Multipurpose, but not all-purpose
Countless bloggers and glossy magazines tout vinegar as a disinfecting powerhouse, and indeed, when diluted with water vinegar is an effective cleaning solution for plenty of spots around the house. Yet, while vinegar is great for certain cleaning tasks, such as descaling coffee makers, it’s not good at dealing with hard-set grime, and it can even damage some surfaces. Read on to find out what you should never clean with vinegar.
But first, a note of caution: Some people believe that mixing vinegar with other cleaning products will boost its cleaning power, but that's rarely the case. In fact, mixing vinegar with certain products—for instance, bleach—can produce dangerous gases. Don't mix cleaning products indiscriminately, and always exercise caution when you're using multiple cleaning products at the same time.
Cleaning your set of fancy kitchen knives with vinegar is a bad idea. The acidic liquid can corrode the metal and dull knife edges. Instead, wash your knife set with soap and warm water, and always dry thoroughly before putting back in storage.
Stick to wiping down marble countertops with mild soap and a damp cloth. Vinegar will react with natural marble and cause defects in the surface, turning your high-end Carrera marble countertop into a pitted, lackluster mess. Avoid cleaning marble with bleach and other harsh chemicals as well.
Granite is another natural stone surface that reacts poorly with vinegar. Spraying your granite countertops with a vinegar solution can make them dull and cause them to lose their shine over time. Also, despite granite's durability, acidic substances—even acidic foods—can leave behind marks known as etching that require sanding and polishing to remove.
It's important to clean up splatters and dirt on ceramic tiles promptly, whether on floors, walls, or backsplash, so stains don’t have a chance to set or harden. But when you're rushing to clean up a spill, avoid the vinegar and instead reach for hot water and gentle dish soap. While most tile can probably stand up to vinegar, the acidic liquid can eat into grout and dissolve the finish on tiles. Before using any soap or detergent, it’s best to read the manufacturer's guidelines to find out if the product is recommended for tile.
Never soak wood furniture in any of the numerous water-based solutions offered online. As well, Ace Handyman Services discourages the use of undiluted vinegar on wood, which can leave streaks and eat away at some finishes. Instead, use a 50-50 mixture of oil and vinegar to polish finished wood furniture.
While vinegar may not destroy your dishwasher, it’s not an effective alternative to dishwasher cleaners. The acidic liquid might also react with some parts of the appliance and can, over time, cause rubber gaskets and hoses to deteriorate. Although vinegar is often suggested as a rinse aid, stick with products specifically designed for this purpose. If vinegar mixes with salty residue during the cycle, it can discolor metal dishware and utensils.
Cellphone and computer screens
Vinegar can strip off the protective coating from your cellphone screen, and it's not a good idea to use it on your computer either. Instead, wipe the screens of your electronic devices with gentle microfiber cloths to get rid of dust and other particles, and turn to isopropyl alcohol to wash away germs and nasty microbes—but always check manufacturer's instructions for phone cleaning and maintenance first.
Rubber isn’t just found in your dishwasher. Rubber gaskets or hoses inhabit your refrigerator as well as other appliances throughout the house. Wherever you find rubber, don't clean it with vinegar. The acid can eat away at rubber just as it does natural stone, causing it to degrade. Instead, use soap and water or a solution of soap and baking soda.
Just as it does in a dishwasher, vinegar can harm rubber parts inside a washing machine, eventually leading to leaks. For this reason, avoid using vinegar in your washing machine too frequently. Fortunately, other products are more effective and better at removing stubborn stains.
Filling your clothes iron with vinegar to clean it can irreparably damage the small appliance. While some iron manufacturers recommend using a vinegar solution to get rid of scale, it’s best to check the instruction manual for your iron to make sure the acid won’t damage its metal components. To cut down on future scale buildup, use only distilled water in the reservoir and empty it out after every use.
Some people swear by diluted vinegar for sanitizing and de-griming hardwood floors, while others are adamant that vinegar can damage flooring and eat away at the finish—even when diluted. Don’t take any chances. Choose a cleaning product that’s specially formulated for wood floors. Avoid all-purpose cleaners unless they specifically say they can be used on wood surfaces.
Skip the Vinegar
Cleaning with vinegar is a great hack—just not when it comes to these items.
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