People often think it is difficult or time consuming to make their own Do it Yourself (DIY) cleaning supplies. I’m here to tell you – This is a myth!
This DIY natural all-purpose cleaner will take you around 5 minutes to make. This includes 4 minutes to gather your ingredients and clean your bottle and about 1 minute to toss it all in a bottle and shake! This recipe relies on vinegar and essential oils to naturally loosen grime to clean and freshen all surfaces. I’ve used this on glass, ceramic, tile, plastics, stainless steel, etc… It is gentle and effective.
If you’re new to using essential oils, the start-up cost may be a little daunting. Fear not! There are reasonably priced mid-level starter-kits out there that may put you out $30-40. Pricey – yes – but your starter-kit essential oils will result in so many bottles of cleaner that you will wonder why you waited so long to make DIY cleaners and will never spend $4 on a bottle of commercial cleaner again. I have not done the math, but given you only need 1-3 drops of each essential oil and a couple tablespoons of vinegar for each bottle of cleaner, the cost per bottle is probably around $0.50 cents.
Feel free to stop reading after the recipe, but if you would like a more in depth review of the ingredients, and why they make this a solid All-Purpose cleaner, keep reading!
- 2 drops Tea Tree Oil
- 3 drops Thyme Oil
- 2 drops Orange Oil**
- 2 drops Lemongrass Oil
- 1 drop Rosemary Oil
- 1 drop Oregano Oil
- 2 TBSP Citrus Peel Vinegar (Substitute with regular white vinegar or apple cider vinegar if you’d like)
- Spray bottle (This recipe works from 16oz. to 24 oz. bottles)
- If bottle is not new, clean it out. It does not need to be sterile, but a good scrub with soap and hot water is encouraged.
- Fill bottle with water adequate room to add vinegar and prevent splash-back. I use filtered tap water. You may use unfiltered tap, distilled, whatever. Just add water.
- Add essential oils
- Top off bottle with water
Store in a cool, dark place for best shelf-life.
Disclaimer: I have not tested the shelf life of this product beyond 3 months. I use it almost daily and almost always end up making a new bottle monthly. I imagine it should keep upwards of 6-12 months, but if in doubt (it smells weird, looks weird, or there is mold), throw it out.
If you’d like to make and use Citrus Peel Vinegar:
Citrus Peel Vinegar – Literally just that. Take a glass jar and fill with lime, lemon, or orange peels (mix and match if you’d like). Fill to the top with of white, distilled vinegar. Allow to soak. The peels will look super ugly after about a week, but the vinegar itself will stay preserved and usable for well over a year.
Now, for the curious readers:
If you would like a little more substance behind the recipe, we get to the science behind the spray. We’ll start with a few definitions to keep you from glazing over or wondering “Wait, isn’t this all natural?”. I assure you it is, but the natural world runs on chemistry. We are chemistry. The world is chemistry. It’s pretty awesome.
Disclaimer: The information presented below is regarding the properties of the ingredients only. Please be aware that I have not run lab tests (though I would love to do some agar testing on this recipe – that may be a future post) on this cleaner and make no claims that this will prevent, cure, or otherwise magically protect anyone from anything. This is DIY natural cleaner, not commercial. In my personal use, this has cleaned better than any other natural and commercial all-purpose cleaner, which is why I’m sharing this recipe with you lovely folks.
Acetic Acid – A characteristic constituent in the vinegar humans eat. Most vinegars consist of 4% to 8% acetic acid. The rest is water. Vinegars are a weak acid, a 2-4.5 on the pH scale.
**Linalool – Naturally occurring compound found in the oil of citrus peel and some flowering plants. This ingredient can cause skin irritation or allergy in high concentrations. If you or your loved ones are sensitive to citrus skin, swap out the orange essential oil.
pH – Power + H, H being the elemental symbol for Hydrogen. The pH scale is used to specify how acidic or basic (alkaline) a solution is. The scale ranges from 0-14. A solution is acidic from 0 to less than7, and basic (alkaline) when greater 7 to 14. A pH 7 is neutral.
Phenol – An often-fragrant organic compound often found in garlic, green tea, grapes, olive oil.
Terpene – A fragrant organic compound produced by some plants, insects, etc…
Ingredients List in Depth:
The ingredients included have been shown in numerous studies to inhibit the growth of a number of bacteria and viruses including those that contribute to food-poisoning and urinary tract infections, and some also have anti-inflammatory and anti-biofilm properties.
**Lemon essential oil – Derived from the peel of the lemon fruit (Citrus limon). If using lemon essential oil instead of lemongrass, please see the orange essential oil listing below for details. They are very similar, and both contain linalool as an active component.
Lemongrass essential oil – Derived from the culinary herb commonly known as lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus). Lemongrass oil has been shown to inhibit the growth of several strains of streptococci and lactobacilli bateria. In laboratory studies, it was shown to significantly reduce the number of viable cells and reduced the bacteria’s ability to stick to surfaces.
**Orange essential oil – Also called Sweet Orange essential oil. Commonly derived from the peel of the orange fruit (Citrus sinensis). One major component of orange essential oil is linalool. Linalool is an aromatic terpene, which oxidizes (i.e. smells) when exposed to air. Linalool has been shown to be an effective anti-bacterial component inhibiting the growth of Listeria monocytogenes (nasty bacteria causing Listeriosis) and Bacillus cereus (can be a cause of diarrhea, nausea, and/or vomiting). As orange essential oil contains linalool, it does have a risk of skin irritation or allergy in higher concentrations. If you or your loved ones are sensitive to products containing linalool, swap this essential oil for another on the list or skip it. The concentration is incredibly low in this spray, but you know yourself and your family better than I do. If irritation occurs, discontinue use.
