I’d like to address some common misconceptions regarding home made cleaning products. The one I’ll discuss today is vinegar as a cleaning chemical. I have to honestly say I prefer my vinegar mixed with a good olive oil on my salad. I know many folks use it for a variety of cleaning purposes so we’ll discuss it’s uses. First off vinegar is on the acid side of the PH scale. If you have a shower head that’s clogged with mineral deposits you can soak it, and it’ll dissolve the deposits. An automatic drip coffee maker will work better if periodically you run some vinegar through it. Just remember to follow up with a water flush before you brew that next cup of Joe. I’ve had folks tell me they use it to clean the walls in the shower. As crazy as this sounds it probably works. The reason it works is the soil found in your shower is soap scum, and body oils. These are alkaline in nature, and most good shower cleaners contain an acid. The problem using vinegar on the walls is it runs down the wall because it doesn’t contain a thickening agent. Good commercial shower cleaners cling to the surface giving you what’s called dwell time, and allowing the chemical to work.
The next big area I’ve heard of vinegar being used to clean is floors. Never use vinegar on a highly polished stone floor. If you do I guarantee it won’t be highly polished after it’s use. Vinegar being on the acid side will etch polished marble destroying the shine. Years ago I had a lady with a new $30,000 marble floor clean it with vinegar, and etch it. The only way to fix this is to have a professional come in with a machine to polish it. This is very time consuming, and very expensive. I have been told you can use vinegar to clean urethane or factory finished wood floors. It doesn’t work because vinegar contains no surfactants to lift, or release the dirt from the floor. I’ve checked with manufacturers in the wood floor industry along with chemical manufacturers, and they don’t recommend using vinegar to clean wood floors. I’ve also had people tell me they use it to clean vinyl tile floors, and it won’t work for the same reason it doesn’t work on wood floors. Years ago when strippers used to remove old wax from vinyl floors were a high alkaline PH, janitors would add vinegar to the rinse water. This helped neutralize the PH so when they were done new floor wax would adhere to the floor. Todays technologies provide neutral PH strippers that eliminate this need.
In closing I hope I identified some uses for vinegar other than a component for salad dressing. With the exception of cleaning my automatic drip coffee maker a far better commercial cleaning product exists. Drop me a line, and let me know your thoughts.