Can We Really Trust Vinegar to Kill Germs?

February 28, 2024

Vinegar is a go-to product for cleaning, and you should always have it at home for the same reason. The uses of vinegar at home are endless and are not limited to the insides of your kitchen if we start talking about it. It is a common ingredient in most homemade disinfecting solutions. One of the major reasons why most people rely on vinegar as a cleaning agent is because it is cheap, natural and free of chemicals. It is an excellent choice for all those who wish to stick to eco-friendly cleaning. After all, isn’t that our responsibility to take care of our planet while cleaning and bringing positive energy to our homes?

You might have wondered even while using vinegar whether it can keep bacteria away from your home, right? If you ask us, we will tell you that it depends. Though you can use vinegar as a natural cleaner, it is not very effective as a disinfectant. If you go looking for answers on Google, you will see a lot of studies and tests about the properties of vinegar and how you can use it by combining it with other eco-friendly ingredients. We understand your concern when you go on searching “can vinegar kill germs?” or “is vinegar a good disinfectant?”

To know more about all these aspects in detail and have a better idea of where and when to use vinegar while cleaning, read the full article.  

What’s the Difference Between a Normal Cleaning Agent and Disinfectant?

Before we discuss any further how we can easily and effectively apply vinegar, we need you to understand/remember the difference between normal cleaners and disinfectants. The main purpose of cleaners is to remove dirt and build-up grime. They also help greatly to remove foul smells from various surfaces. Of course, normal cleaners can clean some germs, but they fail to remove all of them.  

On the contrary, not all disinfectants can remove bad odour from surfaces when you use them for cleaning. You would need disinfectants to kill bacteria from different surfaces. Any detergent that can clean cent per cent of bacteria and viruses from a surface in ten minutes is a commercial household detergent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can read more details about EPA-registered disinfectants here. Here are some basic things you will have to know about cleaners and disinfectants.  


Cleaners would contain soap and other cleaning ingredients to make removing dirt, grime and debris easier. They are useful in removing and killing some germs from surfaces.  


Disinfectants could contain isopropyl alcohol, quaternary ammonium chloride, peroxide, or bleach. It doesn’t help greatly to remove build-up dirt and grime, but they are effective in killing bacteria and viruses completely.  

Is Vinegar a Good Cleaning Agent?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. According to the EPA, vinegar is not regarded as a disinfectant. It can kill germs, but not all of them. The acetic acid content in vinegar can affect the cell structure, thereby changing it but it can’t destroy them completely. We also stress that it is not effective against the family of coronaviruses.  

Certain studies say that vinegar is effective in killing some types of food-borne pathogenic bacteria that can be commonly present in leafy vegetables. In addition to that, adding salt to vinegar while cleaning leafy vegetables can increase antibacterial activity.  

Even though vinegar might not be the best antibacterial option you can come across, it is a good choice for all those who want to stick to their pledge to lead a sustainable life. White vinegar consists of 5-7% acetic acid, which is strong enough to dissolve stubborn dirt and get rid of unpleasant smells. While we mention this, we would also like to add that homemade bleach and alcohol solutions are effective to disinfect surfaces when compared to any kind of vinegar.  

Where Can You Use Vinegar for Cleaning?

Homemade cleaning solutions made using vinegar are good choices to use while engaging in home cleaning activities as it helps to freshen all surfaces. Here is what you can clean at home using vinegar.  

Countertops and cupboards that are not made of natural stone and waxed wood

Vinegar helps in erasing stains and fingerprints from these surfaces.  


Vinegar is that eco-friendly cleaner everyone loves to use on walls to remove stubborn stains- even nicotine stains that happen because of smoking. Using vinegar doesn’t change the colour of your walls, but you can always test it on a hidden spot on your wall.  

Windows and glasses

Vinegar helps to remove water stains and helps to make the window glass streak-free and crystal clear. But do not use vinegar to clean mirrors at home as it can corrode the silver backing if it leaks behind by any chance.  

Sinks, tails and bathtubs

Vinegar helps make sinks, bathroom floors, bathtubs, and grouts free of dirt and grime. It also prevents any build-up of bacteria and moulds in these areas.  


Vinegar is a good choice to clean the kitchen and most appliances in it. The acidic nature of white vinegar will help loosen food stains and remove grime without much strain. If you see a solid combination of dirt on your stovetop, you can use baking soda and vinegar together and leave it for a minimum of twenty minutes before cleaning.  


Vinegar is effective in removing and unclogging minor blockages and removing the foul smell from drains by breaking down accumulated dirt.  

Fridges, dishwashers and washing machine

Vinegar is an effective cleaning agent in cleaning the insides of these appliances. But do not ever add vinegar to the washing cycle as it can destroy the rubber gaskets of water hoses, thereby leading to leaks.  

Microwaves, tea kettles, and coffee makers

A cleaning solution made of vinegar and baking soda will help loosen the food stains and mineral buildups inside your microwave. It will also help get rid of the bad smell inside the microwave. It is also useful to descale your coffee maker at home.  

How to Make an All-Purpose Cleaner Using Vinegar?

Make the solution

You can easily make a cleaning solution by mixing equal parts of white vinegar and water and filling it in a spray bottle for easy application. You can choose to add a few drops of essential oil if you want to reduce the foul smell of the vinegar. Shake the solution well after this step.  

Apply the solution to the surfaces

Spray the solution on the surfaces you want to clean such as stovetops, sinks, countertops, tiles, windows, and pretty much everything we have mentioned above in this article.  

Let it sit for some time and wipe clean

Let the vinegar solution sit for around thirty minutes on dirty surfaces for it to work. Wipe clean using a soft microfibre cloth.

What Should You Not Clean Using Vinegar?

Many won’t think of the possibility of acetic acid reacting with the organic chemicals present in dirt and stain. This reaction can damage the surfaces of your home, especially those made of organic elements. Here is a list of things you should not clean using vinegar or any cleaning solution prepared by mixing vinegar.  

Device screens

Vinegar is a threat to the anti-glare finish of touch screens of digital devices, and it can affect the performance of the screens. You should always rely on a specialised screen cleaning agent to clean the screens of your devices.  

Clothes iron

Iron tank is never the place for vinegar solution as it can damage the metal parts and the inner lining of your iron box. Most new irons have a self-cleaning option which can be used with clean water.  

Wooden furniture and flooring

You should never attempt to clean wooden furniture and flooring as the acetic acid content in it can damage its shiny finish. It can make the furniture and flooring look dull and cloudy. Clean furniture that is made of waxed wood using special cleaners or a mixture of water and dish soap.

Natural stone

The application of vinegar will destroy the coating on natural stones, and it can destroy the sealants on them. Use only a mild and non-aggressive detergent to clean countertops made of natural stone such as marble or quartz.  

To know more in detail on how to clean quartz countertops of your home, read our guide.

It is always best to test the solution somewhere not evident on any surface before you start cleaning. If you want to avoid confusion about cleaning your home in Singapore the right way, get in touch with the professionals at Sendhelper. Download the app or visit the Sendhelper website to book our expert cleaning services and get off the load from your life. Our expert professionals will take care of everything while you can simply enjoy your day.