Oregano essential oil – Derived from the culinary herb commonly known as oregano (Origanum vulgare). Oregano essential oil contains a naturally occurring phenol; Carvacol. Carvacol, like Thymol, has been clinically shown to inhibit the growth of several strands of Salmonella and other lactic acid bacteria and E.coli.
Rosemary essential oil – Derived from the culinary herb commonly known as rosemary (Rosemariunus officinalis L.). Rosemary essential oil has been shown to have an antimicrobial effect against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other bacterial strains.
Tea Tree essential oil – Derived from the Melaleuca tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). This tree is native to Australia but is also an invasive species commonly found in south Florida. Tea tree oil has been used to treat everything from acne and dandruff to inflammation. The data tends to support the long-held beliefs that tea tree oil is useful as an antimicrobial and in treating inflammation. Some studies show tea tree oil significantly inhibits the growth of the flu virus; however, more studies would be fantastic to support this.
Thyme essential oil – Derived from the culinary herb commonly known as thyme (Thymus vulgaris). to contain a naturally occurring phenol called Thymol. Thymol, a major component in thyme essential oil, has been shown to inhibit the growth of several strands of salmonella and other lactic acid bacteria, and uropathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli).
Vinegar – Vinegar is essential to add to the cleaner. It lowers the overall pH of the formula, which is a good thing! It makes the spray slightly acidic, which amplifies the active properties in the essential oils. Aside from that, vinegar has been used as a disinfectant for thousands of years. The acetic acid in vinegar is an efficient disinfectant. It can effectively kill the bacteria known to cause tuberculosis (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) when allowed to soak for 30 minutes at 6% acetic acid concentration.
Araby, E., and S. Y. El-Tablawy. “Inhibitory Effects of Rosemary (Rosemarinus Officinalis L.) Essential Oil on Pathogenicity of Irradiated and Non-irradiated Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. June 2016. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26995672.
Bråred, J., P. Forsström, A. M. Wennberg, A. T. Karlberg, and M. Matura. “Air Oxidation Increases Skin Irritation from Fragrance Terpenes.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. January 2009. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19125719.
Burt, S. “Essential Oils: Their Antibacterial Properties and Potential Applications in Foods–a Review.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. August 01, 2004. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15246235.
Carson, C. F., K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley. “Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: A Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. January 2006. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16418522.
“Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants.” Plant Management in Florida Waters. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/melaleuca-quinquenervia/.
Cortesia, C., C. Vilcheze, A. Bernut, W. Contreras, K. Gomez, J. de Waard, W. Jacobs Jr., L. Kremer, and H. Takiff. “Acetic Acid, the Active Component of Vinegar is an Effective Tuberculocidal Disinfectant.” mBio. March-April 2014. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3940030/.
“Definition of PH.” Chemicool. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.chemicool.com/definition/ph.html.
Fisher, K., and C. A. Phillips. “The Effect of Lemon, Orange and Bergamot Essential Oils and Their Components on the Survival of Campylobacter Jejuni, Escherichia Coli O157, Listeria Monocytogenes, Bacillus Cereus and Staphylococcus Aureus in Vitro and in Food Systems.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. December 2006. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17105553.
Foodsafety.gov. “Bacillus Cereus.” FoodSafety.gov. August 24, 2009. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.foodsafety.gov/poisoning/causes/bacteriaviruses/bcereus/index.html.
Garozzo, A., R. Timpanaro, A. Stivala, G. Bisignano, and A. Castro. “Activity of Melaleuca Alternifolia (tea Tree) Oil on Influenza Virus A/PR/8: Study on the Mechanism of Action.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. January 2011. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21095205
Gutierrez, J., C. Barry-Ryan, and P. Bourke. “The Antimicrobial Efficacy of Plant Essential Oil Combinations and Interactions with Food Ingredients.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. May 10, 2008. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18378032.
Johnston, C, and C. A. Gass. “Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect.” MedGenMed. May 2006. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/.
Lee, J. H., Y. G. Kim, and J. Lee. “Carvacrol-rich Oregano Oil and Thymol-rich Thyme Red Oil Inhibit Biofilm Formation and the Virulence of Uropathogenic Escherichia Coli.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. December 2017. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28980415.
“Listeria (Listeriosis) | Listeria | CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/index.html.
Oliveira, M. A., A. C. Borges, F. L. Brighenti, M. J. Salvador, A. V. Gontijo, and C. Y. Koga-Ito. “Cymbopogon Citratus Essential Oil: Effect on Polymicrobial Caries-related Biofilm with Low Cytotoxicity.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. November 06, 2017. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29116300.
Ozogul, Y., E. Kuley, Y. Ucar, and F. Ozogul. “Antimicrobial Impacts of Essential Oils on Food Borne-Pathogens.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26072990.
Salehi, B., A. P. Mishra, I. Shukla, M. Sharifi-Rad, M. D. Contreras, A. Segura-Carretero, H. Fathi, N. N. Nasrabadi, F. Kobarfard, and J. Sharifi-Rad. “Thymol, Thyme, and Other Plant Sources: Health and Potential Uses.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. September 2018. Accessed January 07, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29785774.