Every spring when the snow finally melts away and spring is almost upon us I know it is just about time for a big chicken coop clean out. The clean freak in me secretly loves emptying out the coop and giving it a deep clean. What I don’t love is having my head stuck in the coop scrubbing the walls while holding my breath because of the horrible vinegar smell. I don’t want to use chemicals in the coop, so I use diluted white vinegar as a natural disinfectant. With its high acidity levels it can knock out mold, germs & bacteria just as well as bleach & commercial cleaners. As a bonus, it only costs pennies when compared to commercial cleaning products. To fix this problem, I decided to mix things up – literally – it’s time to mix some things in with the vinegar to help it smell (and work!) better.
It’s not just about smelling nice
In addition to helping it smell better, I wanted to pick some ingredients that will have additional benefits. Citrus is my favorite scent, it smells so clean & fresh to me, so I knew orange peels had to be a part of this. I included fresh vanilla beans because vanilla is known to be a natural insect repellent. Finally I added fresh lavender because it is a natural calming stress reliever, and happy hens are relaxed hen (so they lay more eggs!). Alternately, you could use lavender essential oil.
I went to the craft store and got the biggest Mason jar they had, it is a half gallon jar and it cost about $4.
I split open four fresh vanilla beans. By splitting them, it will help the fragrance release into the vinegar.
Lavender isn’t in bloom right now, but the leaves of a lavender plant are plenty fragrant on their own. I put several large sprigs of leaves in the jar next. If you don’t have access to fresh lavender, you could also use dried. When you are infusing something like oil you want to only use dried botanics as the fresh ones contain too much moisture which can harbor mold. Vinegar has antibacterial properties that will halt mold growth so you can use either fresh or dried lavender.
Next, I put in the peels of 5 small oranges and filled the jar to the top with distilled white vinegar.
Now you wait
The ingredients need to sit for a few weeks so all the goodness can infuse into the vinegar. Put the jar in your cabinet and give it a shake every so often to stir up the ingredients. When you open the jar and notice the smell of the vinegar is gone, you will know the mix is ready to go! Pour the mixture through a strainer to get rid of all the used peels & leaves. Fill a spray bottle with the cleaner to use it full strength, or dilute it with water if desired.