I’m a Cleaning Expert – The 10 Things You Should Never Clean With Vinegar And What Happens If You Do

White vinegar has become the secret ingredient that cleaning fanatics are interested in.

But while some swear it works on everything, experts warn that using it the wrong way could lead to you footing a repair bill in the thousands.

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Cleaning fans should know which surfaces can be damagedcredit: Getty
White vinegar is a great natural cleaning product, but watch out for acid

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White vinegar is a great natural cleaning product, but watch out for acidcredit: Getty

The acidic nature of vinegar makes it a great natural cleaner for all kinds of household items.

But it can also damage some surfaces, so you need to know what you’re dealing with.

natural stone

If your tiles or countertops are made of granite or marble, you should never use vinegar on them, RealHomes reports.

And according to cleaning experts Molly Mead, “even if it’s diluted, it can etch natural stones.”

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“Manufacturers of stone countertops and floor tiles strongly advise against using it on their products.”

Instead, use warm water and mild soap.

Vinegar can be used on quartz or porcelain.

Sealed wood floors

The wax used to seal wood floorboards can be broken down by the acid in the vinegar.

Cleaning expert Emma Barton, founder of Steam Clean Queen, warns: “Be prepared to write a check for thousands of dollars for the repair.

“The chemicals used to produce the wax coating break down and decompose under the vinegar.

“It leaves white spots on the floors, which is concerning to look at.”

Use a mild soap and water, or a dedicated wood floor cleaner.

wool rugs

Don’t use vinegar on natural wool or sheepskin rugs, experts say.

“The acidity can permanently damage the fibres,” said Ben Hyman, president of Revival Rugs.

“Instead, I’d wipe up the spill and then use a small amount of clean water and a little more.

If the stain persists, you can use a small amount of dishwashing soap mixed with water.

“If all else fails, hand-wash your wool rug professionally.”

Hardware with rubber seals

Cleaning enthusiasts love using vinegar to freshen up refrigerators and leave dishwashers sparkling.

But experts warn that it can corrode rubber seals.

In the long run, this could lead to problems like leaks and high energy bills.

Use liquids intended for cleaning dishwashers and washing machines on an empty cycle.

Seals around doors can be safely cleaned with baking soda dissolved in warm water.

TV and laptop screens

No matter how tempting it may be, don’t sprinkle on a little vinegar to polish the glass.

Screens have a special anti-reflective coating that can corrode if you use the wrong product.

Lily Cameron, a home cleaning expert at Fantastic Services, warns that “white vinegar will remove the protective film from the surfaces of electronic devices.

“For them, it is best to use a microfiber cloth and a cleaner designed specifically for electronic screens.”

egg spots

Spilled eggs stick together and are difficult to change.

But Molly Maid warns: “Never use vinegar on an egg mess.

“The acidity will cause it to coagulate and it will be more difficult to clean it up.”

If you spill an egg on the floor, just wipe it with a paper towel.

An all-purpose cleaning spray should get rid of any residue.

kitchen knives

Want to keep your best knives sparkling? Then don’t use vinegar, experts say.

Lily Cameron says: “The acidic properties of white vinegar can corrode metal blades and weaken knife edges.

“Commit to washing them in warm, soapy water and drying them well afterwards.”

freshly painted wood

Experts say the acid in vinegar can spoil the finish of painted kitchen cabinets and door frames.

“If you apply vinegar to painted wood, the vinegar will soften the paint and the paint will peel off after a while,” says Tony Adams of DIYgeeks.com.

“Vinegar takes ten minutes to completely dissolve water-based paint, and up to 30 minutes to completely dissolve oil-based paint.

“Vinegar can also discolor wood if it is not diluted very hard
water.”

Painted cabinets and woodwork can be cleaned with water and washing up liquid.

Cast iron and aluminum

Vinegar may spoil even the best pots and pans, according to Paul Moody, home cleaning expert and founder of Pro Mover Reviews.

He warns, “Aluminum and cast iron chemically react with the acetic acid in vinegar and can damage them.

“With iron, the acetic acid in the vinegar causes an exothermic reaction that causes heat and removes the protective coating on the metal and makes it susceptible to rust.

“When aluminum reacts with vinegar, it produces aluminum acetate, which is a soluble substance. And when you rub the surface of the pan with vinegar, the aluminum will slowly corrode.

“The best cleaner for cast iron is plain water, wipe dry after cleaning. For aluminum, plain water and a little mild detergent.”

Experts recommend resealing cast iron pans after washing them with an edible oil such as linseed or rapeseed.

coffee machines

Acid is what you need to treat limescale buildup.

Some people swear by vinegar as a household cleaner for coffee machines.

But you may want to think again if you’ve put in the extra money for an extended warranty.

Oli Baise, founder of coffee blog Drinky Coffee, warns: “If the manufacturer learns that you used vinegar to clean your machine, the warranty will be voided.

“If you have purchased a device with a guarantee, it is worth choosing a specialized descaling tool rather than using vinegar.”

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Meanwhile, other experts have warned against the common trick of mixing vinegar and baking soda to clean drains.

However, cleaning junkies believe that vinegar is still great for all kinds of jobs around the house — from the mattress and laundry to the bathroom.

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