Homemade Vinegar Cleaning Sprays

DIY zero waste cleaning vinegar scented with lemon, grapefruit, orange, eucalyptus, or pine | Litterless

When I last wrote about making a simple cleaning spray from vinegar, I had only tried scenting it with citrus peels, but ruminated on what other types of good-smelling things might also be interesting to experiment with. So today, in partnership with Intelligent Lids, I'm sharing a bunch of variations on the theme: pine, eucalyptus, grapefruit. If you love a good project and to have your fingers smelling like lemon peel, this might be right up your alley.

DIY zero waste cleaning vinegar scented with lemon, grapefruit, orange, eucalyptus, or pine | Litterless

Step one: Gather your supplies.

For this batch, I wanted to test out a bunch of my favorite scents, rather than sticking with my standard go-to of lemon-peel-infused vinegar. In addition to the white vinegar base, I chose fresh eucalyptus (purchased without a plastic wrapping at a local florist), a few sprigs of pine needles (plucked from a tree in my neighborhood), and imperfect lemons, oranges, and grapefruits from my weekly Imperfect Produce box.

I also rinsed and dried five glass jars and five jar lids from Intelligent Lids, a Seattle-based businesses that makes lids for standard and wide-mouth jars from recycled plastic that is food-safe and BPA-free. Though most of the jars in my pantry are topped with the more-typical metal lids sold with jars, those metal lids often rust if they're in a moist environment (fridge, bathroom) or if the jar is holding something corrosive (like vinegar). Having a stack of plastic lids is, for me, an essential back-up, and means I can store vinegar in a glass jar without worrying about using it up quickly before the lid rusts. Their lids are also recyclable, though they're intended to be so long-lasting that the hope is you'll have them for years and years.

DIY zero waste cleaning vinegar scented with lemon, grapefruit, orange, eucalyptus, or pine | Litterless

Step two: Fill jars with your ingredients.

After washing and drying everything thoroughly, I added the citrus and greens to the glass jars. For the pine needles and eucalyptus, all I needed to do was snip them down to size and pop the springs in the jars. For the citrus, I used a peeler to remove just the outer rind, taking care not to get much of the white pith. The fruits are still edible after this, of course, but will go bad more quickly without their peels, so store them in the fridge and try to eat them within a day or two. Or, do this project when you already have some citrus fruits on hand and want to use the peels again prior to composting them.

DIY zero waste cleaning vinegar scented with lemon, grapefruit, orange, eucalyptus, or pine | Litterless

Step 3: Fill the jars with white vinegar. 

White vinegar - the cheap, harsh stuff used for cleaning or canning and not for salads - isn't sold near me in bulk anywhere, so I vacillate between buying it in a huge plastic jug or a smaller glass jar, never knowing which is the more eco-friendly choice. (Right now, I'm leaning toward the plastic jug since it's so much larger and lighter. Thoughts?). Anyway: fill those jars almost to the tippy-top, and gently agitate to get out any air bubbles at the bottom.

Step 4: Seal the jars, and wait a week (or longer).

Pop on your lids of choice (mine are these), and set the jars aside somewhere out of the sun to steep for at least a week, or maybe longer if you have the patience. The vinegar inside should start to take on some of the tint of its contents, especially in the case of the citrus. Once your patience has elapsed (or you run out of your current stash of cleaning supplies), use a strainer or tongs to remove all the bits and pieces until only the vinegar remains; the rest can be composted.

For the cleaning spray itself, decant the vinegar into a spray bottle (here's how you can make your own). I sometimes dilute it with a little water, and sometimes I leave it full strength. If you have countertops or surfaces that are a little more precious, make sure to double check that you can use this on them before going full steam ahead. Otherwise, I spray this on my stovetop, in the sink, in the bathtub, everywhere.

DIY zero waste cleaning vinegar scented with lemon, grapefruit, orange, eucalyptus, or pine | Litterless

And the verdict, scent-wise: I liked all of the results except for the pine needles, which turned a yellow-green shade reminiscent of dill pickles. And though eucalyptus is one of my favorite scents, it didn't impart its smell to the vinegar strongly enough to make it worth the while, I think. For now, I'll be sticking with citrus peels, but even those I'm curious about mixing and matching to get new scents.

Other things you add to cleaning vinegar? Questions I can answer about this DIY?

This post is sponsored by Intelligent Lids, creators of Made-in-the-USA recycled and recyclable mason jar lids. Thank you so much for supporting Litterless.