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Whether it be your daily touch up or a spring deep cleaning, modern harsh cleaners are loaded with chemicals and are no fun on your hands. Oh, and the smell. If it isn’t offensive, then it’s fake. There’s no doubting that they work, but at what cost? One solution that we can pull from history is vinegar. Vinegar alone is ok, but can we bring it up a notch? Definitely! Let’s brighten up this natural cleaner by making our own evergreen scented vinegar.
Brief History Of Vinegar
Ever since man discovered and mastered fermentation, there has been vinegar. In fact, the name vinegar derives from vyn egre, which means sour wine. The two, vinegar and wine, or alcohol, go hand in hand. Fermentation of sugars without oxygen produces alcohol, while fermentation with oxygen produces vinegar.
As long as we have been making alcohol, we have been making and using vinegar. The Greeks added vinegar to water and honey to make oxycrat. Think of it as the first sports drink.
Getting into cleaning during the plague of the 14th century, European doctors washed their hands in vinegar when seeing patients. Doctors even instructed families to wash everything down with vinegar after the plague went through the house.
This pattern repeated itself during various cholera outbreaks, where many used vinegar as a general disinfectant to minimize the spread of, or to recover from, the disease.
Vinegar has also been historically used for cleaning greasy and sooty surfaces, such as stoves and windows, as well as polishing metals.
It worked for them. Let’s see how easy it is to make it work for you.
Evergreen Scented Vinegar Recipe
Evergreen scented vinegar is surprisingly easy to make. Move aside your visions of some complicated chemistry experiment.
First, it has two ingredients: vinegar and evergreen needles.
Second, it has two instructions: mix and wait.
Not to be too glib about it, it is in fact that easy. Let’s look deeper.
Not all vinegars are created equal. There’s apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar, and red wine vinegar. And that is just scratching the surface. Luckily, you will need white vinegar.
White vinegar is clean, clear, and acidic enough to benefit in cleaning chores.
While you can use other vinegars, most have a slight color (as in apple cider vinegar) or are strongly colored (as in red wine vinegar). These run the risk of staining the very items you want to clean.
Therefore, stick to white vinegar. You can buy it cheaply and in bulk. We usually purchase a two-gallon set whenever they go on sale.
Evergreens are free, as long as they grow in your area. You can use any type of evergreen if you like their smell. In my area, white pine is the predominant species. These long-needled trees are perfect for your evergreen scented vinegar. A fist-full is easy to harvest and provides enough evergreen for a pint of vinegar.
Spruce are also common, especially at Christmas time. A cup of needles can be quickly pulled off of a few branches. Simply rub the needles them “against the grain” on the stem and into a pint jar. You can even scoop up the needles that fall off your tree. Even if they are a little dry, they’re fine to use.
Making Evergreen Scented Vinegar
Now that you have your two ingredients, you are all ready to make up a batch.
Add a cup of your evergreen needles to a pint jar, or two cups to a quart jar. Next, add the vinegar.
If you want to speed up the process, heat the vinegar before adding the needles. There is no need to get it boiling. Heat to steaming then add it to the jar with the needles.
Once you have combined your two ingredients, cap off the jar and find somewhere cool and dark.
Your evergreen scented vinegar needs to soak for 4 to 6 weeks. You can let it go longer and the scent will become stronger. Crack open the jar every few weeks to give it a smell and see if the evergreen scent is strong enough.
You can keep the needles soaking for several months. When you choose to use your evergreen scented vinegar, strain out the evergreen and transfer the vinegar to a new container.
Any dark container or clear glass container kept in a dark storage space will do. You can even store it in a spray bottle for quick use.
Cleaning With Evergreen Scented Vinegar
Evergreen scented vinegar has a place is most homes as a daily cleaner. The acidic nature of it cuts through oils, greases, and waxes. The acid removes these much quicker than using water alone. This even makes it great for soap scum!
It is this same acid that helps disinfect surfaces. The mild acid of your evergreen scented vinegar kills bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. While there are much more effective disinfectants that you should use, in times of sickness, for daily cleaning vinegar, won’t be as harsh on your household – or your nose!
Your evergreen scented vinegar will also make short work of any lime or mineral scale on faucets and drains. This works for sinks, showers, and tubs. If the scale is stubborn, soak a few paper towels or cotton towels in your evergreen scented vinegar and drape over the mineral scale. Add a few tablespoons of vinegar every 30 minutes until the scale has loosened up, and you can wipe it off.
You can add ¼ to ½ cup of your evergreen scented vinegar to the dishwater to help in cleaning dishes (rinse well afterwards). You can even cut it with equal parts of water to wash your windows.
Don’t use on acid-vulnerable material such as marble, granite, limestone, aluminum, stainless steel, and waxed wood. Over time, the mild acid in your evergreen scented vinegar can stain and even damage these surfaces.
Cleaning Up Evergreen Scented Vinegar
Cleaning and maintain a hygienic environment is not as sexy as most of preparedness. It doesn’t put food on your table. It doesn’t go boom. Quite honestly, it’s kind of boring.
Boring or not, it is no less important than food, medical supplies or security supplies. A personal environment left to its own devices will breed infection and disease. Eventually, it will catch up with you. Sickness can at best diminish your ability to function temporarily. At its worst, it can leave you permanently disabled.
Maintenance of your environment is as easy as a quick wipe down with a fresh batch of evergreen scented vinegar.