Should I clean with vinegar?

While vinegar is often referred to as a one-size-fits-all miracle cleaner, often it is not right for the job at hand. Vinegar naturally helps remove odors, it’s cheap, and environmentally friendly, but there are many things we should never clean with vinegar.

Tile and grout

Worker With Yellow Gloves And Blue Towel Clean Red Tiles GroutWhile this is probably the one surface where vinegar is most often recommended for, there are some drawbacks. Most people that seem to see an improvement over their previous method of cleaning are generally not benefiting from the vinegar but instead, from the change in cleaning method.

Over time, vinegar can slowly degrade your grout. While it generally cleans the tile well, it can slowly breakdown your grout over time, and after all, the grout is the weaker and harder to clean of the 2 surfaces on your floor, we should be most concerned with the upkeep on the grout.

But why are my floors cleaner since I started using vinegar? Well the answer is easy, you’re not using a detergent, and you’re using a lot less. Most people don’t bother to read the instructions on the bottle of the cleaner of their choice.  Most of us also overuse our cleaning product sometimes as much as 10 times or more. So what we have happening here is excess amounts of detergent being left on the floor, which draws dirt to it. The solution is to use a proper floor cleaning product, and use it in the right amount. The final, and most important step is proper rinsing. Many of us fill a bucket with water, only to mop our floors with maybe one or 2 rinses in the bucket. This should be common sense but we all get lazy sometimes. RINSE THAT MOP! The more often you rinse the mop the better your floors will look. What is the point in spreading dirty water all over your dirty floor? Rinse rinse rinse!

Hardwood and laminate floors

Vinegar can strip waxes (both factory applied such as “no wax” floors and user applied) which leaves your wood and laminate floors looking dull and dingy. We only recommend cleaning products approved for wood and laminate floors.

Stone counter tops and floors

Never ever use vinegar on natural stone! Granite, marble, and travertine are naturally occurring stones and as such, they do not have the chemical resistance that many synthetic materials do. Acids (such as the ones found in vinegar) etch the surface of natural stone. Using vinegar as a cleaner heavily diluted, you may not immediately notice its effects, but over time the acids react with the calcium in the stone and become rougher and rougher over time. If you want to keep your stone looking bright and shiny keep any acids away! (this includes acid based cleaners, vinegar, spaghetti sauce, and even orange juice.

Stubborn odors

english bulldog sniffing up in the air at another dogs backside - dog fartYou may have used some bowls of vinegar to help remove odors from the air around your house, and as a cost effective alternative, it does work well. Unfortunately, vinegar does nothing to actually REMOVE the odor from your home. To properly treat odors you need to treat the odor at its source. If you aren’t aware of what the source is, or how to remove them, feel free to call us! We specialize in removing stubborn odors from all the surfaces in your home whether they are caused from mold, mildew, pet accidents, or any other contaminant.

General cleaning, mold, and mildew

While vinegar is safe, cheap, and helps with odors, it’s relatively ineffective when it comes to removing soil from most surfaces. This becomes ESPECIALLY obvious on waxy, or greasy surfaces such as stoves, counter tops or in the garage. Polished and aluminum surfaces can also be damaged by vinegar over time. Mold and mildew are often made less obvious by cleaning with vinegar, but this generally just removed the surface mildew which looks better, but then immediately grows back. Keep in mind that mold is a living thing, and not dirt, and needs to be killed to stop further growth.

What do I use then?

Unfortunately, there is no miracle product that works best for every situation. Years of business and long term evaluation has taught us what to use and where. Even when the professionals are called in for a thorough cleaning, different techniques and chemicals are used for different situations. As a homeowner (or tenant) you can still better keep up the surfaces in your home efficiently and safely with a little information and care.

Our technicians will gladly help recommend the best types of products that you can use to care for your stone, tile and grout, carpet, upholstery, and bathrooms. We even carry a full line of products for home use that we have selected as the best of the best. Feel free to call us to consult about what products are best for you and your home and you can pick them up from us or even have us deliver them to you.