How to Make All-Purpose Cleaner With Vinegar

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Most of us get used to the convenience of grabbing cleaning supplies from the store, but how about something that’s a fraction of the cost, eco-friendly, and will do the trick all the same?

That’s possible if you look through your pantry for the ever-reliable white vinegar bottle. Then, all that’s left is to figure out how to make an all-purpose cleaner with vinegar.

You only need a few key ingredients and even fewer steps to get started. Odds are, you already have everything you need in your house right now, so let’s jump in!

The Highlights of Cleaning With Vinegar

Our main ingredient will be the good-old white vinegar.

Why? Well, that’s mainly because this kitchen staple is made of fermented ethanol and water, making it one of the strongest kinds of vinegar you can readily find.

On the plus side, it also has antimicrobial properties while still being cheap compared to many other commercial cleaning products.


As you might know, vinegar is mildly acidic, which means that it’s just strong enough for regular cleaning chores around the household, though not in its pure form.

Even if it’s only around 4-6% acetic acid, it can still be too acidic for some materials. So, diluting it even more with water essentially makes it safe for us and the surfaces we clean.


The beauty of this eco-friendly alternative is that it works for a wide range of surfaces.

For one, it works like a charm for toilets, bathtubs, showers, and sinks. Plus, it can be suitable for the kitchen, from the stainless steel pots and pans to the long-forgotten shelves.

Even though there are many things you can clean with vinegar, there are some surfaces that shouldn’t come in contact with it.

According to Consumer Reports, even as diluted solutions, homemade vinegar cleaners can be too acidic for the following items:

  • Clothes irons
  • Washing machines
  • Dishwashers
  • Cooktops and counters
  • Knives
  • Any exposed natural stone (like granite or marble)
  • Hardwood or stone tile flooring and grout
  • Electronic appliances (TVs, computers, tablets, toasters, and smartphones)

How to Make All-Purpose Cleaner With Vinegar

Now that we’ve covered the basics behind our star ingredient, we can delve more into the simple recipe that could make this cleaner as effective as possible.

1. Aromatize the Vinegar and Let It Soak (Optional)

Well, there’s a possibility that you might not like the smell of vinegar all over your home since it can be pretty intense. Fear not; infusing the vinegar beforehand with spices and herbs works wonders!

Plus, the process could add some extra benefits to the cleaning solution. For instance, cinnamon sticks and cloves are an insecticide. As for herbs, sprigs of rosemary and pine are antifungal.

Meanwhile, peppermint is the way to go when you need something that’s antiviral.

For the best results, try infusing the vinegar with all your chosen herbs and spices in a jar for at least two weeks before using the cleaner.

Of course, if the vinegar scent doesn’t bother you, you can skip this step and jump to the next.

2. Mix and Bottle the Solution

Typically, you’ll want to mix half a cup of white vinegar (regular or infused) with an equal amount of water in a glass spray bottle.

Preferably, you can empty a mixing area over a flat surface, like a table or a counter. Then, the rest of the steps are simple to execute.

You’ll need to put a funnel over the opening of the unscrewed bottle before pouring in your vinegar and following up with the water portion. This ensures that we won’t spill any of the liquids.

Even when these are relatively safe ingredients, we can’t be too careful!

3. Add Essential Oil Drops

If infusing the vinegar beforehand isn’t your thing, you can use just a few drops of essential oils. They could help with the scent while adding a cleaning boost to the mixture.

There is a cinnamon or clove essential oil for a bit of spice, but you can also try lavender, thyme, and eucalyptus, which all have antifungal properties. Most common essences are naturally antibacterial, and a little goes a long way!

Using the oil drops could be a quick alternative to the two-week infusing period.

4. Close, Shake, and Label the Bottle

We can now close up the bottle tightly and shake it gently until everything is incorporated into the solution. This shouldn’t take long because vinegar and water are easy to combine.

Don’t forget to label the bottle with a pen and a white sticker. Alternatively, you can use a label maker.

It could also be smart to jot down the scents you chose for the recipe on the label. You might want to replicate the scent combination later!

5. Consider Taking Things Up a Notch With Borax

If the solution alone doesn’t cut it, and you want something more potent, you should try a different approach. You’ll still use our trusty friend, the white vinegar, but now with borax to create a cleaning paste.

Ideally, you’ll mix borax and vinegar in a 4:1 ratio in a deep bowl to get the right consistency. Although baking soda could work, borax has a higher pH level, so this packs more of a punch.

This method is for those tough-to-remove stains in carpets, toilets, bathtubs, and showers. You don’t want to store this mixture, though.

Instead, it’s better to prepare a small amount right when you need it. Then, with gloves on your hand, you can smear the paste all over the heavily stained surface and let it set for five minutes or so before scrubbing.

3 Things You Should be Aware Of When Using Vinegar Cleaner

The main appeal of the all-purpose cleaner made with vinegar is that it’s a natural option. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t have to be careful.

Here are just a few things to take into consideration:

  • Since vinegar isn’t the most potent household cleaner, it would be better to leave it on the surface for a few minutes before wiping it down with a clean cloth or rag.
  • If you have pets, it would be best not to overuse essential oils because these could be too harsh on your fluffy buddies.
  • Bleach is also a widespread cleaning agent, but the last thing you want to do is mix it with vinegar since the mixture releases toxic fumes.

The Takeaway

Switching to an all-purpose cleaner out of vinegar seems like a simple thing, but it can be sustainable, healthier, and better for our planet.

It is made up of things you can easily find, and the preparation doesn’t require a lot of tools or effort. However, if you have the time, you can customize the recipe to make your very own scent.

That said, there are a few aspects to keep in mind, from the mixing ratios to the kind of surfaces that you can safely clean with the solution.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll rely on that homemade vinegar-cleaning recipe more than you can imagine!

About Emily Leake

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