5 Surfaces You Should Never Clean with Vinegar

Don't Clean these Surfaces with Vinegar

If the age-old adage is true, you won’t catch many flies with vinegar. But who cares about flies when the not-so-pleasantly pungent liquid is the darling of the green cleaning movement, right? Not exactly. While it’s true that vinegar is great for use in a number of DIY cleaning products, it’s not entirely the all-purpose miracle cleaner you might think it is if you’ve ever browsed Pinterest. Is it a greener, natural way to clean without using harsh chemicals? At times, yes. Is it a fraction of the cost of some other cleaning products, saving you money by reducing your purchase of pricier items? It can be, sure.

But it can also harm some surfaces when used incorrectly, and in some cases it may just not work as effectively, causing you to do double the work, and purchase more supplies. Ultimately, it may not be as green or as cost-efficient as you think, and it could result in significant costs, especially if an expensive surface is damaged to the point of needing to be replaced. To ensure that doesn’t happen to you or your business, we’ve compiled a list of surfaces from which to steer clear with that jug of vinegar.

1. Hardwood Floors

Okay, we know, not everyone is going to agree with us on this one. Some people swear by a mixture of water-diluted vinegar for use on their hardwood floors. However, if shine is what you’re concerned about, watch out, because vinegar can make your hardwoods look dull and lifeless. The acid in the vinegar can be damaging to the polish of a hardwood floor, leaving it flat and dingy. And if you think the answer is diluting with more water, think again – too much water can warp the wood, leaving the surface uneven.

Your best bet, if you want to protect and maintain your hardwood floors, is to stick with a product that’s designed specifically for them. We like a Swiffer Sweeper for light cleaning, or, if you want a deep clean that’s still environmentally friendly, try this Eureka Steam Mop.

2. Stone Surfaces

Granite, marble and other types of natural stone are porous and, though they feel almost indestructible, they can sometimes be easily scratched, stained or damaged. Vinegar is a harsh liquid, and using it on natural stone can etch the surface, leaving visible scratches.

You can always check with your supplier for tips on cleaning and protecting your stone surfaces, but for the most part, all you need is water and a microfiber cloth to keep them clean, strong and sparkling. For the worst messes, use a bit of mild dishwashing liquid.

3. Carpet or Upholstery

There are some people who swear by using vinegar to remove stains and get stubborn odors out of carpets and other fabrics. While vinegar may remove some stains if you tackle them immediately (the same as some cold water and a napkin will), it won’t do much on tougher spots like blood, grass stains or wine. Also, we don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the nostril-stinging, eye-watering effects of dousing your carpet or your couch in vinegar, but chances are good the smell isn’t too much better than the one you were trying to mask. And masking is all it does. Vinegar won’t remove the source of the odor (for instance, pet stains) – it will only cover it up… with its own, vinegar-y stink. How is that a positive?

In any case, to fight stains and odors, what you really need is an enzymatic cleaner. It’s better for your fabrics and carpets, and it removes the source of the smell, rather than simply covering it up. You can also try a low-PH cleanser with surfactants, like this one, that’s great for stain and odor removal, and can be used as a laundry pre-treatment.

4. Tile with Untreated Grout

It’s tempting to douse your bathroom with a jug of vinegar and take a scrub brush to the whole thing, but while vinegar can be great on some forms of tile, it can be extremely damaging to grout that hasn’t been sealed, or needs to be resealed. Eventually, it will eat at the grout until it wears away entirely.

If you’d like to clean your bathroom and other tile with vinegar, just make sure your grout is treated with an appropriate sealant and maintained.

5. No-Wax Floors

No-wax floors like vinyl require cleaners that are designed to protect the finish. If you use vinegar on this type of surface, you’re likely to remove the shine and the sheen of the flooring, cause it to look dingy, and damage the finish. Besides that, vinegar just isn’t able to get deep into the vinyl to clean it as well as most people would like.

For a deep clean that will protect your flooring, sponge mops are great products to use, because they’re able to get the cleaning solutions into all the nooks and crannies, and pull the dirt out.

Find Alternatives to Vinegar

Don’t ditch the vinegar altogether – it can be a great component in your homemade cleaning solutions, and it is certainly natural and very cost-effective – when used correctly. If you have questions about sustainable cleaning products or alternatives to using vinegar, contact HP Products.

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