The advice for cleaning salt stains (for example from shoes) with a vinegar + water solution is fairly ubiquitous on the internet. Is there a chemical explanation for why the vinegar is important? Why not just water?

Edit: I don't actually know that vinegar helps clean salt stains. There might be actually be no chemical reason for the advice to be valid.

  • $\begingroup$ I see this has been downvoted. This is my first question here - I'm happy to improve the question with some guidance, or even delete if this is totally inappropriate for the site. If that's the case, a suggestion for another site would be greatly appreciated. $\endgroup$
    – Evan
    Feb 27 '18 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ How do we know that the statement that vinegar works better with salt (NaCl) stains than normal water is actually a fact? Has anyone performed a scientific experiment and found that vinegar has truly the effect stated (i am not convinced)? I think this is the first question to ask. If you can provide real data that vinegar helps (and not because ppl on the internet say so) then we can start looking into why. Also, by salt i guess you mean NaCl. If it was carbonates (eg. limescale) then use of vinegar would make perfect sense. $\endgroup$
    – AMM
    Feb 27 '18 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ @AMM I don't know that it helps. I suppose a valid answer would be that according to the laws of chemistry, vinegar shouldn't help clean salt stains. $\endgroup$
    – Evan
    Feb 27 '18 at 21:55
  • $\begingroup$ What i am trying to say is that you cant know for sure without doing an experiment. This is what scientific method is all about. May vinegar helps and maybe it doesnt until you try. You cant say it shouldnt because maybe for example there is carbonate contamination in the salt they use for the street or maybe etc. etc. $\endgroup$
    – AMM
    Feb 28 '18 at 8:47

The acid in the vinegar helps to a) dissolve substances or b) makes the substance easier to remove. The water is neutral (more or less) so won't really dissolve any stain or such

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How? It appears that salts used to melt ice (e.g. Sodium and Calcium Chloride) are already highly soluble in water. $\endgroup$
    – Evan
    Feb 27 '18 at 15:21

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