lemons and a diffuser

I walked into the kitchen and the smell hit me like a jab in the nose. Two hours after I’d conducted my latest cleaning experiment with white vinegar, the odour was still floating in the air like an invisible assault on one’s olfactory receptors. In short, my kitchen did not smell at all inviting.

I had to use a concentrated dose of scented vinegar to deal with a particularly nasty mineral deposit. The situation wasn’t ideal. I was expecting guests in an hour and I didn’t want to welcome them into a flat that smelled like an old abandoned basement.

So I immediately opened all windows and made some lemon juice. I cleaned the surfaces I’d previously treated with vinegar with the juice to give it that fresh sense of lemony goodness.

Long story – short, my guests arrived and didn’t ask me if I had a wine barrel tucked away somewhere in the kitchen. I managed to save the day in the nick of time.

But this situation got me thinking – can I solve the problem with white vinegar’s pungent smell? That’s one of the most glaring downsides of this natural cleaning agent. It turned out the problem is pretty easy to solve.

In this article:

  • Why does white vinegar smell so bad?
  • Scented vinegar preparations
  • Making scented vinegar with herbs and flowers
  • Making scented vinegar with citrus peels
  • Making scented vinegar with essential oils
  • Conclusion

Why does white vinegar smell so bad?

White vinegar is a solution of acetic acid and water. The concentrations vary, but they usually revolve around 5% acetic acid and 95% water.

It may not sound like much, but even at 5% concentration, acetic acid is plenty powerful. That’s what gives vinegar its powerful cleaning properties, as well as the pungent smell that assaults your nose.

In most cases, you want to dilute white vinegar when using it for cleaning purposes. Its level of acidity isn’t necessary for most of your daily cleaning needs. Unless you’re dealing with something particularly nasty, like stubborn mineral deposits, of course.

Scented vinegar preparations

It’s best to have all the ingredients ready before you move on any further. This is where you’ll choose what kinds of scents you prefer.

When it comes to herbs, you can never go wrong with:

  • mint
  • sage
  • basil
  • rosemary
  • and thyme.

You want to avoid dark herbs that will colourise your vinegar and potentially leave stains. Other than that, you can go wild.

If you want, you can combine the herbs with citrus peels. Mint goes well with lemon or lime. Basil is an excellent addition to orange peels.

For flowers, rose petals are most people’s preferred option but it’s largely a matter of taste. As long as the petals or flowers have a strong scent, you can make scented vinegar with them.

Other than that, you’ll of course need white vinegar, preferably distilled. Also, some essential oils if you want a “quick fix”.

And, finally, you’ll need glass jars (the number will depend on how many types of scented vinegar you want to make), a microwaveable bowl, and a few empty spray bottles.

Making scented vinegar with herbs and flowers

Scented White Vinegar

This is by far the slowest method to make scented white vinegar. Here we go step by step:

  1. Place your chosen herbs or flowers into the jars. Don’t worry if it seems like you’re putting too much. The jars should be half-full (or half-empty, depending on your perspective).
  2. Pour the white vinegar on top of them and fill the jars.
  3. Put the jars in a cool, dark place and allow them to steep for a few days. It’s best to wait between a week and 10 days. 
  4. Strain the herbs and flowers out of the mixture.
  5. Take the spray bottle and fill half of it with the mixture. Fill the other half with water.

That’s it. You now have your very own scented vinegar eco-friendly cleaning product.

Making scented vinegar with citrus peels

Scented White Vinegar 700x410 03 1

Using citrus peels to make scented vinegar is pretty much the same as making it with herbs and flowers. In fact, you can use the same method because it’s safer.

However, when it comes to citrus peels, you get the best result if you heat up the vinegar. So use the method below if you feel adventurous. 

Warning: Only attempt this if you’re absolutely positive you can follow the steps without burning yourself.

  1. Place your chosen citrus peels into the jars. You want to fill at least half the jar for the best results.
  2. Pour the vinegar into a microwaveable bowl and heat it up in the microwave. Anywhere between 2 and 4 minutes should suffice, depending on your microwave’s wattage.
  3. Remove the hot bowl from the microwave. Use kitchen gloves and be careful not to burn yourself. Be extra careful.
  4. Pour the vinegar into the jars.
  5. Close the lids on the jars and place them in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.
  6. Wait for 24 hours.
  7. Strain the citrus peels from the mixture.
  8. Take the spray bottle and fill half of it with the mixture. Fill the other half with water.

And you’re done. Hope you haven’t burned yourself.

Making scented vinegar with essential oils

Scented White Vinegar

This is the fastest and easiest method to use. The only downside is the scent isn’t as inviting as the other methods I’ve showcased. Here’s what you do:

  1. Pour the white vinegar into a spray bottle.
  2. Add a few drops of essential oil.
  3. Shake it.

That’s it. It’s literally that simple. If you’re looking for a quick fix, it doesn’t get any simpler than this. However, the other methods work better in terms of scent saturation.


White vinegar is a great natural cleaning product in certain situations. Yet many people abstain from using it because of the bad smell.

But, as you can see, where there’s a problem, there’s also a solution. Creating scented vinegar is easy, inexpensive and, if you’re careful, completely safe.

Whether you prefer the quicker method with the essential oils or one of the slower methods, your new scented white vinegar will be a trusty companion every time you clean. It’s great for dealing with mineral deposits, disinfection, and deodorisation. Make sure you always have a bottle on hand.

Samyx Cleaning - Branding Consultant, Author - Atanas
Author: Atanas Dzhingarov

Hi, I’m Atanas - brand consultant and writer. I’m helping Samyx Cleaning create the best cleaning company blog on the Internet. Join us on our journey and learn how to live a cleaner, healthier, happier life in the process.