Upon request from my Mom, I am sharing my very simple DIY recipe for a multi-purpose cleaner. I originally started to make this cleaner to get away from buying a new bottle every time I ran out of the old one, spending unnecessary money on chemicals and plastic bottles. Before switching to making my own, I had already chosen to switch to Mrs. Meyer’s, a brand that uses plant-derived ingredients and is better for the environment than harsh chemicals. Although I love showing support for companies that actively care about the environment (and don’t get me wrong, I still love Mrs. Meyer’s even though I no longer use it), I decided to make my own from ingredients I already used in my kitchen, and would in turn cut down on the plastic I purchased. 

This multi-purpose cleaner is made from three ingredients, vinegar, lemons and water. 

Vinegar has historically been used in the fermentation of foods, and has now been integrated into our dressings, sauces, baking, and cleaning. It has turned into a very versatile kitchen staple! Vinegar also has antimicrobial properties, which means it stops the growth of organisms like bacteria, and therefore makes for a great disinfectant. 

Lemon acts as a powerful antioxidant and can be used in a multitude of baking, cooking, and beverage recipes. I love making homemade lemonade and lemon/olive oil salad dressing for example. This citrus fruit also has a lovely refreshing scent, and is popular in essential oils. But after you are done using the juice from your lemons, what do you do with the rinds? Chances are, you compost them or throw them out, but you can actually get much more use out of the peels! 

DIY Multi-Purpose Cleaner

vinegar, lemons, and a mason jar
  • 1 1L mason jar
  • 2 – 3 cups pickling vinegar
  • Lemon rinds, as you use them

Start by filling the jar half way with the pickling vinegar. I use pickling vinegar because I do a lot of food preserving in my house, but you could use regular or cleaning vinegar here too. The only difference is the acetic acid percentage changes. Leave this jar sealed on a shelf or window sill. 

As you use the juice from lemons in various recipes, put the rinds and peels into this jar of vinegar, adding more vinegar as the jar fills. Once the jar is filled with lemon rinds, make sure all the rinds are covered in vinegar. Leave the lemons to soak in vinegar for two weeks. 

After the lemons are done soaking, drain the vinegar into another jar or directly into your spray bottle. To make a multi-purpose cleaner the ratio of vinegar to water should be 50/50. Mix equal parts of the lemon vinegar to water into your bottle. You could also experiment by adding other scents in the form of essential oils into your cleaner, such as lavender and rosemary, or lemongrass and peppermint. You could also use orange peels instead of lemons in your vinegar infusion if you eat oranges more frequently. 

Photo by Nicholas Boulrice

You can also try using this cleaner straight if you have tough messes or stains. Lemons naturally remove odours and are great on cutting boards, counters, glass, and more! Start making your own cleaner, saving yourself money, saving on plastic bottles, removing chemicals, and embracing the DIY style of zero waste living! 


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