Evergreen scented vinegar for cleaning (pine vinegar) can be made with just two simple ingredients: vinegar and fresh evergreens. Learn how to make this easy pine scented cleaner today!
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Vinegar is one of my favorite weapons in the green cleaning war.
Unfortunately cleaning with vinegar makes the house smell like…
Some people flat-out REFUSE to clean with vinegar because of the ODOR. (If you clean with vinegar you know that the smell doesn’t last for long. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer… it dries scentless.)
But I get it, it is MORE FUN to clean with yummy scents of flowers and refreshing forest odors drifting through your home.
Luckily it’s easy (and cheap) to make scented vinegar that is a great natural cleaner AND is less offensive to the nose.
Moving Beyond Citrus Scented Vinegar
Orange vinegar was my first successful vinegar scent. It’s easy to make from leftover orange peels and popular with DIyers (You’ve probably seen versions of it online.) Orange vinegar cleans great due to the orange oil it contains and has a light citrus scent from the peels. (Get my favorite orange vinegar cleaner recipes HERE)
I cleaned with orange vinegar for years and even learned to make cleaning vinegar with other types of citrus fruit and herbs. Then I started to get a little BORED with citrus vinegar.
I thought about other popular cleaner scents and decided that evergreen or pine might be a nice addition to my cleaning routine. (Hello, PineSol and hundreds of other store bought cleaners!)
Pine Scent Cleaners
Do you love the smell of pine scented cleaner?
PineSol was the original pine oil-based cleaner invented in 1929. It contained pine oil as it’s active ingredient. (Pine oil is is made by distilling pine stumps, boughs, needles and cones. It has a lovely piney scent and is a natural disinfectant.)
Unfortunately, the pine oil was eliminated from PineSol in 2014 so the commercially sold cleaner is now petrochemical based and with artificial fragrance.
A big whan-wa (that’s my verbal sound effect for failure) for those of us who avoid both of these ingredients.
The Great Evergreen Smell Test
I decided to make an ALL-NATURAL pine scented cleaner and, after a bit of brainstorming, decided to try steeping evergreens in vinegar to extract the scent.
Evergreen Scent Tip
Have you ever gotten up close and personal with a tree? If not, let me tell you a little SECRET –>
- Some evergreens smell like Christmas and fresh clean forests (HOORAY!).
- And some smell like cat urine (BLACH!).
I didn’t want my cleaner (or house) to smell like cat urine, so I conducted an evergreen vinegar scenting experiment:
- I gathered branches from my dried up Christmas wreath and a neighborhood pine tree.
- I put the needles in separate glass jars and covered them with white vinegar.
- I allowed the vinegar to steep for several weeks in a dark cupboard then smelled the results.
- In the end, the vinegar steeped for 6 weeks (or more) for the best smell to develop.
Pine Scented Cleaner Results
The DIY evergreen vinegar for cleaning smelled best when made with spruce branches from a Christmas wreath. It has a mild, piney scent. (Full disclosure: I am not a botanist… just a crazy DIYer! The wreath was labeled SPRUCE. )
The fallen pine needles also produced a nice scent, but it was much milder and still had a lot of vinegar odor. (Stronger scents helps to better mask vinegar odor.)
The Evergreen Scented Vinegar Verdict
Vinegar takes nearly twice as long to scent using evergreen needles instead of citrus peels. But it is such a simple and affordable project there is nothing to lose! (Plus it’s a fun experiment!)
I will make evergreen vinegar again (especially around the holidays when I can easily get evergreen clippings).
*2019 Update: I’ve now made evergreen vinegar multiple time and have left jars to steep as long as 3-6 months. The spruce vinegar gets more and more pine scented (and more orange in color). The pine vinegar stays milder with a vinegar odor and light green color. Spruce is still the winner!
How to Make Pine Vinegar
You can make your own pine scented vinegar with 2 simple ingredients: evergreen clipping and white vinegar.
- Place evergreen branches or needles into a clean glass jar with a lid.
- Fill the rest of the jar with white vinegar.
