12 Surfaces That Should Never Be Cleaned With Vinegar

Cleaning countertop using vinegar

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

Vinegar is a solid workhorse when it comes to cleaning. However, it is acidic and can cause damage to some surfaces, including floors. Avoid using vinegar on these 12 surfaces and items in the home.

Warning

When you are using vinegar to clean in the house, never add it to chlorine bleach; it will create noxious chlorine gas, a potentially deadly compound.

  • 01 of 12

    Hardwood Floors

    Vinegar is acidic and can dull or damage the finish on hardwood floors. Trying to get hardwood floors to shine can be one of the most challenging issues to tackle, but over time, vinegar can make your floors shine less.

    Opt for a hardwood floor cleaner that will enhance and protect the shine and surface of your floor. Remember, mopping with too much water or any cleaner is a big mistake for hardwood floors—they can warp or damage the surface when left wet.

  • 02 of 12

    Waxed Wood Furniture

    Just like hardwood floors, vinegar can eat away at the wax finish on wood furniture, leaving it looking dull and cloudy. But, you'll frequently read that vinegar is ideal for cleaning all types of wood. If you would like to use vinegar on finished or waxed wood furniture, use it extremely infrequently and at your risk. As for chalk or milk painted furniture with or without a waxed finish, never use vinegar on the surface and instead, gently clean using a slightly dampened microfiber cloth.

  • 03 of 12

    No-Wax Floors

    Like with hardwood floors, vinegar's acidity will take away the shine and sheen of a no-wax floor, such as vinyl and linoleum. Using vinegar won't give you the light sudsy action that you need to get no-wax flooring clean. Additionally, the vinegar can damage the top surface of the floors, dimming and darkening them with age and repeated use.

    The best way to clean no-wax vinyl or linoleum floor is to use a sponge mop and a bucket of warm water. For a bit of a deeper clean, add a squirt of gentle dishwashing detergent to the bucket of water, and be sure to give the floor a rinse to get rid of any suds. Using any other type of liquid floor cleaner on no-wax floors could cause a waxy build-up over time.

  • 04 of 12

    Carpet Odors

    Some suggest using vinegar on pet stains on the 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.

    A pet-specific enzymatic carpet cleaner will do the best job to eliminate the problem. Carpet cleaners formulated with enzymes will help to break down the stain, so your pet won't smell their past mistake and repeat it again in the same spot. 

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Unsealed Grout

    Grout that hasn't been sealed, needs to be resealed, or is in poor shape should not be cleaned with vinegar. The vinegar penetrates into the pores of the grout, further weakening the material. Over time, vinegar will deteriorate the condition of the grout by etching or wearing it 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, and use a recommended tile cleaner.

  • 06 of 12

    Stone Surfaces

    Stone surfaces, such as granite or quartz countertops, can become etched and damaged by the use of 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. A dedicated stone cleaner is often recommended, as well.

  • 07 of 12

    Screens and Tech Devices

    Vinegar works great for leaving windows streak free, and many use it to clean mirrors (though other experts say not to use vinegar on mirrors). But, using vinegar to clean electronic screens is not recommended—at all, though, yes, you will see tips endorsing the use of vinegar on screens.

    Here's why you should avoid vinegar to clean your electronics and screens. The acid can damage or strip the coating and anti-glare properties of a screen.

  • 08 of 12

    Dishwashers

    The issues in using vinegar on these devices stem from the problem of rubber parts becoming compromised due to the acidity of the vinegar. Include more info, also why someone might be tempted to use vinegar in their dishwasher.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Washing Machines

    The issues in using vinegar on these devices stem from the problem of rubber parts becoming compromised due to the acidity of the vinegar. Include more info on washing machines in particular and why someone might put vinegar in their machine

  • 10 of 12

    Breakfast Counter

    Here we will explore the science behind vinegar making egg messes more difficult to clean. Provide some inline citation here as it is such a unique reaction.

  • 11 of 12

    Stovetops

    • This is a place where both messes including eggs and grease are common, so vinegar won’t be as effective here. 
    • Investigate and explain whether or not Vinegar’s corrosive nature which makes it a poor choice to clean screens will affect electric stoves as well.
  • 12 of 12

    Houseplants

    White vinegar may be great for killing weeds outdoors, and it's non-toxic to pets and kids, but using it on houseplants could kill them. Vinegar can dry out leaves and roots of houseplants, which can kill them, and that's why it's great for controlling weeds. However, it's often advised to use diluted apple cider vinegar on plants as a fertilizer or leaf cleaner, but that's because it's less acidic than white vinegar. If you're tempted to use vinegar to eliminate pests on houseplants, use insecticidal soap instead, which won't harm the plant.