7 Things Not To Clean With Vinegar


Since the early days of this blog, I’ve sung the praises of cleaning with vinegar and water as one of the simplest and cheapest ways to get started with homemade cleaners.  I’ve used my 50/50 white vinegar and water mixture on most of our home’s hard surfaces including sinks, faucets, kitchen and bathroom counters, and some of our floors.  I even use my vinegar and water for some unexpected things like sunburn relief and homemade wallpaper remover!

So yes, vinegar and water is a great multi-purpose cleaner to keep on hand – BUT – are there any things that you should NOT clean with vinegar?

Indeed there are.  Vinegar is an acidic substance so it’s not appropriate for everything.  Here’s a quick look at seven things you should not clean with vinegar:

7 Things Not To Clean With Vinegar - Vinegar is a great all purpose cleaner, but there are a few things that you should not clean with vinegar

1.  Granite or Marble.

Granite and marble are natural stones that are soft enough to be etched by vinegar’s acidity over time. Instead try a homemade cleaner that substitutes rubbing alcohol for the vinegar.  To make your own granite cleaner combine 1¾ cups water, ¼ cup rubbing alcohol, and a small squirt of dish soap.  Just plain old dish soap and water is a good choice too.  And Quartz?  I turned up some conflicting information on whether vinegar should be avoided on quartz but if you want to be better safe than sorry, use the rubbing alcohol mixture instead.

2.  Hardwood Floors.

There’s also some conflicting information on cleaning hardwood floors with vinegar (and you can find plenty of hardwood floor cleaners on Pinterest that include vinegar). However I’ve decided to remain cautious and keep vinegar away from the original hardwood floors in my 1950’s era home that we’ve had restored and refinished.  There are stories of vinegar dulling the finish and even warping the floors. I’ve always just used plain water (usually just a damp cloth on my swiffer) to clean my hardwood floors, however I’ll soon be testing a homemade floor cleaning idea I’ve found that uses some rubbing alcohol in the mixture, much like the solution for granite.

7 Things Not To Clean With Vinegar - Vinegar is a great all purpose cleaner, but there are a few things that you should not clean with vinegar

3.  Phones and Computers.

Our electronic gadgets are expensive items and many of them have special coatings on their touch screens.  Again, vinegar can be too acidic for these high-tech items.  Once before I wrote about my homemade solution for cleaning my phone and laptop which is to simply spritz my homemade eyeglass cleaner onto a soft cloth and then gently clean the outsides and screens of my electronics. And here we start seeing a pattern as my homemade eyeglass cleaner is a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water with a very small squirt of dish soap.  Apparently when vinegar is too acidic, it’s rubbing alcohol to the rescue!

How to clean a laptop or a smartphone

4.  Stone Floors.

This is the same caution as for granite or marble.  It would seem like stone is a rough and tough surface, however stone floor tiles (or other stone surfaces) can be scratched by the acidity in vinegar over time.  You can try the homemade granite cleaner suggested in #1 above.

5.  Greasy Messes.

This is less of a caution and more of a reminder that an acidic cleaner like vinegar doesn’t do much at all to clean up greasy messes.  Instead you’ll have much more success cleaning grease with an alkaline mixture like good old dish soap and water.

6.  Spilled Egg.  

If you accidentally drop that egg on the floor and have a mess to clean up, your handy-dandy vinegar and water will not be helpful.  Vinegar just makes the egg coagulate and turn into a thickened gluey mass that will be even tougher to clean up.    Instead just use soap and water – OR – I have used the little trick of sprinkling salt onto the spilled egg which the egg then absorbs, making it much easier to clean up.

7.  Cars.

An acidic cleaner like vinegar is tough on waxed finishes, ultimately breaking them down and stripping them off.  So if you like to wash your own car in the driveway, don’t dump any vinegar in your bucket of wash water.  Just use a good squirt of soap instead.

7 Things Not To Clean With Vinegar - Vinegar is a great all purpose cleaner, but there are a few things that you should not clean with vinegar

So those are a few places where you’ll want to avoid vinegar in your household cleaning. Any time you feel vinegar may be too acidic, one of the best options is to just use the good old reliable mixture of soap and water which is still a low cost and resourceful solution.

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  1. Hello. Thanks for the information of when not to use vinegar. I do use vinegar on my hardwood floor but a very little amount of vinegar. (25ml to 25 litres of water).

    1. As most of the stubborn cleaning around stoves is greasy, I usually find that soapy water using a good grease-cutting soap (like Dawn dish soap) can work quite well.

