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Can Vinegar Disinfect Counters?

Can Vinegar Disinfect Counters?
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Q. I have a three-year-old and am expecting a new baby in a few weeks. I hate to use harsh chemicals to clean our house, and usually rely on good old soap and hot water, sometimes with vinegar or baking soda. I use bleach or Bon-Ami sparingly for some things.

I found a recipe for home cleaner spray–a simple mixture of white vinegar, water and a few drops of essential oil for fragrance. I spray this mixture everywhere, confident that I could eat it if I had to. It does a great job on the stainless kitchen sink, microwave, countertops and bathroom sink.

I’m under the impression that vinegar will be enough to kill germs, especially bacteria. Is that true? Do I need to add something more caustic to get the germs?

A. Vinegar is a great cleaner, but we didn’t know how well it could kill germs. We asked germ guru Charles Gerba, PhD, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, Tucson. He has done field studies on household germs.

Dr. Gerba said that vinegar is useful as a cleaner and has some antimicrobial properties, but it is not considered a sanitizer or disinfectant. For disinfecting, dilute bleach is still best.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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