Aug 232019
Is Vinegar Used for Cleaning?
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Welcome to my 'Is Vinegar Used for Cleaning' post!

First of all, I must congratulate you for taking the time to do your research on this topic of green living. In this post, you will discover which vinegars can be used for cleaning and under what circumstances. Read on! 

As a qualified teacher, I am passionate about education and the impact it can have on bettering our future. It is down to us individuals to do our research and make small changes to the way we live our lives. 

These small changes are easy to make and can have a big impact on our health, the health of our family, and our environment. This website is designed for everyday people looking to make these changes. Here you will learn a legitimate way to GO GREEN!

Let me be completely transparent with you, I am not here to pitch or sell anything to you. I am here to reveal and to assist you on your journey of going green! 

What is Vinegar?

There are many varieties of vinegar available to buy in the store. There are different colors; some are clear, brown, green, or even red. Some we can eat and others we shouldn't eat. Some we can clean with and others we should avoid altogether.

You may be asking your self some of the following questions: What is vinegar? Why is it good for cleaning? Which one do I choose? Can I clean everything with vinegar? Are there some things that I shouldn't clean with it?

If you are overwhelmed by all the different vinegar options available you and want to learn some more... You are in the right place!

Vinegar is a liquid substance made from acetic acid and small amounts of other chemicals. The acetic acid is derived from the fermentation of sugars or ethanol from fruits or grains.

It is formed by 5-20% acetic acid and the rest is water. Although the acidity percentage varies depending on the type of vinegar, we can usually see this percentage on the product label.

Vinegar can be used for a variety of purposes, but is well known for its benefits in the kitchen - pickling, cooking ingredient, flavoring in sauces, health benefits, etc. It is the easiest form of a mild acid to produce and therefore it also has a history of domestic and industrial uses too, such as cleaning.

There are multiple types of vinegar and every different type will serve better for different purposes.

Vinegar and it's Different Purposes...

Did you know that although some kinds of vinegar, such as malt vinegar, are generally bad for our health, other vinegar such as balsamic vinegar is really good for us? Did you know that some types of vinegar are fit for human consumption but others are deadly? Some will be better on the environment than others too.

Different types of vinegar can be used for different purposes. This is because they vary in their acidic and pH levels. This is a little confusing, so remember these key facts:

High pH levels mean less acetic acid. These kinds of vinegar are safer for human consumption. However, low pH levels equate to high acetic acid levels. These types of vinegar are not safe for human consumption are generally used for cleaning, on personal and industrial scales.

We have a tendency to overuse cleaning products on a global scale. Many of us will have a kitchen cupboard under our sinks that is full to the brim with deadly chemicals. We spray these harmful chemicals in our homes, drastically reducing our air quality.

Vinegar is a fantastic alternative to the hazardous cleaning products society has become accustomed to. However, just like how some kinds of vinegar have different effects on our health, they too have different effects on the environment. I will go into this further, so keep reading.


Edible Vinegar Types...

There are multiple types of organic and non-organic kinds of edible vinegar such as white distilled vinegar, wine, champagne, balsamic, sherry, cider or apple, port, etc.

The majority of vinegar produced in a country will reflect the main produce of that country. For example, North America produces apples, Britain produces beer, the Far East produces rice and other countries such as France, Italy and Spain produce wine.

Knowing this it makes sense that North America produces a lot of cider vinegar, Britain produces malt vinegar, countries in the Far East produce rice-wine and wine-producing counties such as France, Italy and Spain make a lot of wine-vinegar.

I like to take a small amount of apple cider vinegar every other day. However, you must always take precautions when adding vinegar to your diet. Do your research and ask your doctor for advice before doing anything.

Generally speaking, rice wine is the least acidic, usually between two to four percent. While this vinegar may be one of the safest to consume, all vinegar should be consumed in moderation and diluted.

Wine vinegar is the most common companion of olive oil and frequently found in our foods. Wine vinegar is usually a minimum of six percent acetic acid. Wine malt and cider vinegar are strong but spirit vinegar is the strongest of the edible kinds of vinegar.

The strongest of edible vinegar is white vinegar, also known as spirit vinegar. It is made by fermenting grains such as corn wheat or rice and is typically found in many parts of the world. Precautions should be taken when consuming this vinegar because its strength can erode tooth enamel and cause acid reflux.

There are several other types of vinegar:

  • Varietal vinegar: made from a certain type of grape;
  • Sherry vinegar: aged in wooden sherry casks;
  • Balsamic vinegar: made from unfermented grape juice and matured in wooden casks;
  • Cane vinegar: made from fermented cane sap;
  • Spirit vinegar: contains a small quantity of alcohol and used the first choice for pickling because it is the strongest of all kinds of vinegar;
  • Flavored vinegar: people add a wide variety of flavorings to vinegar including garlic, spices, honey, and fruit;
  • Champagne vinegar: made from champagne. The grapes used to make champagne come from an area in France.
  • Port vinegar: made from the drink port which derives out of Portugal.

As you can see many different types of vinegar can be found all over the world. There is a lot of research available on vinegar and health too. 


Not Fit for Human Consumption...

After white vinegar, cleaning vinegar is the next strongest kind of vinegar and it is not fit for human consumption. Because of its strength, it is important to take safety precautions when using it. I would recommend wearing gloves.

Industrial vinegar is the strongest type of vinegar produced. It is generally not available to the public unless purchased as a weed killer or herbicide. However, as a health enthusiast and passionate environmentalist, I don't agree with the use of such products.

When used in our gardens, whether it is called industrial vinegar, weed killer, or herbicide... These kinds of products are very hazardous to our health and the health of our environment. They cause harm to our ecosystems, plants, organisms, and wildlife.

