How to Make a Homemade Disinfectant Spray with Apple Cider Vinegar

One might ask, is apple cider vinegar a disinfectant? With all the expensive chemicals that are available for purchase, could killing germs really be as simple as spraying an apple cider vinegar solution? The answer is YES!

Apple cider vinegar is approximately 5% acetic acidic. It is this acid that kills germs and viruses.

Researchers have compared and tested commercial cleaning products against more natural alternatives like vinegar, they found that neat vinegar killed a range of household pathogens. The science and research tells us that vinegar will kill the flu virus.

However, research also showed that vinegar does not kill some types of salmonella, which can transfer from raw meat to chopping boards and onto other foods, often resulting in food poisoning.

Further research has shown that sanitizing food and food preparation surfaces, showed that the efficiency of vinegar as a disinfectant could be increased by 10 times when sprayed with normal apple cider vinegar, or regular vinegar, (5% acetic acid) and hydrogen peroxide (3%) combined rather than spraying each by them selves. Researchers also found that this combination killed almost all Salmonella, Shigella, and E. Coli bacteria present on heavily contaminated food and food preparation surfaces.

Therefore, to properly sterilize your cutting boards in the kitchen, do not use apple cider vinegar by it’s self, mix the vinegar with hydrogen peroxide to clean the surface.

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Apple Cider Vinegar Disinfectant Spray Recipe

1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 cup Hydrogen Peroxide

1 cup Water

Mix in a spray bottle and use in the kitchen, bathroom, tables, etc. This is a highly effective, non-toxic way to clean your home.

You can add some essential oil of bergamot, orange, or lemon to this solution to make it smell good and also to increase its’ antibacterial properties (bergamot is a citrus fruit and all citrus fruits have disinfectant qualities).

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The regular use of vinegar as a disinfectant can be traced at least as far back as ancient Roman times. Wherever they went, soldiers in the Roman legions would add vinegar to disinfect their drinking water. This would help kill any possible infectious agent in the water as well as supply them with an energizing tonic.

During the middle ages people used vinegar as a disinfectant to help combat many diseases including the dreaded bubonic plague.

Throughout the American civil war and right up to the first world war, soldiers used apple cider vinegar as a disinfectant to clean and disinfect wounds.

Now-a-days, vinegar is used to kill germs throughout the house, especially in the kitchen on countertops and food cutting boards and as a germ killing rinse for fruits and vegetables.

Research reported in 1996 on sanitizing food and food preparation surfaces, showed that the efficiency of vinegar as a disinfectant could be increased by 10 times when the surface or food was sprayed with normal vinegar (5% acetic acid) and hydrogen peroxide (3%) over either one of the sprays alone.
The researchers found that this spray combination killed virtually all Salmonella, Shigella, and E. Coli bacteria present on heavily contaminated food and food preparation surfaces.

Then in February 2006 researchers from MicroChem Lab Inc. in Euless, Texas, raised the bar even higher by reporting at the American Society for Microbiology, that a solution of vinegar and regular household bleach could be used, not just as a powerful disinfectant, but as a very effective sterilizing agent against bacterial spoors dried onto test surfaces.

According to the researchers, " Bacterial spoors dried onto surfaces are considered the most resistant to disinfectants of all microbes, and a disinfectant that can kill such spoors would be expected to also kill all types of vegetative bacteria, fungi, mycrobacteria (TB), and viruses."
They found that the vinegar bleach solution sterilized all of the surfaces tested within 20 minutes, while a diluted bleach solution alone was only effective in killing all of the spoors on 2.5 percent of the surfaces after 20 minutes.

To make a sterilizing solution for household use, Dr. Norman Miner (one of the study researchers) recommends first diluting 1 oz (30 ml) of household bleach in one gallon (3.8 L) of tap water and then adding 1 oz (30 ml) of 5% distilled white vinegar.

So if you really want to sterilize that old wooden cutting board in your kitchen, don't use vinegar as a disinfectant only, wipe it down with the above vinegar/bleach solution, wait 10 to 20 minutes, and voila it's done.

However use caution when preparing any sterilizing solution, as Dr. Miner explains: "I would remind everyone that antimicrobials of any type are toxic biocides and should be used with many safety precautions such as rinses, ventilation, protective clothing, etc."

Warning: Do not add more vinegar than recommended to bring the pH of the sanitizing solution down to 6.0. Because when the solution pH is between 4 and 5 it is very corrosive to metals. And when the bleach solution is dropped below pH 4.0, deadly chlorine gas is formed.

How does it work?

Ordinary household bleach contains about 5.2% sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) in water, and has a pH of about 12.

When using it as an environmental surface disinfectant however it is commonly diluted 10 to 25 fold with tap water which drops the pH level down to about 11.

At an alkaline pH of 8.5 or higher, most of the bleach is in the form of the chlorite ion (OCl-).

At an acidic pH of 6.8 or lower, most of the bleach is in the hypochlorite form (HOCl).

It just so happens that the hypochlorite (HOCl) is about 80 to 200 times more antimicrobial than the chlorite ion (OCl-). So by adding vinegar to the dilute bleach solution you are reducing it's pH so that most of the bleach exists as hypochlorite, the much more potent microbe killing form!

According to Dr. Miner, "Diluted bleach at an alkaline pH is a relatively poor disinfectant, but acidified diluted bleach will virtually kill anything in 10 to 20 minutes."