Will Vinegar Kill E Coli?

As a disinfectant, vinegar is ineffective. A disinfectant must be able to eliminate 99.9% of disease-causing bacteria and viruses in order to meet EPA criteria. Only few bacteria, like Salmonella and E. coli, are resistant to vinegar.

Utilizing an EPA-registered disinfectant is the most effective approach to clean your home or place of business. Look for the EPA registration number on the product’s label.

Vinegar is still effective as a general cleanser. It works well to get rid of debris from surfaces like glass, sinks, and countertops due to its high acidity.

How long does vinegar need to inflict E. coli death?

I dug up an old manuscript, edited it, and posted it in an effort to advance public health in response to the most current outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in romaine lettuce. Enjoy.

In addition to the most recent outbreak, there have been a number of outbreaks affecting lettuce (Marler 2018b) (Marler 2018a). Consequently, a quick search of Faith et al. 2012 was produced by the salmonella vinegar salad. There is still potential for improvement because they left out Escherichia coli O157:H7 and the current rise in popularity of that disease in lettuce.

I sent an email to some of my colleagues who study food microbiology explaining my findings and arguing that the science can still be advanced. Extension might become as well-known for their work on the project as Jillian Clarke or Robyn C. Miranda, which would be a good assignment for them “Rule of five seconds. (Hans Blaschek and Don Schaffner contributed as co-authors.)

I continued my literature search because the responses were uninspiring. It was suggested by my fellow food microbiologists that I turn the piece into a paper for “Trends in food protection. Unfortunately, up until this outbreak, requests for input on the FSIS’ proposed modernization of its poultry and swine programs took up my free time.

Hence, this little article on lettuce safety at home. Making lettuce safer during preharvest and before it enters households has many chances and obstacles, but that is another idea that the Berry Et alia 2015 encouraged for me.

This review is not exhaustive, but it does include papers that readers might find helpful. They are arranged chronologically in the summary.

First: Remove any broken or bruised leaves from your lettuce or other fresh greens before treating them. The cracks allow germs to infiltrate the cells and so escape the vinegar’s or another antimicrobial’s deadly effects. Additionally, both healthy and bad bacteria linked with the produce multiply with the assistance of the fluids from broken or bruised leaves (Takeuchi & Frank 2000, Brandl 2008).

Washing the leaves may help to eliminate any loose bacteria, but it is less effective at getting rid of adherent germs. Salad greens can be sanitized or disinfected in a variety of methods. Chlorine, electrolyzed water, cold plasma, and irradiation spring to mind. But most home kitchens don’t have easy access to these. Therefore, this article’s goal is to examine recent research and provide actionable advice to increase the safety of salads.


A spoiler alert: vinegar kills microorganisms that cause disease. Fans of the Law of Mass Action will be pleased to know that the fatal effects of vinegar depend on time, temperature, and the acetic acid content (which is typically 6%). With its extra phenols, balsamic vinegar is the fatal cat’s pajamas.


In 1998, a Japanese team named Entani expressed alarm over an Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak that had occurred in 1996. They claimed, “Food-borne pathogenic bacteria, such as EHEC 0157:H7, were susceptible to the bactericidal effects of vinegar. Instead of lettuce, they used the surface of nutrient agar to test the vinegars.

“The time needed to inactivate EHEC 0157:H7 NGY-lO at 30C in three different vinegar solutions—a vinegar stock solution with 10% acetic acid concentration, a twofold dilution with 5% acetic acid, and a fourfold dilution with 2.5% acetic acid—was 1 minute, 25 minutes, and 150 minutes, respectively (measured as the time needed to reduce colony forming units from 2.0 x 106 CFU/ml to

A 1998 shigellosis outbreak inspired Wu et al. to treat parsley in 2000 at the University of Georgia and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Three different strains of Shigella sonnei were used to inoculate the parsley, whether it was chopped or whole. The treatments consisted of 5 min at 4C or 21C exposure to plain vinegar, diluted vinegar, or Na hypochlorite 0 to 200 ppm free chlorine. Over 150 ppm of chlorine or undiluted vinegar (5.2% or 7.6%) decreased the S. sonnei population on entire leaves by over 6 Log10.

