Toxin Free DIY Citrus Cleaner

As you may have noticed by my Meyer lemon obsession, it’s citrus season, and I couldn’t be happier. As I’ve mentioned before, any pretense of locavore principles goes out the door for a case of mandarin oranges or a perfect, juicy grapefruit.

While I’m paying the karmic debt for the food miles it takes to get sun-kissed citrus to Seattle in January, I try to get as much from my citrus as possible. That’s where this DIY, all natural cleaner comes into play.

Nothing could be simpler. Orange, grapefruit or lemon peels infuse plain white vinegar with their delightful scent and citrus-oil cleaning power. Throw in some fresh herbage and we’ve got something that cleans anything glass or greasy like crazy, isn’t full of nasty toxins (as long as you’re using organic citrus!), and costs just pennies a batch to make.

Oh, and – it’s so simple and easy even the busiest, least DIY-inclined folks can totally handle it.

DIY Citrus Cleaner

How To Make Toxin Free Citrus Cleaner

Get a big jar. I use a half-gallon mason jar for this. Enjoy your yummy organic citrus and toss the peels in the jar. You can use grapefruit, orange, lemon, mandarin, a combo – whatever you have.

If you have some rosemary or sage or mint in the garden, throw that in the jar too. Exact measurements aren’t that important.

Fill the jar up with plain white vinegar.

DIY Citrus Cleaner

Let It Sit

Lid your jar and stick it somewhere out of the way for at least two weeks, and up to two months. When the vinegar has taken on a golden color and a nice citrus scent, strain the cleaner through a sieve lined with a coffee filter or a piece of clean, loose-weave cloth.

DIY Citrus Cleaner

To Use

Add two tablespoons of the citrus rosemary vinegar to a spray bottle and fill with water for an all purpose grease-cutting cleaner and glass, appliance and window cleaner.

For really tough, greasy jobs, like kitchen vent-hood grates, use the citrus vinegar undiluted.

This cleaner is also good at cutting through mineral and hard water deposits.

Because this is an acidic cleaner, don’t use it on delicate stone like marble or anything else that needs a pH neutral cleaner.

DIY Citrus Cleaner

Do you make your own citrus cleaner?

Shared on Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.
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  1. How long will this keep?

    • Once you strain it, more or less indefinitely. If you leave the peels in there for so long that the vinegar evaporates you might have problems. But the strained vinegar is very shelf stable.

  2. I have a jar of orange vinegar on my counter right now, marinating. Yay!

  3. Elisabeth Corrigan says:

    Pith okay?

  4. Erica, I am in Ohio and looking for a good Meyer lemon source. Can you post some recommendations? Thanks, I live reading your blog and have inspired most of my food experiments in the past year. :)

  5. I’ve been using plain vinegar for cleaner, but this looks soooo much better–like something that would actually MAKE me want to clean. Thanks!

  6. I love this idea since I compost (waste) all the lemon, lime and mandarin peels from the fruit raised in our greenhouse, but I’m really lazy and just spritz or pour straight white vinegar to clean toilets, showers, windows, relieve itchy heads, etc. I like the smell and it dissipates as soon as it dries. Citrus-scented does sound really nice though. Hmm…

  7. Homebrew Husband says:

    It is a small thing, but this also looks beautiful sitting on the counter while it steeps. The only problem is I keep glancing at it and thinking that it will be something I get to try out in a cocktail…

  8. Tanaya Ropp says:

    I have done this and it works great. Word of warning. People who use Metformin can not use grapefruit. My mother found this out the hard way. There is some kind of reaction that affect the gums. I did it without the grapefruit and it worked very well.

  9. I’ve been doing this for a few months. I’m lazy and just stuff the peels in my bottles of Costco Vinegar and add vinegar as I remove it. I wonder if the peels will ever get weird? I never remove them, just keep adding because I so rarely eat citrus. It’s like my homemade vanilla. Use the vanilla? Add more vodka. Add a bean now and again. 10 beans in the jar? Okay. Maybe one day I should remove the beans, lol.

