Vinegar Smell, Begone! Here’s How To Make Scented Cleaning Vinegar

scented vinegar

A few years back I wrote about a method for making scented vinegar you can use for cleaning. I loved the finished product, and it was nice to finally have a vinegar-based cleaner I could use without my boys complaining about the “vinegar smell.”

Read More: 25 Uses For Lemon Peels Including Homemade Lemon Vinegar

But what I didn’t love about that method was how long it took to make. Patience has never been my strong suit, the fact that it required me to wait two weeks until I could use it was simply more than my limited patience could bear.

But I eventually learned that there was a very simple way to make scented cleaning vinegar that had a significantly shorter wait period. The key is to heat up the vinegar before combining it with the citrus peels (or whatever you’ll be using as your scented element.)

When making my original lemon-scented cleaning vinegar, for example, the hot vinegar causes the peels to express their oils and fragrance much more quickly than they would at room temperature. As a result, this new and improved process only requires a 24 hour wait before straining, rather than two weeks!

So today I’ll be sharing the new-and-improved method for making scented cleaning vinegar with you, along with tips for how to put it to good use around the house. Because even though the original method still works just as well, it never hurts to have options! :-)

How To Make Scented Cleaning Vinegar

scented vinegar

You’ll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Large glass jar or jug
  • Fresh herbs, citrus peels, dried flowers, etc. for scent
scented vinegar


Start by adding a handful or two of whatever you’ll be using as the scent for your cleaning vinegar to your glass container. I used a handful of fresh mint leaves here, but in the past I’ve used lemon peels and sprigs of fresh rosemary and it turned out great!

(This process isn’t an exact science, so don’t worry too much about amounts. When in doubt, add more of the scented item rather than less, since the smell of vinegar is pretty strong to begin with!)

scented vinegar

Next, heat up as much vinegar as you’ll need to fill your container. You can either do this in a pot on your stovetop, or in a bowl in your microwave. Once the vinegar is good and hot, carefully pour it into the container.

scented vinegar

Seal the container and let it sit out for 24 hours to allow time for the scent to infuse into the vinegar.

After 24 hours, pour the contents of the container through a sieve into another glass container for storage and discard the herbs, peels, or flowers. Store your finished cleaning vinegar in an airtight container.

Combined with your favorite cleaning solution, a microfiber cloth makes short work of any cleaning job.

How To Use Scented Cleaning Vinegar

There are all sorts of ways to put your scented cleaning vinegar to good use around the house. For certain applications, you’ll want to dilute it with water before using, but for others, it’s better to use it “straight up” (or undiluted.)

Here’s an overview of the various ways you can use your scented vinegar and how to dilute it if necessary:

For Everyday Cleaning

Dilute your scented vinegar at a 1:2 ratio (1 part vinegar to 2 parts water) to clean your fridge, microwave, pet stains, and floors. This dilution also makes a great all-purpose cleaner—just pour it into a spray bottle and get cleaning!

For Glass Surfaces Or Sanitizing

Dilute your vinegar at a 1:1 ratio to clean your windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces. You can also use it to clean and sanitize your reusable water bottles.

For Laundry, Dishes, And More

Use your cleaning vinegar undiluted to freshen the inside of your washing machine (both standard and HE models). Empty out the wash drum, pour 1 cup of your cleaning vinegar inside, then run a hot water wash cycle.

You can also use undiluted cleaning vinegar as a rinse aid in your dishwasher to help combat hard water. To do so, simply add a small dish of the vinegar to the top rack of your dishwasher before running it.

Scented cleaning vinegar also makes a great natural fabric softener. Just pour 1/4-1/2 cup of your cleaning vinegar into your washer’s fabric softener dispenser before starting a wash cycle.

Other ways to use undiluted cleaning vinegar include descaling your coffee maker, eliminating coffee stains from mugs, and it even makes a great natural weed killer!

What sort of scent would you use in a batch of scented cleaning vinegar?

Read This Next

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Interesting ideas. I actually use the method Alba was talking about for making air fresheners. About the vinegar for disinfecting. I tried Jillees disinfectant spray from a recent post . The spray used vinegar and essential oils.Also some nurses were raving about white vinegar’s disinfectant properties. I decided to try it because a family member had a little sickness and also getting ready for company to stay with us.

  • Jillee, I am asking this because I THINK it is a vinegar question…what can I use and in what proportions to clean my 2000 lt. diffuser? How often? Thanks so much for your help!! God bless…

  • I make my own “bathroom-stink-air-spray“ in refillable glass spray bottles.
    In the past I have used 50/50 water and rubbing alcohol with essential oils added. The alcohol helps the EOs blend with the water and not just sit on top.

    But after reading your article you have me thinking that I could use scented vinegar with EOs, instead of the water and alcohol, for “bathroom-stink-air-spray”!

    And Jillee my dear, I have been a fan of yours for a number of years now – my whole family loves you too – when we are wondering about something we often say “Go check and see what Jillee would do” ❣️❣️

  • Question: Can you use fresh flowers? I’ve made the lemon one in the past and love it. But am curious if fresh flowers from my garden would work.

  • Does it have to be glass jars ? I have arthritis in my hands and prefer plastic because it doesn’t break. I never know when my hands are going to drop something I’m holding.

