The Humble Sprayer

 From left: my favorite trusty old sprayer from Muji; 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.

From left: my favorite trusty old sprayer from Muji; 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.

 Three label-free sprayers that once held non-toxic substances for household or cosmetic use. (Depending on the adhesive used by the manufacturer, removing the label is sometimes a job for a heavy-duty solvent, such as lighter fluid.)

Three label-free sprayers that once held non-toxic substances for household or cosmetic use. (Depending on the adhesive used by the manufacturer, removing the label is sometimes a job for a heavy-duty solvent, such as lighter fluid.)

It’s a kitchen hack of the simplest order, consisting of one clean spray bottle, new or repurposed, and plain tap water. 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 kit, along with 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 separate products. Depending on where your sensitivities lie, that’s either healthy, or 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 having to turn on the tap. (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? You might find that with a sprayer full of water at the ready, you can get away with clearing away some other things—and you’ll be less wasteful of tap water than ever.