How to Make and Use Citrus Vinegar For Cleaning

Citrus Vinegar Recipe

Vinegar is great for cleaning lots of things. It is safe, healthy, non-toxic, and effective – But there is one major problem with vinegar. It smells terrible! There are a couple of ways to change the scent, so it is no longer obnoxious. One is to make citrus vinegar.

There are many pictures of citrus vinegar on Facebook and Pinterest, so I gave it a try. This is how to make it, how to use it, my experience with it, and a suggested alternative.

The idea is to soak citrus peels in vinegar to boost the cleaning power of the vinegar and to make the vinegar easier to use because the citrus reduces the vinegar smell.

It is true that adding citrus makes a huge difference in reducing the odor of the vinegar making it much easier to tolerate. Adding citrus peels to the vinegar and letting them steep makes the scent of the vinegar much milder.

It is not true, however, that it boosts the cleaning power. In fact, it makes the vinegar somewhat sticky. The citrus peels will color the vinegar and can leave a sticky residue if not completely removed, so it shouldn’t be left on a surface for too long. Always rinse with a hot, wet cloth. If it is left to dry, it may require baking soda to get it off. I haven’t ever had it stain anything, but would be concerned of that possibility if it were left to sit, as the color is quite strong.

I made a lot of this and used it anytime I needed vinegar to clean with. For those who regularly eat citrus fruit, this is an extremely cost effective way to reduce the strong vinegar odor by recycling your peels to a good purpose. It’s a useful, effective cleaner as long as it isn’t left to dry. It is also easy to make.

Two Ingredient Citrus Vinegar Recipe

  1. Distilled white vinegar
  2. Orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit peels.

Pour white distilled vinegar into a clean jar. Drop citrus peels into a jar of vinegar. I don’t know how long this will last, but I left some of mine for over a year and it was still fine. The vinegar will preserve the peels and they won’t go bad for a very long time. They should steep for at least two weeks before the vinegar scent has reduced enough to make a difference.

I save my citrus peels in a sealed bag in the freezer until there are enough to make citrus vinegar with. Once the peels have steeped long enough, pour the vinegar into a spray bottle through a fine strainer.

Citrus Vinegar Cleaner can be used to clean any non-porous surface that will be rinsed immediately with clear water – counter tops, bathtubs and showers, toilets, stoves, mirrors, windows, etc. Citrus vinegar is not good for washing the floor.

Baking Soda and Citrus VinegarVinegar normally works well as a rinsing agent. It is especially effective for removing the residue left from cleaning with baking soda. Wipe away the baking soda with a hot, wet cloth. There will still be a slight dusting of baking soda that isn’t noticeable until it dries. Spray the area with vinegar. Let it sit for about a minute then go over the area with a hot, wet cloth to rinse thoroughly. The vinegar will dissolve any remaining baking soda and leave the surface free of baking soda residue and sparkling clean.

There is a belief that the citrus boosts the cleaning power of the vinegar with enzymes from the citrus peels, but this seems to be a myth. The only reason for adding citrus peels is to change the odor and make it look pretty.

D-Limonene is the component in citrus that cuts grease and increases cleaning power. It can be purchased separately and used as a grease cutter and can be added to vinegar, but some people are sensitive to it and it’s really not necessary.

Vinegar does not cause D-Limonene to release from the citrus. Extracting the D-Limonene from citrus peels is a very involved process that requires specialized equipment. It’s not as simple as soaking citrus peels in a solution.

Vinegar can be used alone or as a rinse to dissolve baking soda. The vinegar helps to break the baking soda down and makes it a lot easier to rinse the baking soda off a counter top or other surface.

Personally, I have stopped making citrus vinegar, because it is sticky. Due to the stickiness, it cannot be sprayed on and left to dry and it sometimes requires an extra rinse. An easier way to make vinegar cleaner that doesn’t stink is to use essential oil. Click here for a super simple recipe for Mildly Scented Vinegar and Essential Oil Cleaner. Adding essential oil to distilled white vinegar both reduces the odor and adds cleaning power due to the anti-microbial properties of essential oils.

To get started on having a naturally fresh and clean home requires a few purchases. To begin with, natural cleaning supplies do not come in containers made to use them as cleaners, so a canister and scoop along with spray bottles and other items can be purchased to put together a natural cleaning supply kit.

 Click here for information on how to put together a Non-Toxic Supply Kit for a Naturally Clean House

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Photos by Marissa DeWitte