Every home has at least one kind of vinegar in its kitchen cupboard. It can be plain old distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or a more sophisticated choice of balsamic, sherry, red wine, or champagne vinegar. Whatever the type is, vinegar is a vital ingredient in marinades, dressings, and brines.
But wait, there’s more! Some types of vinegar have other uses besides being an ingredient in cooking. They are also versatile cleaners. Here is why vinegar cleaning is a good cleaner and its science.
What is Vinegar?
Vinegar came from the Latin “Vinum Acer,” which means sour wine. Its origin dates back to at least 7,000 years from archaeological findings in Ancient Egypt. Vinegar was the cheap wine of the lower class during the Roman times. By 500 BC, China was massively producing vinegar for commercial purposes.
Vinegar is made from any sugary substance (usually a fruit) in a process that ferments the sugar into acetic acid. This process is the same as winemaking. There are two popular ways of making vinegar: One is by using yeast, and the other is with a genus of bacteria called Acetobacter. It is quite ironic because we use microorganisms to make vinegar, which will later be used against them.
Since vinegar is a mild acid, it is used in cleaning and disinfecting, aside from cooking. However, the acetic acid component gives the vinegar its sour taste and pungent scent, the same ingredient in many store-bought household cleaners.
Acetic acid, a natural deodorizer, is an active cleaning ingredient in vinegar. It acts as a disinfectant, too, by damaging the cell membranes of bacteria that eventually kill them. However, it does not cover all pathogens as it cannot kill more dangerous bacteria like staph.
Vinegar is gaining popularity as a powerful house cleaner and disinfectant. People seek an eco-friendly, inexpensive, and effective cleaner that replaces harsh chemicals and bleaches. And they rediscovered vinegar to be a good cleaner.
Why is Vinegar Effective as a Cleaner?
Although vinegar is not a complete cleaning solution, it is effective when used correctly. Among all of the traditional cleaners, it works on eliminating several microbes.
Vinegar cleaner is often a mix of vinegar and water, containing about four to five percent acetic acid. This acid is so versatile that it can be mixed with water, alcohol, oil, or any liquid, including gasoline. A feat that no other cleaning agents can. When mixed with water, the acetic acid component breaks into two. One is hydrogen, and the remainder is acetate.
It is the hydrogen molecule that is effective in cleaning. Hydrogen bonds with any molecule it encounters and acts and weakens the structure of the molecule. That is why vinegar cleaning can effectively remove stains made from alkali substances like urine, limestone, soap, etc.
The other product in the reaction, acetate, also plays a role in cleaning. It has an extra electron on its structure that acts as a magnet to other atoms, particularly metals, to create new molecules.
To illustrate how it works: when acetate comes in contact with the molecules in rust and grime, it changes its chemical makeup. The new arrangement helps water to dissolve them. Acetic acid can also eliminate odors by killing bacteria and fungi. It is acidic and therefore destroys the cell structure of the bacteria. In addition, it prevents fungi from converting sugar into energy.
How to Select the Right Type of Vinegar for Cleaning
There are dozens of types of vinegar, but not all of them can be used as a house cleaner. Most vinegar like malt, apple cider, rice, red and white wine vinegar, and balsamic are great for cooking but not for cleaning. The best vinegar for cleaning is apple cider vinegar and white vinegar.
White and distilled vinegar are hard to distinguish in the grocery by their looks alone. But they are different products. White vinegar is made from fermented sugar cane; white distilled vinegar is from any fruit or sugar source that has undergone a distilling process.
Distillation separates the liquid component for the base mixture, resulting in a clear solution with about 5-8% acetic acid. It is slightly stronger than white vinegar. However, don’t disregard white vinegar yet. Some may contain as much as 20% acid, so better check the labels.
Another great cleaner is apple cider vinegar. It is made from fermented apple juice. It contains the same cleaning properties as white or distilled vinegar but has a fruity, sweeter scent.
Vinegar is an excellent, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly antibacterial cleaner. However, you were careful as it is not suitable for every surface. It can be corrosive and does not go well with natural materials. Always double-check if vinegar is safe to use on this surface before cleaning.
While we can turn to natural cleaners like vinegar to help our house, some stains are hard to remove or clean. In this case, we can call professional cleaners to help. Book your cleaning services with the professionals at Effly. You don’t have to do the dirty work yourself when you can call the pros to handle them.
Julie is a passionate writer a mother of three kids and a dedicated cleaning enthusiast, eager to share valuable insights and practical tips on maintaining a clean and organized home. With a deep understanding of the challenges of maintaining a tidy living space, Julie has spent years honing its expertise in cleaning methods, organizing techniques, and sustainable practices.