16 Ways to Use Citrus to Clean Your House

3 lemons next to a spray bottle filled with light yellow liquid on a countertop

Crema Joe / Unsplash

Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes the urge to scrub away the stale residues of winter. If you’ve got a bowl of citrus fruit in the house, you won’t need to stock up on pricey all-natural cleaners. Lemons and oranges are great for cleaning, especially when combined with basic household products like vinegar and baking soda. Citrus contains d-limonene, a natural solvent that cuts through grease and dirt, and will leave your house smelling fresher than ever.

All-purpose citrus spray cleaner

Place citrus peels in a glass jar with whatever variations you want (see list of combinations below). Pour white vinegar over peels and let mixture sit for 2 weeks. Remove and discard peels. Dilute flavoured vinegar with water at whatever ratio you prefer (Apartment Therapy recommends 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water, whereas Yummy Life suggests 1:2). Pour into a spray bottle and use to clean ceramic, stone, porcelain, marble, granite, and laminate surfaces. The cleaner could discolour wood, so be sure to test first in an inconspicuous spot.

Add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, or almond extract to orange peels.
Use lemon peels with rosemary and vanilla.
Use grapefruit peels with mint leaves.
Use lime peels with thyme sprigs.

Shortcut: Pour vinegar, water, and freshly squeezed lemon juice in a spray bottle for instant natural cleaning power.

Soapy citrus spray cleaner

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 1⁄2 tsp liquid soap 1⁄2 tsp washing soda 1 tsp Borax 2 cups hot water. Mix until dissolved and pour into a spray bottle for application.

Lemon-fresh laundry tips

Scrub underarm stains with equal parts lemon juice and water.

Use straight lemon juice for ink stains, preferably as soon as they happen, then wash garment in cold water.

Get rid of mildew or rust stains on clothes with a paste of lemon juice and salt, then let dry in sunlight. Repeat until it’s gone.

Add fresh lemon juice to a wash cycle to brighten whites and remove mineral stains.

Mix equal parts of baking soda and lemon juice and use as a mild bleach soak for whites or delicates.

Cleaning dishes

Place a half lemon in the dishwasher for a fresh- and clean-smelling load of dishes.

Rub a half lemon or a lemon juice-soaked cloth over copper pots and buff with a dry cloth to polish.

Polish brass and aluminum with a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar, then buff with a dry cloth.

Add a teaspoon of lemon juice to liquid dish detergent to give it extra degreasing power.

Around the house

Make a natural air freshener with fresh lemon juice and water in a spray bottle.

Make furniture polish with 1⁄2 cup lemon juice and 1 cup olive oil. This mixture can also be used to shine wooden floors.

Keep a lemon half in the fridge to keep it smelling fresh (similar to an open box of baking soda, which absorbs bad odors).

Clean your microwave by placing a half lemon in a bowl of water and cooking on high for three minutes. Simply wipe down the microwave afterwards, and it will smell fresh.