Zero Waste DIY All-Purpose Cleaner

Big News—Max and I just bought our first home together and are getting ready for the big move from Oakland to San Rafael. As you can imagine, there is a long list of projects to complete before move-in day—donation runs, packing, purging and cleaning our current apartment from top to bottom.

I’ve started by getting my cleaning supplies in order, hence cleaning out my cleaning cupboard. I found numerous forgotten bottles of cleaning supplies with specialized purposes—floors, granite, wood, windows, tile, fireplaces. I used to drop into Target before any big clean and stock up on each of the these highly specific (and highly chemical) cleaners. What a waste.

Since transitioning to a zero waste lifestyle, I’ve discovered the magic cleaning power of white vinegar. The acidic and antibacterial properties of vinegar make it ideal for dissolving mineral deposits, grease, polishing brass and cleaning stainless steel and glass. It’s the stuff our grandmothers used to keep their homes spic and span, and if it’s good enough for the bubbies, it’s good enough for me.

Now, all I need for a big clean is vinegar, water and spray bottle. Maybe a few drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oils if I’m feeling fancy. I use my all-purpose cleaner on counters, cupboards, wood, windows, stainless steel, the stove, floors and any other smudgy, greasy surface I can get my hands on.

You may be thinking, If I use vinegar to clean, won’t my house smell like a pickle jar? I’m going to be straight with you—your house will faintly smell of vinegar right after you clean, but the smell dissipates and if you add some essential oils it’s quite nice.

I recommend buying your vinegar in bulk, either a large glass jar or a huge recyclable plastic jug if that’s all you can find. And a little bit of vinegar goes a long way. Think of all the money you will save by replacing your cleaners for X, Y & Z with just vinegar and water.  

All-Purpose Cleaner


  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar 
  • 1 glass spray bottle
  • 10-20 drops essential oil (I love lavender and eucalyptus)


  1. Add ingredients to a spray bottle using a funnel
  2. Spray cleaner onto surface
  3. Wipe clean with a cotton cloth or microfiber towel


Jarred Lawrence

Awesome useful tips to clean the microwave. I use home cleaning wipes to wipe out the dirt and food patches in the microwave and this works better for me. Here I got great useful tips to use vinegar and sure will and let you know the feedback. Thanks for sharing.


I use one part white vinegar to one part water to clean my entire house! For the bathtub and sink I add some baking soda first, spray to let it bubble and foam then wipe clean! It’s so much cheaper, safer and more environmentally friendly than chemical cleaners and often does a better job! Thanks for sharing- I’ll have to remember to add essential oils!

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