RECIPE: All-Purpose Citrus Vinegar Cleaners

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Found on the Yummy Life blog:

Did you know? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air can be 10 times to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. One of the culprits is common household cleaners emitting toxic fumes.

Vinegar is a wonderful and cheap product to use for all things cleaning. About the only thing I don’t like about it is…you guessed it…the smell. But I have a solution! Add citrus fruits and/or essential oils so the scent of those helps mitigate that strong vinegar odor.

Citrus rinds, in addition to helping with the scent of the cleaner, also lend oils that help the cleaner be more effective. Also, a very important note: you SHOULD NOT use any cleaner containing vinegar on porous surfaces like granite countertops.

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Don’t go out and buy citrus fruit just for these cleaners. Eat the fruit, which is good for you, and then recycle the rinds as part of these recipes. Also, you can freeze citrus peels, spices, etc until you have enough of what you need. That helps eliminate the potential waste in your kitchen. Recycle! Reuse!

When peeling the citrus, use only use the peel & pith, not the juice & pulp inside.

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Cleaner #1: Orange Spice
Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and almond extract to a jar or lidded container. Fill with orange peels. Add enough vinegar to cover the peels. Put the lid on and let it sit for 2 weeks (or up to 1 month). I like to label my lid with the exact ingredients I used. That way I will know how to replicate or tweak the formula to my liking in the future. I use blue painters tape for labeling–it sticks well yet removes easily without leaving behind a gummy residue.

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Cleaner #2: Lemon Rosemary
Lemon peels, rosemary sprigs, & vanilla extract. Same procedure as above.

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Cleaner #3: Lime Thyme
Lime peels and thyme sprigs. Same procedure as above.

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Cleaner #4: Grapefruit Mint
Grapefruit peels and mint sprigs (or substitute mint extract or essential oil). Same procedure as above.

Strain the scented vinegar.
After at least two weeks of soaking time, use either of these methods:

  • Put a funnel in the jar and then rest a wire strainer in the funnel. Pour the vinegar solution through the strainer.
  • Screw a strainer lid onto the top of the jar and pour it through the funnel into the jar.

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Store the strained, scented vinegar in a sealed jar or container. Be sure to label it, especially if you’re making more than one kind. It should be good to use for up to a year. This is a concentrate that should be diluted with water before using it.

Dilute and add more scent, if needed.

  • Pour some of the concentrated scented vinegar into a spray bottle. Add 1/3 cup scented vinegar to 2/3 cups of water. I’m using a 16 oz. (2 cup) spray bottle here, so I used 2/3 cups scented vinegar and 1 1/3 cups water.
  • Put the nozzle on the spray bottle and give it a shake. Spray a small amount and smell. Keeping in mind that the vinegar scent will fade once the cleaner dries, if the vinegar smell is still too strong for you, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of extract or 4-5 drops of essential oil. For example, I added 4 drops of orange essential oil to mine to intensify the orange scent and increase its cleaning power.

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ALL-PURPOSE. I use this natural cleaner on everything except my granite countertops.

  • Wood. For dusting wood furniture, mist a cloth or duster lightly with the scented vinegar mixture. A little goes a long way. It’s great for cleaning wood floors, too.
  • Stainless steel & appliances. It cuts grease and leaves a shine. I spray it directly on my appliances and sink and wipe with a microfiber cloth or sponge.
  • Glass. This does an amazing job on mirrors, glass, and even eye glasses. If you’ve been using Windex type glass cleaner, you may need to add a few drops of liquid dish detergent to your spray bottle to help remove the film left behind from the Windex. After a few cleanings, the liquid detergent won’t be necessary. (Tip from Ron and Lisa Beresin their informative book Let’s Green It!)

You can find citrus essential oils here if you choose to use them. Other ingredients you might need: cinnamon sticks, cloves, Mason (or in this case, Ball) jars, glass spray bottles – healthier than plastic, funnels, small strainer.

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