Like many people, I thought vinegar was a safe and effective cleaning solution. However, after doing some research, I discovered that vinegar has some toxic properties that are important to be aware of. Here are a few things to consider before cleaning with vinegar.
Lately, I’ve been dedicated to reducing the use of toxic chemicals for cleaning our home. Surprisingly, some of the products I believed to be safe were not. A great starting point is our post titled “Why Use Non-Toxic Cleaning Products.“
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What is Vinegar?
I used to think vinegar was a natural cleaner, but it’s a manufactured chemical. White vinegar is commonly used for cooking, baking, and cleaning.
The process of creating this solution involves the fermentation of grain alcohol (ethanol) with water. As a result of this process, the resulting solution contains a proportion of 4-7% acetic acid and a higher proportion of 93-96% water.
Vinegar is highly acidic, with a pH of 2-3, while the human body is slightly alkaline, with a pH of 7.35-7.45.
The pH scale ranges from 0–14:
- 0.0–6.9 is acidic
- 7.0 is neutral.
- 7.1–14.0 is alkaline (also known as basic)
Swaps for Vinegar
I don’t want to paint vinegar as a bad cleaning option since it does have its uses. However, it hasn’t solved all my cleaning issues like I initially believed. As I searched for a safer and more effective cleaning alternative, I discovered a few substitutions worth mentioning.
Swap for cleaning countertops, cabinets, fixtures, walls, and appliances.
- Tough & Tender All-Purpose Cleaner – It has no harsh or toxic chemicals and is powered by plant-derived and natural ingredients. It can be used on natural stone and doesn’t use any caustic chemicals.
Swap for windows, mirrors, and stainless steel.
8 Surfaces to Never Use Vinegar On
It’s important to note that vinegar, as well as vinegar and water solutions, should not be used to clean certain items. This list may not include all those items, but it’s important to be mindful and check the cleaning instructions before using vinegar as a cleaning solution.
- Natural Stone – The acid from vinegar can etch and dull natural stone. Using it on sealed stone can break down the sealer over time also.
- Dishwasher – It can eat away at the rubber seals and parts. You will also void your warranty.
- Washing Machine – It can eat away at the rubber seals and parts. Front loaders are especially susceptible.
- Grout – Both unsealed and damaged grout shouldn’t be cleaned with vinegar. It can wear away over time. It can be used on sealed grout, but it can start to break down the sealer over time.
- Stainless Steel – The acid in vinegar can cause pitting and damage.
- Waxed or Unfinished Wood – Using vinegar can cause discoloration.
- Cast Iron or Non-stick Cookware – It will eat away at the protective layer of seasoning and non-stick coating. It can also cause pitting over time.
- Electronics – Using vinegar will damage the anti-glare coating on your electronics, including TVs.
Did any of the interesting facts about vinegar catch you off guard? I was surprised by how vinegar is made and did not know how acidic it was.
We would love to hear your insights in the comments below.