Vinegar is one of my very favorite cleaning ingredients, for several reasons! First, it’s natural and non-toxic. I don’t have to worry about strange cleaning chemicals when I’m using vinegar to clean my house! Second, it’s incredibly cheap to buy. You can get a gallon of vinegar at most stores for just a few dollars. And third, it’s really versatile! You can use it to clean all kinds of things, as you’ll see at the bottom of this post.
However, you can’t use vinegar to clean everything, and that’s what prompted today’s post. Questions from readers about what they can (or can’t) clean with vinegar. A very good question I’m more than happy to answer!
I’ll start by sharing a list of things you shouldn’t use vinegar to clean (and why!) along with some helpful suggestions of what you could use instead. Then I’ll share an abbreviated list of things you can clean with vinegar (since an exhaustive list would take all day!) Hopefully when you’re finished reading, you’ll feel totally confident about using vinegar as your natural cleaner of choice! :-)
DON’T Clean With Vinegar
Vinegar makes a great cleaner because it’s acidic, which helps it to cut through tough grease, grime, and mineral deposits. But vinegar’s acidity can also damage certain surfaces, so it’s important to know which ones to avoid. Here’s a list of items to avoid when cleaning with vinegar, as well as details on what kinds of cleaners you can use instead!
- Granite, marble, and soapstone countertops. Acids don’t mix with natural stones like granite, marble and soapstone. It can cause pitting and make them lose their shine.
- Use this instead: Homemade Granite Cleaner
- Kitchen knives. If you want to keep your knife like new, acids are to be avoided.
- Use this instead: Dish soap and water.
- Egg-based messes. Vinegar will cause the proteins in the egg to coagulate, creating a gluey substance that is even more impossible to clean up.
- Use this instead: A damp, soapy washcloth
- Clothes iron. Vinegar can actually damage the inner workings of your iron.
- Use this instead: 4 Ways To Clean An Iron
- Solid wood furniture. It isn’t a good idea to clean wood with pure, undiluted vinegar. In addition to leaving water marks, the acid in the vinegar could “eat” certain kinds of finishes. (However, for polishing wood, a homemade treatment of half olive oil and half white vinegar can buff up stained and oiled wood finishes nicely.)
- Use this instead: All-Natural Conditioning Furniture Polish
Clean With Caution!
There are some surfaces you can clean with vinegar, but only sparingly or in small amounts. Porous surfaces like wood, stone, and grout are susceptible to damage from acidic cleaners like vinegar. However, this effect is mitigated if the vinegar is heavily diluted with water or other cleaning ingredients. So use your best judgment when using vinegar to clean the following items…
- Hardwood floors
- Stone floors
DO Clean With Vinegar!
While there are a few things you shouldn’t use vinegar on, there are FAR more things that you CAN and should clean with vinegar! I’ve successfully cleaned a lot of items with vinegar over the years, and I’ve listed some of my favorite ones below. Each item in the list is linked to a past OGT post with all the details. So read on my friends, and happy cleaning! :-)
- Washing machine
- Toilet Bowl
- Clogged Drains
- Sticky stuff
- Windows & mirrors
- Shower head
- Hard water stains
- Soap scum
- Smelly towels
- Garbage disposal
- Oily skin
- Vinyl auto interiors
- Reusable Shopping Bags
- Yoga mat