Does white vinegar really neutralize airborne odors and not just mask them?

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In summary, white vinegar can be used to remove the smell of urine. It is not guaranteed to be effective, but it is a cheaper and more environmentally friendly option than using a commercial product.
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I had a small device (the Mosfet in a lamp dimmer to be technical) burn out recently, but when it did it smoked a bit. The smell was enough to be noticeable throughout the house, so I held my breath, opened the windows and placed a fan aiming out the door to best rid the odor. After an hour, most of the odor was no longer noticeable but a bit lingered. I read online that white vinegar, either a small amount placed near the area in question, or brought to almost a boil on the stove would not only get rid of the odor, but neutralize it. I did just that. Remaining odor didn't linger long, but I don't know if it was due to absorption/ deactivation by vinegar, or natural dissipation. So does white vinegar, when used this way, actually neutralize or just mask?
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  • #2
Dilute acetic acid can "neutralize" ammonia. So if the smell is urine, it could help.

I wouldn't expect dilute acetic acid would "neutralize" very much else.
But I do see claims on the www that either a sitting dish or a boiling it to a mist supposedly neutralizes odors.

I some cases, smells can linger for weeks by coating surfaces and then slowly releasing. In the case of tobacco smoke, this can be cleaned up with a fairly intense dose of ozone for about 60-minutes. There are devices that can be bought or rented for that purpose. When they are in use, the room(s) must be unoccupied - because the ozone can damage cells.
  • #3
There are also woodworking supplies for refinishing furniture. One problem is residual tobacco depositions.
Products like Nilodor are used. I do not know what is in it because labelling laws did not require it. It works well. I was told it had acetic acid in it, but I do not know for sure. The website is aimed at janitorial services products - did mention 'proprietary' ingredients.

These products are useful because cleaning water solutions on raw wood - think inside or bottom of a drawer - will cause the wood to swell and get fuzzy, possibly making the drawer unusable.
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Related to Does white vinegar really neutralize airborne odors and not just mask them?

1. Does white vinegar actually neutralize odors or just mask them?

White vinegar has the ability to neutralize odors rather than just masking them. This is because vinegar is an acid, and it works by breaking down the molecules of odor-causing substances, making them less potent and noticeable to our noses.

2. How does white vinegar neutralize airborne odors?

White vinegar contains acetic acid, which has a strong odor itself. However, when it comes in contact with other odorous molecules, it binds to them and changes their chemical structure, making them less smelly. This process is called neutralization.

3. Is white vinegar safe to use to neutralize airborne odors?

Yes, white vinegar is generally considered safe to use for neutralizing airborne odors. It is a natural and non-toxic substance, making it a safer alternative to chemical-based air fresheners. However, it is always recommended to use it in a well-ventilated area and to avoid direct contact with the skin or eyes.

4. How long does it take for white vinegar to neutralize odors?

The time it takes for white vinegar to neutralize odors may vary depending on the strength and intensity of the odor. In most cases, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours for the vinegar to fully neutralize the odor. It is recommended to leave the vinegar in the affected area for at least 30 minutes before wiping it away.

5. Can white vinegar neutralize all types of odors?

White vinegar is effective in neutralizing a wide range of odors, including cooking smells, cigarette smoke, pet odors, and more. However, it may not be as effective in neutralizing very strong or stubborn odors, such as those caused by mold or mildew. In these cases, it is best to address the root cause of the odor and use vinegar as a supplementary measure.

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