Vinegar as disinfectant (C) Daniel Friedman Using Vinegar for Water Purification / Dinsinfection
Warnings & research concerning use of vinegar as a water disinfectant or purification method
     

  • VINEGAR for WATER DISINFECTION - CONTENTS: description of the effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant, a water disinfectant, a food wash, and warnings about the limitations of vinegar for water disinfection to make drinking water potable or safe.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the limitations of and safety of vinegar (acetic acid) water disinfection methods
  • REFERENCES

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

Report on the effectiveness of vinegar, lemon juice, and mixtures of vinegar, lemon juice & household bleach as a water disinfectant against various pathogens including Salmonella, Polio virus, and Giardia cystts.

Included are reader opinions and more solid research citatations and abstract excerpts commenting on the effectiveness of vinegar as a cleaner and a disinfectant. We include specific warnings about claims of the ability of vinegar to kill parasitic cysts found in some drinking water supplies.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.

Using Vinegar for Water Disinfection or Drinking Water Purification

Effectiveness of Vinegar as a Water Sterilizer

Experts present ample research evidence that vinegar in some applications is a reliable sterilizer for some but not all pathogens (Olsen 1994). Certainly acids or these food-acids (vinegar, lemon juice) are effective against some common pathogens found on foods: Sengun (2004) found that mixing lemon juice and vinegar was effective at removing Salmonella after a 30 minute soak.

Before we get over-excited about vinegar it's worth noting that research shows that other acids, even lemon juice, may be more effective in disinfecting the same pathogens that vinegar can address and that niether of these approaches addresses all of the common pathogens that may be present in water.

Watch out: Cyst-like organisms however can be resistant to this disinfectant approach. For example vinegar does not appear in the documents we have reviewed on water purification for Giardia.

Nevertheless a reader (at REFERENCES) has written to InspectApedia that

"... vinegar is highly acidic and it breaks down the walls of the giardia cysts, if it is used full strength. Dr. Omar Amin confirmed this."

Escudero (1999) emphasized (as do most experts) that

The bactericidal effect of disinfectants was related to the concentration, exposure time, combination with chlorine (surfactants and organic acids), and susceptibility of each strain.

We have not obtained information about the necessary concentration nor contact time when using vinegar for a vegetable disinfectant wash to handle all of the common pathogens including bacteria and cysts that are found on food and in many unreliable water supplies that may be used to wash food.

Other current disinfectants for drinking water include ozone, chlorine dioxide, iodine, mixed oxidants electrochemically generated from brine, and halogenated resins. Ozone has been successfully used for water purification but with high contact times. - Lazarova (1999) But ozone-water-purifier products used as a vegetable wash were not impressive in their performacne.

The best procedures for washing fruits and vegetables are found at VEGETABLE DISINFECTION along with supporting research.

Reader Comments: effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant for Giardia cysts in drinking water

Vinegar as a vegetable wash:

I am the person who wrote about Dr. Amin not knowing the concentration of peroxide to kill Giardia Cysts.

I do use pure vinegar to sterilze vegetables as it is highly acidic and breaks down the cysts. You cannot add vinegar to water to sterilyze water. The dilution would not be strong enough but the pure vinegar works to soak hard eggies like onions, cucumbers, peppers, etc. I put them in a large bowl with vinegar, cover with a plastic bowl lid that is smaller than the bowl so that I can put some weight on it and weigh it down and I soak the veggies for 25 minutes. Then I remove the veggies and wash off the vinegar with sterile water.

I battle an immune disorder, called "CVID" and this method has worked for me and over the 20 years that I have been doing this, I have never reinfected with Giardia or any other parasite. I keep the vinegar standing in the bowl, covered with the right sized cover when not in use. and I use it a number of times before replenishing it.

I am the same person who had spoken to Dr. Amin about this. You may contact him yourself to verify the information. - G.B. 5/24/2013

...

A long time ago, I related you info on vinegar treatments and parasite cysts that had been given to me by dr. Omar Amin. I am no longer sure of it's veracity because I have recently come across a scientific article that says that vinegar will not kill cysts. I have that article in my computer ... .Regards, S.R. 24 January 2015

Reply: Giardiacidal activity of lemon juice, vinifer & vinegar on viable Giardia intestinalis cysts

We prefer to stick to information and disinfection solutions supported by authoritative, expert, unbiased research from appropriate experts. Consumer experience is important to factor into such information but cannot substitute for it. In this case thanks to G.B. we can cite two articles offering details that may not have been available when Dr. Amin offered the opinion described above:

Watch out: The effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant has been widely studied. Vinegar treatments cannot be easily relied-upon to adequately disinfect all of the kinds of pathogens that may be in drinking water, particularly parasitic cysts One thing experts cite is the importance of temperature in the disinfection procedure (see my second and third citataions below).

