Hate the Smell of Vinegar? Here’s How to Mask it!

It’s true, I love a good DIY cleaning recipe. It’s also true that not everyone likes the smell of vinegar—which happens to be at the center of many of these recipes! Vinegar is a staple in the DIY cleaning world because it has so many amazing cleaning properties. That being said, it doesn’t smell great, which is why I’ve been asked a bazillion times:

Melissa, you always talk about cleaning with vinegar and the problem is, I can’t stand the smell of it.  Do you have any suggestions?

Well, yes, yes I do. Even if you do happen to like the smell of vinegar, this is a nice way to perfume it, and add some extra cleaning power along the way, so why not give it a whirl? This works for plain white vinegar, which is what I recommend for any cleaning task.

Option 1: Scenting Vinegar with Essential Oils

I love essential oils (or, EOs as we call them at the CMS HQ) and use them frequently around the house. They don’t have the same staying power that artificial scents have, but to me, that’s a good thing. I love how they have some mood-altering effects (calming mostly), and some health and cleanliness affects (anti-viral, anti-fungal etc.). They’re easy to find and there are tons of resources available online to help get you started. I typically find them at my local health food store, Whole Foods, or Amazon.  I always look for 100% pure essential oils—basically, we’re looking for pure distillations from plants, flowers, fruits, woods, herbs, and spices with no filler.

My current collection is pretty massive, it features lemon, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, vanilla, geranium, cedar, cinnamon, cloves, thyme, peppermint, grapefruit… the list goes on. I’m totally that freak show in the health food store sniffing every bottle of essential oil I come across.

OK, so the secret here is you have to use a good amount of EO to mask the smell.  I have played around with this recipe and have found that a few drops won’t do much, but 20 drops for these measurements are really powerful.

What you need:

  1. 20 drops of essential oils in whatever combination of EOs you choose – I like lemon and rosemary.
  2. 3/4 cup water
  3. 3/4 cup vinegar
  4. A clean spray bottle


  1. Mix in a bottle and shake well.  Done.  Easy.

Option 2: Scenting Vinegar with Citrus Peels & Herbs

I’ve been reading up on this and testing out different options. At first, I thought it was a gross idea because the thought of mixing vinegar and orange together would be just awful. However, I gave it a shot and I was pleasantly surprised by the results—it really works! Feel free to try different citrus fruits and add fresh herbs or spices too. Have fun with it! Many folks say you need to wait two weeks, but I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve found that just waiting a few days will allow the vinegar to take on its new smell. Quick note: citrus fruits have oils which help in the cleaning process, specifically with degreasing.

What you need:

  1. Mason jar
  2. Citrus and fresh herbs, whichever you choose, (solo measurements: about 3 oranges/2 grapefruits/4 lemons/5 limes/a handful of herbs or any combination thereof, you just want the mason jar about 3/4 the way full of peels and herbs)
  3. Plain white vinegar
  4. Strainer


  1. Peel citrus and add peels to the mason jar, fill until about 3/4 the way full. Toss herbs in if you wish, too.
  2. Pour vinegar over the peels and fill until the jar is 90% full.
  3. Leave jar for 4-5 days, shake occasionally.
  4. Strain peels out over a bowl, rendering the scented vinegar free of peels, herbs and floaty bits.
  5. Store vinegar back in the mason jar, and use as required for everyday cleaning (i.e. glass cleaning, floors, etc).

You will be shocked, amazed and delighted by how well these methods work. While they won’t completely remove the scent of vinegar (that’s moving mountains, people), it will mask it heavily. It will also boost the cleaning power of vinegar when using the appropriate ingredients, so win-win!

If you’re looking to up your cleaning game check out our E-Book Bundle! It gives you three amazing e-books (The Complete Guide to Essential Oils, My 3-Wave Cleaning System, and 50 DIY Cleaning Recipes) and is the perfect gift for any cleaning fanatics out there!

We know that you have lots of questions about cleaning and we want to give you those answers! So, continue asking away by emailing us at askmelissa@cleanmyspace.com. We love hearing from you!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. One of your suggestions states to mix the vinegar half and half with water. Please be advised that this lowers the acidity, and thus the effectiveness, of the vinegar. This is fine if this is what you want, but it would no longer have a pH of 2 at this point. At a half/half mix it is more like about pH 4 or 5. At this level it will still clean ok, but it will not have as much disinfecting and deodorizing power as straight vinegar.

    • It is true that the acidity will be lowered however nearly every recipe for vinegar cleaners and every bottle of distilled white cleaning vinegar I’ve ever purchased advises you dilute the water with vinegar 50/50. The purpose of this is to reduce the acidity and harshness of the vinegar to avoid damaging surfaces. The only exceptions I have been able to find on this are for occasional deep cleaning of tile or laminate bathroom surfaces and glass, if you don’t dilute you could be doing more harm than good as the acids break down the surface over time.


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