Multipurpose Cleaner

All you need is white spirit vinegar and bicarbonate of soda for a spotless and healthy home.

Rather than sharing one specific recipe, this post shares the different ways in which you can use white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to clean your home. For easy use, I suggest that you store your white vinegar in a spray bottle, and your bicarbonate of soda in a salt shaker.

You’d think that combining white vinegar and bicarb would be a dynamic cleaning duo, right? Wrong. Despite what other bloggers might claim, this combination will actually result in a weaker cleaner. The reaction merely produces carbon dioxide and water along with other weaker agents, despite the fun, fizzy action. For best results, use vinegar and bicarb separately. 

Optional: Essential Oils For Cleaning

You may add essential oils to either the vinegar or bicarb for extra cleaning power. Below are a few essential oils that have antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-fungal and antibiotic properties. Simply add 20-40 drops per 500ml of vinegar. If you have pets around the house though, rather don’t use essential oils, as they can be toxic to cats and dogs. Speak to your veterinarian first. (Buy organic essential oils here).

To more effectively use essential oils in vinegar, without having to “shake before use”, add one part essential oil blend to five parts pure alcohol (over 75% v/v). Allow this alcohol blend to sit for a minimum of one hour, give it a stir, and then add this blend into your vinegar for properly dispersed essential oils. Only high-proof alcohol will work, not vodka etc.

  • Eucalyptus – This is a great choice if someone at home has a cough, cold or the flu. This essential oil will help respiratory problems, and not make things worse like many synthetic household cleaners do.
  • Lemon – has a wonderfully fresh, clean fragrance that is also known to treat headaches.
  • Tea tree – also provides relief from respiratory problems and is a good insect repellent for mosquitoes, fleas, lice and flies, as well as internal parasites like roundworms and tapeworms.
  • Lavender – aromatherapy benefits include treatment for headaches, insomnia, depression and stress. It helps keep most spiders away. This is the best option if you have dogs around the home, as lavender in small doses is safe for dogs, but lavender is not safe for cats. Use 5 drops for every 500ml of vinegar if you have dogs.
  • Thyme – will also discourage all manner of parasites and insects from invading your home, and also assists in the elimination of toxic wastes from the body. Thyme is also a wonderful oil to have in the air when the flu is around.

Bathroom & Basins

Step 1: Spray vinegar onto surface. I.e. In toilet bowl, bath, basin, shower floor and shower curtain. You can also add half a cup of vinegar into the toilet bowl.

Step 2: Let this stand for a minute or two, then flush or rinse the surface clean with water. This step is great for getting rid of mold, mildew and disinfecting.

Step 3: Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda onto the wet surface. Let it stand for a minute or two (you can let it stand for longer if you want). Scrub surface, and then rinse clean with water. This step is great for abrasive cleaning.

Windows and surface cleaner

Step 1: Spray vinegar onto the window or counter top surface.

Step 2: Wipe windows or surface with a cloth. Vinegar will not leave streaks on the windows, and is a great disinfectant for chopping boards.

To make vinegar go further, you may dilute it with water, but not less than 50:50 ratio.

Tile Floors

Add one cup of vinegar to every 2 litres of water in a bucket and mop floors as usual. For more persistent floor stains, don’t use vinegar. Rather add a splash of eco-friendly soap into the water to wash away grease and dirt (i.e. Castile liquid soap or similar).


Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda liberally onto carpets, let it stand for 10-20 minutes and vacuum as usual. By adding essential oils into the bicarb shaker (shake well), you will benefit from a fresh fragrance and antibacterial action.


Clean your fridge with a 50:50 water and vinegar solution. You can also use bicarbonate of soda to eliminate odours in your fridge. To do this, fill a cup (or more) with bicarbonate of soda and leave the filled cup in the refrigerator. It will absorb odours. Replace this bicarb every month or so. 

Stained Cups and Mugs

Wet the mug and sprinkle bicarb into it. Then scrub with a little elbow grease to return the mug to its former glistening glory. Ditch the bleach!


Remove your children’s artistic crayon doodles from walls by applying a dab of bicarb to a damp cloth and scrub clean. The crayon/ scuff marks should come off instantly without removing paint. But I would be careful of the finish of your wall, and don’t scrub too hard.

All these little tricks are simple enough, right? Give them a try and let me know how it works for you. One thing is for sure though, if you have a septic tank, it will be much happier when you make this switch.

Cost & Shelf Life

Cost Price: R34.29
Lasted me about:
 6 months using as needed.
Estimated shelf life: Indefinite (both white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda, but I’d recommend using them within two years).
*Costs accurate at the time of writing, and based on the best retail prices I’ve found.


Vinegar doesn’t smell particularly pleasant. If you don’t add essential oils, the scent of the vinegar will linger for a little while, but it will evaporate eventually.

Cherry on top

On top of a clean home, you will create a non-toxic environment in your home that is safe for your family, pets and even your garden.

Ingredient Information

  • White vinegar:  Is a natural disinfectant that is great at cleaning mold, mildew and microbial contamination including salmonella. It is not so great at removing soil/dirt, soap is better at this. Here is my natural soap bar recipe, and liquid soap recipe.
  • Bicarbonate of soda:  Dissolves grease and grime, and is a great abrasive cleaner. (buy here)

You will be able to find vinegar and bicarbonate of soda at almost every grocery store. If you’re not sure where to find essential oils, or which brand to buy my shopping guide may help you. Also, if you are pregnant or new to using essential oils, please read how to use them safely.

Recommended Retail Option

If DIY just isn’t your thing, then I recommend buying this product which I have personally used and approved: Triple Orange All Purpose Cleaner Wonder Gel. It’s great at washing dishes, mopping floors, laundry and as a general purpose cleaner. A little goes a heck of a long way, and it smells delightful – like freshly squeezed orange juice.


4 thoughts on “Multipurpose Cleaner”

  1. Thank you for all the natural tips they are great.
    I am currently trying to make my own dishwasher powder but don’t seem to find a place that sells citric acid. Would you happen to know where to find it in KZN?
    Thank you!!

    • Hi Natacha. Thank you for your comment. You should be able to find citric acid in almost all grocery stores. I see it everywhere. Look in the baking aisle where you find bicarbonate of soda/ epsom salts etc. Here’s a pic of what you should find. I hope that helps. Let me know how your dishwasher powder works – It’s on my to-do list too!

  2. Hi & thank you for a fabulous website & recipes! I will definitely be making some of your recipes, I just have one question – I’ve heard that you shouldn’t use vinegar or granite surfaces, is that correct?

    • Hi Gill
      Thank you for your feedback. I’m delighted to hear that you are enjoying my blog. To answer your question – No, I had never heard about not using vinegar on granite surfaces. But I quickly googled it and found that “acidic substances will dull the granite and weaken the sealant”. So you are absolutely right. Don’t use vinegar to clean granite surfaces – but vinegar does work wonders on glass and windows. Thank you for bringing that up and teaching me something new.


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