Cleaning with vinegar is often a good thing—unless it's in one of these cases.

By Caylin Harris
Updated March 13, 2019
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While it might seem like the answer to any and every cleaning conundrum is vinegar (it's found in several of our favorite homemade cleaning solutions)—it's not always the best choice. It’s a fantastic multi-purpose cleaner, but it’s not a miracle solvent and it won't work on every type of stain or messy situation. Even though cleaning with vinegar is an affordable, eco-friendly, and relatively safe way to clean, there are still some surfaces and materials that can be damaged by vinegar. Save yourself from cleaning regrets—never clean these 7 things with vinegar.

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1

Over time, the acid in vinegar can wear away at the finishes on your countertop. While these surfaces are known for their durability, they’re also expensive, so you definitely want to keep them looking new for as long as possible. Using a vinegar-based, all-purpose cleaner can slowly fade that smooth shine with repeated use. The easiest way to keep stone clean is to wipe it down with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Easy, right?

2

While it might be really temptingto grab a microfiberclothand some vinegar to scrub away all of those smudges on your touchscreen devices, it’s a bad idea. It can ruin the coating on the screen. Tech screens can be really fickle and experts recommend using the cleaning formula specifically formulated for your laptop, phone, or tablet. Wiping down the device with a clean, dry microfiber will often do the trick.

RELATED: How to Deep Clean a Germy Cell Phone (Without Destroying It)

3

Mixing chemicals is serious business, and in general, is best to avoid for safety reasons. And while most of us know that bleach and ammonia can create a toxic gas, vinegar is another liquid you shouldn’t mix with bleach. Since vinegar is an acid, it releases toxic chlorine vapors when mixed with bleach. Separating your cleaning products will keep your home clean and safe.

4

Just like on stone countertops, using vinegar repeatedly on waxed wooden surfaces can cause the finish to wear over time. While some pros recommend using vinegar to clean floors and remove grime from furniture, just exercise caution based on your specific items and avoid leaving water or moisture on wooden surfaces. Be cautious when cleaning any finished wood surface and start with the least harmful method first.

5

Vinegar is known for its cleaning and deodorizing properties, and adding a cup of white vinegar to the top rack of the dishwasher is a popular cleaning tip. However, the acid in vinegar can break down the rubber seal of a dishwasher and other appliances over time. Check your appliance's manual to see if it's made with natural rubber, which can handle vinegar. If not, try a more diluted vinegar solution and run a normal cycle so the vinegar never sits on the rubber parts. For a full how-to, check out the complete directions here.

6

While vinegar is a great deodorizerand can help with odors of all kinds, you don’t want to use vinegar to clean up pet accidents. While it might remove the odors you smell, pets will still be able to sniff out past accidents and will go back to mark these spots again and again. Instead of vinegar, you’ll want to use an enzymatic cleaner. It will kill both the odors you smell and the ones only detectable by your pet.

7

While you can probably get away with using vinegar to clean your grout every now and then, it's best to avoid using caustic cleaners like vinegar and bleach on grout. Over time, they can wear away the seal on grout and tile, causing them to age and deteriorate more quickly. For the safest way to clean grout, check out our full tutorial, starting with the mildest cleaning method and working your way up from there.