Can Vinegar Clean Anything and Everything?

Cleaning countertops with vinegar
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I love vinegar. Don't get me wrong. It's as close to a miracle cleaner as anything I've ever found. I use vinegar when cleaning surfaces, mopping, in the laundry, as a stain treatment, to clean trash cans, for bathroom cleaning, to clean walls, for some dishes, as a fabric softener, and for a whole lot more. But sometimes, people go a little far in their expectations of vinegar's abilities. Believe it or not, there are a few things that vinegar should not be used to clean.

Diluted vinegar works great on a lot of surfaces. It's an amazing cleaner. But here are some things that vinegar shouldn't be used to clean...

Hardwood Floors

Vinegar is acidic and can dull and damage the finish on hardwood floors. Opt instead for a hardwood floor cleaner that will enhance and protect the shine and surface of your floor. Remember that mopping with too much water or any cleaner is a big mistake for hardwood floors.  They can warp or have the surface damaged when left wet. And for many people, trying to get hardwood floors to shine, can be one of the biggest problems.  Over time, vinegar can make your floors shine less.


No Wax Floors

Like with hardwood floors, vinegar's acidity will take away the shine and sheen here.  No wax floors need their own type of cleaner.  I like using a sponge mop on no wax vinyl floors, because it is able to push the cleaner into grooves and pull dirt out.

 Using vinegar won't give you the light sudsy action that you need to get no wax vinyl clean.  And the vinegar can damage the top surface of the floors, dimming and darkening them with age and repeated use.


Carpet Odors

 Often vinegar is suggested to be used on pet stains on carpet, but it doesn't work as well as an enzymatic carpet cleaner.

Vinegar might mask the odor, but it won't eliminate the reason for the odor. To really get the problem dealt with, you need to get a pet specific carpet cleaner.  These carpet cleaners can help to break down the stain so that your pet won't smell their past mistake and repeat it again in the same spot.  Enzymatic carpet cleaners can be found in grocery stores or anywhere where you buy cleaning supplies.


Unsealed Grout 

Grout that hasn't been sealed, or needs to be resealed should not have vinegar used on it. Over time, vinegar can deteriorate the condition of your grout.  The vinegar penetrates into the spaces for air in the grout and weakens them.  Over time the grout will etch or wear away.  If, however, you have sealed your grout on a regular basis, the vinegar won't be an issue.  Check your grout yearly to see if it is time to seal the tile again.


Stone Surfaces  

Stone surfaces can be etched and damaged by vinegar. For best results check with your stone supplier for guidance on vinegar and the best cleaners. Often, all that is needed is water and a soft cloth to keep your stone looking great.  For granite countertops, a lot of people recommend a dedicated stone cleaner, and it does work well.

 But plain water and a microfiber cleaning cloth is usually all you need for regular and even most deep cleaning.