  • Sadjjadi, Seyed Mahmoud, Jamshid Rostami, and Mohammad Azadbakht. "Giardiacidal activity of lemon juice, vinifer and vinegar on Giardia intestinalis cysts." (2006).

Abstract The giardiacidal efficacy of simple disinfecting materials, ie lemon juice, vinifer, and vinegar, for uncooked foods with Giardia cysts was investigated to help travelers in Giardia-endemic areas. The cysts were obtained from stools of individuals with Giardia intestinalis infection by modified sucrose gradient procedure.

A pooled batch of 3 x 10(4)/ml Giardia cysts was made from all specimens. The cysts were kept at 4 degrees C until use. Before each experiment, the number of cysts was determined by hemocytometer. Two sets of Eppendorf tubes were used for the experiments, one set at 4 degrees C and one at 24 degrees C. One thousand microliters each of lemon juice, vinifer, or vinegar was poured into each tube, and 1,000 microl of Giardia cysts were added. Variables were disinfectant materials, temperature, and time of exposure. Cyst viability 140 was determined by eosin inclusion procedure.

Viability of at least 250 cysts in each tube at 0, 0.5, 1, 2 and 3 hours after the beginning of the experiments was determined. The mean giardiacidal activity at 4 degrees C after 3 hours for lemon juice, vinifer, and vinegar was 18.9, 12.8, and 28.4%, and at 24 degrees C, 28.3, 16.2, and 40.6%, respectively. In conclusion, the giardiacidal activity of vinegar was more than the other materials, and as exposure time and temperature increased, giardiacidal activity also increased; the highest giardiacidal activity of vinegar was at 3-hours exposure at 24 degrees C.

A second useful citation on the effectiveness of vinegar as a disinfectant that can treat giardia is:

  • Costa, Adriana Oliveira, Vanete Thomaz-Soccol, Rosangela Clara Paulino, and Edilene Alcântara de Castro. "Effect of vinegar on the viability of< i> Giardia duodenalis cysts." International journal of food microbiology 128, no. 3 (2009): 510-512.

Abstract The inactivation of Giardia duodenalis cysts by vinegar was investigated. Experiments were carried out in 100 ml volume of vinegar (acetic acid 4%), undiluted or diluted in distilled water in ratios of 1:1, 1:15.6, and 1:62.5 (vol/vol), which were inoculated with 5 × 105 cysts obtained from human feces. Experiments were performed at room temperature (21 ± 1 °C) and at 4 °C.

After contact times of 1.5 min, 10, 30, and 60 min, the cysts were recovered from the treatment fluid and subjected to an in vitro excystation assay to determine their viability. The relative viability, which was calculated in relation to controls (maximum excystation percentage), was significantly affected (p < 0.1) by the vinegar concentration, contact time, and temperature.

At 21 ± 1 °C, no cysts remained viable after being treated with undiluted vinegar for 60 min, while the treatment with 1:1, 1:15.6, and 1:62.5 vinegar–water mixtures decreased the relative viability to 1.8%, 19.4%, and 56.4%, respectively. The relative viability after corresponding treatments at 4 °C also decreased, but 23.6% to 48.8% remained viable after 60 min, and thus complete inactivation was not obtained with any treatment at that temperature.

A 2011 reference by Costa AO et als includes additional warnings about using vinegar to treat water infected byu Giardia cysts whose abstract is quoted here:

  • Costa AO, Thomaz-Soccol V, Paulino RC, Alcântara de Castro E., "Effect of vinegar on the viability of Giardia duodenalis cysts", International Journal of Food Microbiology, 2009 Jan 15;12 8(3):510-2. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2008.10.001. Epub 2008 Oct 11.

The inactivation of Giardia duodenalis cysts by vinegar was investigated. Experiments were carried out in 100 ml volume of vinegar (acetic acid 4%), undiluted or diluted in distilled water in ratios of 1:1, 1:15.6, and 1:62.5 (vol/vol), which were inoculated with 5x10(5) cysts obtained from human feces. Experiments were performed at room temperature (21+/-1 degrees C) and at 4 degrees C.

After contact times of 1.5 min, 10, 30, and 60 min, the cysts were recovered from the treatment fluid and subjected to an in vitro excystation assay to determine their viability. The relative viability, which was calculated in relation to controls (maximum excystation percentage), was significantly affected (p<0.1) by the vinegar concentration, contact time, and temperature. At 21+/-1 degrees C, no cysts remained viable after being treated with undiluted vinegar for 60 min, while the treatment with 1:1, 1:15.6, and 1:62.5 vinegar-water mixtures decreased the relative viability to 1.8%, 19.4%, and 56.4%, respectively.

