In Cleaning, DIY, Evergreen, Everyday Life, Homemaking, Spring
DIY Household Cleaner

ho loves a clean house? I do! But I’ve learned that spraying chemicals and detergents in my home doesn’t always make it “clean”. My home isn’t perfectly clean, it’s lived in, loved in, and played in!

As I age mature, the practices of my mom make more sense. When I was a pre-teen I began cleaning houses, mostly for our neighbors who needed help and wanted to invest in a young girl. I remember my mom telling me to clean their windows with newspaper and vinegar. “EEWWWW, vinegar stinks, Mom.” Said in my best preteen voice. But…she was right, it works and was the best way to wash windows. I remember going to a house to clean, and the neighbor had her newspaper and vinegar ready for me. As I washed her windows, she would be right beside me, moving the step stool, chatting with me about days gone by, speaking into my life.

After years of trying alternatives, I now use vinegar in my cleaning today. I don’t often use vinegar on my windows, I use a really cool cloth that only requires water, but I use vinegar in my tub, in my bathroom, on the kitchen counters. And even after all these years…“EWWWW vinegar stinks!”

I’m an avid researcher, always looking for ways to improve or learn the science behind why my mama did the things she did. So, to improve the smell of the vinegar, I researched different ways to make my own vinegar spray. Honestly, I would way rather use a spray cleaner that just smelled good, but those grocery store cleaners really are NOT good for you. The chemicals can damage your lungs and irritate your skin, even the “natural” ones.

Check out what EWG has to say about these house hold cleaners:

  • Grade A Lowest Concern – Few/no known or suspected hazards to health or the environment. Good ingredient disclosure. (Examples: Top of the list Arm and Hammer Baking Soda)
  • Grade B Low Concern – Limited potential for hazards to health or the environment. At least some ingredient disclosure. (Exmples: Method All Purpose Cleaner – Ginger, MR. Clean Antibacterial Cleaner – Summer Citrus)
  • Grade C Moderate Concern – Some potential for hazards to health or the environment. At least some ingredient disclosure. (Examples: Grabgreen Countertop Cleaner, J.R. Watkins All Purpose Cleaner)
  • Grade D High Concern – Likely hazards to health or the environment. May also have poor ingredient disclosure. (Examples: Clorox Disinfecting Bleach Wipes – Glass Plus Multipurpose Cleaner, Lysol All Purpose Spray with Bleach)
  • Grade F Highest Concern – Potentially significant hazards to health or the environment or poor ingredient disclosure. (Examples: Endust Multi-Surface Dusting Spray, Fantastic Antibacterial All-Purpose Cleaner, Formula 409 Antibacterial Cleaner)

After much research and lots of “proof” that vinegar really does disinfect*, I have come up with a simple all-purpose cleaner recipe.

* Vinegar – be it white, malt or rosemary-infused – is about 5% acetic acid. It’s the acid that kills bacteria and viruses, most probably by denaturing (chemically changing) the proteins and fats that make-up these nasties.


1 quart mason jar
White Vinegar*
Fresh herbs (I used fresh cut rosemary sprigs)
Glass spray bottle
Essential oils (optional)

To Make: I like to use fresh herbs and plants whenever I can, this particular recipe is my “holiday” blend, but continue reading for a few other options.

Step 1: Using my fresh cut rosemary from the garden, I placed them into a quart mason jar.

Step 2: Fill mason jar ¾ full with vinegar and finish filling mason jar to the top with water.

Step 3: Add 10 to 12 drops of sweet orange essential oil, put the lid on and wait 2 weeks.

Step 4: After 2 weeks, remove lid, pour cleaner through a filter or sieve into your favorite spray bottle. (I sometimes add about a cup of water to the mixture, if it’s too strong.)

You are ready to clean with your very own all-purpose cleaner.


  • Fresh lavender with lemon slices: stuff a few sprigs of lavender in with a sliced lemon. (This is one of my favorites!)
  • Orange and clove: slice a whole orange, add a few drops of clove oil.
  • Plain orange or plain lemon.
  • Basil, lavender, lemon: using all fresh ingredients.

You can use a variety of ingredients, and it makes a pretty jar on the counter while you wait for it to infuse. Try different combinations and let me know which one you like best.

So, no more “EEEEWWWWW, Mom that stinks!” Instead it is, “AWE…. Mom, you really did know what you were doing!” The traditions and inexpensive habits that my mom handed down are some of my favorite things, and to learn the reason why AND that it’s better for my family, well those are family heirlooms worth treasuring.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Avatar

    I’m making this again Tammy!! I do like the way it cleans…..I’m making a double batch for my RV for the winter down south.

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen

      Awesome! It really is a great cleaning spray!

  • Avatar

    I just made this today…… I have to wait until December 24 to clean! I used Rosemary, out of my garden and Orange EO. Smells yummy!!

    • Tammy Kralik
      Tammy Kralik

      The waiting is the hardest part! Let us know what you think of the way it cleans.

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