Budget Hack: This Holiday Cleaning Trick Helps You Prep for Less (and Leave a Festive Aroma)

Preparing for Christmas stock photo
Vesnaandjic / iStock.com

Cleaning the house isn’t just a dreaded chore, but can also be an expensive one. In 2021, the average U.S. household spent $178.45 on laundry and cleaning supplies, according to Statista. Fortunately, there’s a great hack to spruce up your place that might not cost anything this time of year: pine vinegar cleaner.

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With this DIY solution, you can clean your windows, remove limescale from your showers, degrease your kitchen stove, and basically do whatever else you’d do with a bottle of Windex or multipurpose cleaner.

All you need is a (real) Christmas tree (or wreath), some white vinegar, a mason jar (as many as you’d like, depending on how much you wish to make), and a spray bottle.

Because of its highly acidic nature, white vinegar is powerful enough to disintegrate mineral deposit, dirt, grease, grime and bacteria. Basically, it’s a germ-killing machine. Trouble is, you can smell its nose-pinching odor from a mile away and not in a good way. This hack takes care of that problem.

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Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Pick branches from a Christmas tree or wreath. The tree or wreath should still be moist and green. Aim for the freshest, most aromatic parts.
  2. Soak them in vinegar in an airtight mason jar, or in multiple ones if you have them and are looking to make a big batch. Soak the branches for as long as possible — at least two weeks. So yes, you’ll want to get started right away.
  3. Once the vinegar liquid is a dark green color, it’s ready to be transferred into the empty spray bottle.

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You might still catch a glimpse of that vinegary smell in the concoction. Consider adding a couple drops of essential oil to help take off the edge. Bergamot and cedarwood, for instance, tend to pair well with pine.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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