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Does Vinegar Damage Rubber Seals?

Posted on April 11 2019

On a regular basis, I get asked about using vinegar in dishwashers and washing machines. There are thousands anecdotes and testimonials from people all over the internet that have used vinegar in their rinse aid dispenser and fabric softener compartment for years (myself included). There are also (not as many) people on the other side of the fence that claim it ruins the rubber seals on the appliances. Many of these claims come from people who were told from appliance repairmen that vinegar damages rubber seals.
 
So is vinegar safe to use in your dishwasher or washing machine?
Here is what I found: 

It is safe for natural rubber seals and any parts made from polypropelene, silicone, fluorocarbon, and virgin Teflon, as well as butyl synthetic rubber seals.

I also know the pH of vinegar. Here is a pH scale for reference: 

pH Scale

Distilled white vinegar usually measures between 2.4-3.5 depending on the brand. Now if you look at commercial rinse aids, you will find that many of the brands' key ingredient for getting shiny spot-free dishes is citric acid. Citric acid measures pH 2.2 making it more acetic than vinegar. So how can this claim that vinegar ruins the seals in appliances be true? 

My thoughts? I'm glad you asked. Have you purchased a new dishwasher or washing machine in the past few years? Guess what comes with the new appliance? A complimentary sample bottle of blue rinse aid or fabric softener with a nice postcard advertisement that highly recommends you use this brand of blue rinse aid or cuddly fabric softener in their appliance. So that makes me wonder if it's all propaganda? Hmmmm. 

So this brings me back to the question: Does Vinegar Damage Rubber Seals? Maybe, but it seems unlikely. If you are unsure of the material of your rubber seals or you don't want to chance it, I recommend the following steps in your Dishwasher:

1. Place a small glass right-side up on the top rack of your dishwasher.

2. Fill it with a small amount of distilled white vinegar (1teaspoon to 2 tablespoons depending on the hardness of your water).

3. Run the dishwasher as usual. 

This process eliminates the possibility of vinegar sitting on the seals of your rinse aid dispenser. 

Alternatively, you can purchase our organic dishwasher powder detergent. It's free of synthetic ingredients, biodegradable and best of all it WORKS! Before committing, try our organic dishwasher powder sample pack - it's $5 and includes shipping (oh yeah!) and if the product doesn't work for you, just let us know and we'll refund you your $5! 

 

We also make a fantastic all natural laundry detergent soap... as in it's truly all natural. There is no SLS, no fragrance, no dye, nothing synthetic. Every single ingredient comes from our ground or grows on land. 

5 comments

  • Rick M.: August 04, 2020

    Leatha R.: April 15, 2020

    I use white vinegar in my laundry machine about 1 Cup . I just put it in where they would put the bleach it has worked out fine for me. Oh and by the way it has removed that funky smell that some washers get from having water stand at the bottom of the laundry tub so not only does it help clean your clothes but it destroys germs and bacteria that grow in your washer.

  • Leatha R.: April 15, 2020

    I was interested in also knowing about using vinegar in my washing machine? Is it safe against rubber? I have a very old, but reliable, washing machine and have been adding baking soda and vinegar along with detergent at the beginning of the wash cycle. What should I change to be safe?

  • Linda: June 13, 2018

    I moved to Tampa and having the worst water Ive ever had, started adding an unmeasured amount (probably 1/4 to 1/2 cup) of white vinegar to my final rinse (open the door). When it’s done, I air dry and have had great luck in spite of this horrible water.

  • MamaSuds: June 29, 2017

    Great question Regina, the hot water sloshing around overflows the right side up glass so the vinegar splashes out of it.

  • Regina Ryerson: June 29, 2017

    Good to know! This may be a dumb question. But how would the vinegar in right-side-up glass get distributed? I’d think it would stay in the glass.

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