Does distilled white vinegar interact with plastic in a bad way?

Asked January 12, 2017, 11:38 AM EST

My husband and I both have sleep apnea, and we both use CPAP machines. I disinfect the water chambers every 7-10 days by soaking them in a solution of distilled vinegar and warm water, in a container made of either ceramic or glass. But we will be traveling for 2 months, and I won't have my (too heavy to carry) large ceramic container with me. I was thinking of buying an inexpensive, light weight, but large enough plastic container for soaking the water reservoirs in the vinegar solution. My question is, will plastic containers of the sort I can buy at a place like Walmart interact with the vinegar in an unhealthy way, somehow contaminating the water chambers? I've contacted the people at the company that makes the CPAP machine, but they didn't know the answer to this question. Seems to me this is kind of a kitchen-based chemistry question that you might be able to answer.

Montgomery County Maryland

3 Responses

Vinegar is packaged in plastic for sale by all but one brand. If you look at the bottom of those containers you will know the type of plastic that they use for long term storage. The small containers are PETE, polyethylene terephthalate, recycle code number 1, and the 1/2 gallon and larger are HDPE, high-density polyethylene, recycle code number 2.

I don't think other common plastics can be reactive with vinegar, especially if it diluted for your use.

Thank you very much for the clear and detailed answer. I appreciate it.

The HDPE is the same stuff as milk jugs. So, the cloudy translucent kitchen containers should be the same.

The PETE, some times called PET, is clear. It is the material of all plastic soda containers.

Glad to help!!