DIY: The Cheapest Sustainable All-Purpose spray with Vinegar and Citrus
Have you stopped to think about how much money you are spending on cleaning products?
What about the impact that those products may have on your health, or even the health of the world around you?
I am here to show you the cheapest, simplest, and greatest sustainable DIY's that we use daily to clean homes in Brisbane, Australia.
Using by-products of other materials you have around the home, you can make a three-ingredient all-purpose spray for a fraction of the cost. With minimal to no impact on the planet around you.
How is this better than traditional all-purpose sprays?
This all-purpose cleaner works the same, if not better, than your average all-purpose sprays.
The vinegar disinfects, whilst deodorising the surface you have sprayed. It also breaks up grease and soap scum easily.
You may be sensitive to the smell of vinegar, and think that the sour smell is off-putting, the "Stench" does dissipate once it dries!
I recommend using the peel from any citrus to infuse a slight scent to the vinegar. Or add essential oils or any herbs if you have them on hand. They also provide antifungal properties.
Our total cost of this all-purpose spray was about 15c (AUD) worth of white vinegar. Yup, 15c.
The only ingredients you need are:
A mid-sized jar (reuse an old one)
Peel of citrus fruit (grapefruit, oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes all work)
Enough white vinegar to fill the jar
After two weeks:
A spray bottle (we reused one from a cleaner we had finished)
An equal amount of water to vinegar
1. Peel citrus fruit. Remove the flesh from the peel and rind.
2. Eat said fruit and enjoy the deliciousness of summer citrus.
3. Put the peel and pith into the rinsed and dried jar.
Tip: Keep a jar in your freezer dedicated to making this spray. Every time you eat/peel/use a citrus fruit put the peel in this jar in the freezer.
Once full, continue through steps 4 - 10.
4. Cover the peel with white vinegar, ensure it is submerged.
5. Add the lid and put in pantry or dark cupboard for a minimum of 2 weeks.
6. After the minimum time has elapsed, you can strain the mixture into a container with a pouring spout - if you have a funnel you can go straight into the spray bottle.
NB: Feel free to leave for longer, the citrus smell just becomes more intense over time.
7. Pour into spray bottle after noting how much vinegar mixture you have (ours is 250 ml).
8. Top the bottle off with the same amount of tap water. You're aiming for a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to the water. Split into multiple spray bottles if needed (ours is exactly 500ml).
9. Return the spray nozzle and give a bit of a shake.
TIP: We label and date our sprays to make sure we use the latest one first. It doesn't REALLY matter as I don't think they'll go out of date, but handy to make sure you're using the right spray.
10. Spray onto mess or surface intended for cleaning and wipe off with a clean, damp cloth.
Final pointer: Use the leftover residue in the jar to give your sink a quick spruce.
Add water to the jar after removing the peel, shake and pour over a sink. It'll de-grime that space quickly and make use of the last drops of all-purpose spray.
Is this really a sustainable product?
Reusing a jar means you divert that piece from going through the process of being reclaimed in recycling (or just becoming landfill).
It also means you don't go and buy a new container just to make this. This saves resources, money and time. It also means it's free!
Glass is a forever reusable product so don't throw that baby out! Use and reuse time and time again.
Similarly, we paid for the mandarin but gained the benefit paid for by eating it. The peel is a by-product, meaning it would otherwise be in landfill (or hopefully a nearby compost) and technically free too!
When you have finished with the peel (after it has steeped) it is compostable. It is recommended to avoid putting it in with worm farms though - this forum helps break it down. Put it in that pile and enjoy your waste-free spray!
The spray bottle we rinsed and reused from our old cleaning products. Again, this diverts it from landfill and keeps it out of our recycling stream.
We strongly believe that reusing all of your old cleaning products will have a much better impact on the planet then throwing them out and buying glass or ceramic alternatives - it may be plastic but don't waste it.
Why buy a brand new spray bottle when you already have one? That means it was also free!
Finally the white vinegar, we only used about 250ml and paid $1.20AUD for the 2-litre bottle (which we use in our DIY laundry detergent as well). That's 15c worth of vinegar and the only ingredient we actually pay for!
Whenever we have the time (and remember to bring the bottle) we refill the vinegar bottle at our local Source Bulk Foods. It's a little pricier but it keeps the bottle from becoming landfill! That brings the price up to about 30c a bottle.
When looking at our water bill we paid roughly $102 for three months over the summer break. That's about $1.15 per day and around .04c an hour.
If we're only turning on the tap for 30sec to fill up a cup, that's around .003c. So if you REALLY wanted to include the cost of water, I'd say around 4c (including rinsing and washing the equipment).
That gives you a grand total of 19c per bottle of All-Purpose Spray.
In Australia, I don't know anything you can buy for 20c except for maybe half a carrot?
So, do you believe me that this is the greatest sustainable tip that I can ever give?
Can I use this for anything?
Whilst this spray is excellent for doing the basic surface cleans you should be doing every day, we recommend that you always spot check an inconspicuous place to see if the vinegar reacts to any of your surfaces.
For example, some marble and natural stone surfaces can become etched when wiped with vinegar. Also, using excessive amounts of vinegar on adhesive surfaces may slowly eat away at it. Please, please, please check your surface before wiping the whole thing down.
We have another all-purpose cleaner that is a little less abrasive and a touch more expensive. Check that out if you are looking for something for a specialised surface.
For only 19c, what are you waiting for? It's easy, cheap and sustainable and will wipe away pretty much any stain or greasy mess.
This vinegar and citrus all-purpose cleaner is my go-to for a sustainable, cheap, non-toxic and super effective way to surface clean mine and other Australian's homes.
What's your favourite sustainable DIY that you use regularly?