This post was written by Heinen’s partner, Halle Snavely.
Citrus is certainly versatile as a food, but lemon, orange, lime and grapefruit are also highly effective when used as cleaning agents. In fact, citrus can be used to freshen your kitchen, bathroom and just about every area of your home. This is good news if you’re looking to live a more natural, chemical-free lifestyle.
More people are recognizing the importance of removing chemicals from cleaning and personal care products, and home cleaning products are ripe for an infusion of natural ingredients. Thankfully, citrus, especially lemons, have been used for centuries as cleaning agents, so it’s safe to say they’ve proved themselves.
The oils from citrus peels act as a natural de-greasing agent, and studies show that the citric acid and ascorbic acid (also known as Vitamin C) in lemons also have disinfectant and antibacterial properties. Citrus can be used for removing stains from other acids, like coffee or wine, getting rid of nasty odors, like garlic or fish and so many other surprising home cleaning tasks.
While there are innumerable ways citrus can be used to clean your home, below are a few ideas to help you naturally freshen things up with these time-tested fruits.
- Create an all-purpose cleaner. Fill a quart-size glass jar three-quarters full with the peels from any type of citrus fruit and cover with white vinegar. Let sit for 2 weeks, shaking daily. Strain, then pour the liquid into a spray bottle to use. For a faster option, pour vinegar, water and lemon juice into a spray bottle and use immediately. This solution can be used to clean countertops, cooktops, refrigerator interiors and everyday spills.
- Clean caked-on stovetop grease. Simply spread salt over the area, then add lime juice. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then scrub with a scrubber sponge.
- Remove lime build-up on faucets or shower heads. Use a rubber band to attach half of a spent lemon or grapefruit to the end of a faucet or shower head. In the morning, remove the fruit and wipe the fixture clean with a paper towel.
- Remove bad odors from your fridge. Simply place a sponge in a ramekin, cover with 2-3 Tbsp. of lemon juice and let it sit.
- Freshen up your wooden cutting boards. Sprinkle salt all over your wooden cutting boards and scrub with the cut side of half of a lemon. This will help to remove pungent smells from foods like garlic, onions and ginger.
- Brighten the grout in your shower. Simply spray the affected areas with lemon juice, let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub to remove mildew and stains.
- Get rid of stains on white laundry. Mix 1 Tbsp. lemon juice with 1 Tbsp. cream of tartar and apply the mixture to the stain(s). Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse with water. For persistent stains on clothes that can be washed in hot water, add the garment to a pot of water with a few lemon slices and boil for several minutes.
- Degrease your pans. Add 1 tsp. of lemon juice to soapy dishwater when soaking any caked-on grease. Let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.
- Clean your microwave. Cut up two lemons, place them in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with water. Microwave on high for 3 minutes, then let it sit for 10 minutes to allow the steam to penetrate any caked-on bits. Wipe clean.
- Polish your furniture. Combine ½ cup lemon juice, 1 cup olive oil and ¼ cup finely chopped citrus peels in a glass jar. Shake vigorously, then dip a rag into the mixture and smooth it over your wooden furniture. Wipe down with a clean, dry rag afterward.