The relative viability after corresponding treatments at 4 degrees C also decreased, but 23.6% to 48.8% remained viable after 60 min, and thus complete inactivation was not obtained with any treatment at that temperature. -

What does this mean to a normal reader wanting to disinfect drinking water or use vinegar (or vinegar and lemon juice) as a vegetable wash?

Vinegar washes can be useful as general cleaners and mild disinfectants but you should rely on vinegar to assure the safety of water or foods that may be infected with parasitic cysts.

  1. Pay close attention to the concentrations and contact time required for effective disinfection. If 30 minutes is required to remove all salmonella from carrots in a vinegar and lemon juice wash of a particular concentration, washing your carrots in a weaker solution for 10 minutes is not a reliable alternative.
  2. Don't assume that all pathogens on a particular food product are addressed by the wash you are using.

Research on the Effectiveness & Safety of Vinegar as a Disinfectant

  • See this article's full list of citations at REFERENCES
  • Costa, Adriana Oliveira, Vanete Thomaz-Soccol, Rosangela Clara Paulino, and Edilene Alcântara de Castro. "Effect of vinegar on the viability of< i> Giardia duodenalis</i> cysts." International journal of food microbiology 128, no. 3 (2009): 510-512.
  • Da Silva, Francine Cristina, Estevão Tomomitsu Kimpara, Maria Nadir Gasparotto Mancini, Ivan Balducci, Antonio Olavo Cardoso Jorge, and Cristiane Yumi Koga‐Ito. "Effectiveness of six different disinfectants on removing five microbial species and effects on the topographic characteristics of acrylic resin." Journal of Prosthodontics 17, no. 8 (2008): 627-633. Excerpt from Abstract:

    Results: The results showed that 1% sodium hypochlorite, 2% glutaraldehyde, and 2% chlorhexidine digluconate were most effective against the analyzed microorganisms, followed by 100% vinegar, 3.8% sodium perborate, and tabs of sodium perborate-based denture cleanser. Superficial roughness of the specimens was higher after disinfection cycles with 3.8% sodium perborate (p= 0.03) and lower after the cycles with 2% chlorhexidine digluconate (p= 0.04).

    Conclusion: Within the limits of this experiment, it could be concluded that 1% sodium hypochlorite, 2% glutaraldehyde, 2% chlorexidine, 100% vinegar, and 3.8% sodium perborate are valid alternatives for the disinfection of acrylic resin.
  • Escudero, María E., Lidia Velázquez, María S. Di Genaro, and Ana María S. De Guzmán. "Effectiveness of various disinfectants in the elimination of Yersinia enterocolitica on fresh lettuce." Journal of Food Protection® 62, no. 6 (1999): 665-669.
    Abstract:
    The effectiveness of various disinfectants against two potentially pathogenic Yersinia enterocolitica strains (Y. enterocolitica W1024 O:9 [strain A] and Y. enterocolitica B1 O:5 Lis Xz [strain B]) on shredded lettuce was examined. Dip-wash treatments using 25, 100, and 300 ppm of chlorine at 4 and 22°C, 0.2% Orenco Peel 40, 0.1% Tergitol, 0.5% acetic acid, and 0.5% lactic acid at 22°C were performed.

    Surfactants and organic acids were also tested in combination with 100 ppm of chlorine. Reductions of Y. enterocolitica counts with 100 ppm (2.68 log10 for strain A and 2.36 log10 for strain B at 22°C) and 300 ppm of chlorine (3.15 log10 for strain A and 2.55 log10 for strain B at 4°C) were observed after 10 min. Inhibitory effect of different chlorine solutions was not significantly (P < 0.05) influenced by temperature.

    Surfactants in combination with chlorine were more effective than surfactants alone. Treatment with 0.2% Orenco Peel 40 plus 100 ppm of chlorine resulted in reductions of 2.69 log10 CFU/g for strain A and 3.18 log10 CFU/g for strain B at 10 min. Dip solutions containing 0.1% Tergitol plus 100 ppm of chlorine produced a significant reduction of 2.73 log10 CFU/g in strain A (P < 0.05). With the 0.5% lactic acid plus 100 ppm of chlorine combination, inactivation of Y. enterocolitica was >6 log10.

    The bactericidal effect of disinfectants was related to the concentration, exposure time, combination with chlorine (surfactants and organic acids), and susceptibility of each strain. Since the presence of pathogenic Y. enterocolitica on ready-to-use vegetables represents a health hazard, treatments as effective as 0.5% lactic acid plus 100 ppm of chlorine are recommended for washing of fresh lettuce.

