Homemade Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

A pretty picture of a jar of oranges flew around facebook a few months back.  With it were directions to make an orange vinegar cleaner.  Of course I had to try.  Citrus works great as a degreaser, stain remover and freshener.  Vinegar is also a great cleaning agent, breaking down mold, grease, mineral deposits and bacteria.  Combine the two and you have a great natural cleaner.

This cleaner is eco-friendly not only because it is biodegradable and safe to use, but because it is making use of products that would otherwise be thrown in the trash.  Here’s how to make it.

Squeeze the juice out of 6 grapefruits or 8 oranges (or 12 lemons or limes).  Drink it.  It’s good for you.  Place the leftover rinds into a glass jar.  Pour white vinegar over top of the rinds until vinegar covers the rinds.  Put a lid on it and let it sit for 2 weeks.  Remove rinds, strain liquid through a sieve, and store in a glass jar.  Use diluted 1:1 water to citrus vinegar in a spray bottle.  Cleans kitchens, bathrooms, floors and more!

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132 comments on “Homemade Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

  1. Scout on said:

    Nice! Can't wait to try it!

  2. Midnite Skys on said:

    I have some tangerine, orange, and lemon rinds brewing right now!! LOL I started it last week…

  3. Kristina (The Greening Of Westford) on said:

    Love this! My husband used to complain about the vinegar smell in the cleaners I mixed up -even with essential oils. This definitely mellows the smell of the vinegar and I love that I get to use the rinds BEFORE they go to the compost pile.

  4. Reading this post just made me thirsty!

  5. I juice oranges, and grapefruit all the time. This is perfect. Now I won’t feel so guilty when I put them in the compost after making a cleaning product! :)

  6. I’m so glad that you linked up in our Meet & Greet … your blog is quickly becoming one of my favorites and I know that I’ll be checking back often for great DIY tips and ideas. This one is brilliant and uses every beneficial drop of the fruit before sending it to do even more good in the compost heap. Thanks so much for sharing! I’ll definitely be trying it out! :-)

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  8. I look forward to adding this to my homemade cleansers. Thanks for sharing!

  9. A. States on said:

    I have orange rinds “brewing” right now. In fact, I think they’re ready for the spray bottle, and I’ll be starting more after I empty the jar (it’s a small jar and we eat a lot of oranges). Thanks for the info!

  10. Ardena Newton on said:

    Does this need to be refigerated during the two week waiting period before you use it? Does it need to be refrigerated after you make this up with water and the 1:1 ration? What is the shelf life on this? Is it still good several months later? Thanks!

    • It doesn’t need to be refrigerated because it is “pickled” in all that vinegar. It is shelf stable and will last for months or years :)

      • Angela M on said:

        This is good to know as well, thanks!! I have been making my own liquid laundry soap and getting my family and friends hooked on it, better yet my skin rash has cleared up. My brother has asked me to make a dish washer detergent…so thanks for the tips, I am eager to make it all now.

      • I found this recipe in a forum for frugal families. I made it a couple of weeks ago. This stuff is strong and it smells great. I cleaned my dirty, dingy and disgusting stove front and it can see myself now. I love it. :)

  11. I love using this cleaner! It is pretty sitting on the counter and it works great :)

  12. Angela Busselberg on said:

    What do you think the rinds to vinegar ratio is? I could only stuff 3 grapefruits into my jar, and then I filled it up with vinegar, but it was only about a cup of vinegar. I used a pint and half jar, so maybe it’s just my small jar?

    • If you had to stuff them in you might not need that much to make it. You could probably take out a few and start a second jar. I put them in fairly tightly but I didn’t have to jam them in :) . Also remember you will dilute the cleaner half and half with water if you are going to use in a spray bottle. (not if you are using some as a dishwasher rinse aid). So if you only have a cup of vinegar you will still get 2 cups of cleaner. Enjoy!

