The Humble Sprayer

From left: my favorite trusty old sprayer from Muji (now, unfortunately, discontinued, at least in Poland); the cheap Ikea version (that doesn’t withstand a five-year-old’s water fight use); repurposed Lilly’s Eco Clean All-Purpose Spray Cleaner bottle, well-washed and stripped of its label.

From left: my favorite trusty old sprayer from Muji (now, unfortunately, discontinued, at least in Poland); the cheap Ikea version (that doesn’t withstand a five-year-old’s water fight use); repurposed Lilly’s Eco Clean All-Purpose Spray Cleaner bottle, well-washed and stripped of its label.

Three sprayers that once held non-toxic substances for household or cosmetic use. Note how elegant they look with the labels neatly peeled off. (Note also that, depending on the adhesive used by the manufacturer, sometimes removing the label is a job for a heavy-duty solvent like lighter fluid.)

Three sprayers that once held non-toxic substances for household or cosmetic use. Note how elegant they look with the labels neatly peeled off. (Note also that, depending on the adhesive used by the manufacturer, sometimes removing the label is a job for a heavy-duty solvent like lighter fluid.)

It’s a kitchen hack of the simplest order, consisting of one clean spray bottle (new or repurposed) filled with plain old tap water. And while that may sound like not much of a hack at all, considering all the tap water coming out of your faucet, imagine what you can do with a well-deployed cloud of mist once you’ve made that sprayer part of your kitchen sink array, next to the dishwashing liquid and sponge. Water is, after all, the original “solvent”—and if you’ve got some point-and-shoot H₂O at the ready, you might find yourself perfectly capable of cleaning tabletops, counters, spills on the floor and your stovetop without resorting to detergents marketed for that purpose. And, depending on where your sensitivities lie, that’s either very healthy or very frugal or both. You can also mist plants, spray that ball of dough, boost the humidity inside your oven and wet just about anything without making a puddle of it. (Just remember that when you need to kill actual bacteria, like when you’ve had raw poultry dripping juices onto your workspace, you’ll still have to reach for the bleach.)

A dear friend of mine who has picked up on this habit likes to add a few drops of lavender oil to her sprayer. It’s great for those countertops—but obviously a no-go on bread dough. Last I checked, she keeps two around, for two kinds of misting.

As with a lot of other simple home improvements, the secret here is not in the technology but in access. Skeptical whether you need another thing taking up precious space in the kitchen? I urge you to try it out anyway. In fact, you might find that with a sprayer full of water at the ready, you can get away with putting away a couple of other things—and wasting less tap water than you used to.