- Allow the mixture to steep for at least 3 to 6 weeks in a dark, cool place. (*Speed up the process by heating the vinegar before pouring it over the evergreens.)
- Filter the branches or needles out of the vinegar.
- Store the vinegar in a cool, dark place and use for household cleaning.
*I’ve left evergreen vinegar to steep for up to 6 months! The scent gets better and better!
How to Make Pine Vinegar Quickly
If you have no time to gather and steep evergreen needles you can make quick pine cleaner by adding a few drops of pine essential oil or spruce essential oil to vinegar or vodka. (Pine oil was the original active ingredient in PineSol. It is made by distilling pine stumps, boughs, needles and cones and has a lovely piney scent, plus it’s natural disinfectant.)
- Combine in a dark glass spray bottle:
- 1 cup of white vinegar or cheap vodka (using vodka will give the cleaner more of pine odor)
- 1 cup of water
- 5-10 drops of pine oil
Scented Vinegar Cleaning Recipes
Use pine scented vinegar in your cleaning recipes. These are a few of my favorite:
- Bathroom Cleaner – Use full strength to help remove hard water stains when cleaning the bathroom. Mix with dish detergent for a no-scrub shower cleaner.
- No Rinse Multi-Purpose Cleaner – Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 4 cups water and 1/4 tsp hand-washing dish detergent. Use to clean counter tops, sinks, toilets, and hard floors. Use mixture in “quick mop” for ceramic tile and linoleum floors (get my hardwood floor cleaner recipe here).
- Window Cleaner – Mix 1 cup water with 1 cup vinegar and pour into a spray bottle. Mist windows and mirrors with the solution and wipe clean.
- Stainless Steel Appliance Cleaner – Dampen part of a microfiber cloth with vinegar. Wipe against the grain of the stainless steel. Use the dry portion of the cloth to wipe dry.
*Use caution when cleaning with vinegar. There are a few vinegar don’ts including natural stone, wood, electronics, and grout. Learn them all HERE.
More Scented Vinegar for Cleaning
Like cleaning with orange vinegar? Check out my other favorite DIY vinegar scents.
I hope you try making scented vinegar or scented vodka. A few jars can replace commercially scented cleaners for a greener, healthier home.
Cleaning with Vinegar
Learn more about cleaning with vinegar in this guide and get recipes for great vinegar based cleaners.
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Have you ever considered doing pine *with* citrus peels? I was already making citrus vinegar (and also making my own ACV from apple scraps), but we have SO many pine trees here that I wanted to branch out (pun intended lol). I’m trying to figure out if the scents will compliment one another!
Great question, Christina! I have made citrus OR evergreen but never tried combining the two. It would be pretty cheap to try a jar, let me know if you do and you like the scent!
As a Christmas tree grower, I make this all the time, along with a Christmas scent for my customers. Use Grand fir and green or blue spruce.
Hi will white pine work as well? That’s all I have Thanks
I am wondering if you have to use a glass jar or if I can use a food grade 5 gallon bucket?
(Sorry if I sent this twice)
You can use either (as long as the plastic can hold vinegar). I prefer glass so I can see the results!
How about redwood banches – anyone tried that?
I have not tried Redwood. Let me know if you do!
I’m really curious to know what wound up smelling like cat urine. We are surrounded by Douglas Fir trees, and I’d love to use that unless it turns out to be the culprit in the cat urine smell. We already have a cat who has pee issues. 😜
Deborah, if the tree doesn’t smell like cat urine when it’s damp or you crush a few needles you should be fine. I did not use the tree that smelled like cat urine to make the scented vinegar. I used trees that smelled good.
Yay spruce! Pine is one of the best scents ever and these recipes are fantastic. thank you for time and efforts and bringing them to us.
I just bought a bottle of original pin-sol from home depot and the ingredients contain long leaf pine oil.