  10. This sounds like just the thing for my stainless steel kitchen appliances. Thanks!

  11. I don’t buy citrus, because it doesn’t grow here. But I recently had some oranges gifted to me, and a few sprigs of rosemary. The timing of your post was perfect. I had orange peels in a separate container on the kitchen counter (the worms nor the chooks like them), and half a gallon of white vinegar in the basement, gathering dust, because I don’t clean with vinegar (not yet, anyway). I didn’t even read the whole post before I put them all together in a pint Mason jar. It looks so pretty I wonder if I could give them as gifts to my permie friends! I am so looking forward to trying it out on some greasy project when it is ready to use. I expect I will need to wear rubber gloves, yes?

  12. Can’t wait to start this. Thank you.

  13. Erica it is SOOOOOO good to have you back.

  14. Love this! I use this to clean almost everything, but I’ve never tried it with rosemary, that sounds wonderful. I use hydrogen peroxide to clean everything else that can’t be used with this including marble countertops and the shower. What do you use for toilets? Baking soda/vinegar just doesn’t seem to do as good of a job…

  15. I haven’t made a citrus cleaner before. I will have to check this out. Please feel free to link this post or any other green living or gardening posts at my Tuesday Greens link party. I’d love to have you join us. Have a great weekend!

  16. Danielle G says:

    this is most excellent. my hogs won’t eat lemons and i don’t think they add much to compost.

  17. Fantastic. this is such a great idea. I use vinegar for everything! Now I have a use for all my surplus rosemary.

  18. I just started a half gallon, but I’ve added some vodka, like maybe a cup. (We’re not big drinkers and I bought a giant bottle at Costco.) I’m thinking the vodka will help pull essential oils from the citrus skins (and rosemary, once I harvest some of that). I guess I’ll just have to see how it works.

  19. Jennifer says:

    Should I put a lid on the jar while it steeps?

  20. I am doing the Rosemary, orange and lemon. Peels from one orange, one lemon and three sprigs of rosemary. Can I add essential oils to kick it up a bit? I happen to have Sweet Orange, and Rosemary. If so, how many drops each, of the oils?


    • I forgot to mention that I am using a 1/2 gallon jar. Is this enough lemon & orange peel, and do I need more sprigs of Rosemary?

      This is my first time doing this, and also my first time to your site. I just signed up for your newsletter and will be stopping by more often.


  21. Okay, so I clicked over here from your post on DIY natural weed killer (which we are in desperate need of right now). I’d rather not wait the 2 weeks (no lectures please) so my question is can I use lemon essential oil added to white vinegar to get me through till I can brew some of this? If so how much? Thanks so much!

    • You can, but I don’t know exactly how much to use. Until it smells lemony, would be my guess – maybe a full tsp? You can also skip the infusion and add a bit more citric acid. Won’t be exactly the same, but weeds won’t like it.

  22. Do you dry the citrus peel first? TYIA

  23. Tracy Painter says:

    If i hand juice the oranges does the remaining stuck on pulp hurt?

  24. Was wondering what to do with this lemon and a bunch of rosemary I have in garden. I have lavender too. Would that be ok to throw in there too? Or any other ideas for lotso lavender?

    Love your ideas,
    Follow 2yr into homesteader…learning as I go.


  1. […] my hunt for a better-scented spray I followed Erika’s tutorial for homemade citrus cleaner.  I soaked grapefruit, lemon, and orange peels in vinegar for three […]

  2. […] this time, but modified it a bit. I had infused some white vinegar with citrus (after reading this post by NW Edible Life) so I used that instead of plain white. Since the vinegar now has some oil in it […]

  3. […] Balanced Blend: Herbs also smell lovely with citrus. Erica at Northwest Edible Life added rosemary to her […]

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