Infusing and Using Vinegar

Prior to starting to make a lot of my own cleaners I had no idea of the power that was behind vinegar. I had a gallon of it in my pantry for years because I just didn’t use it. In fact, one of the only things that I used it for over those years was to make buttermilk. If you know about making buttermilk you know that you only need about a tablespoon for each cup of milk. A few tablespoons out of a gallon meant that the jug wasn’t going very far. Then I saw someone infusing and using their vinegar on Instagram so I looked into it further.

There are so many different cleaners to that you can make on your own with vinegar: 

  • All Purpose Cleaner (my recipe)
  • Dusting Spray (my recipe)
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Bathroom Cleaner
  • Toilet Cleaner
  • Floor Cleaner 
  • Laundry Stain Remover

More Ways to Use

In addition to making cleaners you can also use vinegar to clean faucets, clean soap scum out of your dishwasher, and eliminate odors in appliances. One of our favorite ways to use vinegar is to run it through our coffee maker. This helps the to clean the coffee maker and keeps it running quickly. No one wants slow coffee! Vinegar can also be used to kill grass and is an awesome part of some all natural weed killers. Did you know that if you add 2 tbsp of vinegar and 2 tbsp of sugar to your vase full of flowers it can also help prolong their life?

One of my other favorite tricks with vinegar is to use it on fruit stained hands. We used to have a big strawberry patch (and hopefully will have one again someday) and it used to leave our fingers all red from picking so many berries. Normally I wouldn’t mind red fingers at all but others at work weren’t impressed. Things that I didn’t notice were definitely noticed in my corporate work setting so I had to keep my hands clean.  

Why I Use Vinegar

Once I started to explore the tricks that we could do in our house with vinegar I was hooked. I dove right in and started using it in everything. I love vinegar for it’s disinfecting properties. Germs are good for us but I need a certain level of clean in my home to make it really feel clean, ya know? Using vinegar helps me to know that I’m still killing the germs that like to linger. All the toxins in my old cleaners would have done this but now we were non-toxic too. It’s also so powerful that it can dissolve grease, grime, and mineral deposits. I live with a mechanic who always has greasy grimy hands so I need to have something in my cleaners that will break that down. 

My other reason for using vinegar- the cost. It is one of the cheapest things that you can buy. You can get a whole gallon of vinegar for the price of one tiny spray bottle of manufactured cleaners. I pride myself on being so frugal! You know I’m going to take advantage of an ingredient that I can get for a great price. 

The one downside of vinegar is the smell of it. At first I couldn’t get over it and felt like when I cleaned my whole house smelled like pickles. Then it grew on me a little more and I realized it didn’t really last that long anyways. After a couple hours you could no longer smell the vinegar and everything was still really clean. The other trick that I found was to add essential oils to the cleaners that I’m using. Sometimes there is still a hint of the vinegar in with the oils but this makes the lingering vinegar smell go away even quicker. 

The other method that I like to use to “tone down” my vinegar is infusing it. This is a simple, quick, and easy process that anyone can do to vinegar. Plus, then we can still use it for all of the list of things above too. Even if you just want to infuse your vinegar to scrub the soap scum on your shower and that is all you use it will work wonderfully. The infusion will also help cut down the smell of the vinegar for you and give it some fresh clean properties that I  really enjoy. 

What Ingredients to Use

Here are some variations that you can use to infuse your vinegar-

  • Use the branches off of your old Christmas tree. Before you chuck that tree out the door on January 1 (don’t even try to tell me that you don’t take it down until February… it comes down on the 1st and that is that). 
  • Use the peels off of the orange that you ate. I love our oranges from Azure Standard and I swear they taste better than store bought. Plus, I also get the added benefit of being able to add them to vinegar to infuse it. If you juice your oranges you can also use the leftovers from that as well and those will work perfect.
  • Use the leftover lemon and lime peels. My dad uses fresh lemon juice each day to drink with apple cider vinegar so we always have excess laying around. You can throw them into a compost pile but you can also use them to infuse your vinegar. 
Vinegar infused with orange peels and pine branches.

How to infuse vinegar-

Fill a mason jar with one of the above ingredients. I also like to use a mix of orange and lemon peels. It produces such a fresh citrus result that smells so good! Once your jar is full of the “dry” ingredients you can just add vinegar to fill the rest of the jar. The key is that it needs to sit for a few weeks before you use it. It takes time for the vinegar to infuse. Once your jar is full put in a cupboard or pantry and let it rest for 2-3 weeks. Basically you just let the vinegar rest while infusing until you are ready to use it.

Planning Ahead

 I found that I needed to plan more ahead when I was doing this process. As things started to run out I needed to make sure that I had some vinegar that was already done infusing so that I could use it right away. If I had to wait three weeks I would just add essential oils instead.

One of the other things that I’ve seen people do is to leave the in vinegar so it’s still infusing while they are using it. If you are using lemon it creates a great esthetic and makes for a fun cleaner. People are used to lemons being associated with cleaners so they don’t question it, but I find that when you leave pine branches in your vinegar people think it’s a little more odd.  You do you though, the goal of this is to be cheap and easy so if it fits better into your schedule to leave those branches in there then I say do it! 

I hope this has been helpful and has given you a few more new ways to use vinegar in your home. 

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