For Cleaning Up Kitchen Messes
Although here on my blog, I typically focus on cooking and healthy food, I also love to chat about food-adjacent topics whether that’s getting organized in the kitchen, creating better habits, or even natural hand creams for those of us that wash lots of dishes! Today I wanted to share a cleaning tip and “recipe” that I’ve been using for years at home that I thought many of you might enjoy if you—like me—are trying to live a healthy and more minimal life.
Every few weeks my husband and I make a quick batch of an all-natural, all-purpose cleaning spray to clean off kitchen counters. The base of the spray is distilled white vinegar which has an a pH level between 2 and 3, meaning its very acidic. Many pathogens, particularly bacteria, thrive at pH levels around 6.5 to 7.5 so acidic environments are not conducive to their survival—it’s why we pickle vegetables in an acidic brine to increase their shelf life. Vinegar can also break down greasy stains so it’s helpful with everyday cleaning of countertops and surfaces.
I like using a vinegar-based solution for small messes and everyday clean up when I’m not particularly worried about pathogens. In fact, since I often use my countertop for food preparation—maybe rolling out dough on it—I actually prefer that there be no remnants of toxic cleaning chemicals that I might ingest. For more risky messes like after having prepared raw fish, I will still use a conventional cleaner to make sure that it’s truly disinfected. While vinegar can kill many pathogens, there are still bacteria that can thrive in acidic environments so it’s not worth the risk for me personally (and as someone who prepares food for others professionally). You’ll have to make your own call on what’s right for you—this is just what I do.
How to make the natural, all-purose spray:
Clean out an old spray bottle or buy a plastic or glass spray bottle. (I’ve purchased these brown glass spray bottles* and loved them.)
Add distilled white vinegar and distilled water to the bottle in the ratio of your choice. More vinegar will have more cleaning and disinfecting power because it’s more acidic. More distilled water will be less harsh on surfaces that are sensitive to acidity, like granite. Be sure to use distilled water and not tap water to make sure that the cleaning spray is not prone to bacterial growth or the nozzle may get some build up depending on what’s in your water. Distilled water can be found in grocery stores and big chains where bottled water is sold. We usually do a 1:1 ratio but often increase the vinegar amount.
Add 5-10 drops of your favorite essential oil. We use eucalyptus but have also used lemon, orange, and rose geranium. I like Now brand for essential oils.* If you have pets, please do your research beforehand—many essential oils are hazardous to pets.
Store your natural cleaning spray in a cool dark place (like under the kitchen sink) and use daily.
The spray will smell strongly of vinegar when you spray it but that smell will quickly dissipate. Luckily vinegar is good for neutralizing other kitchen smells like fish, and the essential oils will help with that as well.
Do you use vinegar for cleaning at home? Let me know in the comments below!