In flasks at ambient temperature and at 4C, Vijayakumar and Wolf-Hall investigated three organic acids and diluted bleach on iceberg lettuce leaves in 2002. “35% white vinegar (1.9% acetic acid) was the most effective in reducing E. coli levels (with a 5-log 10 reduction after 5 min of agitation and after 10 min of no agitation), they reported. Other household sanitizers tested included apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, bleach, and a reconstituted lemon juice product.

Shredded iceberg lettuce was treated by Chang and Fang 2007 from the Department of Health, Taiwan, with full strength rice vinegar (5% acetic acid) and dilutions on E. coli O157:H7. A 3 Log10 reduction was obtained after five minutes at 25C. E. coli O157:H7 could not be eliminated by diluted vinegar that contained 0%, 0.05%, or 0.5% acetic acid.

At Colorado State University, Yang et al. 2009 evaluated a number of common household compounds against Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7, and Salmonella Typhimurium in suspension. “The following sequence is the decline in pathogen-fighting abilities of common home chemicals: Undiluted vinegar and 5% acetic acid are followed by 0.0314% sodium hypochlorite, 3% hydrogen peroxide, 5% citric acid, and baking soda (50% sodium bicarbonate). Salmonella Typhimurium > E. coli O157: H7 > L. monocytogenes was the order in which the tested pathogens were sensitive to all tested household chemicals.

On undamaged spinach leaves, Faith et al. (2012) utilized cocktails of either Salmonella sp. or L. monocytogenes. Along with a commercial, 100% natural canola oil, the commercial vinegars included rice vinegar, distilled white vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar. When treating spinach in a Whirl-Pak bag, 20 cc of vinegar was added and left at room temperature for 30 minutes. The vinegar was diluted 50% with either water or oil. About 3 logs10 of the local microbiota, mostly Gram-, were decreased by the vinegars. The vinegar and oil were diluted 1:2 for the pathogen tests. A vinaigrette traditionally has 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar.

The writers claimed, “A significant decrease in S. enterica counts (up to 2.0 log CFU) was seen after letting the mixture remain at room temperature for at least 20 min. For spinach leaves infected with a variety of Listeria monocytogenes strains, vinegar and oil only slightly reduced CFU (0.5 log).

Sirsat and Neal (2013) favored aquaponic lettuce over lettuce cultivated in soil. They put undiluted red wine vinegar, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice to the test. Undiluted vinegar or juice were exposed to Salmonella or E. coli cocktails to see which was more deadly: white vinegar or juice. Salmonella, E. coli, and coliforms were reduced by 2-3 Log10 when inoculated lettuce was treated for 60 seconds with straight or diluted white vinegar (5% or 2.5% acetic acid). You may obtain their work and view Fig. 3 because it is open access.

On iceberg lettuce, Ramos et al. (2014) employed L. monocytogenes. Using the agar diffusion method, rice, fruit, white, red, and cider wines, cider, and balsamic vinegar were examined. The superior vinegar was balsamic. The treatment mixtures included acetic acid, white vinegar, and acetic acid that had been diluted to 5.87% strength. Both the white vinegar and the balsamic vinegar contained 6.15% acetic acid. The concentrations of these solutions were then reduced by 15, 20, 37, and 50% (v/v). A liter of weak vinegar was poured to the inoculated lettuce (about 50 g), which was then removed and placed on sterile absorbent paper after 15 minutes at room temperature. Trials were conducted in triplicate.

According to the findings, white vinegar performed better when diluted by 15% than balsamic vinegar, which provided the highest reduction (0.9 Log10 vs 0.9 Log10). The 50% vinegar dilutions produced the largest decreases.