Interesting! According to Clorox (the manufacturer of Pine-sol), “We will be selling the old formula of Pine-Sol® Pine directly to consumers at PineSolOriginalPine.com. We’ve decided to manufacture a limited supply of the old formula of Pine-Sol® Pine because we wanted to acknowledge the concerns voiced by a group of our long-time loyal fans, and provide a way to purchase the product they love, since it is no longer available in stores.” They also say “Original Pine-Sol” now contains these ingredients: https://smartlabel.labelinsight.com/product/6094147/ingredients . Hope this helps!
I use distilled white vinegar and pine needles. In fact, I just started a new batch–went outside and pulled enough fresh pine needles to fill a half gallon Mason jar (took less than 5 minutes) then rinsed them several times with the hose to remove pollen, dust, and bird droppings. I shook all of the water off and then used an old pair of scissors to cut each handful 3 times. Then I filled the jar to within a half inch of the top with white vinegar, labeled the contents, added the date and the date when it should be ready (about 6 weeks). I usually mix half water/half infused vinegar for a spray cleaner and to mop my hardwood floors. I also make infused cleaners with orange peels, rosemary, and sage from my herb garden.
Great ideas, Julie! I want to try rosemary vinegar this summer. I’ve tried herbs with citrus but never alone.
Hi some great ideas in use vinegre for so many things so an’t wait to start infusing. Would fresh rosemary work and maybe Lavender too?
Yes, you can use herbs to scent vinegar. You can read about my herb scented vinegar here. I also love scenting vinegar with oranges and other citrus fruit peels. PLease let me know how your herb versions turn out! 🙂
I am hoping that you can recommend some essential oil/oils to use on pine cones that have been treated and dried according to your directions. I am planning on making some pine cone decorations for around the house and I would love for them to smell “like Christmas”. We do not put up a tree anymore – just the two of us – kids are grown and gone – most out of state, but I really do miss having the smell in the house. Any advice would be appreciated – also is it okay to use the cheaper essential oils for this or are the more expensive ones better? I totally enjoy your postings. Thank you.
I love the smell of Christmas too! I like using cinnamon, clove, pine needle, balsam fir needle, and/or orange to make the house smell like Christmas. You can add a few drop to a diffuser or dried pine cones, Have you seen my other tips for scenting your home with oils? There is no need to use expensive oils. I’m a big fan of the NOW brand.
Ohh I’m excited to try this! The forest-y, pine-y, scents of this time of year are my absolute favorite (note to self: stop buying “Balsam Fir” candles at bath and Body Works)
I have so enjoyed all the comments about the vinegar and putting I the oranges, lemons, and pine needles! My bathroom floor is always stickie, I do use hairspray and I have used vinegar on the floor but it doesn’t smell real good. Hoping this helps!
Thanks for commenting, Marcella. You should also check out my favorite floor cleaner recipe.
If you crush the needles before using them they will diffuse faster. They are naturally designed to hold moisture and so are slower to release the oils that scent the vinegar.
Excellent suggestion, thanks Doug!
I don’t know why I didn’t think to use pine needles. I’ve been making mine with orange or lemon peels, and sometimes Rosemary, when I get it, for some time now. This works well for my after shower spray, the straight vinegar is a little much. The spray is a mix of 2 C vinegar, 1 Tbls dishwasher rinse aid (cheap works fine), and the rest of a 32 oz bottle is filled with warm water. I also add a few drops of lemongrass essential oil and tea tree to disinfect even more. I can go a full 3 weeks without needing to clean the bath/shower, as long as my DH remembers to use it after he showers too! It also destroyes odors. I used the same recipe, without the rinse aid, to spray the air around the house and also on the curtains, beds and cloth furniture, like Fabreeze.
When I make the smell good vinegar I heat the vinegar for about one min in the microwave before pouring it into the jar with the peels. This allows me to make it in about an hour or two. The citrus scent is usually too strong if I leave it longer than six hours and find I have to add more vinegar to make it less potent. When I use Rosemary it takes about three to four hours and no more than nine hours. I hope this idea will help shorten the amount of time it takes you to make yours.
I will be cutting some branches from our pine tree soon and will have to keep all those needles to try this out. What’s left over will go in a zip bag and into the freezer for later use. Also, when spring comes I will be picking lavender branches to try those out too, along with some other herbs!
