13 Things You Should Never Clean With Vinegar

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When to Avoid Vinegar

For years, people everywhere have recommended vinegar for several different cleaning hacks. While it might be tried and true in some areas, there are a handful of things around your home that you should refrain from cleaning with vinegar. Here’s a list of some common things you’ll want to opt out of using vinegar to clean, despite what your grandma might have told you.

Related: Cleaning Myths That Will Ruin Your Things

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1. Steam Irons

Most steam irons contain a protective coating inside the water chamber, but the coating isn’t meant to stand up against vinegar, so you should avoid adding vinegar to the tank. The acid can eat away at the lining and the metal parts. Check your iron’s instruction manual to find out specific cleaning instructions, or if your iron has a self-cleaning function, the only thing you should need to add to the tank is water to get the job done.

Related: 25 Spring Cleaning Mistakes You Keep Making Every Year

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2. Tech Devices

Think twice before you grab a microfiber cloth and a little bit of vinegar to get the smudges off your screen. Laptop, phone, TV, and tablet screens have a special coating that can be ruined by vinegar. Device screens should be treated delicately, using only a microfiber cloth or wipes formulated specifically for tech screens to clean them.

Related: Things You Should Never Clean With Disinfecting Wipes

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3. Knives

Some people soak their knives in vinegar to remove rust spots, but you should avoid using vinegar on knives frequently to maintain their integrity. Vinegar can damage the finish on kitchen knives and cause them to become dull. The best way to clean kitchen knives is with soapy water soon after using them.

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4. Countertops

Depending on what material your countertops are, you might want to steer clear of vinegar as a cleaner. Vinegar should never be used to clean natural stone surfaces, so if you have marble or granite counters, using vinegar to clean them can eat away at the surface and make the stone appear duller.

Related: 8 Things You Should Never Keep on Kitchen Countertops (and Why)

Full dishwasher

5. Dishwashers

There are plenty of cleaning hacks swirling around the internet that suggest using vinegar to clean your dishwasher. While it might be fine to do every once in a while, it definitely should not be used too frequently since the acid in vinegar can cause the rubber seals and components of the dishwasher to deteriorate. Instead, there are cleaners formulated specifically for cleaning dishwashers that won’t compromise the integrity of the appliance.

Related: 15 Things You Should Never Put in the Dishwasher

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6. Wood Flooring and Furniture

Plenty of people swear by using vinegar to clean their hardwood floors and furniture, but it should be avoided. The acidic composition of vinegar can dissolve the wax coating on wood floors and furniture, causing it to appear dull, cloudy, or scuffed. 

Related: Spring Cleaning Tips From People Who Clean and Organize for a Living

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7. Ceramic Tile

Splatters and spills on ceramic tiles should be cleaned promptly so they don’t have time to stain or harden, but stay away from vinegar to clean ceramic surfaces. The acid in vinegar might not harm the actual tile, but it can eat away at the grout and finish, so it’s best to stick with hot water and soap.

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8. Small Kitchen Appliances

Vinegar is safe to use on any plastic and glass parts on toasters, blenders, and coffee parts, but it can corrode any of the parts made of stainless steel, metal, and rubber. 

Related: 13 Cleaning Hacks Using Essential Oils

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9. Pet Accidents

While vinegar is an excellent deodorizer and can effectively tackle all sorts of odors, it should not be used to clean up pet messes. Vinegar can remove the odors that people smell, pets will still be able to smell them and will more than likely revisit the area to mark the spot again. When it comes to pet urine, stick to enzymatic cleaners since they remove odors thoroughly, even the ones detectable to only your pet.

Related: 25 Hacks to Reclaim Your House From Messy Pets

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10. Mirrors

DIY glass cleaners often include vinegar, but when cleaning mirrors, it’s best to leave the DIY stuff on the shelf. While it might make the surface of your mirror shine, vinegar can seep beneath the thin coating and harm the silver backing of the mirror.

Related: 20 Cleaning Products That Are a Complete Waste of Money

Dirty Cast Iron Skillet
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11. Cast Iron

You'll want to be extra careful when cleaning cast iron cookware because it's a finicky, fickle process. There are plenty of people who consider it a crime to even use soap on a cast iron pan, but one thing you should steer completely clear of is vinegar. That's because it can eat away at the protective "seasoning" layer on the skillet, tampering with its non-stick surface.

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12. Egg Spills

Next time you drop an egg on the floor while you're baking cookies, don't grab the vinegar to clean the mess, or you'll inadvertently inspire the protein enzymes in the egg to coagulate, creating a much more stubborn stain than you want to deal with.

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13. Aluminum Cookware

Aluminum is a reactive metal and acids like vinegar can react with it, leading to corrosion. This can result in pitting or dulling of the surface, which can affect the appearance and integrity of the cookware. It's best to use mild dish soap and warm water to clean aluminum cookware. For stubborn stains, you can try using a paste of baking soda and water, which is less likely to cause damage to the aluminum.