Vinegar, Cleaner or Wood Stripper?


Maid to Shine Wood FloorYou know what I used to love to do???¬† I loved to clean my house with vinegar.¬† We eat it, so it is not harmful to me, and it seems to do a great job.¬† But then I was out at a friend’s house and they said “can you make my floors shine again?”¬† It was true, they were dull!¬† I asked how old the floors were, and they said 2 years old.¬† I then asked what they were cleaning their floors with, and they responded with “Water and Vinegar.”

Science of Vinegar

A pH is on a scale of 1 to 14.  1 is pure acid, 14 is a pure base (or alkaline), and 7 is 100% water.  White vinegar has a pH of 2.4% and distilled white vinegar has an approximate pH of 5%

Lower pH cleaners, like vinegar,¬† work on dissolving mineral deposits. This makes vinegar a good rinsing agent but a poor cleaning agent.¬† Because its pH is acidic it won’t clean grease or dirt.

A high alkaline pH cleaner, like ammonia, are great at dissolving grease and dirt, but the higher pH will dull your wood and damage your skin.

So what happens?

When you use vinegar on  polyurethane finished wood, the acid in the vinegar breaks down the finish and starts to pit the finish.  These pits trap sand and along with the acid will eventually strip the polyurethane.

What to do?

Always use a pH balanced cleaner on your floors!  pH balanced means that the cleaner is as close to 7 as you can get.  The bottle of any pH neutral cleaner will state clearly on the label.  And, as a side note, we always recommend using a good natural cleaner.

The floor cleaner we use has a concentrated pH of 8.7 (alkaline).  This is mixed with pure water in a 1 to 256 part solution bringing the pH down close to 7 (around 7.1).



Did this help you?  Post a comment and tell us about it.  You can find other time saving house cleaning tips from Maid to Shine here.

Images provide by one of the follow sources unless otherwise noted:  Maid To Shine LLC.,,,,,, or stock.chng

5 comments on “Vinegar, Cleaner or Wood Stripper?

  1. Natural cleaning products are my favorite, but sometimes you have to be careful with them. I made the mistake of using ammonia, trying to refresh old wooden cupboards in my mother’s house and I deeply regret it. The damages were very serious :(. Next time I will use something with more balanced pH. Thank you for the tip:)

  2. Vinegar is really a great product when it comes to cleaning. I work as a cleaner (Carpet Cleaning Elephant and Castle Ltd.) so for me vinegar is a very important ingredient for my DIY cleaning products! Thanks for the informative article!

  3. I know that a lot of people are looking for natural or organic cleaning products. Thanks for the heads up about how vinegar will actually damage your wood flooring. Refinishing your floors is expensive. It’s a good idea to use the proper cleaning solutions for your floors.

  4. Thank you very much for the tip.
    I was wondering if I would had known this tip before it would helped me to stop the mistake that I did.Great share.

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