Collected citrus peels in a glass jar, covered with vinegar to make infused all purpose cleaner.

DIY Ecofriendly Allpurpose Cleaner


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I have seen this one all over social media and it reminded me that we used to do this too when I was little. There are a lot of people already doing this and many other pages already provide the instructions to make your own eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner but if you are a late-starter like me, I’m gonna write it down for you here as well 😉

A second life for citrus peels

Basically, the cleaner consists of two ingredients: Vinegar and Citrus peels. That’s also what I love so much about this cleaner. It let’s you give a purpose to otherwise unused citrus peels.

You can use any peels you have like from oranges, lemons, limes, mandarins or grapefruits. What I did this time was that I mixed orange, lemon and mandarin peels to infuse the vinegar. Of course, you can also just infuse the vinegar with one type of citrus so that you get a real lemon or orange smell or whatever you prefer. I was a bit skeptical in the beginning because I thought I don’t wanna have my house smell like vinegar but let me assure you, there is no vinegar smell left once the citrus peels work its magic.

And that’s how it’s done

Screw-top glas jar with about 4l volume infront of a kork background. Used to make your own infused vinegar, apple cider or also sauerkraut.
This screw-top jar can contain about 4l and can also be used to make your own apple cider, kombucha or sauerkraut for example.

Use a big jar that fits quite some peels and vinegar. I have used this biggie on the picture because we were juicing some fruit and had a lot of peels left over. You can find a jar like this here* for example. I used a different jar first, that had a plastic ring at the lid (check my Instagram post or the featured picture above the headline). Try not to use one with plastic or metal because the vinegar acts erosive when it gets in touch with those materials. And, you don’t wanna destroy your favorite mason jar for this cleaner…

You can also collect the peels until you have enough to start this little project. If you do collect them, it’s best to dry them and keep them like this until you have enough to make the cleaner. Just spread them on a towel or something. It works best somewhere close to the heater or on the windowsill so they really get a chance to dry and don’t get moldy.

Once you have enough peels, pack them tightly in your jar. Then fill up the jar with white or table vinegar until all peels are covered. Leave it in a cool, dark place for about 3 weeks. You may have to add more vinegar sometimes as the peels will soak it up more in the beginning. Within about 3 weeks time, the liquid will turn a bit darker and get a brownish color. That’s when you know it’s done, yey 🙂

What not to clean

Once it’s done, fill it in a spray bottle or wherever you keep your cleaning product. I made 2 spray bottles, one a little weaker where I mixed it with half water and one a bit stronger, with only 1/4 water. I also kept an old cucumber jar with the pure vinegar solution. To make the vinegar cling more to the surfaces you want to clean, add one drop of liquid soap. You can clean almost anything with it except for:

    • Natural stone surfaces, be it granite, marble or any other. The acidity of the vinegar will dissolve some minerals in these surfaces.
    • Solid wood as the vinegar reacts with the wood. You know these wooden vintage furniture pieces? You can actually create this aging by applying furniture to the wood. So, if you want that, using the vinegar cleaner may be a good idea but in any other case, DON’T use vinegar.
    • Grout, which is often used to close the gaps between the tiles in bathrooms for example. The acidity of the vinegar can again dissolve the grout. You can use it though, if you mix it with water. In this case only use a very small part vinegar and the rest water.
    • If you are baking and spill an egg, the vinegar will coagulate the egg-white and will only make it even messier.
    • Hardwood floors are also more sensitive. You can use the cleaner, I already did, but like with the grout, dilute it with a lot of water.

Secret ingredient

I wanna highlight again how awesome this cleaner smells! I cleaned my whole house with it, then went for a walk and when I came back it still smelled so nice and fresh after those citrus peels. But what else can you infuse the vinegar with to spice things up a bit?

What I really like to add is a branch of rosemary. Also because it acts as an antibacterial agent. There, it’s out. That’s my secret. I laid my wisdom bare.

Old food glass jar used as container for the pure cleaner. It has now, after 3 weeks resting, a brownish color and smells amazing like citrus peels do.
That’s what the finished cleaner looks like. It turned from transparent to this brownish color. I just used an old food jar as container #zerowaste, right?

You can of course also use other herbs like thyme, mint, lavender or pine needles, those are all disinfecting agents. I add the herbs to the citrus peels but you can also just make a herbal infused cleaner, that’s up to you.

Long story short

You need:

  • Peels of citrus fruit like oranges, lemons, grapefruit, madarins and/or limes.
  • A big jar with a screw-top. No plastic or metal because of the corrosive vinegar.
  • If you don’t have enough peels to fill the jar, dry them until you collected enough.
  • Pack the peels tightly in the jar, add a branch of rosemary or other herb if you like.
  • Top it up with white vinegar or table vinegar. Check on it and fill it up again as the peels might soak up some of the vinegar.
  • Let it rest for about 3 weeks until the liquid gets a brownish color.
  • Fill it in a spray bottle, dilute it with water, be careful with some surfaces.

Fun fact at the end: You can also use these different types of infused vinegar for your salad dressings. Give it a try, spice up your salad game.

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