WHITE vinegar has become the secret ingredient that cleaning fanatics rave about.

But while some swear it works on everything, experts warn using it in the wrong way could land you with a repair bill for thousands.

Vinegar's acidic nature makes it a brilliant natural cleanser for all sorts of household items.

But it can also damage some surfaces, so you have to know what you are dealing with.

Natural stone

If your tiles or worktops are made from granite or marble, you should never use vinegar, reports RealHomes.

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"Even diluted, it can etch natural stone," according to cleaning experts Molly Maid.

"Makers of stone countertops and floor tiles strongly advise against using it on their products."

Instead, use warm water and a mild soap.

Vinegar is fine to use on quartz or porcelain, though.

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Sealed hardwood floors

The wax used to seal wooden floorboards can be broken down by the acid in vinegar.

Cleaning expert Emma Barton, founder of Steam Clean Queen, warns: "Be prepared to write a check in thousands of dollars for the repair.

"Chemicals used to produce the wax coating crumble and decompose under vinegar.

"It leaves white patches on the flooring, unsettling to look at."

Use mild soap and water, or a dedicated wood floor cleaner. 

Wool rugs

Don't use vinegar on rugs made from real wool or sheepskin, experts say.

Ben Hyman, boss of Revival Rugs, said: "The acidity could permanently damage the fibers.

"Instead, I would blot the spill up and then use a small amount of clean water and blot some more.

"If the stain is persistent, you could use a small amount of dishwashing soap mixed with water.

"If all else fails, get your wool rug professionally hand washed."

Appliances with rubber seals

Cleaning fans love using vinegar for freshening fridges and leaving dishwashers sparkling.

But experts warn it can wear down the rubber seals.

In the long run this could lead to problems such as leaks and higher energy bills.

Use dedicated liquids for cleaning dishwashers and washing machines, run on a empty cycle.

Seals around doors can safely be cleaned with baking soda dissolved in warm water.

TV and laptop screens

Tempting as it might be, don't spritz on a bit of vinegar to polish the glass.

Screens have a special anti-reflection coating which can be worn away if you use the wrong product.

Lily Cameron, a domestic cleaning expert at Fantastic Services, warns: "White vinegar will strip away the protective layer on the surfaces of electronic devices.

"For them, it’s best to use a microfiber cloth and a specially formulated cleaner for electronic screens."

Egg stains

Spilled egg sets hard and be be tricky to shift.

But Molly Maid warns: "Never use vinegar on an eggy mess.

"The acidity will cause it to coagulate and become even more difficult to clean."

If you've spilled egg on the floor, just mop it up with a paper towel.

An all-purpose cleaning spray should get rid of any remnants.

Kitchen knives

Want to keep your best knives gleaming? Then don't use vinegar, experts say.

Lily Cameron says: "The acidic properties of white vinegar can cause corrosion to the metal blades and dull the knife’s edges.

"Stick to washing them with warm water and soap and thoroughly drying them afterwards."

Newly painted wood

Experts say the acid in vinegar can ruin the finish on painted kitchen cabinets and doorframes.

Tony Adams of DIYgeeks.com says: "If you apply vinegar to painted wood, the vinegar will soften the paint and the paint will peel off after a while.

"It takes vinegar ten minutes to fully dissolve water-based paint, and up to 30 minutes to fully dissolve oil-based paint.

"The vinegar can also discolor the wood if it's not heavily diluted with

Painted cabinets and woodwork can be cleaned with water and washing up liquid.

Cast iron and aluminum

Vinegar could ruin your best pots and pans, according to Paul Moody, home cleaning expert and the founder of Pro Mover Reviews.

He warns: "Aluminum and cast iron chemically react with the acetic acid in vinegar and can damage them.

"With iron, the acetic acid in vinegar causes an exothermic reaction that causes heat and removes the protective coating on the metal and makes it susceptible to rust. 

"When aluminum reacts with vinegar, it creates aluminum acetate, which is soluble. When you scrub the surface of the pan with vinegar, the aluminum will slowly be eaten away.

"The best cleaner for cast iron is plain water, wiped dry after cleaning. And for aluminum, plain water and a little mild detergent."

Experts recommend resealing cast iron pans after washing with an edible oil such as linseed or rapeseed.

Coffee machines

Acid is what you need to tackle a buildup of limescale.

Some people swear by vinegar as a DIY cleaner for coffee machines.

But you might want to think again if you have shelled out extra for an extended warranty.

Oli Baise, founder of coffee blog Drinky Coffee, warns: "If your manufacturer knows that you have used vinegar to clean your machine the warranty will be voided.

"If you have purchased a machine with a warranty, it's worth opting for specialized descaler rather than using vinegar."

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Meanwhile, other experts have warned against the popular trick of mixing vinegar and baking soda to clean drains.

However, cleanaholics reckon vinegar is still great for all manner of jobs around the house – from mattresses and laundry to the loo.

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