8 Ways Not to Use Vinegar

By Adam Verwymeren, Networx

Common household vinegar is one of those wonder products that people are always discovering new uses for. Whether you want to drive away dandruff, eradicate mildew, or keep bugs at bay, vinegar has been proposed as a solution to just about every problem under the sun.

But while it has a number of uses, vinegar isn’t always the solution, and on occasion it can be downright dangerous. Here are the top 8 ways not to put this miracle substance to work in your home.

1. While vinegar is good at cleaning many things, you shouldn’t confuse it with soap. Alkaline cleaners like dish detergent are ideally suited for lifting grease, whereas vinegar will have little effect on it. If you have a greasy cleaning job, reach for regular soap and leave the vinegar on the shelf.

2. You should never use vinegar on waxed surfaces. The vinegar will only strip the wax off, dulling the sheen on your nicely shined car. However, vinegar is a great option if you’re looking to remove an old coat of wax before you put down a fresh layer of polish.

3. Do not use vinegar on marble countertops or other stoneware, as it can cause the stone to pit and corrode, according to the Marble Institute.

4. Your smartphone and laptop monitor probably have a thin layer of oleophobic coating that limits fingerprints and smudges. Acidic vinegar can strip this off, so you should never use it to clean sensitive screens.

5. Cast iron and aluminum are reactive surfaces. If you want to use vinegar to clean pots and pans, use it exclusively on stainless steel and enameled cast iron cookware.

6. While both bleach and vinegar are powerful cleaning agents, when mixed together they make a powerful chemical weapon. Chlorine gas, the stuff used to clear the trenches in World War I, results when bleach is mixed with an acidic substance, so never mix them together.

7. While vinegar can be useful as an insecticide, you shouldn’t spray it directly on bug-infested plants as it can damage them. However, you can use vinegar’s plant-killing effect to your advantage by using it as a weed killer, as suggested by several people on Hometalk.

8. If you’re the victim of an egging, do not try to dissolve the remnants of this prank away with vinegar. Vinegar will cause the proteins in the egg to coagulate, creating a gluey substance that is even more impossible to clean up, says Popular Mechanics.

I also feel obligated to say that although vinegar is touted as a great way to remove mildew and mold, like bleach it only kills surface mold. Most mold problems are deeper than what you see on the surface, and your best bet is to kill them at their source (which is usually leaks and rotting drywall).

Image: Chaya Kurtz for Networx.com

Related:
23 Ingenious Uses for White Vinegar
We Tested It: Cleaning the House with Toothpaste
30 Things in Your House That Could Explode

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494 comments

Pat P.
Pat P.14 hours ago

I use eyeglass lens cleaner on my computer screen. Although the ingredients are not listed on the bottle, I would assume if it's safe for contacts/eyeglasses, it would, also, be for the screens.

Vinegar is a great additive for the wash rinse cycle--softens the clothes, keeps colors brighter and deters bleeding, loosens lint and cat hair.

I've had a MAJOR infestation of fungus gnats (brought in my house, I believe, by a bag of potting mix, early last summer. Since that time, I have been going crazy trying to get rid of them. Vinegar in containers (lots of them all over the house) is SUPPOSED to attract and kill them, but except for finding a couple of expired ones, it's not working, yet is mentioned frequently on the internet as a treatment for control--not total extermination. One little gnat can lay 200 eggs at a time, but if you don't find their nests (usually in damp places), they will NEVER leave! I have a lot of leakage in my big old house. I am at a loss at what to do.

M B.
M B.2 days ago

Thank you, this is very useful!

Ahmed R
Ahmed R.6 days ago

When there are other better products available in the market for cleaning, why would I want to use vinegar?

Peggy B.
Peggy B.6 days ago

Great article. We are always reading about when to use it, but seldom do people realize there are many times you should not use it.

barbara woodward

wow i really didn't know some of them. I love learning something new everyday so this was a good lesson for me.

Fi T.
Fi T.10 days ago

There must be alternatives

Sherry Kohn
Sherry Kohn10 days ago

Many thanks to you !

Tony D.
Tony D.22 days ago

Great Info

Veronica Danie
Veronica Danie24 days ago

Good info! Thanks

Ivana D.
Ivana D.29 days ago

Ty