Rosemary-Lemon All-Purpose Cleaner

Clean green using natural ingredients straight from the garden.
Rosemary-Lemon Cleaning Spray

Rosemary-Lemon Cleaning Spray

Non-toxic and easy-to-make, this disinfectant cleaning spray uses vinegar, citrus and garden herbs.

Photo by: Mick Telkamp

Mick Telkamp

Non-toxic and easy-to-make, this disinfectant cleaning spray uses vinegar, citrus and garden herbs.

Keeping the house clean is a neverending chore. One of the basic tools in the fight against dirt is the all-purpose spray, but looking at the label on some commercial products, it can be discouraging to find a long list of potentially toxic ingredients with difficult to pronounce names accompanied by poison control information and warnings against prolonged contact. When it comes to cleaning kitchen countertops, appliances and other direct-contact surfaces, it may be time to consider an effective alternative with ingredients that aren’t just green, they’re downright good for you. Whether wiping up a quick spill or on a hard target search for grit, grime and germs, this natural and easy-to-make cocktail of cleaning power has got you covered. 

A potent and sour product of the fermentation of starches, vinegar is a weak acetic acid that has been around since the time of the ancient Babylonians. A miracle elixir with a thousand and one uses, vinegar is non-toxic, biodegradable, inexpensive and well-known for its antiseptic and disinfectant power. Long used in food, medicine and hygiene, vinegar is back on the cleaning shelf as a safe alternative to toxic commercial cleaners in this fresh, clean and green cleaning spray with a refreshing citrus and herbal twist.

While vinegar is an excellent degreaser and antimicrobial, when it comes to cleaning, there’s a reason many commercial sprays promote “fresh lemon scent” (even when they don’t actually include lemons).  Lemon is a stain-beater in its own right and can be a first line of defense against many household germs. Although other citrus peels like lime, orange or grapefruit may be substituted, nothing conveys “clean” quite like the smell of lemons.

Finally, a sprig of rosemary may seem like little more than a garnish, but the cleaning power of this popular garden herb may come as a surprise. Like thyme, mint, lavender and many other common herbs, rosemary has a long history of use in cleaning. Once a staple in hospitals, rosemary is antifungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and does it all without the use of synthetic chemicals. Added bonus? It smells great and its woody aroma has therapeutic properties as a natural stress reliever. All that, and your countertops have never looked better.

Inexpensive and non-toxic, this straightforward cleaner can be used to disinfect a wide variety of surfaces. You should skip granite, marble or other porous stone surfaces, which do not react well to acidic cleaning solutions, but beyond these exceptions, use this all-purpose cleaner in the kitchen, the bathroom, on appliances, as a glass cleaner or carpet spot remover, for pet cleanup or even on no-wax floors. 

Rosemary-Lemon All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • Peels of 2 lemons
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white vinegar

In a one quart jar, combine rosemary, lemon peels, water and vinegar. Allow to rest 10-14 days in a cool location to allow oils to infuse.  Strain lemon peels and rosemary and transfer liquid to a spray bottle for use. If desired, lemon peels and rosemary may be placed directly inside the spray bottle. The scent will intensify over time before breaking down and the bottle will look great sitting on the shelf.

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