What NOT to clean with vinegar

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We all know there’s 1001+ uses for vinegar, a large percentage of them as a budget-friendly alternative to cleaning products. These have become very popular in an age when people are more averse to using chemicals, and are looking for natural organic solutions. There are instances, however, when you shouldn’t clean with vinegar.

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First, if you clean with vinegar, it should never be mixed with certain products. The acid can react with other chemicals. This can be harmful to surface materials and, more importantly, to your health!

So, what should you not clean with vinegar?

Computer monitors, TV and phone screens:

These have an oleophobic (oil repellent) coating. The acetic acid in vinegar will remove this protective layer. The screen will then be less resistant to fingerprints and much harder to keep clean

Floors, worktops and surfaces made from natural materials:

Stone, granite and marble can be etched, and also erode, with acid. Regular use of vinegar will eventually result in a pitted or grooved surface

Wood finishes, wax or sealants are broken down by the acid leaving them dull and discoloured. The resulting unprotected wood may then swell from any further contact with liquid

Tile grout:

Vinegar penetrates porous materials like grout and corrodes it. Only clean with vinegar if the surface is sealed on a regular basis


Vinegar actually dissolves pearls, or anything containing calcium carbonate

Descaling appliances:

Although vinegar is widely used to descale kettles, it should not be used for the same purpose in steam irons or other similar appliances. The acid can damage the interior parts of the machine

Carpets and fabrics:

Vinegar may mask odours for a time but won’t work as an enzymatic cleaner. It won’t eliminate the source of the smell whether pet pee, sour milk or mould

Vinegar can be used neat to remove some stains, but not on any fabrics which may have previously been treated with a bleach or chlorine based product

Mixing vinegar with baking soda creates a fun fizzing action. It leads us to believe that this must be a good thing for cleaning purposes. However, this reaction actually breaks it down to…..salt water!

Although vinegar can kill bacteria and cut through grime this is only really true when used at full strength. Putting a capful or a cup of vinegar in a gallon of water won’t do much, It certainly won’t decrease the elbow grease required!

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