The writers claimed, “For balsamic vinegar (50% (v/v)), white wine vinegar ((50% (v/v)), and acetic acid ((50% (v/v)), the greatest observed log decrease of L. monocytogenes was 2.150.04, 1.180.06, and 1.130.06, respectively. Only 0.050.04 log CFU/mL of L. monocytogenes are lowered by washing with water. The authors asserted, citing earlier papers: “The presence of chemicals with antibacterial properties that result from the fermentation of grape juice and from grape juice itself may also be related to the higher bactericidal action of balsamic vinegar. Numerous phenolic chemicals, especially polymeric phenolic compounds including resveratrol, vanillic acid, caffeic acid, gallic acid, and flavonoids, are known to be present in grapes and to have antilisterial effect (rutin and quercetin)

Cut romaine lettuce or spinach strips were handled by Poimenidou et al. in 2016 by washing with various solutions. A distilled aqueous oregano extract, water, Na hypochlorite (60 and 300 ppm free chlorine), Citrox (0.5%), vinegar (6% acetic acid), 2% lactic acid, and double concentrations of Citrox, lactic acid, and oregano were the solutions used. 310g of infected leaves were treated by being submerged in two liters of solution for two or five minutes at room temperature. Half of the leaves were washed in freezing water after treatment. In triplicate, each trial was performed twice. They examined the local microbiota as well as E. coli O157:H7.

“20 g samples from each treatment were examined in three different phases: I prior to treatment to determine the attached population; (ii) following treatment to evaluate the washing solutions’ immediate antimicrobial effects; and (iii) after 7 days of storage at 5 C. 18 samples per treatment, thus.

The decreases in E. coli O157:H7 (log CFU/g) were:

  • Water: 0.70,1 on lettuce and 0.70,1 on spinach
  • 60 ppm of Na hypochlorite: 0.51.3 log CFU/g.
  • 300 ppm of sodium hypochlorite: 1.7 on spinach
  • Lactic acid at 2%: 3.6 on spinach, 2.1 on lettuce, and 2.3 after 7 days.
  • Citrox: 0.71.3 on spinach, 0.91.5 on lettuce, and 1.3 spinach, 1.8 lettuce after seven days.
  • Oregano: 0.7 on spinach, 1.52.1 on lettuce, undetectable after 7 days.

Vinegar produced the biggest reductions in Log10:

  • After seven days, it becomes undetectable on rinsed spinach and 2.02.4 on unrinsed spinach.
  • After seven days, it becomes undetectable on rinsed lettuce and between 1.8 and 2.3 on unrinsed lettuce.

In 2016, Park et al. treated the seaweed laver with 5%, 10%, and 15% dilutions of vinegar containing 6% acetic acid. They injected MNV-1, a Norovirus stand-in, or E. coli into the laver. After being stored at 4C for 1, 3, 5, and 7 days, treated lavatories were analyzed. There was minimal change between treatments and water alone, although the MNV-1 titer gradually dropped with time and vinegar concentration. However, the amount of vinegar and the amount of time had a significant impact on E. coli survival. In 7 days, the E. coli count in 0% vinegar grew marginally, by 0.6 Log10. After 7 days, the decreases for vinegar-treated laundry were 3.4 Log10 for 15%, 2.5 Log10 for 10%, and 2.0 Log10 for 5% vinegar.

In 2017, Bakir et al. used the disc diffusion method to test 18 vinegars. They made use of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella Typhimurium. The 15 different fruits or substrates used in the vinegars came from three separate businesses that either used a conventional approach or a commercial submerged fermentation of diluted juice. Also, the strongest antibacterial activity was found in balsamic vinegar. “Antibacterial actions of vinegars could partly be related to both their acetic acid levels and pH values, as well as to their phenolic contents,” the authors found.

