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Vinegar Should Never Be Used to Clean These Items

Vinegar has remarkable disinfectant and odor-removing properties, which is exactly why it has been used as a cleaning agent for generations. Apart from that, vinegar has many other domestic uses that range from cooking to skincare, and this explains why all of us probably have a bottle of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar stashed somewhere in our pantry.
I myself have been using vinegar as a natural cleaning alternative for years, adding it into the laundry to make garments smell fresher and wiping down the counters and furniture with a solution of water and vinegar. To my surprise, by far not every surface and material can handle vinegar, as it turns out. Since vinegar is an acid, it can slowly but steadily break down and damage things like granite or marble kitchen counters, tile grout, and even rubber, to name a few.
To share this important information with you, I’ve listed 11 common home surfaces and other items that should never be cleaned with vinegar and why.

1. Some dishwashers and washing machines

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar dishwasher
Adding vinegar to refresh the dishwasher or simply make glass kitchenware sparkling clean is something many of us do, but not all dishwashers can handle the vinegar. This is because many dishwashers have rubber seals that can be degraded by the vinegar. Over time, the damage could even lead to leaks. Other home appliances, such as washing machines, refrigerators, and ovens likewise contain rubber parts, and therefore, you should avoid cleaning these parts with vinegar. As Steven Grayson, a home appliance repair expert told Consumer Reports: “With continual use, vinegar can literally melt hoses, causing leaks and thereby possibly all kinds of additional damage to the house.” 
Not all types of rubber are susceptible to damage, though, as appliances that are made using natural rubber, fluorocarbon, ethylene-propylene, silicone, and butyl synthetic rubber are generally safe to combine with vinegar. In addition, the water added during the washing cycle usually dilutes the vinegar, so refreshing the dishwasher or washing machine once in a while with vinegar may still be safe, but don't let it sit on the surface and clean all the rubber parts thoroughly with water afterward.

2. Knives

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar knife
When metal is exposed to acid, any kind of acid, it leads to corrosion and often irreversible damage and dulls down the knife. Since vinegar is an acid, it shouldn't be used to clean knives. Instead, experts recommend washing your knives with a simple solution of dish soap and warm water, followed by a thorough rinse with more water and a quick towel-dry. This way, your knives will serve you for decades and will stay sharp much longer.

3. Egg spills

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar broken egg on table
Vinegar is the last thing you want to clean up egg spills with because it's just ineffective and will only end up making matters worse. “Cleaning egg messes with a vinegar solution will cause the protein enzymes in the egg to coagulate and will make the stains even more impossible to clean up,” Lily Cameron, a cleaning professional told Reader's Digest. So, if you accidentally dropped an egg on the floor, simply pick up as much of the spill as you can with a paper towel, and clean up the rest of the mess with some soap and water instead.

4. Granite and marble surfaces

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar woman cleaning granite counter

Stone surfaces are extremely widespread these days. After all, countertops, floors, sinks, and stairs made of marble, granite, and soapstone are highly valued for their looks, durability, and strength. They are also quite pricy, so the last thing you want is to damage them. Unfortunately, all of the above-mentioned stone surfaces have a weakness, and that weakness is acid, such as vinegar.

Over time, vinegar and other acids etch these natural stone surfaces, create pitting and scarring, and dull down the shiny and smooth finish of the stone. So, if you want to keep that expensive marble counter as glossy as new, avoid cleaning it with vinegar. In fact, experts say that even some highly acidic foods, such as citrus fruit and tomatoes, for example, can wear away the polish, so make sure to always use a cutting board when working with these foods and clean up any spills immediately.

Cameron shared the following recipe of a safe cleaner for stone surfaces, “a safer cleaning solution is to use a mixture made of 5 drops of dish soap, 7-10 drops of rubbing alcohol, and a cup of water.” When it comes to stone floors and tiles, it's best to use a dish soap and water solution or a dedicated cleaning product.

