Green Cleaning: DIY Citrus-Infused All-Purpose Cleaner and more

Vinegar helps draw out the natural oils in citrus to create a powerful antibacterial all-purpose cleaner.  The citrus oil helps degrease the toughest messes.  I usually make this in large batches and dilute in spray bottles from the dollar store, and keep them in every room of the house.

So as I write this, I should be cleaning my house…  But I just want to share these “tried and true” cleaning methods I use and can honestly say work really well.

Not only are these methods pretty much devoid of harsh chemicals, but I find they work the same, if not better, than commercial/store bought cleaners.  And since these methods are cheaper, you wont have to worry about your grocery bill running higher when you run out of these products.

First, there’s the obvious: using washcloths and cotton towels to dry your hands and wipe down surfaces instead of paper towels; you save money and the environment because they are reusable.  But there are a lot of other ways to keep a clean house and not spend a lot of time and money doing so.

Number one is by far my favorite:

1.  DIY Citrus-Infused All-Purpose Cleaner:


Citrus oil is a great way to degrease and disinfect surfaces.  You can make your own by infusing vinegar (another powerful disinfectant) with citrus peels (any kind; I used clementines).  I make the concentrate and dilute into spray bottles from the dollar store, and keep them in different rooms of the house.  The ingredients are non-toxic and safe.  Alternatively, you can use sweet orange essential oil, and I found a great price on a local brand at my local co-op – $2.89 a bottle, and I can imagine it would last a long time.

What you need to make 1 pint of concentrate:

-Peels from 2-3 pieces of citrus (lemons, oranges, clementines…)

– About 2 cups vinegar

Place citrus peels in a glass jar with a lid, such as a pint-sized Ball jar, and use enough vinegar to cover the peels.  Leave for two weeks, strain, and dilute 50/50 with water in a spray bottle.  Label it and it’s safe to use on pretty much any surface.

2.  Felted wool dryer balls:

Felted wool has an amazing capacity to absorb liquid, and lanolin has natural anti-microbial properties, which is why it is sometimes used as cloth diaper covers.  In the dryer, felted wool absorbs moisture and cuts down drying time, therefore preserving fabric softness.  I was skeptical at first, but I have a bunch of wool yarn that I would have no other purpose for.  Basically, you make a wound up ball of yarn larger than what you want for the finished product (mine were about 2 inches in diameter before felting), and make sure the ends are secure so it doesn’t unravel.  Submerge them in really hot water, squeeze, then dunk in cold water (think about nice wool sweaters that you accidentally throw in the washer/dryer…).  Do this several times, and when the fibers stick together enough it’s safe to toss them in the dryer to get them to shrink.  Repeat until they are solid balls of wool.  Four works well for me.

3.  Scotch-brite dishwand in the shower:

Soap scum is basically all the dirt and debris you wash off your body that mixes with soap and becomes cement in the tub and walls of your shower.  Certain types of soap work in different ways, and I’ve found that dish soap is an excellent way to loosen up dried soap scum and mold, just like it does with stuck-on dish messes.  Anyways, there are pretty much always coupons for the Scotch-brite dish wands and they go on sale fairly frequently.  I found the shower soap holder at the Dollar Tree.  You can also add vinegar to the dish soap, but I find as long as you dry your shower after then you don’t have to worry about mold.  It works really well.  We had this orange stuff growing (gross!) at the top of the bath tub that I couldn’t get off, but the rough sponge took it off in seconds.

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