I’m always on the look-out for quirky home cleaning products and so I was delighted when one of the first guests at my house in France five years ago – a French friend who works in luxe perfumery – arrived with a bottle of Diptyque Vinaigre de Toilette (£50).
Although I am more than familiar with the Diptyque range of fragrances and scented candles, this multi-purpose product, based on a 19th-century formula and launched by Diptyque in 1975, had somehow escaped my notice. It’s designed primarily to be used as a skin and hair tonic – you can add a few drops to the bath or rinse your hair with a few drops in a bowl of water – but I prefer to use it for household purposes.
The scent - a potent mix of herbs and spices, most notably thyme – is, as the French would politely say, “special”, which means that it is not to everyone’s taste. But there is something about the disinfectant-like smell that evokes the ambience of ancient French houses – of old floorboards, wax polish and libraries full of antique books.
I sometimes add a few drops to clean floors or polish mirrors and have found it especially useful as a room freshener. My dog Biff likes nothing better than to roll around in fox droppings, the scent of which is horribly pungent and tenacious. A few drops of Vinaigre de Toilette in a bowl of warm water and the house smells pungently of herbs instead.