Homemade cleaning solutions featuring vinegar have become very popular in recent years because of their natural appeal. Even though a significant amount of the white vinegar found on supermarket shelves these days is synthetic, which means it’s a carboxylic acid produced by a chemical process that happens to be very similar to the biological process, it’s safer to use as an effective household cleaner in the sense that it isn’t harmful as other substances such as butoxyethanol. Since synthetic vinegar can be safely consumed, it makes perfect sense to use it as a healthy household cleaner, but never on natural stone. Here’s why.
How Natural Stone Reacts to Vinegar
Marble, granite, and all other types of natural stone are formed by chemical reactions that are part of geological processes. When blocks of natural stone are extracted from quarries for the purpose of cutting, finishing, and installing, they’re simply waiting for the next chemical process to happen, and you don’t want vinegar to be the catalyst of this reaction. Depending on the type of vinegar and the condition of your stone, the reaction could range from spotting and dulling to etching and staining that requires refinishing.
The Acidity of Vinegar
All substances can be basic or acidic depending on their molecular composition. The acidity of a substance is measured against the pH scale from 1 to 14. The lower numbers represent high acidity and a higher alkaline concentration that can cause burns. Wine, juice, and vinegar all have pH levels that range between 2.5 and 7, which makes them acidic and thus more likely to cause a chemical reaction that may start with stripping off sealant, staining the surface of the stone, and etching through the pores.
Removing Vinegar Stains from Natural Stone
Vinegar, grape juice, and wine spills are bound to happen in the kitchen. The key to avoiding a stain is to blot (but never wipe) the spill as soon as possible. If a stain begins to form because the protective seal wasn’t adequate, you can make a paste of baking soda and acetone to cover the affected area, then leave it in place for 24 hours and rinse with water. Once you rinse off the paste and wipe the floor or counter surface, you should make it a point to apply granite sealer.
The Best Method to Keep Natural Stone Clean
Instead of vinegar or common household cleaners, you should only use a granite cleaner that has been specifically formulated to clean natural stone. If your stone counters in the kitchen are subject to heavy food prep volumes, make sure to apply sealant frequently. Vinegar isn’t the only substance that can stain or damage natural stone. Virtually all food products can cause damage, but a strong seal can prevent it.
When cleaning your stone surfaces, don’t use a scrubbing pad that might damage the stone. Instead, use Granite Gold Scrub Sponge®, a granite cleaning pad designed specifically for use on natural-stone surfaces such as countertops and shower walls. To learn more about properly caring for natural stone such as granite, slate, marble, and travertine, reach out to the Stone Care Experts at Granite Gold®. Call 1-800-475-STONE (7866) today.
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