Gmez-Aldapa et al. (2018) examined the antimicrobial effects of colloidal silver (3.5 mg/L), sodium hypochlorite (200 mg/L), acetic acid (0.5%), and Hibiscus sabdariffa calyx extracts (water, methanol, acetone, and ethyl acetate). The food included spinach, romaine lettuce, and coriander leaves (A.K.A. cilantro). They employed thirteen different bacteria, including Salmonella, L. monocytogenes, Shigella flexneri, five different pathotypes of E. coli, and Vibrio cholerae O1. The comprehensive results are shown in their tables 1-3. 2-3 Log10 reductions were produced by their extracts. Diluted vinegar containing 0%, 0.05%, or 0.5% acetic acid had no effect, and the reduction in diluted acetic acid was 1 Log10. These results are comparable to those of Chang and Fang from 2007.

My findings Leafy greens and other food can be sanitized with vinegar in the home. But what about Russian dressing or blue cheese? I’m not sure. I haven’t seen any studies. Personally, I would finish slicing the other salad ingredients after spritzing the lettuce with basic white vinegar. Then shake (or spin) the greens and combine them with the remaining ingredients and your preferred creamy dressing.

The bactericidal action is increased with increased time, temperature, or concentration. There are variations in how leaves are affected. The hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials on leaf surfaces are different. Both bacterial adhesion and the treatment’s capacity to interact with the attached bacteria or virus are impacted by these.

Is vinegar as effective at disinfecting as bleach?

Adil Bhaloda, Clinical Lead and Pharmacist at Prescription Doctor, believes that vinegar isn’t nearly as effective as bleach and doesn’t kill as many bacteria.

Of course, vinegar does get rid of some things, but it’s crucial to remember that it doesn’t function as a full-fledged disinfectant. Only 90% of bacteria are effectively killed by it, and 80% of viruses and mold or mildew are also effectively killed. On the other hand, bleach gets rid of 99.9% of germs, viruses, and mold or mildew. The health department is an easy place to check for this information.

Indeed, vinegar is not a certified disinfectant against COVID-19, although bleach most surely is, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Bleach is a much better option than vinegar for disinfecting (or sanitizing), according to Dr. Samantha Radford, a former professor of human toxicology who now runs the parenting site Evidenced-Based Mommy with a focus on science and health.

Although the two approaches plainly don’t complement one another, they might nonetheless serve different functions in your regular home cleaning regimen. Household items like coffee makers, dishwashers, shower doors, bathtubs, rug stains, and clothes can all be cleaned with vinegar “Dr. Maria Vila, DO, a family medicine specialist in Morristown, New Jersey, and a physician advisor for eMediHealth, explains that it aids in the removal of oil residues, mineral buildup from hard water, soap residue, and stains brought on by food and wine. “The crucial aspect of vinegar is that it is not harmful and doesn’t generate fumes that can irritate your eyes and lungs.

Bleach, on the other hand, is the best option for disinfection, according to Dr. Vila. “Bleach can be used directly or in a diluted form mixed with water to assist clean surfaces,” he says.

Kitchen counters, baths, toilets, and of course stains on white apparel are some of the areas bleach can be used to clean. Use gloves and make sure the space is well aired because the gases it releases might irritate your skin, eyes, and lungs.

The Department of Health recommends dilution as follows when using bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite: “For normal household cleaning, use household bleach that has been diluted (1:99; 10ml bleach to 1 liter water). The agency also suggests rinsing and wiping dry disinfected objects and surfaces.

While combining two strong forces can often be beneficial, vinegar and bleach are not one of those circumstances. “Dr. Vila advises against mixing vinegar and bleach, despite the fact that both are effective cleaning agents that most people already have at home. “There will be a leak of unpleasant and dangerous mixed chlorine gas.

Call your doctor before getting tested if you believe you have coronavirus symptoms, which include coughing, shortness of breath, and fever. Visit the CDC for the most recent information and resources if you’re concerned about the virus spreading in your neighborhood, or look for mental health support.