The Few Times You Shouldn’t Use Vinegar to Clean

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Vinegar boasts so many different uses that it definitely deserves a spot in every home.

Just the other day, I was pulling out my handy-dandy vinegar spray bottle when my husband asked, “Is there anything vinegar can’t do?”

We laughed, but it got me thinking. With all the different ways we can use vinegar, are there things we shouldn’t use vinegar for?

As it turns out, there are some things that are better left without a vinegar wipe-down. After all, vinegar is an acidic liquid. So while it’s great at dissolving stains, imagine it doing the same thing to other materials.

Let’s go over when not to use vinegar. Because, let’s be honest — that list is probably a lot shorter than when you can use it.

Stone Countertops

After you’ve dropped big bucks on beautiful stone countertops, don’t make the mistake of trying to clean them with vinegar.

The acid in vinegar etches and dulls natural stone, like marble, soapstone, and granite. After a while, your countertops will lose their shine, and vinegar can also cause pitting or scarring.

Certain Kinds of Flooring

Flooring manufacturers often warn against using vinegar to clean certain kinds of flooring. The biggest no-no is vinegar on hardwood floors, because it can dissolve the finish that protects the wood itself. It will leave it looking cloudy, dull, or scratched.

Much like stone countertops, you don’t want to use vinegar on stone tile flooring, either.

And while vinegar is a great cleaner for most vinyl flooring, it’s not a good option for “no-wax” vinyl floors. The same way it dulls hardwood flooring’s finish, it will damage the top surface of no-wax vinyl, too.

Wood Surfaces

Similar to wood flooring, you don’t want to use vinegar to clean other wood surfaces, either. That includes wood furniture, cabinets, or butcher block.

Eventually, you’ll end up scrubbing the protective finish off and wind up with dull-looking wood surfaces — plus, they’ll stain a lot easier.

Electronic Screens

Never use vinegar to clean electronic screens, like computers, phones, tablets, and TVs. It can damage a screen’s anti-glare properties — plus, for those devices with touch screens, it can make them less responsive.


There are plenty of blogs floating around the internet telling you to run the dishwasher with a bowl of vinegar to get rid of hard water film and lingering odors. Or, maybe you’ve read to use vinegar as a rinse aid in the dishwasher.

You’re better off using specially formulated dishwasher cleaners these days. Dishwasher manufacturers warn that the acetic acid in vinegar can eat away at the rubber parts in dishwashers.

Washing Machines

Similarly, ignore all that advice about using vinegar as a fabric softener or stain and odor remover in a washing machine, too. Just like in dishwashers, it can damage rubber seals and hoses — causing leaks and all kinds of additional damage.

There are tons of different kinds of rubbers out there, and some react with vinegar while others don’t. You won’t know what kind of rubber was used inside your appliance until the vinegar eats away at it.

Small Appliances

Small appliances can also have rubber seals and other parts that could deteriorate with vinegar. So, while you can obviously use vinegar to clean the plastic and glass surfaces, it’s best to avoid any rubber parts.

They also might have metal — including stainless steel — that vinegar can corrode. As with plenty of other materials, there are different grades of stainless steel, and the lower-quality ones are what’s often used in small appliances.