The Simple Trick for Cleaning Your Kitchen with Vinegar — Without That Stinky, Sour Smell

published May 9, 2022
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women spraying cleaner on kitchen counter
Credit: Joe Lingeman

Vinegar can be one of the most effective ways to cut through grease, lift stains, clean glass, remove limescale, and more. The problem is that vinegar doesn’t smell, well, all that great. Cleaning with vinegar can leave your space smelling like a pickle factory.

Recently, in pursuit of a DIY all-purpose spray I could truly use for almost anything, I grabbed my bottle of white vinegar and a measuring cup of water and poured both into a glass spray bottle.

Credit: Ashley Abramson
Here's what you need to make your own spray.

Admittedly, I’m not exactly in love with the strong smell of vinegar. And then I remembered that I’d heard that essential oil could freshen up that strong vinegar smell. I know that most DIY recipes for all-purpose cleaners call for essential oil. Could the oils really mask that sour, pungent smell? I had a bottle of lemon oil and figured I’d give it a try.

I ended up mixing half a cup of white vinegar, half a cup of tap water, and about 12 drops of pure lemon essential oil into my spray bottle — then, I tested it around my house to find out if cleaning with it would be less stinky. First, I tried it out on my kitchen counters (which are somehow always dirty). I followed the same method I use when I’m using any other all-purpose spray — a couple spritzes, a minute or two of contact time so the spray can do its job, and then wipe with a microfiber cloth. 

Credit: Ashley Abramson
Nice and clean — with a hint of lemon!

The results: I didn’t notice the vinegar smell at all. I even got my nose close to the spray on the counter, and I was pleasantly surprised because it smelled … just like lemon (or maybe a really nice lemon-based vinaigrette). And the counters looked shiny and new!

Credit: Ashley Abramson
Vinegar makes an excellent wood cleaner.

I wanted to test the spray in another area of my house to find out if I’d notice any difference with the smell. My wooden coffee table had crumbs, smudges, and dust on it, so I sprayed three spritzes of the cleaner and wiped away. Again, I was happy to discover the pungent vinegar smell didn’t bother me during the cleaning process (in fact, I hardly noticed it at all). I could only smell lemon once the job was done. I can say the same for when I soaked my shower head in vinegar (with the essential oil).

Now I want to try an orange essential oil or grapefruit, because I like those scents even better. Not only does it mean no vinegar smells, but I think I’ll be more likely to want to clean because I’ll want to get those citrusy notes!

Have you ever made your own vinegar cleaning spray? Tell us about it in the comments below.