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9 Things vinegar amazingly won’t clean

Oh, who are we kidding? Vinegar is totally a miracle substance. In most of these instances, vinegar will still do a fine job at cleaning… it’s just harmful in other ways.

White vinegar and cleaning supplies

Photo Credit: Pat_Hastings/iStock/360/Getty images

All hail vinegar! One of the safest and most natural cleaning products around, vinegar can do all kinds of things from disinfect to remove stains. There are some instances where vinegar can do more harm than good, though.


Electronic screens

Vinegar will eat away at the protective coating on the screens for computers, TVs, phones, etc. Your best bet is to invest in a microfiber towel or a screen genie ball. For particularly tough spots: Try warm water. And always make sure your device is off.



Be careful! We spend thousands of dollars on marble and natural stone countertops in our kitchen, and vinegar is a kitchen staple. But, if used as a cleaning agent on that precious stone, it can corrode and cause pits or potholes over time.



Vinegar can cut through a lot, but it when used on a greasy pot or pan, it just mixes in with the mess. You’ll need an alkaline-infused product to cut through the grease. Good news: That’s what they make dish soap for.


Cast iron pots

Never put vinegar in a cast iron skillet! Will it clean that bad boy? Yes. But, the whole idea of a cast iron pot or skillet is that it absorbs the flavors of whatever you make in it. Just use water and elbow grease.


On healthy/wanted

Yes, vinegar is a great natural way to cut down on insects and weeds, but it can also harm a lot of plants. Make sure to target your vinegar spray specifically to the weeds. To cut back on critters in the garden: Plant marigolds.


To protect against salmonella

While vinegar is a fairly useful disinfectant and will clean away a simple flu virus, it won’t kill many types of salmonella. In other words, cutting boards should be scrubbed with hot water and soap first. Then use a commercial disinfectant.


Waxed surfaces

Whatever you do, don’t use vinegar on any waxed woods. The vinegar will eat through the wax, those leaving the wood dry and dull (and, eventually, brittle). For waxed tile floors, you can use vinegar, as long as it’s your plan to remove the wax and start over again. (Which, let’s face it, is sometimes a necessity.)


With bleach

Mixing bleach and vinegar is extremely toxic. Together the two actually make a chemical once used to clear out trenches during the war. It’s nasty stuff for people and the environment. Do not ever make a bleach and vinegar cocktail. Please.


Dishwashers or washing machines

… or any other appliances with rubber hoses. Over time, the vinegar will dry out the hoses, making them brittle and more susceptible to breaking or rotting. (Note: We just noticed that our automatic tea maker suggests cleaning with vinegar. While it’s possible the hoses aren’t rubber, it’s more likely that they’re just keen on us needing to eventually replace it with the newer model.)

As far as we know, all other instances of vinegar use are fair game. So, have fun cleaning!

More cleaning tips

10-Minute home cleaning tips
How to show your floors some love
11 Things you’ve forgotten you can use a vacuum for

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