  13. charlie murphy on said:

    It is also a good idea to throw natural foods – like fruits – into your backyard – rather than the trash – animals can eat them – and they are good for the soil.

  14. Tina Comroe on said:

    I use vinegar as a mordant when dyeing fabrics as it sets the color permanently. I don’t use vinegar when cleaning the counters or any other surfaces excepting glass. But this sounds great in the dishwasher, as it would only be used in the rinse cycle.

    • Kristina on said:

      I know this is a late reply I just wanted to mention trying vinegar as a countertop cleaner as well. It has the same properties as other chemical cleaners (antibacterial, eliminates mold and odors) without the chemicals or worrying about ruining something if it accidentally spills. Once dry it no longer smells. I use it diluted 1:1 with water in a spray bottle. I do have a seperate bottle with soapy water to clean up extra messy spills on the stove sometimes but usually I only use the vinegar since it cuts through grease,as well. Give it a try! I’ve been using the same gallon of vinegar for cleaning for 3 months now. Granted I live alone but I am still a messy person haha and cook daily! I’ve eliminated all prepared foods, and make everything from scratch now, aside from milk butter cheese and oils and vinegar. Haven’t had the time to wait yet. But someday! :) it’s been very rewarding and not that time consuming :)

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  16. Nicole on said:

    how big is the jar you use?

    • My container holds probably a gallon but it doesn’t matter what size jar you use. Just stuff it with citrus peels and pour vinegar over top until it is covered. :) Store it undiluted and dilute it when you use it. Enjoy!

  17. Erin on said:

    just wanted to be sure before i gave this a try- is it just the rinds only or the fruit as well? :)

  18. silring on said:

    How strong is your vinegar? I use 20% for cleaning

  19. Sheryl on said:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I have started to make my own cleaning materials just recently and this is a great addition. I will start it tomorrow.

  20. Gail on said:

    After you juice the lemons do you have to remove the fruit that is left on the inside? I go through four or five lemons a day adding juice to my water and this would be the perfect way to reuse them.

    • Yes that’s fine. Just strain it when it is ready to use!

    • Wow! You must drink a lot of water (tea). I had slices of lemons (unwaxed) to boiling water every morning and drink before i have breakfast. But I add more boiling water to the same lemons once I’ve drunk it and I do this all day, so only use half a lemon but gets loads of lemon water from them. The rinds once you used them in your water can also be added in sauces in the evening for your dinner. As well as with vinegar. Lemon sauce with your fish. Yum!

  21. Angela M on said:

    I want to do more to reduce my families carbon footprint. I am a newbie for sure but I am hooked. Please keep posting more ideas to teach me and other newbies!!!

  22. Amanda on said:

    I only had 6 oranges and an old Vlassic quart pickle jar. I used 5% vinegar with it. I filled the jar with the rinds and covered with the vinegar, closed the lid, turned it upside down to fill the air pockets in the rinds then opened it and topped it off with vinegar again. I can’t wait to use it!

  23. Claire on said:

    Does it have to be a glass jar???

    • Hi Claire, the only reason I use a glass jar is because both the citric acid and the vinegar are mildly corrosive and I can’t say if a plastic container would withstand the acid. Good luck!

  24. I am so excited to try the recipe. I am trying to change the way we take care of our home. (Never have felt comfortable with chemicals.) I believe God gave us all the good stuff that we need. Thank you so much for your blog.

  25. Jessica on said:

    Does this work on mirrors?

  26. Do you think this can be done using apple cider vinegar? I recently moved to Turkey and nobody seems to know what white vinegar is. There is every other kind of vinegar available but white vinegar is no where to be found, which is unfortunately making it nearly impossible to complete my green cleaning recipes.

    • That’s a really good question and I don’t know the answer. You could google cleaning with ACV and see what you come up with? Good luck! Also, in your search for white vinegar, make sure you check also for distilled vinegar, which is the same thing. But might be called something else there.

