5 DIY Scented Vinegar Cleaners
The first rule of eco-blogging: You must post relentlessly about Mason jars and vinegar cleaner.
I woke up on the sassy side of the bed this morning after a long week tackling some spring cleaning. The pollen situation in Charleston is REAL. And as part of my 100 Greener Choices segment, I've recently switched to DIY vinegar cleaning solutions. But remember when I washed my hair with vinegar and my head smelled like a Caesar salad for two days? Sometimes vinegar's odor leaves a bit to be desired.
There are literally a million posts on the Internet that tell you how to do this, what to do once you've infused the vinegar, and how to turn it into an appropriate cleaner for various surfaces. Let's cut to the chase, because this is a post about the 5 difference vinegar cleaner scents I tried and which ones I liked best.
Here's my quick and dirty DIY tips along with some DON'TS. Definitely read the DON'TS. I accidentally made zombie orange cleaner and had to S.O.S. both Elana at Salvage & Stitch and June at Slip into Savor.
The Down and Dirty DIY Vinegar Cleaner Dos
- DO use cheap white vinegar, this is not the place to invest funds. It's going in your toilet. Literally.
- DO remember that you don't need to scent your vinegar at all to clean.
- DO remember that tutorials on how long to infuse your vinegar are based in personal preference. If it smells ready by your standards? Carry on. There is not something magical that happens between day 3 and day 14. Assuming you don't accidentally grow mold in your vinegar, which is somewhat hard to do, you can infuse it for virtually forever. I have a lemon tarragon salad vinegar that's been hanging out for God knows how long. It is delicious.
- DO put your vinegar in glass. Plastic both leaches into acidic contents and will take up the smell of your vinegar
- DO remember that - depending on your vinegar scent ingredients - you can speed the infusion process by heating your vinegar and pouring it over the jarred ingredients. DO NOT let the vinegar heat to simmering or boiling. I've been infusing delicious pepper vinegars this way for years. It's quick and easy.
- DO remember that there is no exact right proportion of ingredients to vinegar - though you want mostly vinegar, and all the ingredients should be submerged. It's just an infusion. Nothing more.
The Down and Dirty DIY Vinegar Cleaner DON'TS
DON'T use peels or ingredients that have visible mold. While vinegar kills an estimated 89% of mold, this is how I wound up with zombie orange cleaner. The peels literally turned black.
- DON'T forget that if you use essential oils instead of infusion, you need to make sure they're pet friendly. This post from Paws & Pines will set you straight.
- DON'T forget to carefully wipe the lip and lids of your jars when you seal them for the infusing period.
- DON'T forget to wash your jars before using.
- DON'T use ingredients that will stain. TURMERIC, WE'RE TALKING ABOUT YOU. Also don't use blueberries, beets, etc. Be smart about this one. If it stains your hands while cooking, do NOT put it in your vinegar cleaner.
- DON'T use the sugary or fleshy/mushy parts of fruits and vegetables or ground spices. They will dissolve in your cleaner and leave you with sticky or gritty surfaces. Strawberries? Bad. Ground cinnamon? Weird and bad. Lemon peel? Good.
The Down and Dirty DIY Vinegar Cleaner Tutorial
- Read the Dos and Don'ts. READ THEM AGAIN. Put the turmeric down.
- Select fragrant peels/spices/herbs for vinegar. Inspect for mold. Wash.
- Stuff in jar.
- Pour cheap ass vinegar over stuff in jar, covering completely. Seal. Shake.
- Leave stuff in jar for somewhere between 1-14 days, as desired.
- Remove stuff from jar.
- Pour vinegar through funnel and cheese cloth into new jar.
- Diffuse according to surface to be cleaned. Clean.
5 DIY Scented Vinegar Cleaners
(ordered from least favorite to best)
Orange Clove Vinegar Cleaner
I surprised myself at how much I hate this one. This entire post actually came about because of how much I hate this smell as a cleaning solution. It's sweet, it's cloying, it smells like Christmas, it does NOT belong in your vinegar. I love it as a home scent in a simmer pot at the holidays, I love it in a potpourri. I never EVER want to associate it with a dirty toilet.
Lemon Lavender Vinegar Cleaner
Lemon has a bright, fresh scent we've culturally been conditioned to associate with cleaning solutions, and the lavender added a delightful floral scent that lingered. I enjoyed this one, and it's going to be well within your comfort zone. The lavender also leaves your vinegar a gorgeous, cheerful color!
Pear Cardamom Vinegar Cleaner
Stick with me on this one, y'all. I'm not always the most "girlie" of ladies, whatever we've decided that means, and I don't always want my house/clothes/person smelling like I got baptized by the Church of Gardenia, though this IS the South. I used Bartlett pear peels, carefully shaved from the fruit, and green cardamom pods. I love this one so much. It's simple, earthy, sweet, warm, and doesn't smell like a freaking fruit salad in your shower. Note: The pear peels WILL discolor and age in the vinegar. That's different than mold. And the tiny bits of unavoidable fruit flesh may leave this solution a little cloudy. I'm using it in sinks, bathtubs, toilets, the stove. Just not glass.
Mixed Herb Vinegar Cleaner
Fan me down, y'all. I really love this one. I honestly thought this would be my least favorite! It felt like a bit of a wildcard. I used fennel fronds, parsley, sage, rosemary, dill, and a lot of thyme from my garden, and threw in some cilantro that was wilting in the fridge. (WILTING, not slimy.) The herbs will change color while they infuse, but the vinegar was left a pretty, delicate pink from the fennel. And the smell? Rich, fragrant, complex, and luscious. I don't know how else to describe it. It smells like green things that grow from the ground in the summer sun. It smells like memories.
Grapefruit Rosemary Vinegar Cleaner
Hands down, this one is my favorite. I'm actually addicted to it. I catch myself sneaking sniffs from the jar just because I can. DON'T JUDGE ME. It's fresh, it's bright, it has a delightful herbal note to accompany and balance the citrus. It smells like clean counters and happiness, without that Barbie Dream House floral sweetness. And one grapefruit is plenty for a substantial amount of vinegar! TRY IT. You'll be smitten!
I love my vinegar cleaning solutions! They're insanely quick to make, cheap, and if you've followed this blog at all, you know getting creative in the kitchen is one of my favorite things. The best part is not worrying that my cleaning solutions might accidentally be poisoning my dog or boyfriend!
Do you have other vinegar cleaning infusion ideas for me to try? Leave me a note in the comments below! Can't wait to see what you come up with.