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Vinegar is one of the best natural disinfectants available. Science shows how white vinegar destroys bacteria and viruses, often as effective as using chemical cleaners like bleach. It’s safe and effective for many surfaces in your home. But alone, vinegar is stinky and etches away natural materials over time.
After cleaning the house, I want a fresh and clean scent. I need to know my cleaning was effective and feel accomplished. White vinegar alone has a powerful and pungent smell. Infused vinegar became the DIY go-to I was looking for to solve all my natural cleaning woes.
The aroma of infused vinegar is much more do-able. You won’t think about living in a giant pickle jar, and you can customize the scent or disinfecting value by adding in your favorite citrus and herbs. Plus, the infused vinegar recipe I’m about to show you is simple to make for a zero-waste lifestyle.
Collect your favorite fresh citrus and herbs, collect the scraps you’d normally throw in the trash to create your cleaning spray, or skip both options in favor of using essential oils. Natural cleaning becomes quick and easy with this recipe. Keep reading for the step-by-step instructions and how to use the cleaner.
Why Make and Use Infused Vinegar for Cleaning?
Photo by Crema Joe on Unsplash
In a previous post on Non-toxic DIY Cleaning Spray, I explain the value (and math) behind making your own cleaning products. It boils down to three main reasons: your home will become cleaner in less time, your family is no longer subjected to toxic cancer-causing chemicals, and you save tons of money.
But with infused vinegar, these benefits go a step further. You don’t need to buy a lemon, thyme, or anything else to combine with your white vinegar.
The best part about this recipe is how low-maintenance and zero waste it can become. Save your citrus peels from the trash or compost pile to combine with the vinegar, and you’re literally able to create a cleaning spray without spending more than the price of the vinegar and your spray bottle.
Step-by-Step Directions for Making and Storing Infused Vinegar
Photo by Stephanie Studer on Unsplash
Infusing white vinegar with your ingredient of choice replaces the rough scent with the one you find fresh and invigorating. Your nose will thank you. Collect a large mason jar, vinegar, and your infusion choice.
Large glass mason jar
A spray bottle
Fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth (optional)
For the scent or infused part, you have options:
Citrus: Add fresh citrus or peels to add scent and bacteria-fighting power to vinegar. Choose from lemons, limes, oranges, or a combination of them.
Herbs: Bring a touch of green to your cleaner by infusing herbs like thyme, mint, basil, whole cloves, eucalyptus leaves, lavender, rosemary, sage, lemon balm, oregano, tarragon, or anything else you have on hand.
Other fresh alternatives: There are other things in your kitchen you can infuse, such as cinnamon sticks, garlic, chile peppers, onion, etc.
Fill a large glass mason jar about 2/3 of the way full with white vinegar (around a cup or two, depending on the size of your jar). Add in the infusion ingredient you selected next. For example, you could cut a lemon into slices and place them directly in the liquid or set the jar aside and toss in the peels you cut from any citrus later.
When you have included the infusion ingredient, screw on the mason jar lid. Shake the jar to move the vinegar around. Set the mixture aside in a cool, dark place. Allow it to soak for at least a week. For the best results, leave it to infuse for 10 to 14 days.
Next, strain the solids out of the vinegar. Use a fine-mesh strainer, cheesecloth, or funnel, as needed. Discard any solids. For a bonus, give the solids a final squeeze to wring out the last of the vinegar before throwing them out.
To Dilute or Not
If you want to dilute the mixture with equal parts of water, it may last longer. Transfer about a 1/2 cup of the infused vinegar to a spray bottle, using a funnel if needed. Mix the infused vinegar 50/50 with filtered water. Swirl the ingredients together.
However, this recipe is safe and highly effective at full-strength. Many people claim you only lower the antibacterial power by diluting the vinegar.
The only time I found diluting vinegar helpful in cleaning the house comes into play with small kitchen appliances. Some coffee makers, toasters, or blenders with rubber pieces and lower grades of metal might corrode. Lower-quality stainless steel, for example, rusts after contact with acid.