      • jessie on said:

        i tried acv and grapefruit rinds. cleans great( on kitchen counters)…smells yuck! i would recommend white vinegar and rinds for cleaning and smell. or just getting used to acv smell alone but not mixed with grapefruit for sure in my house. good luck either way

  27. samantha on said:

    I grow lavender do you have any recipes for cleaning with lavender ? … Maybe lavender vinegar?

    • I am working on one right now :) Keep checking back for updates!

    • Natasha on said:

      Samantha, I make lavender vinegar all the time. I use dried lavender. Put the lavender in a glass jar and fill it up with white vinegar. I give it a good shake every day and let it sit for a week or two. I strain it when I am ready to use it. It works great!

  28. Thank you so much!! Can’t wait to try it out!! :)

  29. I made the citrus vinegar but am worried about it leaving a sticky film on my dishes from the the citrus. Has anyone encountered this?

  30. Hi, thanks heaps for recipes, have been using dishwasher recipe for a while and it works really well! Quick question, could I use the orange vinegar as a salad spray to flavor a green salad or is it poisonous because of the citrus oil? Probably a stupid question because of orange cake etc, but I’m asking it anyway!
    Thanks again.

  31. Anonymous on said:

    Mine is just finishing. I have a couple of questions. Would it be better to use a distilled water instead of tap? Once diluted can I store this in a plastic bottle? It still smells a bit like vinegar so I was going to put a drop of lemon essential oil into it. Would that be bad in a plastic bottle ?

    • I am sure you can use distilled water. because there is so much vinegar in there it probably isn’t needed, but it might make it last longer. Feel free to add essential oils! I store mine in glass jars with lids.

  32. Stephanie on said:

    I left my jar out for a bit longer than 2 weeks (1 month) – there’s a white film on top (looks like fat) – any ideas? I wonder if it’s the oils in the peels that have separated?
    Also, I eat a lot of citrus in the winter, and I dry my peels…I did this with dried peels, they plumped right up.

    • I think it will be fine to use. Yes, the oil is probably separated. I have never tried making it from dried peels!

      • Wow! I was just going to ask if one could use dried orange peel. We deyhydrate any orange peels from oranges to use as fire starter when we camp. The oils in the peels catch immediately and help get the fire good and hot so the bigger stuff can catch.
        Thanks for this informative article!
        Tamara
        tamsgarden-howdoesourgardengrow.blogspot.com

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  34. Bobbi Casellas on said:

    And it makes a great base to a salad dressing!!!

  35. Does this have antibacterial properties? I would like to use this to clean the bathroom and get away from harsh cleaners such as Lysol,

  36. Malissa on said:

    Could you use a zested orange? I use a lot of citrus zest and would love to use the leftover peels for this but don’t know if I would be losing too much of the citrus oil.

  37. Kirstyn on said:

    Can you use cleaning vinegar rather than white vinegar for your recipes?

    • I have never heard of cleaning vinegar! Check the acid percentage and compare it to white vinegar. If they are the same then it shouldn’t be an issue. It should say on the bottle. Good luck!

  38. Hello, I have those try a adjust opened my jar after two weeks. It appears there is some mold in my jar and there was on my rinds. Is this going to be a problem? The siv I have didn’t seem to be small enough to filter it all out. Any thoughts or advice?

    • Rachel mold isn’t a good thing. I wouldn’t use it. Were your lemons completely covered with pure vinegar?

      • Glad I read this. I started mine today with lemons, and completely covered the fruit with vinegar. After reading about the mold, went to check my jar, and sure enough the top rinds were uncovered, so added more vinegar. I did read somewhere that you should shake the jar every few days. Maybe a little shake would have stopped the mold.

        Going to buy some more vinegar and start a grapefruit jar. Having to fight with the squirrels and owls for my fruit, but there are still a few grapefruit on the tree. They ate at least 100 fruits off my tree last year and need to find something to made the critters go somewhere else.

