White vinegar cleaning hacks debunked – does white vinegar really disinfect your home?

Mrs Hinch shares vinegar cleaning trick for jewellery

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Whether you’re a fan of Mrs Hinch or Lynsey Crombie, the queens of home cleaning have offered many crafty hacks to clean your property with white vinegar. With everything from baking soda to the citric acid found in lemon juice proving tough on stains and household grime, it may seem strange to question the cleaning power of these natural agents. As the autumn weather fuels a host of colds and viruses, is white vinegar really the answer to a germ-free home?

White vinegar for cleaning

White vinegar is a remarkably powerful cleaning agent, working on everything from smeared windows to stain-covered carpets.

The acetic acid found in white vinegar makes it one of the most vigorous natural cleaning agents, often containing around five to 10 percent of this dirt fighting substance.

While white vinegar can be used to tackle physical dirt and debris on surfaces like showerheads, countertops and chopping boards, it has not yet been proven to kill all germs.

Can you use vinegar as a disinfectant?

One of the key differences between cleaning and disinfecting is the way in which germs are removed from the surface.

  • Cleaners physically remove dirt, grime and visible particles from a surface
  • Disinfectants destroy germs on contact

White vinegar makes for a great cleaner due to its acidity and odour-neutralising properties.

However, as a disinfectant, it has more limited uses.

White vinegar has only ever been proven to reduce, rather than kill the following types of pathogens:

  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Salmonella
  • Listeria monocytogenes

These common foodborne diseases can linger on surfaces which have hosted raw meat or spoiled food items and cause serious illness.

White vinegar has not yet been proven to eliminate traces of SARS-CoV-2 the virus that causes COVID-19.

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Which types of vinegar kill the most germs?

White distilled vinegar works well as a non-toxic cleaner for kitchens, bathrooms and stains.

It contains five percent acetic acid which is proven to dissolve dirt and debris effectively.

When it comes to tackling germs associated with the common cold or winter flu, malt vinegar comes out on top.

A study conducted in 2010 found that a solution with 10 percent malt vinegar can kill the influenza A virus.

The study concluded that: “It is possible to use common, low-technology agents such as one percent bleach, 10 percent malt vinegar, or 0.01 percent washing-up liquid to rapidly and completely inactivate influenza virus.”

Which products work best as disinfectants?

Despite its undeniable dirt-fighting capabilities, it’s probably best to stick to commercial household disinfectants when it comes to targeting harmful pathogens which could be responsible for that nasty cold.

Products containing the following ingredients are approved as efficient disinfectants:

  • Ethanol (ethyl alcohol)
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Sodium hypochlorite (bleach)

These ingredients can kill multiple types of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi on contact.

Looking for ways to clean with white vinegar? Read more here. White vinegar cleaning hacks: 5 ways to use white vinegar for cleaning that actually work

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