  • Greatorex, Jane S., Rosanna F. Page, Martin D. Curran, Paul Digard, Joanne E. Enstone, Tim Wreghitt, Penny P. Powell, Darren W. Sexton, Roberto Vivancos, and Jonathan S. Nguyen-Van-Tam. "Effectiveness of common household cleaning agents in reducing the viability of human influenza A/H1N1." PloS one 5, no. 2 (2010): e8987. Abstract Excerpts:

    In the event of an influenza pandemic, the majority of people infected will be nursed at home. It is therefore important to determine simple methods for limiting the spread of the virus within the home. The purpose of this work was to test a representative range of common household cleaning agents for their effectiveness at killing or reducing the viability of influenza A virus.

    Active ingredients in a number of the cleaning agents, wipes, and tissues tested were able to rapidly render influenza virus nonviable, as determined by plaque assay. Commercially available wipes with a claimed antiviral or antibacterial effect killed or reduced virus infectivity, while nonmicrobiocidal wipes and those containing only low concentrations (<5%) of surfactants showed lower anti-influenza activity. Importantly, however, our findings indicate that it is possible to use common, low-technology agents such as 1% bleach, 10% malt vinegar, or 0.01% washing-up liquid to rapidly and completely inactivate influenza virus.

    Thus, in the context of the ongoing pandemic, and especially in low-resource settings, the public does not need to source specialized cleaning products, but can rapidly disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces with agents readily available in most homes.

  • Higuti, Silvia Tieme Makita. "Efeito do vinagre e detergente doméstico na remoção de cistos de Giardia duodenalis em folhas de alface crespa (Lactuca sativa)." (2013).
    ABSTRACT
    This study aimed to evaluate the effect of vinegar and household detergent for removing Giardia duodenalis cysts from curly leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa). Giardia cysts (2 x 105) were ...
  • Johnston, Carol S., and Cindy A. Gaas. "Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect." Medscape General Medicine 8, no. 2 (2006): 61.
  • Lukasik, Jerzy, Michael L. Bradley, Troy M. Scott, Mabel Dea, Andrew Koo, Wei-Yea Hsu, Jerry A. Bartz, and Samuel R. Farrah. "Reduction of poliovirus 1, bacteriophages, Salmonella Montevideo, and Escherichia coli O157: H7 on strawberries by physical and disinfectant washes." Journal of Food Protection® 66, no. 2 (2003): 188-193.
  • Olson, Wanda, Marilyn Bode, and Polly Dubbel. "Hard Surface Cleaning Performance of Six Alternative Household Cleaners Under Laboratory Conditions." (1994). Abstract:

    In thís laboratory sludy, several commercially available household bathroom and kitchen cleaníng products, with and without EPA registered disinfectant properties, were compared to several "alternative" products (lemon juice, vinegar, ammonia, baking soda and borer). High pressure decoratíve laminate tiles were cleaned mechanically using a Gardner Abrasion Tester. Test criteria included microbial reduction, based on remaining colony forming units of a tracer organivn (Serratia nnrcescens), and soil reduction (of simulated bathroomand kitchen soilformulations) based on subjective grading by a panel of individuals. Among bathroom cleaners, the commercial cleaners and vinegar gave the most effective microbial reduction while a commercial cleaner without disinfectant was most effective at soil removaL

    Among kitchen cleaners, again the commercial products and vinegar were most effective at microbial reduction while the commercictl cleaners and ammoniq were most effective at soil removal.
  • Robertson, Lucy J. Giardia as a foodborne pathogen. New York: Springer, 2013.
  • Rose, Joan B., and Theresa R. Slifko. "Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and Cyclospora and their impact on foods: a review." Journal of Food Protection® 62, no. 9 (1999): 1059-1070.
  • Rutala, William A., Susan L. Barbee, Newman C. Aguiar, Mark D. Sobsey, and David J. Weber. "Antimicrobial activity of home disinfectants and natural products against potential human pathogens." Infection control and hospital epidemiology 21, no. 1 (2000): 33-38. Abstract

    RESULTS. The following compounds demonstrated excellent antimicrobial activity (>5.6‐8.2 log10 reduction) at both exposure times: TBQ, Vesphene, Clorox, ethanol, and Lysol Antibacterial Kitchen Cleaner. Mr. Clean eliminated 4 to >6 logs10 and Lysol Disinfectant ∼4 logs10 of pathogenic microorganisms at both exposure times. Vinegar eliminated <3 logs10 of S aureus and E coli, and baking soda <3 logs10 of all test pathogens. All tested chemical disinfectants completely inactivated both antibioticresistant and ‐susceptible bacteria at both exposure times. Only two disinfectants, Clorox and Lysol, demonstrated excellent activity (>3 log10 reduction) against poliovirus.

