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Make your own fantastic citrus cleaner.

Don't throw away your citrus peels! You can use them to make your own wonderful multipurpose citrus cleaner. This recipe is so easy - it only uses 2 ingredients, takes less than 5 minutes, will save you heaps of money, and will protect the environment against more devastating chemicals being flushed into our water ways. You're welcome!

Citrus season at our house used to mean copious amounts of peels (oranges, mandarines, grapefruits, lemons and limes) that I would feel guilty about throwing in the bin. I couldn't compost them because they're much too acidic for the worms. And at this time of the year with not many other seasonally available fruits there are always so many peels!

One of the major constituents in citrus peels is limonene. This substance is not only responsible for the delicious citrus aroma but also has useful solvent properties for dissolving grease, adhesives and some stains. Interestingly, limonene has also been shown to get rid of ants by erasing the ant's scent-pheromone trail indicators so they can't find their way back to your home.

The 2 ingredients in this multipurpose cleaner are citrus peels and plain white cleaning vinegar. This vinegar typically costs about $1 for 2 litres.

Vinegar has been used for thousands of years as a common disinfectant. Recent studies have shown it to effectively kill mycobacteria - important agents of human infection, and the most disinfectant-resistant bacteria.

To make up the cleaner:

  • pack your citrus peels into a jar.

  • Heat the vinegar in a saucepan and then pour over the peels.* (Please see update below)

  • Close the jar and leave in a dark cool spot for 2 weeks.

  • At the end of 2 weeks, strain the citrus vinegar into a spray bottle.#

  • Dilute the vinegar with an equal amount of water and it is now ready to use.

This is good to use on porcelain, enamel, stainless steel and laminate. Use caution on wood and granite as it may damage the finish. Its always best to test to test on an inconspicuous spot if you are unsure.

Notes: *Many people prefer to use cold vinegar. Perhaps this is so their house doesn't smell like a pickling factory (?). I don't mind though, as the smell dissipates fairly quickly and I feel that the hot vinegar is better able to extract the constituents from the peels. If the smell of vinegar is a problem for you, try using cold vinegar and leaving it for 4 weeks before using. Update: I now prefer the cold method as you can really smell the citrus much better.

*All citrus peels can be used, and you can mix and match with herbs for further antimicrobial and olfactory delight.

# Optional extras

  • Several spoonfulls of castle soap or gentle dishwashing liquid can be added to the diluted final liquid.

  • You might also like to try adding some antimicrobial herbs when you start the initial citrus vinegar infusion. Here are some suggestions, but feel free to experiment.

- lemon and rosemary - grapefruit and thyme - mandarine, lime and mint

Caution: Limonene can be a skin irritant in some sensitive individuals. Use gloves if you have sensitive skin.

I would love to hear how you go with this.

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