5. Wooden furniture and floors

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar mopping wood floor
Many people swear by vinegar to remove grime and stains from wooden floors and furniture, while others claim that the very opposite is true. When it comes to cleaning experts and flooring manufacturers, though, they often warn against using vinegar as a cleaning agent. Some manufacturers will even void a warranty if they find out that vinegar was used.
This is because even very diluted vinegar can dissolve the wax finish of wooden furniture and floors, and when that is gone, the wood will start looking dull, cloudy, and is bound to become susceptible to scratches. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for cleaning wooden floors and furniture, or use a dedicated wood cleaner to stay on the safe side.


6. Irons and other small appliances

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar clothing iron
It's safe to clean most small appliances, such as irons, kettles, coffee machines, blenders, and toasters with a weak vinegar solution from time to time, but if the product doesn't use high-quality metal or has rubber parts, you should be aware that this may damage the appliance over time. 
Check the instruction manual for the appliance before you use vinegar to remove any water buildup. When in doubt, simply use a soap and water solution to clean the appliance. It's also advisable to prevent any future scale buildup by only using filtered water in the iron, kettle, or coffee machine in the future.

7. Tile

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar tile
Unfortunately, wooden and stone floors aren't the only ones that can be damaged by vinegar. Ceramic tiles and the grout in-between the tiles, too, can start to degrade if you keep using vinegar on them. Among all of the surfaces mentioned, though, ceramic tiles are the most resilient to acid damage, though, so you can likely get away with using vinegar to give the tiles that extra shine a few times a year. 
That said, the continuous use of vinegar will degrade the grout and the finish of the tiles, which will make them look dull, and is bound to make the tile more susceptible to breakage and mold over time. Therefore, it's best not to use vinegar on tiles either to prevent etching and damage. Instead, use a milder cleaner like dish soap or a dedicated tile cleaner to keep your tile sparkling clean.

8. Laundry with bleach

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar laundry washing machine turn on
Adding a dash of vinegar when cleaning a particularly smelly or stained item is something countless people swear by, but you should be really careful if you choose to use vinegar for your laundry. First of all, the continuous use of vinegar may degrade the rubber seal of the washing machine, as we've already discussed.
But there's another danger to look out for - bleach. When vinegar and bleach are mixed together, they create chlorine gas - an incredibly toxic substance. Even in small quantities, this toxic gas can cause eye and skin irritation, but if you happen to inhale more of it, it can lead to permanent lung damage and can even be deadly. Therefore, it's necessary to always check that none of the detergents you use contain bleach if you choose to use vinegar in the washing machine

9. Pet accidents

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar cat ashamed
Vinegar is excellent at getting rid of bad smells, so you might think that it's the perfect method of cleaning up any pet accidents. Admittedly, using vinegar will remove the odors you can smell, but our pets' noses are a lot more sensitive than ours... Therefore, our furry friends will still be able to sniff out the crime scene of past accidents, and will likely be tempted to mark the spot again and again. That's why pet owners and experts alike recommend using an enzymatic cleaner instead to remove all the odors.

10. Pearls

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar Pearls
If you have a necklace or any other jewelry or decoration made with natural pearls, keep it as far away from vinegar as you can. Pearls consist of a mixture of calcium carbonate, marble, and limestone. When exposed to vinegar, the pearl will start dissolving, which, as you may imagine, is not ideal. Thus, it's best to stick to water only when cleaning pearls. 

11. Electronic Screens

Things You Shouldn't Clean With Vinegar woman cleaning TV Screen

Vinegar works great at cleaning glass, as it leaves a beautiful shine and streak-free finish. So, you might be tempted to clean your TV, laptop, or smartphone screen with vinegar, too. Antoinette Asedillo, an electronics product tester told Consumer Reports that "Vinegar can damage a screen's anti-glare properties and even make a touch screen less responsive."

Therefore, it's best not to risk it and just follow the manufacturer's instructions when cleaning electronic screens. We also have a special guide for cleaning smartphones titled A Disinfectant Cleaning Guide to Phones and Other Devices on our website.

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