really simple to clean the grease dish and makes my daily kitchen cleaning more tolerable.

Pearls

Vinegar will actually dissolve pearls, so you’ll want to avoid cleaning your pearls with vinegar altogether. Pearls consist of calcium carbonate like limestone, which when combined with an acid like vinegar is simply dissolves.

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Use Vinegar With Caution

Now this article can seem a little scary with lots of red tape and no, no no’s when it comes to vinegar, but it’s not all bad news.

There are some surfaces that are fine to clean with vinegar if cleaned sparingly and in small amounts. Wood, stone and grout can get damaged from acid cleaners but diluting vinegar with water can make it an ok cleaning agent once in a while. Use your best judgement when cleaning with vinegar, and keep those above things in mind when it comes to rubber, grout, granite, marble and hardwood.

Vinegar For Killing Germs

To use vinegar to kill germs, you have to leave the solution on your surface for 15 minutes before it works as a disinfectant. That’s quite a long time to leave a cleaner on a surface, especially an acidic one like vinegar. It is better to use a proper disinfectant such as Lysol and only wait 1-2 minutes for the solution to take effect and properly disinfect your surface.

DIY Vinegar Cleaning Recipe

For those things that you do want to clean with vinegar but don’t love the smell of plain white vinegar, try this recipe.

What you need:
Orange peels
White vinegar
Jars
Spray bottle

What to do:

To make your diy vinegar cleaning solution simply peel your oranges and place your orange peels into an empty jar like a mason jar or an old glass jar from spaghetti sauce. Fill your jar with white distilled vinegar and place your jar in a dark cool place for 2 weeks. When your two weeks are up, simply pour the solution into a spray bottle, a glass one works best, and go and clean your home. Avoid the things mentioned above to keep your material from getting damaged.

Vinegar And Cleaning

I really like vinegar as a multipurpose cleaner, and use it in my home often, but not really daily. I like the method cleaners the best for my kitchen, bathroom and really all areas of my home. Keep in mind that when we clean we do not want to remove all bacteria and germs from the home. It is healthy for our immune systems to be exposed to some common germs and not everything requires disinfecting all the time. We do want to keep a clean, fresh-smelling and safe home for our families.

Method cleaners are my go-to when cleaning the home. I like them because they have a special cleaner for all areas of the home, as well as an all-purpose cleaner. I use it in my bathroom, kitchen and common living areas too. It has a great smell, my favourite is the grapefruit. It makes me feel good using a green cleaner like Method.

So, this is one reason I really like vinegar as a multipurpose cleaner for daily use. We do not want to kill the microbes and bacteria that our body uses to be healthy. We do want to keep our surfaces clean, odor-free, and safe. In some cases, adding baking soda to your vinegar can help aid your cleaning.

Things You Should Never, Ever Clean with Vinegar. Multipurpose, but not all-purpose.

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