Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Vinegar of the Four Thieves

I am more than a little obsessed with DIY these days.  I started in the kitchen, making as many foodstuffs as humanly possible, and once I was starting to feel confident that I could tackle just about any (vegetarian) recipe I felt like making, (English muffins!  Bagels!  Yogurt!  Ricotta!  Sauerkraut!  Pickles!) I decided it was time to branch out into the cleaning, laundry, and health/beauty territories.  I picked up a copy of Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, and since then, have been dabbling with a variety of homemade things around the house, using both recipes from this book and randomly from google searches.

I make cold process soap.  (I highly recommend this book if you are interested in getting started.)  I make my own deodorant.  I make my own sea salt hair spray.  I make my own hand creams and lip balms.  When I had a dishwasher, I made my own dishwasher detergent.  I make my own powdered laundry soap.  I "make" my own fabric softener (i.e. white vinegar added to the rinse cycle!)  I made my own wool dryer balls.  And recently, I make my own cleaning products!

Now, I keep a tidy house.  I like things to generally be well-organized, put away, otherwise "taken care of."  But a clean house?  Notsomuch.  Don't get me wrong ... I'd love it if I could eat off my floors, but realistically, between the cat and the fact that I HATE to clean, my house is never going to be as spic-and-span as it could be.

However, I've realized that, since I've started using homemade cleaning products, I don't mind cleaning nearly as much as I used to.  There's something satisfying about being able to clean your stove to a sparkling finish with nothing more than borax and a drop of liquid soap, and not choking on toxic fumes while doing so is a definite bonus.

I've been using a diluted vinegar spray to clean the kitchen countertops for a while now, and really like it.  (I especially like that I can just use the dish rag to wipe up the vinegar, since there are no funky smells or chemical residues that would otherwise "contaminate" the dishwater.)  I decided to take a stab at making a batch of "Vinegar of the Four Thieves" for extra disinfecting power (and a delightful, herbal smell, too!)

If you google "vinegar of the four thieves," you'll find any number of websites full of lore related to the concoction, from the super-crunchy granola people (am I one of them?) to websites on witchcraft and spell casting.  Overwhelmed by too much information, (thank you, internet,) I flipped through Making It, stumbling on a simple recipe for general use.  The recipe is easy enough -- steep dried herbs in white vinegar for six weeks, strain, and use (diluted) as a general disinfectant.  Done!

Vinegar of the Four Thieves
yield: about one quart

2 tbsp each dried lavender, sage, peppermint, rosemary, and thyme
1 quart white or apple cider vinegar (white vinegar is fine for cleaning, or use apple cider vinegar if you want to use the vinegar for salad dressings or health tonic type uses)

1. Add dried herbs to a one-quart mason jar.  Fill the jar almost to the top with vinegar.  Cover the top of the jar with a layer of plastic wrap, then the jar lid.
2. Store the vinegar in a cool, dark place (under my kitchen sink worked well,) for six weeks, shaking the jar daily (or as often as you think to!)

3. Strain out the herbs, dilute the vinegar with water (1:1 ratio,) and use as a general disinfectant spray.  Enjoy the lovely pinky-orange color and herbal fragrance!

I admit, I never would have thought that I would be the kind of person who would be making her own soap and cleaning supplies.  What skills and hobbies have you acquired that have pleasantly surprised you?

(P.S. These are not affiliate links in this post.  I don't make any money by blogging; I just like to share good ideas and resources with others.)

1 comment:

Eileen said...

Ooh, interesting! I coincidentally have this book waiting for me on hold at the library as we speak. :) I've made lemon vinegar for cleaning, and it was excellent, so I'm excited to give this one a try too!