  39. why can’t you use the juice also

  40. Colleen on said:

    Excited to try this out! How long is the diluted mixture in a spray bottle good for? Should I dilute only when I’m ready to use it, or can I keep the diluted mixture handy for a long time? Thanks!

  41. Hwee on said:

    hi there,
    I’ve been very keen to make my own multi purpose cleaner minus all the chemical and i am very glad to come across your blog. However, just wondering, as the mixture calls for vinegar, would it be safe to store it in a plastic bottle? I have been putting it on hold as i am not sure if vinegar would cause the plastic to leech..??

    • I store mine in a glass jar until I use it in a spray bottle. You have a point, and I don’t really know how to combat that short of finding a glass spray bottle of some sort. Most vinegars come in plastic jugs but I would bet there is some leeching. This is why I avoid eating things that are packaged in plastic. Maybe cleaning isn’t as bad as eating, but certainly worth considering.

    • Thomas on said:

      An HDPE bottle will not leech or dissolve from your citrus cleaner! Thats High Density Poly-Ethelyne! Recycle number “2″!

  42. Cheryl Lee on said:

    What if I have blended the oranges in the vinegar in my Blendtec? I plan to soak the pulp for 2 weeks and then remove the pulp. Will the pulp increase the cleaning capacity of the end results?

    • I think the citrus oil from the peel is where much of the cleaning capability comes from, rather than the pulp. If you were to blend it all up it might be harder to strain. If you try it, let me know! Thanks!

  43. sounds like it might not be good on stainless appliances. do you have any experience with that? are there any other surfaces that might get damaged or on which the cleanser might be less effective (besides the concerns about streaky glass)?

  44. grace on said:

    are you suppose to let this sit in a cool dark place out of the sunlight or does that not matter?

  45. What a great solution to green cleaning! Thank you for the tips!

  46. My brew is going moldy green! Not sure what to do …

  47. Lukrecia on said:

    Hi, the citrus-type fruit here is all imported and the peels are treated with some chemicals. Would it be a problem? I can buy organic fruit instead but the price is then much higher..Thank you.

  48. When using the vinegar cleaner as a rinse for dishwashers do you still dilute it 1:1 or use it concentrated?

  49. i have been using a similar recipe for about a year now; the only difference is, i use the orange peels left over after i each my daily orange. works like a dream.

  50. Ashley on said:

    Thank you sooo much for sharing all of your knowledge and experimentation. I seriously love you for it and am so grateful. I shared your site on my facebook. Thanks for your willingness to share.

    Ashley

  51. Can I brew the vinegar mix in a plastic air tight jar?
    Or does it have to be glass? I can buy a glass one, but wanted to make it right now and so plastic was all I have!
    Can’t wait to try it.

    Thanks for sharing your tips, you have a great website.

    Kim

    • I think it would be ok. I don’t like plastic because it leaches and I can’t guarantee it won’t break down the plastic but if you are using one that has held vinegar before it should be ok.

  52. Does anyone have experience with making a second batch from the same orange rinds?

    Cheers.

    -Tim

  53. To strain it do you have to strain it with like a cheescloth or would a mesh tea strainer work fine?

  54. Awesome, just used this to clean a burnt pot (opps!) and the stove top with almost no effort!

  55. Hi again, unfortunately out of my 2 jars one of them had two pieces that were halfway out of the vinegar because the pieces tend to float, and I see white mold on them D: Is the whole batch bad now, should I toss it all or rather just pick them out??
    Also, should it have been only strictly 2 weeks of soaking, bc I kinda forgot about it and now its 3 days away from being 3 weeks.
    Im also worried about the other jar I have because thats ones filled to the top but the pieces werent out nearly as much just like a tiny bit that wouldnt go under. I dont even wanna look x( Also for both I used grapefruit pieces, because I read they were decent enough to use. Maybe that made it more inadequate bc of less acidity.. Idk. Please do let me know what you think.