Modifying the Infusion
Modify the infused vinegar recipe to suit your preferences, or try a different scent for each season.
I prefer to infuse vinegar with fresh lemon to clean counters because I love the scent, but I save peels from the trash for my recipe too.
If lemons are not your thing, create your own blend.
Sometimes I create basil-infused vinegar because my plant produces faster than I can keep up. Any herb works as an excellent alternative.
There are also other fresh ingredients in your kitchen you could infuse. If you haven’t made it to the grocery store for a while, boost the aroma with essential oils.
You can use any alternative ingredient listed above to infuse vinegar.
Any leftover infused vinegar should remain in the jar until you need to make more cleaner, or you are ready to use it at full-strength. Store the spray bottle or diluted vinegar wherever you normally keep cleaners. The bottle never expires.
If you water down the vinegar with water before cleaning, whether you prefer to keep it in a spray bottle or dab the cleaner on a cloth, swirl it around once in a while.
How to Clean with Infused Vinegar
Infused vinegar makes an excellent cleaner for most surfaces. You can use a homemade all-purpose cleaner with the ingredient for nearly all your cleaning needs.
What to Clean
Most surfaces are safe to clean with vinegar, EXCEPT for some natural materials like granite, marble, and certain wood finishes. Cleaning with vinegar is especially ideal for stainless steel.
The reason is that vinegar etches and stains sensitive stone over time and causes irreversible damage. The vinegar may also cause damage to certain types of finishes on hardwood floors or wood countertops. However, many of the wood finishes on tables survive unscathed.
Vinegar is safe for cleaning wood cutting boards. To be safe, avoid spraying it on natural hardwood floors or wood furniture.
You can even use the DIY cleaning spray on glass, windows, and mirrors.
Keep in mind, however, to avoid cleaning windows with vinegar on hot days or it may dry too quickly and leave streaks. Avoid using the mixture to clean a warm oven or cooking area as well.
Plus, vinegar is a great cleaner for fruit and veggies. Spray or rub the solution to clean fresh produce before eating.
While infusing, the mason jar contents may look pretty weird. The liquid color tends to change color based on the ingredients you infuse in vinegar. For example, my attempt with a full lemon fell apart. I filtered the cleaner with a cheesecloth, and the result smells amazing.
Remember, you can alter the all-purpose cleaner simply by infusing various ingredients (or combinations of them). Lavender infused vinegar turns a stunning purple shade. Cinnamon sticks are a fun addition during colder months. There are plenty of options to try.
Caution: Use caution when applying the natural cleaner on hardwood floors or natural stone. Test a small section before applying the mixture to your entire home. Proceed if it’s safe. Spray the mixture on a soft cloth or paper towel first, then wipe the surface when it’s room temperature.
How to Use the Cleaner
Uses: remove odors; get rid of hard water stains or wall smudges; clean counters, appliances, trash cans, bath or showers, sinks, windows, glass, mirrors, microwave, fridge, garbage disposal, toilets, tiles, etc. Any durable, sealed surface is safe.
To use, spray the infused vinegar from a spray bottle or keep it in a jar to wipe with a wet rag.
Spritz the mixture on the surface you want to clean. Let it sit for at least 60 seconds. Wipe the surface using a damp towel or cloth. Then, rinse or buff dry the area.
Bonus Tip: For the best results with stainless steel, try to wipe the surface in the direction of the metal’s grain. Doing so may help avoid streaks and smears.
How Do You Prefer to Make Infused Vinegar?
What are your favorite ingredients to infuse in white vinegar for cleaning the home? I love to use lemon, lime, or orange peels. I’ll also make lavender, rosemary, and cinnamon-infused vinegar for special seasons, gifts, or occasions. Lavender and rosemary smell amazing together as well.
Which do you prefer? Share your experiences in the comments.