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A Homemade Citrus Cleaner From Grapefruit

By Robyn Dolan 


Tags: cleaning, homemade cleaners, homesteading, simple living, grapefruit, citrus, natural, Robyn Dolan,

 Homemade Citrus Cleaner Ingredients

My parents have a grapefruit tree and a lemon tree.  I get lots of lemons and grapefruit.  Over the years I have investigated innumerable ways of using and preserving this bounty.  I can lemon juice for year-round use.  I eat and give away as much grapefruit as possible, then can the rest.  This leaves me with a mountain of grapefruit peels.  It seems a waste to throw them out, and they don't compost well.  So one year I started experimenting with using them to make a cleaner.  It didn't take long to hit on a simple formula that is also very simple to prepare. 

I get out my biggest stockpot, fill it with grapefruit peels, and cover them with water.  I bring the whole shootin' match to a vigorous boil, then turn it down and let it simmer for a day, topping up the water level as needed.  After several hours, or all day, I turn off the heat and let the mixture cool off overnight.  The next morning, I get up and start straining the mixture into gallon size glass jugs.  Do not use plastic, as this concentrate, though not really rough on the skin, will eat through plastic jugs within a few days and leave you with a leaky mess.  It is also a good idea to vacuum seal or water bath can (in quart-size jars) any concentrate you will not be using right away, as it will ferment and grow yeast.  This fermentation does not make the cleaner lose any effectiveness, it just replaces the pleasant, citrusy scent with an unpleasant odor. 

Be sure to label the concentrate so no one drinks it.  I don't know how harmful it would be, but I certainly don't recommend it. 

A note on straining.  I put a funnel on top of the glass jug I am straining into and line it with a piece of old t-shirt, sheet or dishtowel to filter out the solids.  The liquid is too thick for coffee filters, it takes forever, and does not need to be strained as much as that.  I then ladle the liquid into the filter, scraping solids off as they build up.  When I get down to where it's mostly peels and other solids, I squeeze them real good, filter the remaining liquid, and put the now softened peels into the compost bin, where they compost much more readily.

How to use your fantastical new cleaner.  For general cleaning, I dilute 1 part cleaner to 4 parts water in a plastic spray bottle.  At this dilution it has not eaten through any of my bottles yet.  This works well for light cleaning of counters, glass, mirrors, sinks, toilets, floors and all such general light jobs.  For laundry, I use 1/2 to 1 cup undiluted, pour in with the soap instead of bleach, and enjoy softer, whiter, more pleasant smelling clothes.  For tough, greasy jobs, like my stovetop, I pour the undiluted concentrate right on the greasy spots, let soak at least 20 minutes, then use a hard plastic scraper to loosen most of the cooked on grease.  This does sometimes leave a few small areas to scrub with steel wool or a copper scrubber, but takes most of the work out of it.

I have used this same formula with orange peels, lemon peels and combinations of different citrus peels, in smaller and larger batches.  The basic idea is just cover with water, cook several hours, strain and enjoy using your own homemade, all natural citrus cleaner.

For more homesteading, homeschooling and simple living ideas stop by www.mrsdshomestead.blogspot.com or www.mrsdshomestead.com. 

robyn dolan
11/29/2012 3:36:59 PM

Amanda, I usually have so many grapefruit that I fill the pot full, then cover them with water. Then, as the water boils away I keep topping off until I figure it has boiled long enough. I have also done it with just a couple of peels, covered with water. The fewer peels you have, the less time you need. Just boil them until they're pretty soft, and make sure they're covered with water. Maybe a couple hours. Also, remember that this will "spoil", so make sure you seal whatever you will not be using right away. Have fun with it;)


amanda pitts
11/28/2012 8:28:13 PM

I love this idea. I have a grapefruit tree that produce so many I've started giving them away. I've even considering selling some. I do have a question for you. Are you filling the pot full of the peels(to the brim) or does it matter? I really want to make this cleaner soon. Great thinking :)


robyn dolan
5/3/2012 11:12:38 PM

Dave, yes, have not tried it in the crock pot, but cannot think why it wouldn't work. It is a slow cooking recipe. Solar oven, maybe, if you could get it to at least simmer slowly. No experience with solar ovens here.


robyn dolan
5/3/2012 11:10:19 PM

Lori, let me know how it turns out. I think the crock pot should work just fine.


lori dunn
4/13/2012 3:26:25 PM

Robyn, I think I might like to try this, but in a smaller batch, and maybe in a crockpot turned to high. Then I don't have to watch it so close, or worry about it cookin down to far to fast. I'll be anxious to see how this works! Thanks for the idea!


nebraska dave
4/9/2012 3:33:40 AM

Robyn, it's good to hear from you again. Your grapefruit cleaner has great possibilities around my house. I'm wondering if a crockpot would work for the long term cooking? Or better yet how about a solar oven? It's just that cooking on my old electric stove would use too much energy for me. In the 60s when my stove was installed, energy was abundant and conservation of energy wasn't even a consideration. As a result I try to keep the stove use at a minimum. The microwave with a convection oven works for just about everything. Well, except for pancakes, bacon, and fried eggs. Yeah, once a week on Saturday, we splurge and use that energy then gulp down that cholesterol and fat. We eat fairly good all week so I call it a balanced diet. :0) Have a great grapefruit cleaning day.