10 Homemade Cleaners Made From Citrus Peels

lemon cleaners

WELCOME to “Save My Sanity Saturday” at One Good Thing By Jillee….where I attempt to avoid having a nervous breakdown by actually giving myself a day off from blogging once a week!

So pull up a chair and sit back and enjoy an “oldie but goodie” from the One Good Thing By Jillee archives.

–Originally posted March 28, 2012–

Last week I wrote about making your own Citrus Enzyme Cleaner, which got me thinking about how the whole idea of cleaning with citrus just makes so much sense to me (not to mention that I LOVE the smell, taste, and just about EVERYTHING else related to citrus!)

I mean why pay ridiculous amounts of money for harsh commercial cleansers when you can create your own INEXPENSIVE and EFFECTIVE versions using citrus peels? What makes them so effective? Citrus peels contain oil called D-limonene which is a powerful solvent for dirt and especially grease.

And as a bonus…citrus cleaners leave your home SMELLING fresh and clean!

I can’t wait to make up each and every one of them using LEMON peels!


1. Citrus Vinegar All-Purpose Cleanser
Fill a glass jar with clean chopped citrus peels. Pour vinegar over the peels until they are completely submersed and screw the lid on the jar. Allow the concoction to sit, occasionally shaking the jar to mix the liquid. After four weeks, pour the concoction through a mesh strainer and into a spray bottle. Use the cleanser to clean countertops, stovetops, appliances, floors and glass.


lemon cleaners


2. Powdered Citrus Cleanser
Combine 1 cup baking soda, 2 tsp. cream of tartar, 1/8 cup borax and 1/4 cup grated citrus peel in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well and pour the mixture into a glass jar. Sprinkle the mixture onto dried spills and scum. Use a sponge or soft brush to scrub the mixture into the mess, breaking it up. Wipe clean with a wet cloth.

Optional: add 10 drops of Lemon essential oil for greasy messes and stubborn stains, also sanitizes cutting boards.


3. Carpet Freshening Cleanser
Combine 2 cups baking soda, 1 cup borax and 3 tsp. citrus zest in a bowl. Let the mixture sit until all moisture has evaporated. Mix it well and store in a glass jar. Sprinkle it onto dirty carpets and allow it to sit, absorbing odors and loosening dirt. Vacuum the carpets well after at least five minutes.

Optional: add 20 drops of Lemon essential oil for it’s antiseptic and antifungal properties ~ especially if you have pets in the house (careful around cats, citrus EOs can be toxic to cats.)


lemon cleaners


4. Disinfecting Citrus Cleanser
Chop up the peel of a large citrus fruit. Combine it with 4 cups water and bring it to a boil in a saucepan. Allow it to cool until it is warm. Stir in 6 tbsp. vinegar and 3 tsp. borax. Mix well and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Shake before use to mix the liquids. Spray hard surfaces with the cleaner and wipe clean.


5. Citrus Furniture Polish
In a jar, combine 1 cup lemon juice, 2 cups olive oil and 1/2 cup finely chopped citrus peel. Dip a rag into the concoction and use it to wipe wooden surfaces. Screw the lid onto the jar and store in a cool, dry place.


6. Citrus Disposal Degreaser
Drop the peels into the disposal with three or more ice cubes. The ice cubes cool the grease, solidifying it, and the acid in the peels cuts it away. Turn on the disposal until the peels, ice cubes and grease are gone. The citrus peels release a clean scent as they are broken down.


lemon cleaners


7. Citrus Microwave Degreaser
Combine 1 cup of water and 2 tbsp. of lemon juice in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave the liquid for about 3 minutes, or until hot and steaming. Remove the bowl from the microwave. Dip a clean rag into the liquid and use it to wipe down the inside of the microwave until it is clean.

For stainless steel add 10 drops of Lemon essential oil instead of lemon juice for a streak-free shine!


8. Citrus Scrub Degreaser
Cut through caked-on grease on stovetops or kitchen counters. Sprinkle salt heavily over the grease. Cut a lime in half and squeeze the juice over the salt. Use as many limes as necessary to cover the salt. Allow it to sit for about five minutes. Scrub the salt and lime juice into the grease with a sponge or rag to loosen it. Wipe it up with paper towels or a wet rag.


lemon cleaners


9. Citrus Spray Degreaser
The acids found in the vinegar and lemon juice work together to quickly cut through grease. Mix together 1/2 cup lemon juice and 2 cups of white vinegar in a spray bottle. Keep it in the kitchen and quickly spray grease splatters with the solution. Wipe them up with paper towels.


10. Citrus Metal Polish
When it comes to copper, brass and chrome, nix harsh chemical polishes and instead put some elbow grease behind half a lemon. For extra oomph, before scrubbing, dip the fruit half in salt—it will help exfoliate the surface for added shine.


