Friday, November 9, 2012

Vinegar and a rotting seal


A few days ago, a community member asked me about using vinegar in her dishwasher. Apparently, she'd been told that vinegar could eat away at the seal and should not be used.

I heard similar stories in the past, so I decided to look into it. Here's what I discovered. 

Yes, vinegar can rot the seals of a dishwasher and eat away at the rubber components of your washing machine. However, it depends on the material used for the seals/hoses. 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 read message board after message board about using vinegar in dishwashers and washing machines, and the vast majority of the posts extol the virtues of adding it to both with only good results. Occasionally, I found posts by repairmen who said you should never use vinegar because it will rot the seals and hoses. But in my experience, and the experience of many, many others, this is not the case. 

My advice? Use caution. Check your seals for any signs of erosion. The advantages of using vinegar over chemically-laced rinse aids or fabric softeners are obvious. But I don't want to be responsible for a large repair bill if your machine is one that can't handle the vinegar for some reason or another.
Let me add that when I started searching the Internet for an answer, it was difficult to find one bad thing about vinegar. Let's face it. We all love it. If we didn't, Vinegar Fridays wouldn't exist!

Keeping it green with vinegar,



  1. Quick question: How does one tell what sort of seal is on one's dishwasher or washer? (The dishwasher came with the house and we have no paperwork on it -- if that would even say!)

    Just curious! Our washer is brand new so I'd like to be sure I'm not doing undue damage this early on. (It's probably fine, but it can't hurt to double-check!)

    And, thanks for keeping me on my toes and thinking about these things!

    1. I really can't answer that, Linda. I've wondered the same thing.

      And, you're welcome!

    2. If u know the make & year of the wash machine, you should be able to find the help book on the manufacturers website and it should tell u what type of seals, hoses & such ur machine has.


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