    CONCLUSIONS. A variety of commercial household disinfectants were highly effective against potential bacterial pathogens. The natural products were less effective than commercial household disinfectants. Only Clorox and Lysol disinfectant were effective against poliovirus.
  • Sadjjadi, Seyed Mahmoud, Jamshid Rostami, and Mohammad Azadbakht. "Giardiacidal activity of lemon juice, vinifer and vinegar on Giardia intestinalis cysts." (2006).
  • Safarnejad Tameshkel, F., M. R. Khatami Nejad, A. Nasrollahi, P. Rahdari, F. Gholam Hossein Poor, and A. Rahnavard. "The Antimicrobial Effect of Methanol Extracts of Eucalyptus, Satureia Hortensis and Heracleum Glabrescens on Giardia Cysts." Medical Laboratory Journal 6, no. 2 (2012): 21-27.
  • Sengun, Ilkin Yucel, and Mehmet Karapinar. "Effectiveness of lemon juice, vinegar and their mixture in the elimination of< i> Salmonella typhimurium</i> on carrots (< i> Daucus carota</i> L.)." International journal of food microbiology 96, no. 3 (2004): 301-305. Abstract
    Lemon juice, vinegar and the mixture of lemon juice and vinegar (1:1) were tested for their effectiveness in reducing the counts of inoculated Salmonella typhimurium (approximately 6 and 3 log cfu/g) on carrots. Treatment of carrot samples with lemon juice vinegar alone for different exposure times (0, 15, 30 and 60 min) caused significant reductions ranging between 0.79–3.95 and 1.57–3.58 log cfu/g, respectively, while the number of pathogens was reduced to an undetectable level after 30-min treatment by combined used lemon juice vinegar.
  • Voravuthikunchai, Supayang P., Tripetch Kanchanapoom, Nongyao Sawangjaroen, and Nongporn Hutadilok-Towatana. "Antioxidant, antibacterial and antigiardial activities of Walsura robusta Roxb." Natural product research 24, no. 9 (2010): 813-824. Abstract:
    Walsura robusta Roxb. (Family: Meliaceae) is a well-known multi-purpose medicinal plant, and has been employed for a wide range of disease conditions without documented scientific data. In the current study, four pure isolated compounds, 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl β-D-glucopyranoside (1), turpinionoside A (2), (+)-lyoniresinol 3α-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (3) and (−)-lyoniresinol 3α-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (4), were isolated from the leaves and twigs of W. robusta. Biological evaluation for free radical scavenging, antibacterial and antigiardial activities was performed. We investigated antioxidant effects of the crude extracts as well as the isolated compounds using 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical (DPPH), hydroxyl radical (OH), and superoxide anion (O2) scavenging assays. Three phenolic glucosides (1, 3 and 4) were found to possess strong antioxidant activity. They scavenged DPPH• with IC50 values in the range of 51.5–86.6 µM. We also detected the superoxide dismutase-like activities in compounds 3 and 4 which are lignan glucosides, demonstrating potent superoxide scavenging activity with IC50 values in the range of 0.8 and 0.7 µM, respectively. Other biological activities including antibacterial and antigiardial assays were carried out. Preliminary results demonstrated that most extracts, except the diethyl ether extract, exhibited inhibition zones against all Gram-positive bacteria including Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, and S. pyogenes. Aqueous extracts of this plant species could inhibit Gram-positive and some Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi and Shigella sonnei. However, the determination of minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) and minimum bactericidal concentrations (MBCs) of W. robusta on all tested bacterial strains showed only weak activity, and their MBCs were greater than 25 mg mL−1. For antigiardial activity, incubation with 2 × 105 trophozoites mL−1 of the culture medium with the crude extracts at concentration ranged from 31.25 to 1000 µg mL−1 demonstrated no activity (MIC > 1000 µg mL−1).
  • Zahorsky, john, and m. A. R. Y. Mcloon. "Giardiasis in children: report of three cases." Journal of the American Medical Association 88, no. 6 (1927): 385-388.

 

Continue reading at WATER DISINFECTION LIMITATIONS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Or see BLEACH DISINFECTANT for DRINKING WATER

Suggested citation for this web page

VINEGAR for WATER DISINFECTION at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

More Reading

Green link shows where you are in this article series.

INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES: ARTICLE INDEX to WATER TREATMENT SYSTEMS

OR use the Search Box found below at Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

...




Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References