DIY Citrus All Purpose Cleaner

IMG_6116Growing up, Saturday mornings were for cleaning and not much about that tradition has changed now that I’m an adult living on my own. One of my goals for 2019 was to clean up my household routine as it pertains to chemicals. For a while, I was doing so well at making my own natural cleaners, but it’s easy to get lazy and fall back into the convenience of buying commercial products that I know are full of harsh chemicals that are bad for my health. Being selective about what we clean our living spaces with is just as important as what we eat and put on our skin. This year, I’m working on getting back to that place where I was making my own cleaners, detergent, etc. and as usual, I’m taking you all along with me! Today, I am sharing a recipe for a DIY citrus all purpose, antibacterial cleaner. This cleaner is all natural, non-toxic and made with only FOUR ingredients – three of them I’ll bet you already have in your kitchen. Keep reading and join me in taking another step toward being #toxinfree all 2019!

I think it pretty much goes without saying that commercial cleaners are trash. They are chock-full of toxic chemicals that are known carcinogens, respiratory irritants, skin irritants, eye irritants and aquatic pollutants. Why these products continue to be marketed and even more so, why we (myself included) continue to buy them knowing that 1) they are harmful and 2) there are better options out there is topic of conversation for another day (if a valid answer even exists for that matter lol) BUT what we do know is that the power of the mind and consumerism are both extremely great and also lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight. That being said, as we continue to get to know better, it is our duty to ourselves and to the Earth to strive to do better.

Anywho, back to the positives! This all purpose cleaner recipe is great for disinfecting places where you’d normally use bleach, but want it to be food safe¹. It is a necessary staple cleaner for any household that won’t require you to wear a mask and open the windows when you use it. This cleaner is also great for those with pets and tiny humans running around the house.

Some other benefits of the cleaner include:

  • safer alternative to bleach¹
  • biodegradable¹
  • deodorizes²
  • cuts grease²
  • cost effective
  • low waste

So, let’s get the to the recipe!

What you’ll need:

  • orange peels from ~5 oranges
  • white vinegar
  • distilled water
  • lemon and sweet orange essential oils (optional)
  • strainer
  • 2 -12oz mason jars (or any glass jar you may have)
  • 16oz amber glass spray bottle

Copy of What Youll Need

How to make it:

  1. Start by peeling your oranges and packing the peels tightly into a clean mason jarIMG_5093
  2. Once filled with orange peels, fill the mason jar with white vinegar making sure that the peels are submerged entirely
  3. Cap the jar and store in a dark, cool place (e.g. a kitchen cabinet) for up to 2 weeksIMG_5711
  4. After two weeks have passed, using a metal strainer, pour the citrus/vinegar mixture into a second, clean mason jar
  5. Compost or discard the orange peels
  6. Transfer citrus vinegar mixture to a clean 16oz amber glass spray bottle
  7. Dilute the citrus vinegar mixture by filling the remaining volume of the spray bottle with distilled waterIMG_5722
  8. Add 20-30 drops of lemon and sweet orange essential oilsIMG_5715
  9. Cap and gently shake the spray bottle and you’re good to go!

How to use it:

Spray desired surface until saturated. Let sit for at least 10 mins, then wipe clean with a reusable cloth. Story in a dark, cool place and shake with each use to evenly distribute contents.

Pro tips & disclaimers:

  • This cleaner is safe for most surfaces except for granite. However, it’s always best to perform a patch test in an inconspicuous area when trying a new product for the first time.
  • To avoid waste when peeling your oranges, save the fruit and enjoy it in a smoothie later 🙂 Alternatively, you can eat an orange with lunch or as a snack and just fill the jar as you eat them, which is what I did. In this case, be sure to store the jar in the fridge until you get ready to add the vinegar to prevent mold.
  • Vinegar is an amazing natural cleaning alternative, however, it does have a pretty strong smell. It doesn’t bother me personally, but it may be unpleasant/unbearable to some. Rest assured that the vinegar smell is strongly masked by the citrus infusion + the EO’s (it literally smells like sweet orange syrup – so good!) and does dissipate completely after the surface has been wiped clean and dries, leaving be. However, the vinegar undertones are still very much present at first whiff, so don’t let this scare you. If the vinegar is too strong for you, here’s what I recommend:
    • Add more essential oils
    • Dilute the mixture (but keep this in mind as it pertains to the cleaning properties)
    • After cleaning, rinse the surface with warm water
  • Vinegar is NOT a registered disinfectant, meaning that is does not kill 99.9% of germs on contact¹. Vinegar alone kills about 80% of germs including common household viruses and gram-negative bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli². It, however, is not effective in killing staphylococcus¹. Scientific studies have shown that lemon and orange essential oils do, however, have antibacterial & anti-fungal properties, demonstrating a significant inhibitory effect against one or more strains of both gram-negative (e.g. E. coli) and gram-positive (e.g. staphylococcus) bacteria at varying concentrations³, which is why I chose to add them to my cleaner. Other great options for essential oils include cinnamon, clove, geranium, lime and rosemary. For more information about these findings, I have cited and linked the peer-reviewed scientific articles below.

Cleaning has always been an enjoyable outlet and somewhat therapeutic for me. Spring cleaning just gives me that extra momentum to actually declutter & DEEP clean…it’s so very satisfying lol Now I can enjoy my cleaning sessions even more knowing that I’m making more conscious choices for the environment as well as for my health. As we are  currently in the peak of spring cleaning season, I encourage you to explore the world of green cleaning in an effort to improve the quality of your living space, your health, your loved ones’ health and the environment. I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial! If you try out this recipe, I’d love to hear about your experience! Feel free to comment below, tag me on IG (@leangreenandeverythinginbtwn) or hashtag #LeanGreenandEverythingInBetween so I can see what you all are up to!

Your turn: Have you tried any DIY cleaning recipes? Share your thoughts, tips & tricks below!

Be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss out on future posts, follow me on IG (@leangreenandeverythinginbtwn), Pinterest (@jsto1217) and share this post to all social media outlets.

Until next time,


Here are some related blog posts that you might enjoy:


  1. Dimungo, L. 2013. Disinfectants: A guide to killing germs the right way. Mother Nature Network. Web.
  2. David Suzuki Foundation. 2019. Does vinegar kill germs? Web.
  3. Prabuseenivasan, S., Jayakumar, M., and Ignacimuthu, S. 2006. In vitro antibacterial activity of some plant essential oils. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 6:39, doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-39
  4. Pattnaik, S., Subramanyam V.R., and Kole, C. 1996. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro. Microbios. 86:349.


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