Vodka - Shaken not Stirred - Natural Lemon Peel Chicken Coop Cleaner

My latest all natural chicken-keeping concoction borrows it's name from the James Bond franchise: Vodka - Shaken not Stirred - Natural Coop Cleaner.

Did you know that household bleach can interact with the ammonia created by decomposing chicken feces and result in toxic gases building up in your coop? 

Don't despair though, there are common natural ingredients you can use that boast every bit of the antiseptic and cleaning power of bleach - without the fumes.

Back in 2012, I found myself at the forefront of a movement towards using natural vinegar/citrus-based cleaners for your coop instead of bleach.  In fact, my 'recipe' for Orange Peel White Vinegar Cool Cleaner is one of our most-viewed blog posts ever - and variations have appeared subsequently on other blogs, in my first book Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens Naturally (St. Lynns Press, 2013) and even in Backyard Poultry magazine.

Lately it seems that vodka-based cleaners are all the rage. We're a bit late to this party it seems, but I was intrigued enough to give it a try and weigh in on it.  

But to back up a bit...recently we went to see the new James Bond movie.  It was excellent, but as I was watching, I found myself wishing the producers would include in one of the Bond movies a scene of Mr. Bond eating breakfast and requesting Marans eggs. In the original book series written by Ian Fleming, the Bond character would only eat eggs from French Marans chickens, believing them to be superior in quality and flavor.  [Read more on Marans HERE...]

I only mention this because as Bond ordered his signature drink 'shaken not stirred' I was reminded that I really should be home working on this blog post, not lounging at the movies!  (Kidding...but it sounded good, didn't it?)  In reality, I lounge just as much as the next girl....but I digress.

I have been using my vinegar-based coop cleaning concoction for months now, and while I find it extremely effective, it takes awhile to 'age' and for the vinegar scent to dissipate (which it never really completely does and I find the vinegar scent, however fleeting, to be a bit off-putting.)  Vodka on the other hand, widely used as a household cleaner, is odorless, nontoxic (at least in reasonable amounts!), inexpensive and extremely effective.  It also can be used immediately since there is no odor to worry about.

After browsing Pinterest for inspiration, and deciding that the vodka wouldn't harm our chickens (since the vodka evaporates extremely quickly and there is no odor, that's a no-brainer, I just wouldn't allow them access while you are cleaning - which is good advice regardless of what you use to clean your coop), I decided to whip up a batch of vodka coop cleaner, incorporating the same ingredients I use in my vinegar cleaner but replacing the vinegar with vodka and switching out the orange peel for lemon peel.

The Ingredients

Vodka - insecticide, antibacterial, kills mold and mildew
Lemon Peel - solvent, insect repellent
Cinnamon stick - fragrant, kills mosquito larvae
Vanilla Bean - fragrant, insect repellent

Finding a partial bottle of vanilla vodka wedged in the back of our freezer, I decided to use that.  I added the peel from one lemon, one split vanilla bean and one cinnamon stick for each pint canning jar and then added enough vodka to cover.

Although ready to use right away, I opted to let the mixture sit for a few days for the ingredients to mellow a bit and a deeper aroma to develop.

I left the jars on the counter and shook them up a few times a day.

I also mixed up a batch directly in a squirt bottle to use immediately.

The Verdict:

Several months ago, white vinegar cleaners were making their rounds of the internet, now it seems vodka is the new 'IT' cleaning ingredient.  I, for one, am sold on it.  I am heading out to buy the cheapest bottle of vodka I can find!

This vodka-based cleaner smells so nice.  Also, in addition to being odorless, vodka actually kills bugs instead of just repelling them like vinegar does.  It also cleans windows, stainless steel and granite. Our kitchen is now spotless. The cleaner works on bathroom tile, counters, tubs, showers and all other hard surfaces. In fact I just used some to clean the inside of my car windows.

I keep a bottle in the coop and one on the kitchen counter, shaking each up every few days to redistribute the contents. I have also been topping off the vodka as I use the spray and reusing the peels and spices. I'll keep  doing that until it seems I'm ready for a whole new batch.

So from now on my coop cleaning products will be shaken - not stirred. Thank you 007 and Pinterest for the inspiration!  [Cue Bond theme song and fade to black...]

DIY Network:Tips for Cleaning using Vodka

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