• Alette Nalder

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?

three ingredient all purpose spray. Natural ingredients preset are white vinegar, a mandarin and an old repurposed glass jar
The easiest DIY All-Purpose Spray

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)

  • A strainer

  • An equal amount of water to vinegar


1. Peel citrus fruit. Remove the flesh from the peel and rind.

A man sits at a wooden table and peels a mandarin. There is greenery in the background and a vinegar bottle and empty jar next to him.
Peel that mandarin!

2. Eat said fruit and enjoy the deliciousness of summer citrus.

A man has peeled a mandarin in one piece.
A perfectly peeled piece!
A man has put an entire mandarin into his mouth.
Get it all up in you!

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.

A man places the peel from the previous mandarin into an empty, reused jar. A vinegar bottle sits next to it.
Place the mandarin peel into the jar

4. Cover the peel with white vinegar, ensure it is submerged.

A man pours white vinegar over the mandarin peel which is placed in a reused jar.
Enjoy your acidic bath!

5. Add the lid and put in pantry or dark cupboard for a minimum of 2 weeks.

A man tightens the lid of a reused jar which is full of white vinegar and a mandarin peel.
Make sure it's tight!
A man places the reused jar full of white vinegar and mandarin peel in a dark cupboard.
Nighty night.

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.

A man is taking the steeped jar of vinegar and mandarin peel and removing it from the dark cupboard after two weeks.
A man is straining the now infused vinegar into a pourable container. An empty spray bottle sits alongside.
Strain baby strain

7. Pour into spray bottle after noting how much vinegar mixture you have (ours is 250 ml).

A man pours the infused vinegar into the empty spray bottle.
Fill 'er up!
The infused vinegar measures exactly 250ml
The infused vinegar measures exactly 250ml

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).

A man fills the rest of the spray bottle which holds the infused vinegar with tap water
Top it off with water

9. Return the spray nozzle and give a bit of a shake.

A man twists the spray nozzle onto the bottle now full of vinegar and water mixture to make the all purpose spray.
Nearly ready to go!

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.

A man writes 'vinegar' on his freshly made batch of vinegar all purpose spray.
Label that baby!

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.

A man rinses out the jar which contained the infused vinegar and mixes with a little water to rinse his sink to use every last drop of the vinegar mix.
Use every last drop!

Is this really a sustainable product?


A clear spray bottle sits on a wooden table with greenery in the backgroun. The Spray bottle has a slightly orange transparent liquid inside. There is a hand written label which states it is a mandarin, vinegar water all purpose spray made on the 22/02/2020
The cheapest sustainable all purpose spray

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?

I once submitted this exact recipe as my favourite low waste alternative on the Rogue Ginger's Instagram and I got a free print of her book 'Waste Not Everyday'! Obviously, I'm doing something right.

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?

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