Wow!  That’s a whole lotta citrus! Of course I personally can’t get enough. If you’re like me and simple LOVE LEMONS….you might want to check out my Pinterest board “Lemon Joy” for all sorts of citrus inspiration!


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  1. DreamCatcher says

    Another great use of lemons, after you squeeze all the juice off of them, is to put them in the dishwasher. They naturally and very effectively leave the dishwasher smelling fresh in between wash loads and the dishes smell divine too.

  2. Anonymous says

    i've had a vinegar/orange peel/grapefruit peel concoction sitting on my counter for several weeks. last week i strained it and put the peels thru the food processor then added back to vinegar and strained into a spray bottle. i used it for cleaning my kitchen floor and when i came home later my house smelled like a pickle…YUK! not good for window cleaning either. i poured it back into the citrus peels so i'll see what happens after awhile. it did however take the color out of my travertine countertop where it leaked. so it must be pretty powerful stuff!

  3. Lindsay says

    is vinegar safe to use on wood and granite? Also, is lemon juice an antibacterial? I was wondering if you would be spreading germs with the olive oil & lemon juice furniture polish mixture…? thanks :)

  4. Jill Nystul says

    Lindsay….Don't use white vinegar to clean marble, granite or wood floors as the acid can etch scratches in the floor or dull the surface.

    The low pH of lemon juice makes it antibacterial. :-)

  5. Julie says

    I saw a recipe to let citrus peels soak in vinegar for a all purpose cleaner and one to let them soak in vodka for a room spray. I did it (also added some fresh ginger) and let each one steep for about 2 weeks. The liquid turned yellow and I strained out the peels and put into spray bottles. I seriously am shocked at how well the vinegar cleaner works every time I use it. Its been great for getting gunk off the stove top and just wiping down kitchen counters, the vinegar smell always goes away. The vodka one is a little strong for an air freshener but not bad for the bathroom, and I also am using that one as a disinfectant as well. Im seriously never buying lysol again, Im much happier with this stuff!

  6. Chelsea says

    I didn’t know what borax was, so I just googled it… and under toxicity on Wikipedia, it says it can be damaging to fertility. Am I looking at the wrong thing? I would like to find less harmful ingredients so if my 9 month old daughter gets ahold of something, I can worry a little less!

  7. Tory says

    Question about the disinfectant–with borax in it, do you have to rinse the counters afterward (if food will be touching it)? I am hoping that is not the case, as I just made 3 1/2 gals of it, because that is why I tried making something on my own. Does anyone know an answer to that?

  8. says

    I was microwaving butter, had it in too long, and it exploded all over my microwave oven! I was dreading cleaning it, but I went straight to your blog, did a quick search, and found your idea for Citrus Microwave Degreaser. It worked like a charm! Thank you! :)

  9. Laura says

    a friend of mine just sent this link to me & i just love all the creative DIY ideas… thanks for all the great tips for using lemons & other citrus fruits, as I was reading the different post & thinking to myself wow thats a really great idea why didnt I think of that & then it dawned on me once I reached the end of the post … FINALLY …. I HAVE A USEFUL TIP TO OFFER!!!! :) Well a few years back I was helping a friend recover what belongings he could from a tragic house fire, although at first glance it appeared that everything was lost, so in my attempt to try to salvage anything pictures, dishes, statues, clothes & just anything & everything that we could possibly physically recover under the debris. Fire is amazing it can destroy beyond recognition & a couple inches away leave something basically untouched. So long story short the smell of smoke was so strong on everything & then the soot on top of the smell, it was obvious that our work had just begun I tried soaking & using this cleaner & that cleaner & combinations of cleaners, even chemicals that were used on cars etc. & after a week of attempts to cleans soot & smoke off things I was about to give up. I was frustrated & thirsty, so I went over to the lemon tree’s that were slightly scorched from the flames & picked a few to make lemonade (lol Im getting to my tip & its not a beverage) well after I continued to scrub using abrasives & chemicals etc. & in the process I spilled my drink on a plate & for the 1st time in a week I actually felt hopeful again, my lemonade had made the soot appear to rinse away, I thought I was crazy & that it had to be all the other cleaners I tried & the days of soaking finally working so I tested it I squeezed a lemon onto a rag & I wiped a plate with it & it worked it got all the soot off. So at that point I began squeezing lemons & putting the juice into squirt bottles half water half juice. I was on a roll, & when I ran out of sponges & rags I tried the left over lemon half I already squeezed the juice from & that worked better than a sponge & the bottle , I couldnt believe it LEMONS are GREAT!!! But then on the clothing items I had tried everything cleaners to chemicals but nothing helped the soot was a chore because it would leave a trace of a stain & the smell of smoke was so intense even after 7-8 washes & cleaners the smell did not seem to be getting any less, so I figured if lemons worked on the other stuff its worth a try on the clothing after all I couldnt ruin anything because it was already destroyed, so I tried just lemon juice in the wash & it made a noticable difference but the smell still lingered so I eventually started cutting lemons in hapf squeezing a little juice in the wash & then just throwing the entire lemon halves into the machine along with the clothes & amazingly the lemons worked it got the fire smell out of clothing & soot off of other things. Needless to say that the poor trees (there were 3 trees) were picked bare, but the amount saved from having to replace things was worth it….