Thanks so much for this idea! My mind is now open to all the possible scents out there!
Great tips Brooke! Thank you for stopping by to share. I will definitely be trying them out!
Hi, thanks a lot. Your Blog is amazing! Greetings from Birte Jahn
Thank you for the lovely compliment and welcome! I am so glad you are here!
Those are fir needles, not spruce. Good idea though. I bet most conifers would work.
I agree, Andrew. I think most conifers would work.
Thank you for sharing.
Love this idea! I’m going to scour the neighborhood for pine trees. I’m thinking of maybe scoring the cedar twigs with a knife to open the bark a little. Maybe this will allow more of the resin to release into the vinegar quicker. I’m excited! I love the smell of pine.
Great ideas Judith! Let me know how it goes!
What a wonderful and simple idea, I exclusively use vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. Why didn’t I think of scenting it 😉
Thank you, Cathy
Thanks Cathy! I am glad you enjoyed the tutorial!
I add several rosemary sprigs to white vinegar and allow it to infuse for 14 days. Remove the rosemary sprigs and pour the vinegar in a spray bottle. Lovely fragrance. I also make a vinegar cleaner using 3 tablespoons of dried lavender buds and white vinegar. Or 3 tablespoons of dried mint and white vinegar. All of these control odors and eliminate common bacteria in the kitchen and bathroom. Dried sage works well and so does thyme.
Great tips! I have often wondered about using rosemary or other dried herbs. Do you use fresh or dried rosemary?
I like both. When the rosemary is at its peak in spring and summer, I’ll use the fresh. In autumn, I’ll dry the stems and leaves on paper towels, and once they are dry, I’ll add them to the vinegar. The fresh rosemary has a distinct and very piney fragrance, but the dried reminds of the holidays with spruce and cedar.
By the way, I love your website.
Thank you so much for the information and lovely compliment! You’ve made my day!
May I ask how long does this last? As in, will it get moldy? Sorry if this is a very stupid question.
It last quite a long time. I have kept it in the cupboard for 6 months, it did not mold. I would not leave the solids in for that long!
Hi! I’m just starting my journey on a cleaner more natural home. I was wondering if I could mix essential oils in vinegar to use as a floor cleaner?
Thanks for commenting, Bekah! Yes, vinegar and essential oils are a great base for floor cleaner. For vinyl or tile floor cleaner → mix 4 cups warm water, ½ cup white vinegar, and ½ teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap (not Castile) with 5 drops of essential oil in a spray bottle or spray mop (To use: spray floor and immediately wipe clean with an absorbent mop or cloth pad, rinse floor pad as needed while cleaning). For hardwood floor cleaner → mix 2 cups warm water, ½ cup white vinegar, and 5 drops of essential oil in a spray bottle or spray mop. (To use: spray floor and immediately wipe clean with an absorbent mop or cloth, rinse floor pad as needed while cleaning.) You can also make my hardwood floor polish/restorer using olive oil, essential oils, and white vinegar. Hope this helps!
Jamie Jewell Walther
Hi Bren – hope you and your beautiful family are well! This is such a great blog name & idea. Glad I hit the link off your FB post! Curious – do u think the steeping time might be shorter if you sniped the needles into smaller pieces? Thinking the cutting will open up the essence better – similar to chopping rosemary?????
Great idea, Jamie! I haven’t tried it but it might work. When I use orange rinds they are in pieces, so you are probably on to something. If you try it please let me know how it turns out.
Dawn @ Reveal Natural Health
You are so creative, Bren! I clean with vinegar but I had never thought of scented vinegar. That’s got to be way better than the vinegar smell.
Thanks Dawn! It’s either creativity or lunacy that tell me to collect stray branches on my walk and try putting them in vinegar… 🙂
I clean my hardwood floors with warm water, vinegar and half a squeezed fresh lemon, Throw the lemon into the bucket after squeezing. Add a few drops of lemon oil. I ran out of lemon oil and used peppermint oil. The house smelled devine and bugs dont like it.
Great tips, Maria!