Vinegar and Acetic acid

Vinegar, cooking and cleaning type

Vinegar, cooking and cleaning type

“What’s on the wall above the shower?”asks my husband.

“That’s mold”, I say in unbelief, thinking “Is he completely unaware that mold has been growing on and off in our bathroom for at least a year?? Does he not notice anything??”

Vinegar for Cleaning

He then asks nicely,”Did you know vinegar is good for cleaning mold?” I reply (almost sarcastically )”great, then can you get the vinegar, climb up there, and wipe it down?”  He tells me “I should probably do that”, but I don’t hold my breath.

A few days later, I get the Lysol wipes, a step stool and rub the mold off the walls above the shower. I do not use vinegar but I do scrub.

Vinegar (~ 5% dilution of acetic acid) is a weak acid and a good sanitizer (kills germs). Mold is controlled by various sanitizers: base (bleach), acid (vinegar), alcohol and hot water. However, the best method to remove mold is to scrub it away.

Vinegar for Flavoring

Acetic acid (FEMA #2006) is a useful flavor component as well as the chemical component of vinegar. Acetic acid is important for savory flavors in which vinegar is a traditional component: BBQ flavor, ranch dressing flavor and adobo. It is also important for smoke flavoring (as a component of pyrolingneous acid), raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, cherry, pomegranate, grape, pineapple, punch, whiskey and cheese. I might use it at about 50-200 ppm (0.005-0.02%) in a fruit flavor while vinegar is about 5% acetic acid or 50,000 ppm.

Flavor companies buy acetic acid in drum quantities and understand that it is important to safely handle any chemical and especially acids. A production worker nearly passed out when he opened a drum of acetic acid without wearing an appropriate respirator. It doesn’t surprise me that this acid, vinegar, is good for killing mold.

drum of acetic acid

drum of acetic acid

Flavor scientists think of vinegar much differently than most consumers. We are interested in the chemical identity, stability, production method (is it “natural”), price, percent acid and handling. Most consumers may just want to know if it is familiar and something they feel safe with. My husband must feel safe with vinegar.  Do you think he’ll clean the bathroom?

flavor scientist and husband

flavor scientist and husband 15th anniversary


  1. I think on potato chips they use E262 “sodium diacetate” AcONa.AcOH aduct – it is solid, less volatile and less corrosive than neat AcOH

Acetic acid (FEMA #2006)is a useful flavor component as well as the chemical component of vinegar.
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