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Cleaning With Vinegar

Distilled white vinegar enjoys a well-earned reputation as a cleaning powerhouse. Used to clean many household surfaces and items, white vinegar manages to stay tough on grime without harming the environment. What you may not realize, however, is that certain materials should never be cleaned with vinegar solutions.

In this post, our cleaning experts at Merry Maids review some of the biggest “do’s and don’ts” for using white vinegar. We’ve also provided a few DIY vinegar cleaner recipes that can make your housekeeping easier.

What Not to Clean with Vinegar: The Faux Pas

Because “green cleaning solutions” have become more and more popular over the years, you can now find hundreds of vinegar cleaner recipes on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. Although vinegar has many advantages over conventional cleaning products, it’s important to keep in mind that vinegar is still an acid and a chemical – meaning that it has the power to corrode some surfaces. For example, it can “etch” expensive marble or granite counters, leaving discolored and dull spots behind.

Skip the Vinegar on Delicate Surfaces

Here’s a quick list of surfaces that you shouldn’t clean with vinegar:

  • Any type of stone surface (including slate, marble, granite, and ceramic)
  • Linoleum & hardwood flooring
  • Unsealed grout
  • Clothes irons
  • Electronics and screens
  • Waxed or finished wood furniture
  • Carbon steel knives
  • Cast iron cookware
  • Aluminum (often used in appliances)

Of course, this list of surfaces isn’t exhaustive: Many materials can be warped, damaged, or dulled by using an acid like vinegar. To protect your furniture (and your home property values), always do your research before applying vinegar to an unidentified surface. You should also perform a small patch test before you start cleaning, ideally in a hidden spot. That way, you’ll know exactly what to expect from your vinegar cleaning efforts!

Never Use Vinegar with Bleach

A lot of cleaning and sanitizing solutions contain bleach, thanks to its incredible properties as a disinfectant. But whatever you do, don’t ever mix white vinegar with bleach products – and especially don’t mix these two chemicals in a DIY solution. When combined, vinegar and bleach create toxic chlorine gas, which is deadly.

Does Vinegar Harm Plastic?

Many appliance repair technicians will tell you never to use vinegar in plastic compartments, such as those found in your dishwasher or washing machine. While it isn’t outright dangerous to use vinegar with these appliances, traces of vinegar can pit and weaken synthetic rubber seals over time. If your plastics are made from natural rubber or a substance such as polypropylene or silicone, however, it’s probably safe to use vinegar.

Don’t Add Vinegar to Egg Spills

Vinegar cleaners and food don’t always mix. Case in point: Vinegar can react with the protein enzymes in egg spills and cause them to coagulate. In layman's terms, that means you’ll have an even harder time cleaning up after that Saturday morning omelet disaster. The same rules apply to pearls, which can dissolve or dull when cleaned with vinegar.

How to Clean with Vinegar 101

Don’t let the above scare you off of using vinegar as an all-purpose cleaner. It can come in handy in cleaning many different areas of the house and is inexpensive and all-natural to boot.

Can I Use Vinegar on Spills and Stains?

White vinegar is a great stain remover for certain fabrics. When added during the final rinse of your laundry, the acetic acid in white vinegar will eliminate alkaline residues from soap, brightening up the colors of your clothes. It can also be used as a spot treatment for yellowing underarms, as it helps to break up the leftover deodorant on clothes.

Here are a few other stains and spills that can benefit from vinegar:

  • Gum: Soak leftover sticky spots for at least 10 minutes and then launder.
  • Grass: Give white clothing a half-hour pre-soak with vinegar to loosen grass stains.
  • Coffee, tea, and juice: Dilute vinegar to 1/3rd strength with water before applying to a dried spot, then launder.

DIY Natural Vinegar Cleaning Solutions

Ready to try out the wonders of vinegar on the rest of your household, too? Below, our cleaning experts have come up with three DIY uses for vinegar that can help with your daily housekeeping routine. Aside from being powerful cleaners, these solutions are eco-friendly and safe to use.

Chrome & Stainless Steel Cleaner

You’ll need:

To use it:

  1. Pour the vinegar into the bottle and spray it directly on your chrome and stainless-steel surfaces.
  2. Wipe the vinegar away with a microfiber cloth.
  3. Buff any streaks with a clean microfiber cloth.

Window & Glass Cleaner

You’ll need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water
  • A spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloths or coffee filters

To use it:

  1. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in your spray bottle.
  2. Mist windows with the liquid. Make sure you don’t apply too much solution, or you’ll end up with streaks.
  3. Working from top to bottom, wipe the windows clean using a microfiber cloth or coffee filter. If you start to see streaks, then you should switch to a fresh cloth or filter.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

You’ll need:

  • 1 cup of distilled white vinegar, separated into halves
  • A toilet brush
  • A spray bottle
  • A clean microfiber cloth

To use it:

  1. Pour ½ cup of the vinegar into your toilet bowl. Let this sit for about three to five minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ½ cup of vinegar to the spray bottle, and mist the rim of the toilet. This should also sit for three to five minutes.
  3. Scrub the bowl with your toilet brush, and wipe down the rim of the toilet with your microfiber cloth.
  4. Flush when you’ve finished.

Getting the Perfect Clean with Merry Maids®

When used correctly, vinegar can be great for your household – and your wallet. Affordable, convenient, and non-toxic, it can allow you to have a cleaner home, while keeping your products streamlined and eco-friendly. Of course, there’s always the risk that your vinegar cleaning efforts will backfire, adding more time to your busiest days.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with the daily housekeeping, your local cleaning professionals at Merry Maids can get the job done right! We’ve been providing the perfect clean for more than 40 years, and we have all the right tools to keep your home sparkling.

Ready to learn more? Call (888) 490-4227 today to request an estimate on cleaning service.