6 things you should never clean with vinegar

It could make things worse.

It’s no secret that white vinegar is a powerful, powerful cleaner. The cost-effective and natural ingredient is capable of just about anything, including killing mould on contact, refreshing musty towels, cleaning tiled floors, dissolving soap scum on shower screens and banishing bad odours.

It is frequently mentioned as an ingredient in most tried-and-true homemade cleaning recipes alongside other powerhouse performers such as bi-carb soda, lemon juice, borax, hydrogen peroxide and eucalyptus oil. 

But there are some things white vinegar just can’t do. That’s because it is mildly acidic. Vinegar’s acidic properties are its greatest strength, but also its greatest weakness. When used on the wrong surface, such as marble, it can wreak havoc and cause irreversible damage. 

Here are some of the things around your home you should never clean with vinegar.

1. Marble countertops

Marble is a natural material that is rich in calcium carbonate, a chemical compound that is vulnerable to acids. Cleaning marble benchtops with vinegar could cause permanent etching or staining. 

Soft grey kitchen with marble countertops
(Credit: Photography: Helen Ward)

2. Spilt egg

Vinegar is the secret to perfect poached eggs for a reason; it helps to keep it together. Using vinegar to clean up eggs will only make things more difficult.

3. Iron

Don’t use vinegar to clean the inside of your iron. Instead, follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

4. Stone, ceramic or hardwood floors

The acid in vinegar can damage floors, leaving them dull. Always read the care instructions for your type of floor.

Open plan kitchen and living room with hardwood floors
(Credit: Photography: Sue Stubbs | Styling: Samantha Torrisi)

5. Phone screen

Cleaning your phone is a task you should be completing daily. But avoid using vinegar to get the job done as it can remove the coating on the screen. Instead opt for a portable UV steriliser or a specially formulated anti-bacterial screen cleaning kit.

6. Remove rust spots on certain metals

Vinegar reacts differently with certain metals. Submerging steel tools in vinegar should be to remove rust spots; however, it may cause stainless steel and enamelled cast iron cookware to corrode.

Country style kitchen with stainless steel stove and oven unit
(Credit: Photography: Brigid Arnott | Styling: Lisa Hilton)

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