  10. Carol T says

    Thanks for this – I always receive two lemons in my organic fruit and veg delivery and it seemed such a waste to not use the peels (they go in the compost). Love these ideas!

    Chelsea, here in the UK you can get ‘Borax Substitute’ http://www.greencleansolution.co.uk/blog/uncategorised/what-on-earth-is-borax-and-what-does-it-do/

    I don’t know if links will work here but if not just do a search for ‘Borax Substitute’. The one in the link is Sodium sesquicarbonate. Hope that helps!

    Laura, so sorry your friend had to go through all that but youdo tell a great story!

  11. says

    Lots of people want to make their own cleaning chemicals including citrus cleaners. The problem is, they are not chemists. Therefore, if you want a product that will clean and has been manufactured and tested without the hassle of having to make it yourself, I suggest you check with your local janitorial supplier. That being said, what you describe will work in many household situations.

  12. D'arcy says

    I have been reading your posts and trying several of your tips at home for a few months now. I am impressed and find your knowledge to be invaluable !! I love discovering (through you!) the almost endless list of “alternatives to chemicals”…keep up the wonderful work!! Thank you for caring so much to take the time to pass on your wisdom…

  13. Joyce S says

    These are all great tips- I’m wondering if anyone has a reciepe for citrus cleaner for hardwood floors, I love the way my hardwoods look after using the orange glo floor cleaner, but I do not like the price or the chemicals. I would love to learn how to make my own! I thought about trying the furniture polish you have listed, but I’m afraid that would make the floor too slippery. Any tips would be welcome! Thanks!

  14. Brenn says

    I am sad to say I have a grapefruit mad Myers lemon tree where the fruit drops off and just rots because I didn’t know what to do with it all. Especially grapefruit. I am excited about this to help reduce some of that waste!!! My question is… How long will these last? How is the best way to store it?

  15. Alyse says

    I was watching a diy tv show on hgtv the other day and they said to never use olive oil to shine wood. It does eventually mold and that will make a huge disaster! They said use mineral oil. I believe it is relatively nontoxic and it does the same thing without the mold and rotting. I love your tips and have bookmarked your page. I read it daily!!

  16. says

    So glad you decided to re-post this great guide today, Jillee. My apartment is in major need of a deep clean and I have a strict ‘no buying cleaners when I can make them’ policy. Thanks so much! Lemon, orange, and grapefruit are all such wonderful ‘clean house’ smells :)

  17. cty says

    This January I canned my own lemonade concentrate and orange marmalade which gave me a lot rinds. I used what I could over the next couple of days for cleaners–but there were so many left– I ended up freezing them. Now I just take from the freezer & let them thaw a bit before using them. Thawing in the microwave gives the bonus of an easy wipe to clean it before I use the rind for what I originally intended. Also every morning I put a frozen rind into the garbage disposal & let it sit there all day (you can smell it throughout the day), when dinner is all cleaned up I run the disposal and get that great smell again. Super convenient.
    When I first froze the rinds (80 lbs of lemons & 50 lbs of oranges) there were so many I thought I was going overboard; then I decided that so long as I had room in the freezer they could stay. Turns out I only have one bag left and I will miss them when they are gone.

  18. susan phelps says

    I have been making this for a couple of months now.. Somehow I thought you added part of the liquid to water in a spray bottle. Didn’t realize you use it straight..Need to know before I give another bottle away. Love getting daily from you. Thanks for all the great ideas and advice. Susi

  19. Rose says

    In the old times, when there were no cancer and all pharma induced maladies., We all used borax for many things around the house and we were all healthy and more knowledgeable.

  20. says

    I’m gradually making a switch to more environmentally friendly products in our household. I don’t love the smell of vinegar so I was super excited to see the all-purpose cleaner recipe.

    I’m compiling a list to try and will make sure to link back to this wonderful resource! Thank you!

  21. Jen K. says

    After I make my lemon vinegar, I take the peels out and freeze them and use it for my garbage disposal cleaner. I think it works maybe even better than the ice cube trick, but with no waste. :)


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