One of the first things I changed when I started going natural was my cleaning products. A big motivator was ridding my house of the terrible smell of most cleaners. I am not one who is comforted by the scent of bleach, especially since it seems to hang in the air for hours. Then there’s the environmental impact of all those chemicals going into the water system and just hanging out on my counters and sink. It just did not seem pleasant or responsible. Of course, there are a plethora of natural cleaning products out there but once I realized how easy it was to make my own I figured there was no point in purchasing them. Plus, I can use the money I save on a fancy coffee and a donut. 😉
With a few simple ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen like vinegar, dish soap, and citrus, you can mix up this effective natural cleanser. My favorite recipe consists of citrus infused vinegar but if you don’t want to bother, you can just skip that part and add in essential oils instead.
Why these Natural Ingredients Work
Citrus Peels: Peels of citrus fruits contain the essential oils which are naturally powerful degreasers and deodorizers, making them great for cleaning.
Vinegar: Clear acidic liquid byproduct of fermentation of fruits and grains for alcohol. Distilled White Vinegar is about 5% acetic acid and 95% water. The acetic acid combined with vinegar’s pH of 2, naturally inhibits the growth of bacteria and mold. A 2010 study showed that a 10% dilution of Malt Vinegar (acetic acid of 5-8%) was as effective as commercial cleaning wipes at killing the H1N1 Flu virus*. NEVER mix Bleach and Vinegar – harmful chlorine gas is the result!
Part 1 – The Citrus Vinegar
I love this because it uses a bunch of citrus peels that I’d normally just compost. I typically start a jar of vinegar and just keep adding peels to it over the course of a few weeks.
Peels from 1-3 lemons, oranges, grapefruits or pomelos
1/2 cup – 1 cup vinegar, depending on how many peels you have
Cut peels from your citrus of choice being careful to avoid the pithy white parts and put into a clean glass jar (plastic is not a good choice for this project).
TIP: I use peels from lemons I’ve used in cooking and baking – just squeeze juice, then cut away peel and add to jar of vinegar.
Add enough vinegar to cover peels.
Let peels and vinegar co-mingle for at least 2-4 weeks.
Strain vinegar and toss peels into compost.
Keep vinegar in an enclosed container.
Part II – The All-Purpose Natural Cleaner
1/2 cup – 1 cup citrus infused or regular distilled vinegar*
1/2 cup – 1 cup distilled water
1/4 – 1 tsp of natural dish soap
*If you don’t have citrus vinegar you can add 15-20 drops of essential oil – any combination of lemon, lime, orange, rosemary, tea tree and eucalyptus would work well.
Collect all ingredients and equipment for the recipe (measuring cups, bottles, measuring spoons, funnel).
Measure out the distilled vinegar and add to the bottle.
Measure out the distilled water and pour into the bottle.
Measure and add liquid soap. Shake gently to make sure everything is mixed.
To Use: Spray on kitchen and bathroom counters, sinks, floors, stovetops, etc and wipe down to clean and naturally disinfect (one material you shouldn’t spray on is Marble – the acetic acid and any citrus oils will etch the surface. Try using a combination of distilled water and a tiny bit of dish soap).