Vinegar Isn’t The Only Solution

The search for the answer to life, the universe and everything continues.  We want one simple answer that explains everything: one simple solution to all our problems. And there are more than a few people who think that is vinegar!
There are claims that vinegar will cure cancer, prevent or treat diabetes, reverse aging, treat hair lice, remove warts, prevent hair loss and correct bad eyesight to name just a few. As a disinfectant it will purportedly kill all harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi. It has been promoted as the ultimate cleaner for skin and hair, dentures, drains, metal, clothes and carpet cleaning procedure at Cranbourne. There is no doubt that vinegar is very useful, that is does have medicinal uses and can be used to clean and sanitize, but many of the claims are exaggerated or inaccurate and more than a few are just wrong.
There is scientific evidence that vinegar will kill 90% of many bacteria including E. coli and salmonella, but it isn’t effective against others such as staphylococcus. And using vinegar isn’t as simple as it is made out to be. Household vinegar usually contains about 5% acetic acid, but concentrations of 10% or more are usually needed. The surface has to be soaked for at least 30 minutes in vinegar and biofilms produced by many bacteria will protect them unless the surface is scrubbed before the vinegar is applied. Disinfectants for use in hospital cleaning have to be able to kill at least 99.9% of the bacteria but in a home, if properly install high quality carpet, vinegar will work to at least reduce the number of bacteria.
For general cleaning it is the acidity of vinegar that is important. Acids react with alkaline substances and are therefore most effective in water damage restoration handled by the professionals. Vinegar is certainly effective in removing calcium deposits and soap residues which are alkaline. For carpet cleaning and stain removal it depends upon the type of stain to be removed. Most dirt tends to be acidic, so soap will be more effective, or bleach and ammonia which are also alkaline cleansers. Vinegar is frequently recommended for removing pet urine. Fresh urine however is usually neutral or slightly acidic until bacteria in the air change it and it becomes alkaline. Vinegar will be more effective on urine after 24 hours, although it may help earlier by killing bacteria.
Vinegar however is of no use whatsoever in removing oil and grease. Even in a salad dressing vinegar doesn’t mix with oil. Degreasers, whether for use in the home or for industrial purposes such as factory cleaning, use alkaline cleansers often combined with surfactants such as soap or detergent which bind with the grease and lift it from the surface.
Vinegar has been used in cleaning for thousands of years and in recent years has gained popularity with people looking for safer, cheaper, environmentally friendly alternatives to commercial cleansers. It can be a very useful cleanser but it doesn’t work on everything.