Citrus Cleaning Spray

Our new (super old) farmhouse comes with a barely functional septic tank (cesspool is actually the right term here). If we want the thing to work, which we do, we can’t use any chemicals in the house or it will kill the good bacteria that we want. It seems step three of my all-natural, plastic-free journey came sooner than I expected.

Reevaluating how we clean the house, how many plastic bottles and how many chemicals we use has been really interesting and making the switch from chemical cleaners to all-natural ones isn’t easy. Our expectations of what cleaning is, how clean something should be and what it all will smell like in the end are deeply ingrained within us and it is a process that we can delicately, respectfully and gently flow through and the results will be discovered along the way.

The whole family must be considered when taking on this challenge. Not everyone in the family will be fans of the all-natural cleaning experience in the beginning. Or ever. Be prepared for a little cynicism from the more vocal of your family members.

Let’s get started:

I began by researching natural cleaning products. The ones in our bio/organic shops here are so super expensive and are still often in plastic spray bottles. I found recipes online for vinegar based cleaners, but my family hates the smell of vinegar, and I really was skeptical if it could clean all the surfaces that need cleaning.

What motivated me though, was the idea that I could make the cleaning concentrate myself, it could be actually edible, wouldn’t harm anything, could be put into repurposed plastic spray bottles that once held our “normal” cleaning products and could be effective.

Here’s the result:

a giant jar of vinegar, orange peels and herbs

What you need:

  • a large glass jar
  • loads of plain vinegar
  • loads of fresh orange peel, enough to fill the jar
  • loads of fresh lavender, sage, rosemary
  • essential oil blend (I use my own theives oil blend)

Fill the jar 2/3 full with orange peels

Roughly chop up the herbs

Fill the rest of the jar with the herbs

Fill to the brim with the vinegar

Cover with baking paper and a rubber band

Let sit for 8-10 weeks

Check occasionally that all of the plant material is covered with vinegar

Decant into clean spray bottles

Fill spray bottle 1/3 with the cleaning solution

Add 10 drops of essential oil

Fill to the top with water

Shake well before using

I have now used this cleaner exclusively for 4 weeks. It does take a bit getting used to the vinegar smell. I am still looking to rework the recipe to help lighten that particular scent.

I find this cleaner super effective, it has cleaned up the kitchen, bathroom, floors, cat vomit, carpets, cat vomit again and mirrors. I was really surprised how well it cleaned glass and left no streaks. It has anti-bacterial and degreasing properties.

My family is using it as well, with varying degrees of annoyance at the vinegar scent. It doesn’t last, the aroma is surprisingly short-lived, but it is something to think about when making this change.

It feels good to use this natural cleaner. I feel like it is making a difference for our family and in some small way, for the planet. I encourage you to give it a try, and if you have any ideas about how to improve this recipe, please share them.

Theives oil recipe

  1. 35 drops clove essential oil.
  2. 30 drops lemon essential oil.
  3. 15 drops cinnamon bark essential oil.
  4. 13 drops eucalyptus essential oil.
  5. 7 drops rosemary essential oil.

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