Things You Shouldn’t Clean With Vinegar

by Miranda Jackson

DIY Landscaping for Less photo

If you use vinegar as a primary ingredient in your homemade household cleaners, you may want to use caution on some surfaces.

Frugal folks are continually looking for ways to save money and, for some, adopt more sustainable household practices. Vinegar has emerged as an unsung hero in the frugal world of household maintenance. This remarkable and versatile substance has been used for centuries for a wide range of purposes.

Although it is best known for its culinary applications, vinegar can also be employed as a natural and cost-effective household solution, from gardening to personal care to cleaning, all while minimizing the use of harsh chemicals and saving you money. In fact, we have several cleaning articles and recipes here on The Dollar Stretcher that call for vinegar.

However, you should avoid using vinegar on some household surfaces or materials. Use caution and do a bit of research before using a homemade cleaner made with vinegar on any of the following:

10 Things You Shouldn’t Clean With Vinegar (or at Least Use Caution)

1. Stone surfaces: Vinegar can etch and damage natural stone surfaces such as granite, marble and limestone due to its acidic nature.

2. Hardwood floors: Using vinegar on hardwood floors can strip off the protective finish and dull the surface over time. (Related: Cleaning Engineered Hardwood Floors on the Cheap.)

3. Electronic devices and screens: The acidity in vinegar can damage sensitive screens and components in electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and televisions.

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4. Irons: Using vinegar in an iron may damage the internal components, potentially causing it to malfunction.

5. Egg-based stains: Vinegar can cause proteins in egg-based stains to coagulate, making them more challenging to remove. (Related: Inexpensive Homemade Stain Remover Recipes and Remedies.)

6. Aluminum, brass, and cast iron: Vinegar can cause these metals to corrode and tarnish, damaging their appearance and integrity.

7. Waxed furniture and surfaces: Vinegar can strip away the protective wax coating, leaving the surface dull and unprotected.

8. Grout: The acid in vinegar can weaken and break down grout over time, causing it to deteriorate.

9. Some upholstery and fabrics: Vinegar can potentially discolor, stain or weaken certain fabrics, so it’s best to test it on an inconspicuous area first or use a fabric-specific cleaner.

10. Some types of carpets and rugs: Some carpets and rugs can be damaged by the acidity in vinegar, so it’s always best to test a small, hidden area before using vinegar on these materials. (Related: Carpet Stain Removal Tips for Prolonging the Life of Your Carpeting.)

Even Homemade Household Cleaners Can Be Harmful

Vinegar won’t save you much money if it ruins any of the surfaces or fabrics in your home. When in doubt, consult the manufacturer’s care instructions or test a small, inconspicuous area of the surface or material before using vinegar as a cleaning agent.

Reviewed October 2023

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