You’ve probably heard it said that vinegar is a great cleaner. You may have even tried it, with mixed results. You may have sprayed it on the kitchen sink and with an extra measure of elbow grease and finally arrived at clean. In all honesty, vinegar can help with cleaning certain items, like the coffee maker, but an effective overall household cleaner, it is not. In fact, on some surfaces, vinegar can truly wreak havoc. And so, the question remains, is vinegar really a great cleaner?
Vinegar is a Great Cleaner – FALSE
Vinegar, the household variety, is typically a five percent acetic acid dilution, with a pH of three. (For comparison purposes, water has pH of seven and is neutral while hydrochloric acid has a pH of one.) Simply stated, vinegar is a chemical, not a detergent designed to remove dirt, grime, and grease.
So, how then did vinegar get the reputation as such a fabulous green cleaner? Well, the ‘green’ comes from the fact that most vinegar begins as corn which is then distilled into vinegar. The clean part probably originated from great grandma, who used to clean with lye soap (alkaline) which left a soapy residue that could only be removed by rinsing with vinegar (acid) and water and so began the claim of vinegar as a great cleaner.
Vinegar + Other Ingredients Make a Great Cleaner – NOT EXACTLY
Vinegar when used as a rinse after having cleaned with soap can be effective if used correctly. But vinegar mixed with other ingredients, well not so much! You’ve probably heard that vinegar and baking soda packs quite a punch as a cleaner – after all you see the impressive effervescent bubbles, so it must be working to clean your home, right? Well no, the science of it is: vinegar + baking soda breaks down to water and salt (sodium acetate to be exact), not exactly a great cleaning solution.
Another popular combination is vinegar and castile soap, both touted as great natural cleaners, so the mixture should be a powerful cleaner, yes? Well, no, which you will quickly discover when you attempt to blend the two and end up with a lumpy, coagulated mess – not at all suited for cleaning your home!
Vinegar is A Great Bathroom Cleaner – SOMETIMES
Vinegar’s acidity can actually help remove hard water stains and soap scum (a result of magnesium and calcium). That being said, vinegar can only remove dirt and oil, kill germs, and clean your bathroom with the help of other detergents and disinfectants. In addition, vinegar can damage popular natural stone surfaces – travertine and marble.
Vinegar is a Powerful Disinfectant – UNTRUE
Vinegar, undiluted, had been shown to kill germs, but not at the level you probably want for you home and family. Vinegar, in tests, has proven to kill 90 percent of bacteria and 80 percent of viruses and mold. And while 90 percent isn’t bad, is it good enough to protect your family from illnesses caused by bacteria, viruses, and mold?
Vinegar is a Safe Wood Floor Cleaner – NO
Virtually all wood floors today are sealed with polyurethane, which serves a dual purpose – making the floors resistant to scratches and preventing the absorption of both oils and waters. Of course, when you apply oil-based soaps, the surface becomes slippery and precarious. This leads us back to the legend of lye soap followed by vinegar as a great cleaner, which supposedly means if you apply vinegar, you remove the soapy residue and the floors are no longer slippery and hazardous for walking. It is simply not true, vinegar softens the polyurethane, destroying the floor’s finish and making it vulnerable to scratches and water damage. In addition, because vinegar is not a good cleaner, it leaves behind grit and dirt which scratch the floor.
Stick with the tried and true – call on Signature Maids to clean your home safely and effectively!