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8 Things You Should Never Clean with Vinegar

In most cases, vinegar is a great all-purpose cleaner, but there are some things that you shouldn't clean with it.

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white vinegar on the wooden table topfocal point/Shutterstock

Not even once!

While vinegar is a wunderkind cleaning-catch all, there are still at least a few things you should avoid slathering it on. There’s a reason why you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, after all! It’s partner-in-crime, baking soda, isn’t without it’s catch-22s either.

Polished granite texture with pink hues and blackSAQUIZETA/Shutterstock

Granite and marble countertops

Just like stone floor tiles, using vinegar to clean your granite or marble countertops can ruin their smooth, shiny surface. “The acidic cleaners may etch the granite top and leave a dull or discolored spot behind,” says Lily Cameron, a cleaning professional and supervisor at Fantastic Services. “Instead, a safer cleaning solution is to use a mixture made of 5 drops of dish soap, 7-10 drops of rubbing alcohol, and a cup of water.” Instead, try one of the cleaning hacks you’ll want to steal from professional house cleaners.

Detail of an ancient furniture just restoredtrezordia/Shutterstock

Waxed furniture

Using vinegar to clean your waxed furniture will dissolve the wax and leave the surface looking dull, says Cameron. Use a wax cleaning solvent to maintain the surface of your furniture instead. Maybe lay off the vinegar for wood, but there are 95 other household vinegar uses you never knew about.

Stone tileesunghee/Shutterstock

Stone floor tiles

If you have natural stone tiles anywhere in your house, avoid cleaning them with vinegar, lemon, or ammonia. The acidity in the products etches and dulls the stone, says Elena Ledoux, owner of Superb Maids in Las Vegas, Nevada. To repair, it will require a very expensive re-polishing process. It may not work for tiles, but you can try vinegar for these tasks you never knew it could do.

Broken egg on floor.Happy Together/Shutterstock

Egg spills

“Cleaning egg messes with vinegar solution will cause the protein enzymes in the egg to coagulate and will make the stains even more impossible to clean up,” says Cameron. So, if you drop one on the floor while cooking, it’s better to wipe them up with something else. She suggests using some soap and warm water instead. If you’re wondering the real difference between apple cider vinegar and white vinegar, we’ve got some answers for you right here.

Close up of wet towels in front loading washing machine (selective focus)Natalie Board/Shutterstock

Clothing with a mixture of bleach

Vinegar works great in the washer to get the musty smell out of your clothes and have them looking clean, but don’t think about throwing bleach in there, too. Mixing vinegar and bleach creates a toxic gas which is really bad for you and even worse for your clothes. Make sure to avoid these other cleaning products you should never mix.

wood texture. background on wood stainsmolaw/Shutterstock

Hardwood floors

This one varies depending on the finish of your floors. Using vinegar on some hardwood floors will damage the finish. While it’s best to use a cleaner specifically designed for cleaning finished hardwood floors, Cameron says that if you heavily dilute the vinegar with water or other cleaning ingredients, your floors should be fine. However, if you don’t want to take that risk, a safer, DIY solution is a mixture of liquid detergent and water. It’s one of those uber-valuable, nearly forgotten house cleaning tips from the past.

Dishwasher with clean cutlery and platesIlya Platonov/Shutterstock

Dishwashers

Adding vinegar to your dishwasher can make your dishes come out looking sparkling clean, but the acidity can damage the rubber parts of the appliance. Vinegar is safe to use on machines made using natural rubber seals and parts constructed from ethylene-propylene, silicone, fluorocarbon, virgin Teflon, and butyl synthetic rubber seals. However, vinegar should be avoided on dishwashers with seals made from polyacrylate, fluorosilicone, and Buna-N because if the vinegar sits on the surface of these types of seals for a long period of time, it can cause failure. Typically, the water used during the wash cycle will dilute the vinegar so much that it won’t cause any damage, but just make sure you aren’t letting it sit in your machine. Try using a rinse aid that you’ll find at the store to get your dishes clean—it will prolong the life of the hoses and seals in your dishwasher. Don’t miss these tips for cleaning tricky household objects.

twisted strands of white pearls on a gray backgroundNatalia D/Shutterstock

Pearls

Pearls are made up of marble, limestone, and calcium carbonate. If exposed to vinegar, the calcium carbonate in the pearl will react with the acid in the vinegar, causing it to dissolve. To avoid damaging your pearls, Cameron recommends cleaning them with a soft cloth dipped in a solution of lukewarm water and mild dish soap. Keep vinegar away from these things, and also be sure to avoid these cleaning mistakes that can leave your house germy.

Sources:

  • Granite Gold, “WHY GRANITE SHOULDN’T BE CLEANED WITH VINEGAR”
  • Fantastic Services
  • Superb Maids
  • Hunker“Can You Mix Clorox Bleach With Vinegar for a Cleaning Solution?”
  • Bona“Avoid Water and Vinegar to Best Clean Hardwood Floors”
  • Hunker, “Will Vinegar Ruin the Rubber Seals on Appliances?”
  • CNET“Don’t use vinegar in your dishwasher to get sparkling dishes: Here’s why”
  • Leaf, “How to Identify Mikimoto Pearls

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.