How to Make an Effective Vinegar Cleaner That Smells Good

items to make vinegar smell better

The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 15 mins - 1 wk
  • Yield: 1 cleaner
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5 to 10

Do you love the cleaning power of vinegar, but hate the smell? Distilled white vinegar or cleaning vinegar are inexpensive natural cleaners and deodorizers that work well on surfaces throughout your house. The sharp, acrid odor of vinegar can be unpleasant for many people even though it will go away as soon as it dries.

The sense of smell is powerful and directly plugged into the human limbic system of the brain, the region where emotions and memories also reside. For many of us, certain scents equate to a clean house. The research and development scientists at cleaning product manufacturers have zeroed in on scent clues. That's why so many commercial cleaning and laundry products have citrus, lavender, or "rain-fresh" scent or a "clean smell".

If you prefer a different scent than basic vinegar, you can infuse it with a scent of your choosing.

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Click Play to Learn How to Make Scented Vinegar

Before You Begin

There are dozens of types of vinegar available in the market—pear, apple cider, rice wine—that are used in cooking. For cleaning, it is best to use only distilled white vinegar or cleaning vinegar. These vinegars are made through a process where alcohols are distilled from grain and allowed to ferment as microorganisms process the alcohol into acetic acid and water or vinegar. They contain no sediment or natural coloring that could stain some surfaces.

bottle of vinegar on a kitchen counter

The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 2 Glass jars or bottles with resealable lids
  • 1 Stovetop
  • 1 Large pot
  • 1 Funnel
  • 1 Strainer
  • 1 Spray bottle (glass or plastic)

Materials

  • 1 Distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Scented essential oil
  • 1 Citrus peels
  • 1 Herbs (mint, lemon balm, rosemary)
  • 1 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Cloves
  • 1 Flower petals (roses, lavender)
  • 1 Labels

Instructions

How to Use Herbs, Flowers, or Spices to Scent Vinegar

Select your favorite natural scents from your kitchen or garden. Fresh herbs like mint, sage, rosemary, or lemon balm work well. For a floral scent, lavender, rose, or lilac petals are good choices. If you prefer spicy-scented vinegar, cinnamon sticks, cloves, or allspice can be infused. Finally, citrus peels from oranges, lemons, or limes are always a classic scent for cleaners.

items for making vinegar smell better
The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa
  1. Prepare the Jars

    Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add two glass jars or bottles and their lids and heat for five minutes. Remove the jars and lids from the water and allow them to cool. Place the lid on one of the jars to use later. This process sterilizes the jars to help prevent bacteria or fungus from growing in the vinegar mixture.

  2. Prepare the Ingredients

    Rinse off freshly picked herbs and flowers to remove any dirt or insects that might be hiding in the leaves or blooms. Remove any labels from citrus peels.

  3. Select Your Scents

    Add the herbs, peels, spices, or flower petals that you have selected to one of the jars. It is helpful to slightly bruise fresh ingredients so they release more scent. Just squeeze the peels, herbs, or petals gently to bruise them before you place them in the jar. Add as much or as little as you'd like.

    Tip

    This is your chance to create a signature scent! Think Lemon/Rosemary or Orange/Peppermint or Lavender/Lilac.

    adding vinegar to a bottle with rosemary

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

  4. Add the Vinegar

    Pour distilled white vinegar or cleaning vinegar into the jar. Fill the jar to the top with vinegar and seal the jar.

  5. Set Aside

    Place the jar in a cool, dark place for at least 10 days to allow time for the scents to infuse the vinegar.

  6. Strain the Vinegar

    After steeping for 10 days, use a strainer to remove all of the plant matter from the jar. Using a funnel, pour the freshly scented vinegar into the other sterilized jar.

    Warning

    If the vinegar looks cloudy or there is any mold growing in the jar, discard the entire batch and begin again.

  7. Label the Jar

    Add a label with your signature scent to the vinegar. Store in a cool spot until ready to use. Cleaning products using vinegar scented with plant material can be placed in a glass or plastic spray bottle for easy use.

How to Use Essential Oils to Scent Vinegar

If you want scented vinegar immediately, adding an essential oil makes it ready to use as soon as you make it. Essential oils add no pigments and you can keep the vinegar in the original glass vinegar bottle.

essential oils and vinegar

The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

  1. Select Your Scent

    Essential oils come in dozens of scents. Try lavender for laundry and citrus or peppermint for around-the-house cleaning.

  2. Add the Oil

    Add just a few drops (no more than 10) until you achieve the level of scent you desire.

    adding essential oils to vinegar

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

  3. Shake to Mix

    Cap the bottle of vinegar and shake it well to mix in the essential oil.

  4. Label and Store

    Add a label with your new scent selection and the date it was created. Since essential oils can degrade some plastic containers, only use glass storage and spray bottles for essential oil-scented vinegar.

    lavender infused vinegar

    The Spruce / Jorge Gamboa

Originally written by
Erin Huffstetler
Erin Huffstetler is a frugal living expert who has been writing for over 10 years about easy ways to save money at home. She's covered money-saving advice and tricks for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Forbes, among others. She is the owner of "My Frugal Home," a money-saving, frugal living how-to guide.
Learn more about The Spruce's Editorial Process
Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Home Cleaning Chemistry. University of Utah.

  2. Herz, Rachel. The Role of Odor-Evoked Memory in Psychological and Physiological HealthBrain Sciences, vol. 6, no. 3, 2016, p. 22., doi:10.3390/brainsci6030022