  • I was so glad to see this. I purchased an old iron pot at a flee market. The best way to get the rust off was vinegar. So I broke my foot this summer there for my tub didn’t get cleaned for over 3 weeks. I thought if it took rust off my pan it should remove soap scum. It worked so much better than the chemical based bathroom cleaners! But my whole upstairs smelled like a salad. I can’t wait to try this.

  • Will this mix go bad at any point? I have a bag of lemons that I need to use up, but I’m not quite out of my current all purpose cleaner. Can I make this and set it aside for as long as needed?

  • I use vinegar to clean all sorts of things. I have considered using lemon in it for scent, but
    hesitate because won’t lemon cause some damage on some surfaces? I know I left a lemon peel on our
    counter (which is sage green) and it actually lightened the color a little.
    what about other surfaces? any chance it could do that?

    • Lemon does have a mild whitening property, so it can lighten sensitive surfaces (like wood). However, the lemon is quite diluted in this recipe, so you shouldn’t have any problems! If you’re especially concerned, you could always test the vinegar in an inconspicuous area. :-)

  • Our church has a large popcorn maker, similar to those that you would see at a movie theater, but a little smaller and more portable. We use a 1:1 ratio water/vinegar mix in a spray bottle to clean out the interior of the popcorn maker after each use. It cuts through the grease & oil left behind by the popcorn without damaging the surfaces of either the stainless steel or the plexiglass. Since it a “food” product, and diluted by the water to begin with, we can just spray the surfaces and wipe them down with a towel, with no need to rinse. No chemicals, no possible toxins, no worry of anyone accidentally ingesting something they shouldn’t! Works like a dream!

  • I make an all purpose cleaner using white vinegar and tea tree oil .
    Leaves a delightful aroma and disinfects at the same time . I often add it to the rinse (never use softening agent )clothes come out soft and sweet .
    This is great for kitchen cleanups also.

  • Is there any reason I can’t just peel the citrus fruits? And can I store the peels, juiced or peeled, in like a baggie in the frig for a few days while I build up a supply?

  • Could I simply add some drops of citrus essential oil to the vinegar, & skip the heating and waiting steps altogether?
    Also, I add vinegar to the rinse cycle of my laundry – when I used orange vinegar it stained the dispenser a little yellowish. How might I prevent discoloration? That’s what prevents me from using citrus and/or herbs in my vinegar cleaning solutions. Ideas???

    • You could add essential oils instead, but the oils never really mix into the vinegar (I always have to shake it). With this method, the citrus and vinegar never separates. I think it’s also stronger than the essential oil version.

      Try using hydrogen peroxide to remove the discoloration, it’s a great bleach alternative!

      • There are quite a few web sites including Dr. Oz. who claim essential oils maybe better, especially if you cannot afford organic. Because they now claim washing fruits and veggies does not remove the chemical residue.

    • Essential oil will not provide enough citrus oil to clean with, you really need the lemon peels. You can certainly freeze the peels until you have enough. I freeze citrus peels all the time, you never know when you need zest for a recipe and they are great added to homemade potpourri!

    • You could add essential oils instead, but the oils never really mix into the vinegar (I always have to shake it). With this method, the citrus and vinegar never separates. I think it’s also stronger than the essential oil version.

  • 1. How is this for the carpet stain cleaning with a hot iron?
    Like, does it tend to detrimentally bleach the carpet (or clothing)?

    2. Doesn’t heating the vinegar change or degrade it?

    Really looking forward to your answers.
    Thank you so much my dear!!!!!!!1

    • It definitely won’t bleach, but it might have a yellow-ish tint to it – so I would use straight white vinegar for carpets.

      Vinegar is actually heated in it’s production, so it’s no problem!

    • Hi Phyl,
      Check BRAGG Vinegar on their website…..or you can call them and ask that question about their vinegar…..I dont know about just white vinegar, but I was told yes it will degrade the vinegar even if real hot water is used…..this vinegar has the Mother in it , is is an Organic, Raw,unfiltered,Unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar …they have been in business since 1912, Paul C. Bragg N.D.,Ph.D Pioneer Health Crusader and his daughter Patricia Bragg are the owners of company and author of several books, I have several of them, I am on my 3rd. bottle of this vinegar, it is good for a lot of things, so check out their website for further info….hope this helps….

      • According to Columbia University, raw apple cider vinegar contains bacteria, which can be problematic if you’re trying to clean with it. White, distilled vinegar has already been heated to destroy the bacteria. Therefore, heating again should not harm it.

    • My hospital recommends making an all-purpose cleaner with alcohol or peroxide. That is what a lot of hospitals are using now. I was told vinegar is not good at killing germs and peroxide and alcohol are much better at cleaning.

      • I worked as a housekeeper in a hospital and our main disinfectant cleaner was a mix of peroxide and vinegar

      • I just read the comment about a hospital using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar.
        Please do not mix hydrogen peroxide & vinegar!

        From Better Homes & Gardens website:
        You may have heard that you should spray fruits or countertops with alternating mists of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar, wiping down the surface between sprays. Experts say this method is safe — but don’t mix the two products in the same container. Combining them creates peracetic acid, which is potentially toxic and can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system.

        Please always double check the safety of mixing any two cleaning products together from a reputable website. Major respiratory problems are irreversible. Stay safe!

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