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


I have been asked the following question 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 can handle the smell of vinegar, this is a nice way to perfume it and add some extra cleaning power, so why not give it a whirl?  This works for plain white vinegar, which is what I recommend for any cleaning task.  You can also scent full-strength vinegar with this.

Method 1: Scenting the vinegar with essential oils

I love essential oils (or, EOs as some internetters call them) 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 affects (calming mostly) and some health and cleanliness affects (anti-viral, anti-fungal etc.).  They are easy to find and there are tons of resources available online to help get you started. I find them at my local health food store, Whole Foods, or good old Amazon.  I always look for 100% pure EOs.  Essential oils are basically pure distillations from plants, flowers, fruits, woods, herbs, and spices and aren’t really oily at all.

My current collection contains: lemon, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, vanilla, and citronella.  I want to get so many more, like geranium, cedar, cinnamon, cloves, thyme, peppermint, grapefruit…ahh…the list goes on.  I am totally that freak show in the health food store sniffing every bottle of essential oil.  You can also research the specific properties of each and determine what combinations work best for your specific needs (or desired mood).

OK, so the secret here is you have to use a good amount of EO to mask the smell.  I have played around with the 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 (whatever combination of EOs you choose – I used lemon and rosemary)
  2. 3/4 cup water
  3. 3/4 cup vinegar
  4. Spray bottle


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

Method 2: Scenting the Vinegar with Citrus Peels and Herbs

Now, I have been reading up on this and testing out different options and 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 very surprised by the results – it really works.  Feel free to try different citrus fruits and add fresh herbs or spices in too, have fun with it!  I think some great combinations would be: lemon grapefruit, lemon lime, mint lime, orange cinnamon, lime lavender, and grapefruit thyme.

Many folks say you need to wait two weeks, but I don’t think that’s the case.  If you wait a few days the vinegar will take to its new smell and you won’t have to wait so long to make the magic happen. Quick note, citrus fruits have oils which help in the cleaning process, specifically with degreasing, so you should notice a boost in cleaning power with this recipe.

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 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 mason jar, and use as required for every day cleaning (i.e. glass cleaning, floors, etc).

You will be shocked, amazed and delighted by how well this has worked, promise!

While my suggestions 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, so it is a double-win.

Please let me know if you have any cool recipes for cleaning products!

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.