Vinegar, a common household item, has many uses as a disinfectant, making it an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional cleaning products. In recent times, it has gained popularity as a natural cleaner. Many people prefer using vinegar to wash their countertops, sinks, and other kitchen surfaces.
Around the home, vinegar can help eliminate odours as well as dirt. It can be combined with other ingredients, such as baking soda, to clean hard surfaces.
Vinegar is a great alternative to harsh cleaners, but it does have some drawbacks, particularly regarding its disinfectant abilities.
If you’re interested in eco-friendly cleaning and want to know what vinegar can and can’t do, we can shed some light on the matter.
First, it’s important to understand the difference between cleaners and disinfectants:
- Cleaners physically remove dirt, dust and a few germs from a surface. They don’t kill germs.
- Disinfectants destroy germs on contact. These products kill or inhibit harmful bacteria, like bacteria and viruses.
White distilled vinegar is an excellent choice as a cleaner. It has 5 percent acetic acid, a substance that can dissolve dirt, grime, and debris.
But, as an antibacterial agent, vinegar has limited applications. It can only kill or reduce certain kinds of pathogens, including:
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
- Listeria monocytogenes
These germs are known for their ability to cause foodborne illnesses common to the population.
A study from 2010 also revealed that a solution containing 10% malt vinegar could eliminate the influenza A virus.
Still, vinegar can’t kill all germs. This includes SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t yet registered vinegar as a disinfectant. The EPA does not review common household products for their effectiveness against germs.
Because of these limitations, vinegar might not be the most effective method for disinfecting your home.
In order to be considered a disinfectant, a product must meet certain EPA standards. A disinfectant must be able to eliminate 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria within 5-10 minutes.
Products that contain the following ingredients meet this criteria:
- ethanol (ethyl alcohol)
- isopropyl alcohol
- hydrogen peroxide
- quaternary ammonium
- phenolic compounds
- sodium hypochlorite (bleach)
These ingredients can kill many types of pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria and fungi.
Examples of potent disinfectant products include:
- Clorox Bleach
- Lysol Disinfectant Spray
- Lysol or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
Make sure to read the label before purchasing the disinfectant. Look for the EPA registration number, which will be listed as “EPA Reg. No.”
When it’s time to disinfect your home or workspace, your technique is as equally important as the product you use.
Keep the following tips to keep in mind when disinfecting:
- Clean the dirty areas with hot water and soap before disinfecting. This will get rid of dirt and other debris.
- Always ensure that the room is well-ventilated before using any disinfectants.
- Be sure to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces like desks, doorknobs, and light switches. Do this regularly.
- Clean up frequently touched electronics, such as remote controls and smartphones, using wipes containing at least 70% alcohol.
- Wear disposable gloves to protect your skin while you’re cleaning and disinfecting. Throw the gloves away and avoid reusing them once you’re finished.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, contact time, concentration, or amount of disinfectant to use.
Although vinegar isn’t a great disinfectant, it’s also an excellent cleaner. The high acidity of vinegar can help break down the stubborn buildup of dirt, soap and scum.
Vinegar is a great solution to clean dust and dirt from:
- coffee makers
Vinegar isn’t recommended for use on certain surfaces, though. The acidity of the vinegar can damage surfaces like:
- waxed wood
- cast iron
Don’t mix vinegar with bleach, as the combination will release dangerous fumes.
If you’d like to use vinegar for cleaning, you’re in the right place. There are many ways to use it around your house. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular methods.
- Unclog and refresh your drains. Pour 2 to 3 cups of hot water into the drain. Then, add a cup of baking soda. Next, pour 1 cup of white vinegar mixed with 1 cup of water into the drain. Cover and let the vinegar sit for 10 minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain again.
- Remove stains in mugs. Add 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes, then clean the mug.
- Clean up food residue from your microwave. Heat a solution of 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of hot water in the microwave. After the solution begins to steam, open the microwave and wipe off the food.
- Remove soap scum that has accumulated in your bathtub. Soak a sponge with vinegar, then wipe down the tub. Use baking soda to scrub and rinse with water.
Another option is to make a vinegar-based cleaner for your mirrors, shower, windows, and more.
The following are required:
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
- 2 cups distilled or filtered water
- a spray bottle
Pour the ingredients into the spray bottle. Secure the lid and shake well. If you’d like to reduce the vinegar smell, add 10-20 drops of your favourite essential oil.
To use the solution, spray it onto the area you want to clean. Wipe with a clean, dry cloth.
Vinegar isn’t the best choice as a disinfectant. According to EPA standards, a disinfectant must be able to kill 99.9 percent of disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Vinegar can only fight certain bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella.
The most effective method to disinfect your workspace or home can be using an approved EPA disinfectant. Check the product’s label for the EPA registration number.
You can still use vinegar to clean your home for various purposes. Due to its acidity, vinegar is great for removing dirt on surfaces such as glass, sinks and countertops.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What are the uses of disinfectant?
A: Disinfectants are used to kill or prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They are commonly used in healthcare facilities, schools, public spaces, and homes to clean and sanitize surfaces, equipment, and objects.
Q: Is vinegar a disinfectant?
A: Vinegar has some disinfecting properties but is not a registered disinfectant under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Vinegar is more effective against certain types of viruses and bacteria than others. It is generally not effective against hard-to-kill pathogens like Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus.
Q: How does vinegar kill germs?
A: Vinegar is acidic, which means it can break down the cell walls of certain types of viruses and bacteria. The acetic acid present in vinegar can disrupt the cell membranes of microorganisms, which can cause them to die.
Q: How effective is vinegar as a disinfectant compared to other types of disinfectants?
A: Vinegar has some disinfecting properties, but it’s generally less effective than other types of disinfectants, such as bleach or quaternary ammonium compounds.
Q: Can vinegar be used to disinfect fruits and vegetables?
A: While vinegar may help remove dirt and other debris from vegetables and fruits, it isn’t an effective disinfectant for food. The best method to disinfect the fruits and vegetables is to wash them thoroughly with soap and water or use a produce wash specifically designed for this purpose.
Q: Are there any safety concerns when using vinegar as a disinfectant?
A: Although vinegar is generally considered safe, it can be harmful if consumed in large amounts or if it comes into contact with the eyes. It is also crucial to remember that vinegar should not be mixed with bleach or any other cleaners because this can result in dangerous fumes. In addition, vinegar shouldn’t be used on certain surfaces, such as unsealed grout or waxed floors, as it can causedamage.