Is Vinegar a Disinfectant 13?

As many people seek to cut down on household cleaning products containing chemicals, some are turning to natural ingredients to clean their homes. Vinegar is an ingredient used for cooking and salad dressings and also has a number of uses around the home as a natural cleaner. Vinegar, particularly distilled white vinegar, is a cheap, effective, and nontoxic solution for tackling grease and grime. But does it have what it takes to kill germs and bacteria?

The acetic acid in cleaning vinegar makes it a natural cleanser, with the power to break down and remove sticky substances like ketchup, peanut butter and honey. It also has antibacterial properties and can help remove stains. Vinegar can also soothe dandruff and alleviate itchy skin conditions, such as psoriasis and dermatitis. However, it should never be consumed or applied directly to the skin.

While a vinegar solution is effective against some physical dirt and germs, such as food splatter and mildew, it is not an effective disinfectant. The CDC recommends using a diluted household bleach solution, which is able to kill bacterial pathogens and the coronavirus, as well as an alcohol solution with at least 70 percent alcohol to clean and disinfect surfaces in your home.

Although some studies have shown that acetic acid may be able to destroy certain types of bacteria, including the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa (which causes chronic wound infections), others have found that full-strength vinegar doesn’t kill germs in the same way that other commercial cleaning products do. Additionally, undiluted vinegar can damage some surfaces, including plastics and metals with a shiny coating (like chrome and stainless steel), some types of glass, wood with a waxed surface, and rubber gaskets in appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.

Vinegar can be combined with other cleaning ingredients to create effective cleaners, such as a homemade all-purpose spray that can be used for kitchen cabinets, windows and sinks. To make a DIY all-purpose spray, mix 1/4 cup cleaning vinegar with 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on soiled surfaces and wipe away with a lint-free cloth.

Another easy way to keep a house clean is to use a combination of equal parts vinegar and baking soda to clean toilets and sinks. The baking soda will eliminate odors and the vinegar will clean away any built-up debris on the pipes and in the bowl. The best cleaning vinegar for a toilet is distilled white vinegar because it has the most potent acetic acid content and can be effective against mold and mildew.

It’s also important to note that a vinegar solution isn’t a disinfectant for the coronavirus, which spreads through respiratory droplets and can only be killed with an approved disinfectant that has been left visibly wet on a surface for 10 minutes or more. The CDC recommends disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and light switches, with a diluted bleach solution or an EPA-registered disinfectant to prevent the spread of the virus.