    1. Hi! Bev will probably have a more thorough response, but I use vinegar in my rinse cycle for clothes and dishes.

  2. My quartz manufacturer suggested vinegar & water 4:1 ratio to clean my new countertops throughout my house. That’s what I’ve been using for 9 months and my quartz looks wonderful.

  3. I read a tip to add white vinegar to laundry in the machine and to my horror I discovered rust stains on my lovely expensive white cotton tablecloth from the stainless steel drum . Now I can’t get those stains out. A very expensive lesson to not put vinegar in my machine.

    1. CLR will get the rust out of your white cotton tablecloth, i had rust on my white linen pants and used the CLR and it was completely gone.

  4. Wonderful article and VERY helpful tips why not to use vinegar on/in everything. Just plain old dish soap and water is a careful cleaner for most things. Be careful about using rubbing alcohol because it can bleach things. But, it is so very useful when mixed with water. I learned these tips from my mother, I am 73, before we had all the instant solutions and soap and water was the only way to clean.

    1. Spray WD40;on a Micro cloth and wipe down your stainless steel appliances leaves a nice shrineand protective finish cleans off all the dirt and grime

    1. Yes, you can pour some vinegar into a sink full of water to wash veggies, or if you want to be more specific on the measurements, try 1/2 cup of vinegar with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle as a veggie wash.

        1. Yes, you can also use this to clean fresh fruit. You could also use lemon juice instead of the vinegar for berries or other soft skinned fruit.

  5. I have granite countertops, but I’ve been using a DIY cleaner that has vinegar to wipe it down sometimes. I’m glad I found this article because I definitely won’t be using vinegar to clean my granite anymore! Have you every used vinegar to clean your carpets? I had a local carpet cleaning company clean my carpets and they shared that you can use vinegar and baking soda to get rid of pet stains on the carpet. After reading your blog post though, I need to be more cautious about what I randomly clean with DIY cleaning solutions!

  6. I used vinegar,dawn in a spray bottle, sprinkled baking soda on my stovetop, because it was a bad stovetop mess day. Then I took a soft cloth rubbed the bad spots away, easily. Wiped it all away! The glass shown like NEW!

  7. I have to disagree with Not using vinegar on hardwood floors. I use average amount with blue dawn and water my floors shine like a bowling alley. You don’t use hot water and you damp mop. What warps them is hot water, and excessive amounts of water or vinegar. Sorry no harm intended. I’ve just used it for years and others have tried and worked great.

  8. Try using ammonia and water on stone surfaces, etc. Or, mix small amount of baking soda or borax with water to clean. I use vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser when doing laundry. It helps break down any residue that is left in fabric and avoids the need for softener.

    1. I know this post is old – but in case someone else stumbles upon it, I have to comment here! I both agree and disagree with this; I used it for both my boys in cloth (now 10 & 11!) 🙂

      The key is to use it PROPERLY. Only use it when you notice a bit of buildup and don’t need to do a full strip; it will wreck your PUL over time with every wash. Another *major* factor is to have it diluted before it’s put in the washer with diapers – Best scenario is a washer full of water, but in the case of front loaders, it should be 1 cup to a gallon – and even then, pour that on towels before adding diapers. It’s a great way to save time and money (because hunting down RLR can be a pain!) but it definitely needs to be treated like the acid it is 🙂

  9. I use 2 table spoons vinegar 2 table spoons Palmolive in 5 gallons of water wash my car truck for 20 year’s now and never wax them or rinse the soap off . The next time it rains it rinse and is still looking good.

      1. I’ve used vingar and water on my tile floors for 20 years. When I had the floods installed I ask the best way to mop them and the flooring guy said vingar and water. He said after using soap and water for a long period of time the soap may yellow and my tile wouldn’t look clean. I always had a spray bottle of the vingar solution on hand. It always took the sticky out of spilled drinks (juice, soda etc.) My tile is pouras like a stone.

    1. With steam nope correct! Nothing but water BUT, in a spray bottle I spray a mix of warm water, 1/2 c floor cleaner but amount varies on type you have, and a Tablespoon plus of vinegar and Tablespoon of alcohol(to help dry them faster). Otherwise you have to wipe up with towel. Don’t over spray.

  10. Ola Beverly, parabéns pelo artigo apesar de só saber escrever português me arisquei , pois sempre te visito e hoje encontrei coragem para te dizer algo,sabe aqui no brasil tem muitas pessoas que te visita e adoram seu blog, amo as informações foi de grande ajuda , amei a sua entrevista com você mesma kkkk é inédita nunca tinha visto igual. um forte abraço e continue compartilhando suas informações sucesso.