Vinegar vs. Bleach
While vinegar is not classified as a disinfectant by the EPA, guess what is? You guessed it, bleach. When cleaning, bleach should be diluted with water. Bleach solution can be classified as either a sanitizer or a disinfectant, depending on the concentration of bleach.
Bleach is a cost-effective and sure-fire way to kill germs. However, you should be careful not to use it too liberally. Overuse of disinfectants can lead to harmful health and environmental consequences. It’s best to save it for things like toilets and sinks that can come into contact with dangerous bacteria or high-touch areas like door-knobs and faucets.
One last reminder: Never mix vinegar with bleach or hydrogen peroxide. The combination can result in toxic vapors.
When to Use Vinegar
We’ve established that vinegar should not be your first line of defense against harmful bacteria and viruses. However, it does have some helpful uses when it comes to cleaning (remembering our definition of cleaning as stated above). Having some white vinegar on hand at all times (like this gallon-sized jug available on Amazon) is a good idea for cleaning everyday grease and grime.
The acidity will help dissolve and soften tough-to-clean spots, making them easier to wipe away with a sponge. Use it to clean dirty sinks, greasy stovetops, dirty sheet pans, stainless steel cookware, and even your Instant Pot.
The Bottom Line
While vinegar is a cheap, effective, and non-toxic solution to breaking down grease and grime, it’s not a disinfectant. If you’re trying to kill harmful bacteria and viruses, refer to the EPA’s list of registered disinfectants.