    • I haven’t had it happen. I’d still use it unless the liquid smells moldy too. I often leave it longer than 3 weeks so it was probably because they were out of the jar a bit although mine are usually like that too. Try again with lemons? Maybe grapefruit aren’t acidic enough.

      • Well the other jar is fine- i decided to throw out the moldy jar. I noticed more and in that moldy jar the pieces was like entirely out of the liquid on top…i think that was why.
        Anyway I still havent strained the other one, do you think there is a point where its adverse to leave it soaking anymore?

        • I have left mine soaking for over a month with no problems. I don’t think there is any benefit for doing it longer, but I was still collecting lemons so I waited until the last ones added were at least a few weeks in there. Probably best to pull it at 2 weeks. Good luck!

  56. We use this recipe at our house and absolutely love it!

  57. Kristen Sherrick on said:

    I love lemons so much that I did make my own lemon ap. However, I did the 50:50 mixture of water and lemon vin. I stored the mixture in a glass jar and after only a week I took it out to use and there appeared to be mold growing on the top and weird stringy stuff floating in it. Please help. Ideas?

  58. Going to try this as well as the homemade dishwasher and laundry detergents. Can't wait to start saving money!

  59. Sage Cleaning on said:

    Hi there, I made a large batch of vinegar/citrus in mason jars. A variety of lemons, limes, oranges an grapefruit. I refrigerated it for about 2 weeks, and it was on the kitchen counter for another 2 weeks. I strained all of it last week using cheesecloth. It looked and smelled wonderful! This evening I noticed stringy, white mold in about 1/2 of my jars. I need to see if its a particular fruit in the moldy jars. I did notice that the grapefruit was the most difficult to strain but I was very thorough. The jars were completely filled with white vinegar. I’m so disappointed and just want to know if there’s a way to prevent them from molding. And if its happening in glass I can only imagine it would in a spray bottle. Maybe I used too much peel and soaked for too long? I just didn’t foresee mold growing in a vinegar based solution. I’m deeming it unsafe to use, maybe I’ll flush it down the toilet with some baking soda so it’s not a total loss. I should also note that I have recently started my own cleaning business and I was hoping to use this in clients homes, especially ones with pets and children. Mold just makes my stomach turn. I loved reading everyone’s ideas and helpful hints. Hopefully we can combat this mold situation! :-/

  60. Kim Adamides on said:

    Try to store it without the water and dilute it in batches.

  61. gonna try this! sounds good.

  62. I absolutely LOVE using the citrus vinegar! I have made grapefruit and also lime after making about 4 gallons of salsa for a fundraiser taco dinner. I featured it on my blog and linked back to yours. Thanks so much.

  63. I absolutely LOVE using this citrus vinegar! I have used grapefruit and also lime after making about 4 gallons of salsa for a fundraiser taco dinner. It was a great use of all the lime rinds. I featured it on my blog and linked back to yours. Thanks so much for this simple, healthy cleaner.
    http://somenewcreations.com/citrus-vinegar-my-favorite-all-purpose-cleaner/

  64. thanks for sharing, i have a feeling this recipe will become a staple in my cleaning. i've been looking for something to do with the remains of my squeezed citrus fruits, since both the worms and compost don't like them.

  65. Janis Adamo Murphy on said:

    I tried this for the green stains that minerals leave in the sink
    WOW poured it on the stain, let it sit for a minute and wiped the
    stain away… Left the sink sparkling – it's been 2 weeks since I
    did these and there are still no stains.. Also clean the shower head
    and definitely have more output.. This is a great cleaner….
    Make sure you let it sit in the refrigerator at least 2 weeks.. I also
    used apple cider vinegar instead of white…

  66. let it sit in the fridge when you are soaking the vinegar and rinds?
    thanks

  67. Aaron Loy on said:

    Lemons can be used yes?

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