Does vinegar lose cleaning potency with age?

So I mindlessly picked stuff off of my vegetable cutting board with unwashed hands that had just handled raw chicken. I plan to disinfect it with vinegar before washing, when it struck me that the vinegar is quite old — possibly multiple years, as I’ve completely forgotten when I bought it. It’s in both the original jug and in an everyday spray bottle I keep for the purpose stored under my kitchen sink.

Can I still use this vinegar and expect it to serve the function I want it to? Should I just dump what’s in the spray bottle and refill from the jug?

Thanks in advance.


According to this site, your vinegar is fine:

I think I’d use something other than vinegar- it’s a pretty feeble disinfectant at best, and according to this article (the only one that wasn’t full of crunchy woo) it doesn’t work against salmonella.

Fine, then, what “commercial products” can I use on a vegetable cutting board that would be better than vinegar?

Dilute bleach solution.

Oh, god, bleach, I forgot about that.

I don’t suppose there are any that don’t require protective gear to use? I just want to be able to use the damn cutting board for vegetables again. I’d prefer not to have to don a Hazmat suit to do it.

Bleach (NaClO) breaks down into salt (NaCl) and water (H2O) fairly quickly when exposed to air (where it gets H’s from), and even more quickly when exposed to air and light. That’s why it much be stored in sealed opaque bottles. (cite: these buncha wiseasses) So clean your cutting board with it, let it sit overnight if you’re really concerned, and don’t worry about it.

So could I just put the board in the kitchen sink and pour the bleach over it without having to buy gloves and goggles?

Absolutely. Don’t breathe real deeply with your head right over it, though. Smells pretty sharp, and might make your nose feel all burny.

But you also don’t really have to waste all that much bleach by using it straight, either. First wash the cutting board with soap and hot water to remove any visible particles, then put 1/2 tsp of bleach into a cup of water (you can use your regular measuring cup for this; nothing fancy or dedicated to bleach needed.) Pour the bleach solution over the cutting board and let it sit for at least 10 minutes, then rinse it and let it air dry.


vinegar doesn’t do much for this.

use soap and water.

then bleach wipe is good. don’t use full strength bleach; more is not better here, diluting the bleach out of the bottle to give 1% is the strength for this.

As others said, you should disinfect anything that raw chicken touched with bleach. Even at ‘full strength’ (right out of the bottle) it’s not going to hurt your hands and it’ll be out of the air in a few minutes so no protective gear is required, just don’t get it on your clothes or anything else you don’t want, well, bleached.

You can also get any number of disinfecting sprays at your local grocery store/Target that contain bleach for cleaning counters or sinks. Spray it on, wipe it off and you’re good. Again, don’t get it on your clothes so pay attention to what you’re doing and use a paper towel that you can just toss in the garbage.

Personally, if I’m handling chicken, I have the dishwasher open with the rack pulled out so that I can just toss everything right in there without having to touch anything (like the rack or the outside of the washer) and then wash my hands or take off my gloves. Then spray down the counter and continue cooking knowing I don’t have to worry about cross contaminating anything.

ETA just for the record, full strength bleach won’t hurt your hands if you get it on them (and rinse it off) but it can potentially make you sick if you eat/drink it, so you do have to rinse that off of food prep areas if you’d use it on a cutting board and go right back to using it.

There have been plenty of constructive answers, so I feel okay asking this.

Is there really a reason simple soap and water won’t do?

I don’t think that there is, looking at a few state health dept website, most of them say to clean well with soap and water (some say to use disinfecting soap). But my training is in restaurant type sanitizing where bleach (or something similar) is required by law and I’m comfortable using it.

I’m coming to this thread five years late, but I still want to add something.

Wood cutting boards are safer than plastic cutting boards. Wood is a porous material, so it dries as it sits overnight. As it dries, the bacterial on the cutting board dies (bacterial requires moisture to survive). Plastic, being non-porous, can trap both moisture and bacteria in the cuts that the knives make. These cuts or scores are so narrow that they simply can’t be washed out, and bacteria will remain in them even after a board has been washed. (Tests by the University of California have born this out.)

Intuitively, it would seem the opposite: plastic, being so smooth, should not trap bacteria – but the plastic loses its smoothness the moment you start making cuts in it.

No matter how you wash your wood cutting board, it will be safe to use after drying for a day. Better yet: use one cutting board for meat, and another for vegetables. If you are worried about trees being cut down, then use a cutting board made of bamboo, which is a form of wood.

Actually, bamboo is more closely related to grass, but it does make a very nice wood-like substance that is a very renewable resource.

I’m just boggling over the idea of using protective gear to handle bleach. Has Leaper never done laundry?

I’ve ruined some nice clothes by splashing them with bleach. And it’s not really ideal stuff to get in your eyes or on your skin, even in dilute form. So gloves, safety glasses and old clothes aren’t a totally bad idea when dealing with the stuff. Sure, it’s probably overkill, but safety first.

Probably not, but there’s definitely a reason vinegar won’t do. I’m surprised that anyone in 2018 subscribed to the (what is it, superstition basically I guess) that vinegar would clean the board after cutting raw chicken. I suspect irresponsible eco-propaganda.

I’m mostly in favour of eco-propaganda, but misleading people into assuming that vinegar is a useful disinfectant after raw meat is going too far.

huh! learned something new.