Take the Stink out of Vinegar for DIY Scented Cleaning

Posted on Jun 18 2013 - 7:25pm by Dayna Hathaway



The acidity of vinegar makes it a great natural germ-fighting cleaner for many areas of the house. It’s also very affordable! That’s the good part. The bad…  well, vinegar may be a good disinfecting cleaner, but it sure does smell rather awful!

Image via Lenore Edman

Image by Lenore Edman


Even if you’re committed to cleaning with vinegar, others in your household may challenge you due to the smell. But you have options. Don’t give up on cleaning with vinegar!


The easiest way to change the scent of vinegar is to add a few drops of essential oil, which can be pricey and difficult to find in stores. If you aren’t already in the habit of stocking essential oil, do you really want to add it to the shopping list just for making scented vinegar? There’s another way!


Combine a few everyday items like orange peels and spices, plus several heaping cups of patience, and you’ll end up with scented vinegar you can live with. And you can use your scented vinegar to create a natural DIY countertop and tile spray. You (and others) will be happy to leave that sharp vinegar scent to memory.


Make Your Very Own DIY Scented Vinegar

Don’t worry. This isn’t baking we’re talking about here. You can play around with this recipe to get it smelling just the way you want. And you should also go into this realizing that while cleaning with scented vinegar is a vast olfactory improvement over cleaning with straight-up vinegar, you can’t completely eliminate that vinegar scent. You may smell it briefly, but what lingers is your chosen scent!


cinnamon-vinegarIngredient Options

Herbs and spices that work well in scented vinegar:

  • Rosemary on stalk
  • Thyme on stalk
  • Mint on stalk
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Whole cloves

Tip: This isn’t a complete list, so play around with your favorite ingredients!


lemon-mintCitrus peels that work well for scenting vinegar:

  • Lemon peels
  • Lime peels
  • Orange peels
  • Grapefruit peels

Tip: It’s fine to leave the pith, but it’s important to remove all the flesh from your citrus peels.



Decide which scent combination you’d like best. In general, pick one or two items from the herbs and spices list and a citrus peel. Here are some combinations you may like: lemon and mint; orange and cinnamon plus cloves; grapefruit and rosemary; or lime and thyme.

  • Assemble your distilled vinegar, chosen herbs or spices, peels, and lidded container. Mason or Ball jars work well for this project. If you’re going to make a spray cleaner, you’ll also need a spray bottle.
  • Put your herbs or spices into the jar. Add your citrus peels, and cover the mixture with vinegar. Use your judgment on how many peels, herbs and spices you add. If you’re using a quart jar, add about three pieces of your chosen spice or herb. Add as many peels as possible for maximum scent.
  • Close the jar, and allow it to sit for at least two weeks, or up to five weeks.
  • After your weeks are up, pour the scent-infused vinegar into another container using a strainer to remove the peels, herbs and spices. (This is where you’re glad you used whole herbs on stalks instead of crushed.)
  • Store your vinegar in a container with a secure lid, but don’t use it for cleaning porous surfaces like marble and granite.


Turn Your Scented Vinegar into Countertop or Tile Spray

To make a countertop or tile spray with your scented vinegar, combine one part of vinegar with three parts of water (i.e., one cup of vinegar with three cups of water). For an extra (optional) scent boost, add five to seven drops of lemongrass essential oil. You can use other essential oils, but lemongrass is my favorite. Label your cleaner, and write down your own recipe for future use.


What is your favorite scent combination for scented vinegar? How do you use vinegar for cleaning tasks at your home?