Care 2 Ask Annie: Vinegar Kills Bacteria, Mold, and Germs

by Annie Berthold-Bond

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Q: I heard that vinegar is a disinfectant. Is this true?
Maria, MI

A: Vinegar is a mainstay of the old folk recipes for cleaning, and with good reason. The vim of the vinegar is that it kills bacteria, mold, and germs. Heinz company spokesperson Michael Mullen references numerous studies to show that a straight 5 percent solution of vinegar such as you can buy in the supermarket kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of germs (viruses). He noted that Heinz can't claim on their packaging that vinegar is a disinfectant since the company has not registered it as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, it seems to be common knowledge in the industry that vinegar is powerfully antibacterial. Even the CBS news show 48 Hours had a special last December with Heloise reporting on tests from The Good Housekeeping Institute that showed this.

Just like antibiotics, common disinfectants found in sponges and household sprays may contribute to drug resistant bacteria, according to researchers of drug resistance at Tufts New England Medical Center. Furthermore, research at the Government Accounting Office shows that many commercial disinfectants are ineffective to begin with, just like antibiotics.

Keep a clean spray bottle filled with straight 5 percent vinegar in your kitchen near your cutting board, and in your bathroom, and use them for cleaning. I often spray the vinegar on our cutting board before going to bed at night, and don't even rinse, but let it set overnight. The smell of vinegar dissipates within a few hours. Straight vinegar is also great for cleaning the toilet rim. Just spray it on and wipe off.

Annie Berthold-Bond is the Green Lifestyle Channels Producer for, the largest global community of environmentally conscious consumers on the Web, and has authored several books including Better Basics for the Home and Clean & Green. "Care2 Ask Annie" is brought to you by

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