Friday, March 1, 2013

The Best Homemade Cleaners!

Vinegar has been my household cleaner of choice for some time now, but I will say when cleaning the entire house, the scent can get overwhelming, and my husband in particular is not fond of it.  This recipe takes care of that!  You are left with little, if any, vinegar smell (I can smell no vinegar in my batch from lemons that sat for 4 weeks), and only citrus scent fills the air.  Plus, the citrus oil in it really boosts the cleaning and conditioning power, not to mention antibacterial properties.  It works great on grease in the kitchen, or on kitchen cabinets, and it's my favorite bathroom cleaner, countertop cleaner, or just about anything cleaner!  I have even used it in my car as an Armor All replacement.  However, because of the oil in it, straight vinegar is still the best bet for things where you are trying achieve a streak free shine like glass and mirrors.  I had an old tub that was covered in mineral deposits from our super hard water, and I sprinkled Bon Ami all over it, moistened it very well with this cleaner, and let it sit for 15 minutes.  Came back with a scrub brush and that tub was gorgeous with very little scrubbing!  It cuts through hard water mineral build up wonderfully, but you do have to give it a little time to sit first.

[Note: Bon Ami is the other cleaner I use, and it is very inexpensive, available nearly everywhere, and gets an "A" non-toxic rating on EWG's Guide to Healthy Cleaning.  I use it for the kitchen sink, or inside my toilet bowl or shower, sometimes in combination with the citrus cleaner or straight vinegar.]

I cannot say enough about this homemade cleaner!  It is so quick and easy to make (well, except for the time you let the peels sit in the vinegar), and it cleans EVERYTHING!  This is a photo of the finished product on the left made with lemon peels, and orange juice squeezed from the oranges whose peels were used to make another batch pictured on the right.  [Note, I made three jars of peels and vinegar with the amount of oranges used to get that much juice!]  Right now organic juicing oranges were on sale for very cheap, and I thought it was the perfect opportunity to make a big batch of cleaner.  I prefer to only use organic fruit, so I'm not dousing my countertops in pesticides.

This would be a great use for fallen fruit if you have a citrus tree.  I use the fruit any number of ways - eat, juice, cook with them... The great thing is you don't have to do it all at once.  Say I buy a bunch of lemons on sale and just use one or two here or there, I will peel the zests off and cover with vinegar, and keep adding to it until the jar is filled, then wait 3-4 weeks from when it is filled (I mark my calendar when the jar is filled).  You can use lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit, or a combination of all four. 

The official method is:
Rinds of 4-6 citrus fruit - the original place I saw this recipe shows peels as you would peel them to eat it, including the white pith.  I make mine more with zests, just cruising around the fruit with a peeler.  You don't need to be as particular in trying to avoid the pith like you would if you were cooking, because I think it can work with or without it.  I just find it easier to peel that way and it maintains the fruit inside if I'm not ready to use it yet.

Cover with standard white vinegar - As I mentioned, you can even do this a little at a time until the container is filled.

Allow to sit for 3-4 weeks - I have gone as long as four weeks, but usually strain after 3 weeks.  I also shake the jar occasionally, but I'm not sure that's necessary.

Strain and press out any liquid from the peels, pour into any spray bottle and you're good to go!



OK, I'm so excited to finally have a venue to share this with more people.  One day I was bound and determined to get something clean and tried a number of combinations.  To my surprise, one spades! 

Greasy stovetop?  Grease splatter on a pan?  I even use this to clean the insides of my expensive porcelain lined cast iron pots, and have been doing so for years without any problems.  It gets any remaining film off, and it is SO SAFE AND EASY!  It works great for all pots and pans! (I have not tried it on copper though) :)

I keep a sprinkle topped bottle under my sink filled with baking soda.  Next to it I keep a bottle of orange oil.  I use orange, but I would imagine lemon, lime or grapefruit would work as well here.

Whatever it is you need to clean, sprinkle it with baking soda, and then shake out some drops of orange oil to moisten it.  You don't need a ton of oil, but experiment and see what works.  Then take a scrub pad or dish brush, or if you're doing your stovetop you can even use an old toothbrush to get into tight spaces, and scrub away!  I GUARANTEE you will be amazed as the baked on grease disappears before your eyes with almost no effort of scrubbing!  Seriously - it is amazing.  And you will only find this here folks.  My own creation! :)


  1. question: how long does it keep?

  2. Roki - It's funny, my supply is dwindling and I'm waiting on another big batch to finish like the one I made in the photos above. (I wait til citrus season for the big bags of organic juicing oranges to go on sale and get it then) It occurred to me that I'm pretty sure that I haven't made any since. If I did it was still a very long time ago. So I think it's been since last February and I'm just using up the very last of that batch. I guess the vinegar keeps anything bad at bay, and it's really just citrus essential oil that comes out of the rinds after you strain it.


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