5 Things You Should Never Clean with Vinegar

updated Feb 1, 2021
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A bottle of Heinz distilled white vinegar on a kitchen counter next to sponges, a cleaning cloth, and a spray bottle
Credit: Cat Meschia

Vinegar is great for cleaning many things. Its acidic nature makes it a powerful force for cutting through all sorts of dirt and grime. It even kills some surface bacteria — though if you’re looking for a disinfectant, you’ll want to try bleach. Likewise, you’ll want to choose a gentler, less acidic cleaning agent for certain materials, surfaces, and items.

Here are five things you should never clean with vinegar.

1. Your Stone Countertops

When you think of stone, you think of tough, hard surfaces, but the truth is materials like limestone, granite, and marble (which you’ll find in kitchens and bathrooms) are more delicate they look. Vinegar’s high acidity can etch the stone, leaving marks you’ll never be able to get rid of. Instead, use dish soap and warm water.

2. Your Dishwasher

This one might surprise you because vinegar is often suggested as a hack for cleaning your dishwasher. But, over time, vinegar will degrade anything made of rubber — gaskets, hoses, and, er, other rubber parts. Look for products specifically made for cleaning your dishwasher.

3. Your Smartphone

If you’re using your smartphone to make a recipe in the kitchen or to change your tire in your garage, or any other dirty job, resist the urge to cleaning up spills or splashes with vinegar. The screen has a fingerprint-resistant coating that can be damaged with vinegar. A microfiber cloth dampened with water is your best bet.

4. Your Hardwood Floors

So, there are people who swear by diluted vinegar for their hardwood floors, but most flooring manufacturers urge you not to do it. Over time, the strong acid can eat away at the finish and cause your floors to look dull, instead of shiny. We like a diluted Pine Sol solution instead.

5. Your Knives

Vinegar will get rid of rust on your knives. It will also corrode the metal and dull the blade. Soap and water are effective and you can avoid rust if you dry your knives after cleaning them!