Household Items You Should Never Clean with Vinegar

Vinegar’s a handy cleaner, no doubt. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are things in your house that’ll cringe at the touch of vinegar. Let’s break down eight things you should never clean with it.

In this article:

  • The basics of vinegar as a cleaner
  • The Sour Eight - items you should never clean with vinegar
    • 1. Your iron
    • 2. Waxed furniture
    • 3. Stone countertops and floors
    • 4. Hardwood floors
    • 5. Dishwashers
    • 6. Pans
    • 7. Clothing with vinegar and bleach
    • 8. Greasy surfaces
  • Additional Tips for Proper Vinegar Use
    • Grease remover for dirty dishes
    • Wax
    • Marble
    • Laundry
    • Vinegar as a pesticide
    • Protein stains
  • Conclusion

The basics of vinegar as a cleaner

Before we talk specifics, it’s important to understand why vinegar is a go-to for many cleaning enthusiasts. First off, not all vinegar is good for cleaning. Which vinegar is good for cleaning? You want white distilled vinegar. Unless specified otherwise, this is the type of vinegar I’m talking about.

The antibacterial prowess, eco-friendly composition, and wide-ranging applications make white vinegar a household favorite. It’s a great, natural, acidic cleaning product with a multitude of uses. Yet, acknowledging its universal acclaim doesn’t exempt us from recognizing its limitations.

The Sour Eight – items you should never clean with vinegar

1. Your iron

Diving into specifics, the commonly propagated iron-cleaning trick involving vinegar isn’t universally beneficial. The claim floating around is that you can tackle mineral buildup by pouring vinegar onto your iron. This can, in fact, ruin your iron.

If you want to remove mineral build-up from your iron’s water ducts, you can use a cotton swab dipped in vinegar but never pour vinegar onto your iron.

Just to be safe, always read the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

2. Waxed furniture

Waxed furniture, often chosen for its water-repellent properties and elegant sheen, is vulnerable to vinegar’s cleaning properties. The acid in vinegar strips away protective wax coatings, leaving behind a lacklustre appearance. To preserve the wax’s integrity, opt for furniture polish specifically made for waxed surfaces.

3. Stone countertops and floors

The acidic nature of vinegar renders it unsuitable for the delicate composition of stone surfaces like granite and marble. Think about it – vinegar is a great way to battle mineral deposits, what is it going to do to your marble floors or countertops? Hint: these materials are mostly made of minerals.

A mixture of liquid dishwashing soap and warm water is as a gentler yet effective alternative for cleaning stone countertops and floors.

4. Hardwood floors

While vinegar is a versatile cleaner, it mixes with hardwood floors as well as water mixes with oil. It’s best to use cleaners specially made for hardwood floors, ensuring their longevity and aesthetic appeal.

If you think that sounds expensive, remmeber the cost of replacing your floors and all of a sudden, the price of these products will seem a lot more reasonable.

5. Dishwashers

Contrary to online DIY suggestions, incorporating vinegar into your dishwasher routine may come at a cost. The rubber components within the dishwasher bear the brunt of vinegar’s acidity, potentially leading to premature wear and tear. To safeguard the longevity of hoses and seals, steering clear of vinegar is the prudent choice.

6. Pans

The widely propagated mixture of vinegar and baking soda as a pan-cleaning powerhouse doesn’t hold up. Pans, with their diverse materials and coatings, demand more nuanced cleaning methods beyond the vinegar-baking soda duo. Not to mention, mixing vinegar and baking soda is not all it’s cracked up to be.

7. Clothing with vinegar and bleach

While white vinegar can be an effective laundry companion sometimes, the combination of vinegar and bleach creates a hazardous mix – toxic chlorine gas. This not only jeopardises your clothing but poses a serious health risk. Never mix bleach and vinegar. In fact, as I’ve said many times before – avoid mixing bleach with anything.

8. Greasy surfaces

Does vinegar cut through grease? No. Vinegar’s acidic nature renders it ineffective against grease. When faced with oil spills and greasy messes, opting for alkaline soaps like dish soap or even baking soda is much more effective.

Additional Tips for Proper Vinegar Use

Grease remover for dirty dishes

The versatility of vinegar does not extend to handling greasy pans, pots, and plates. Use dish soap, instead.


While generally unfriendly to waxed surfaces, vinegar has a unique role in wax removal. When aiming to strip away an old wax layer before applying a new one, vinegar is great.


The porous nature of marble makes it susceptible to the corrosive effects of vinegar. Opting for a safer alternative, such as hydrogen peroxide, ensures effective cleaning without compromising the integrity of the natural stone.


Not all vinegars are created equal when it comes to laundry duty. The correct choice of white distilled vinegar mitigates the risk of staining. Unlike the potential pitfalls posed by wine or apple cider vinegar.

Vinegar as a pesticide

It’s possible to use vinegar as a natural pesticide in the garden. However, direct application on plants can prove detrimental. Use a spray around leaves and stalks to minimise the risk to plant life.

Note: Be sure to read a gardening blog to learn how to apply vinegar effectively without killing your garden.

Protein stains

Vinegar isn’t the panacea for protein stains. Its acid coagulates proteins, resulting in a challenging-to-clean, gluey substance. Looking for an alternative solutions is advisable.


While vinegar stands as a formidable ally in the cleaning arena, an informed and nuanced approach is paramount. Vinegar has strengths and limitations.

Understanding this ensures not only effective cleaning but also the preservation of your belongings. And, as always, if vinegar doesn’t cut it, we’re never more than a phone call away.

Samyx Cleaning - Branding Consultant, Author - Atanas
Author: Atanas Dzhingarov

Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.