Traces get into our waterways. Small amounts wouldn't be much of a concern. However, issues arise when everybody on the planet is using this type of product for weed control. Weaker types of vinegar will be equally as effective for weed control and are much safer to use.

When industrial vinegar and other herbicides get into our waterways we damage the quality of the water on the planet, our tap water and we increase our risk of personally consuming them. They can have very severe effects on human health when consumed via digestion and inhalation too. They can have detrimental effects on our nervous and respiratory systems.

It's Time for Change...

Unfortunately, this type of vinegar and toxic chemicals are often used by industrial cleaning companies and can be found in many of today's household cleaning products.

Companies provide products and services that consumers will buy. Therefore, you can contribute to a change in this industry by simply opting for companies that sell and use natural alternatives and safer types of vinegar.

As more consumers buy into green products and services, the more changes we will see in the future. If we want to change the products available to us in stores we can vote with our money and our voice.

I also recommend that you hold the elected officials, who have a say in the quality of water, accountable. You can do this by asking them these questions. We live in a democratic society where policy changes happen when enough people stand behind an idea.

Why is Vinegar Used for Cleaning?

 The simple answer is this - some kinds of vinegar are much safer to use for cleaning than the majority of cleaning products that can be found in stores. Besides, vinegar has very effective cleaning properties, and it is cheaper. Let's look a little more into this.

I recommend using are the kinds of vinegar that are safe for human consumption, such as rice vinegar and apple cider vinegar. These types of vinegar are safe for adults, pets, and children, making it an ideal product to use every day in your home environment.

The acidity in vinegar is what makes it an ideal natural cleaning alternative. Vinegar can dissolve mineral deposits, soap marks, grass stains, glues, mildews, wax build-ups, polishes many metals, cleans brick and stone, kills many germs, breaks down grease, tackles a variety of stains and deodorizes, making it the perfect solution for nearly every household cleaning task. Everything except laundry, because of its yellow/brown color.

However, always be cautious when using vinegar for the first time. It is too strong for some types of delicate fabrics and stone surfaces, therefore it may need diluting with water first. I often dilute and test a small area first if I am concerned about how the two materials may react.

You will find 'cleaning vinegar' at many stores. It is a stronger form of distilled white vinegar. When I am doing laundry or tackling a more challenging cleaning task, I will use cleaning vinegar.

Choosing Vinegar for Cleaning...

All kinds of vinegar can be used for cleaning. However, some will be better at doing different jobs. For example, rice vinegar is very subtle and can be used for cleaning delicate items. Just mix it with equal parts of water and use it in a spray bottle as a nonabrasive cleaning agent.

It also comes down to personal preference. While cleaning vinegar may be the most effective for household cleaning, it is very strong and this is bad for the environment. Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, is better for the environment and can achieve very similar results. However, it is not advised to use apple cider vinegar when doing laundry because of its yellow/brown color.

When a member of my family is sick, I add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to my all-purpose cleaning spray. Hydrogen peroxide is a natural alternative to bleach. Although it is derived from natural sources, it still has its dangers because it has strong properties.

Therefore, I only do this when somebody is sick. Think about the necessity of using a strong chemical like this and the effects regular use will have on the air quality in your home. Often less is more when it comes to safe and healthy home cleaning. I genuinely believe that you will never need to use a vinegar stronger than cleaning vinegar in your home.

Cleaning Vinegar vs White Vinegar...

I tend to avoid using cleaning vinegar when possible because of the added fragrances which can be detrimental to your health. I much prefer to use white vinegar.

In essence, the key difference between the two types is the strength. Cleaning vinegar is stronger than white vinegar, with 6% acidity content.

Distilled white vinegar usually has a 5% acidity content. What appears to be a small difference, one percent, actually makes the cleaning vinegar a staggering 20% stronger.

Is Vinegar a Disinfectant?

Many people use vinegar as a disinfectant as it kills the majority of bacteria. However, it is not a registered disinfectant and is not approved for this use by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This is because it doesn't kill some dangerous bacteria such as staphylococcus or salmonella. However, as I mentioned previously, the situations when something stronger than vinegar is needed are very rare.

When I am concerned about dangerous bacteria lurking in my household, I add a little (less than 3%) of hydrogen peroxide (a natural disinfectant or bleach) to my homemade all-purpose cleaner.

I especially like doing this when one of my family members has a cold. I also use hydrogen peroxide when cleaning my toilet. 

Read This...

Do you want to learn more about how some cleaning product manufacturers are rated concerning toxic chemicals and consumer right-to-know issues?

It is called ‘The Dirt on Cleaning Product Companies’, by Woman’s Voices for the Earth (WVE). 

Which Vinegar is Used for Cleaning? The Final Verdict!

There are many different types of vinegar on the market. How do you choose which one to use when cleaning?

This comes down to personal preference. If you want to best protect the environment I would use a more gentle vinegar such as rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar as an all-purpose day to day cleaner.

When you need something stronger, because there are germs in the house, you have difficult dirt to tackle then opt for distilled white vinegar, cleaning vinegar or add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to your regular all-purpose spray.

If you have any questions or thoughts on is vinegar used for cleaning, please do not hesitate to leave me a comment below. I will reply as soon as I can!

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Reader Comments

  1. Hi Catherine! Lovely post regarding the overlooked household product~ My mum has taught me since I was young that vinegar is a great helper in terms of cleaning as well as washing clothes. Although I did not enjoy the smell at all, it really does the job well! =)

    1. Hi there Hans,

      I am pleased to hear that you are already aware of this wonderful natural product.
      You make a very valid point about the smell. The most common mistake people make here is the quantities they use in their solutions.
      Also using pure essential oils which also have valuable cleaning properties, such as lemon, will really help with that too.

      I hope this has been useful to you!

      Have a green day!