Never buy kitchen-counter cleaner again.

By Micah A Leal
August 17, 2018
Credit: Hero Images/Getty Images

Household disinfectants are expensive—and often dangerous. If you have kids (or any concern for the environment), you've probably looked with suspicion at the list of warnings on the back of a bottle promising to kill 99% of bacteria. If the chemicals are so effective at killing germs, what else are they good at harming?

I was introduced to a simple, all-natural disinfectant at one of my earliest kitchen jobs, and I have kept it with me ever since because it's the most affordable cleaner I can make and because it gives me peace of mind in knowing that my counters are sanitized with a natural solution. Essentially, this disinfectant is only vinegar and water. Now, wait—I know what you're thinking: white vinegar doesn't have the most pleasant smell. But there's something you can do to fix that.

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When I'm running low on my homemade cleaner, I stock up on oranges and grapefruits and make them my snack for a week or two. I'm careful to make sure I get all the fruit off of the rinds, and then I store them in a large Mason jar. Once the jar is full, I run outside to grab a few sprigs of fresh rosemary from my neighbor's yard, and I drop those in the jar as well. Then I pour white distilled vinegar into the container until it's full, seal it with a lid, and let it sit on my counter for 10 days. After that time, I strain the liquid into another jar I keep under the sink. The oils from the citrus and the rosemary infuse the vinegar and help to offset the pungent vinegary smell. In a spray bottle, I dilute the vinegar with water using a 1:1 ratio, and I'm ready to take on any harmful bacteria lurking on my countertops.

It's simple, it's economical, and it's downright environmental. This solution isn't a degreaser, and it doesn't remove stuck-on substances as well as soap and water, but when it comes to sanitizing your kitchen surfaces from bad bacteria (like those from raw meat), you can rest assured that this two-ingredient cleaner will do the job.