Monday, March 5, 2012

Cleaning Up

For the last couple of years, my favourite cleaning product has been a cleaner that my mom makes for me and that we imaginatively call "Green Cleaner". It smells lovely as it has peppermint essential oil in it and works great on pretty well all surfaces. Just lately, I've been spending a little more time on Pinterest and finding all sorts of awesome ideas for do-it-yourself-pretty-much-anything. I'm especially interested, though, in homemade cleaning products and homemade toiletry items. So basically, things that will clean your house or clean your body. If I can make these items with ingredients I already have in my house, so much the better!

I saw this recipe for a homemade cleaner that uses citrus-infused white vinegar. Now, I have battled with the idea of using vinegar as my main cleaning agent for a few years. I know that it is a great cleaner, is easy on the environment, is inexpensive, and if my children got into it, it wouldn't hurt them. However, it doesn't smell nice. At all. I used to use it a lot at work when I worked for an environmental non-profit organization and, when I think of our office in that old train station, the scent of vinegar emanating from wash cloths long past needing to be bleached (!) will forever come to mind. Yuck.

Enter the orange peel! How awesome is it, first of all, that you can make this cleaner in about two seconds after you enjoy a healthy, vitamin C-rich snack? Because I didn't want to peel fruit just for the sake of making a cleaning product, but rather, I wanted to use my scraps for something more, I just made it in 250 mL jars, one at a time. I had three oranges, therefore over the course of a couple of days, I started the preparation for 3 jars of cleaning product. I took a few pictures of the final preparation, and had my three-year-old help me in the process (he's a great do-it-yourselfer!).

This is all you need.  (I'm assuming you have a convenient source of water!)
Don't mind his blue-stained fingers, we were playing with markers right before he helped me with this project!
So here are my three 250 mL jars, after letting them infuse for 2 weeks.  There's a small Fisher Price tractor in the background for good measure.  The boy left it on the counter, and I left it in the picture because it made me smile.
So pour the contents of the jar through a sieve into some sort of container, I used a 4-cup Pyrex glass measuring cup. *Note the strangely waterlogged/spongey/pickled texture of the orange peel.  It reminds me of something out of a bucket of formalin during Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy class at UPEI.
I got about 1 1/4 cups of the orange-infused vinegar from the three jars.
So fill your container roughly 3/4 full with water, then top up with the infused vinegar. (I was lucky that I had the perfect amount to fill the bottle up the rest of the way.)

The final product.
And there we have it!  Orange-infused vinegar cleaning solution.  Now I couldn't post about this on the blog before actually trying it out, right?  So I decided to give it a test, and thought of one of the yuckier substances it would need to clean on our kitchen counter:

Peanut butter.

Now I occasionally eat peanut butter (in fact I did tonight which is why I thought to use it to test out this cleaner!) but I also find it an extremely offensive substance.  It's greasy, it's sticky, and it smells very strongly.  Not something I want on a surface anywhere, let alone the counter.  So I smeared some on (then promptly washed my fingers!) and give it a few squirts.

The cleaner did a great job cleaning it up, no residue, the vinegar cut right through it and left the counter lovely and clean with a fresh-ish scent.

Yes, the scent.  There's no denying that vinegar is the base of this stuff, really, you can't hide vinegar all that well.  But it has a nice, fruity, orangey overtone that makes it a lot more pleasant.  My verdict?  I like it.  

This post is linked to the Homestead Barn Hop #52.


  1. The real test will come when I clean the bathroom. Consider the verdict to be pending!

    1. I look forward to your evaluation, love!

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  3. We have been using orange cleaner for a little over a month now and love it. We let ours soak in the vinegar for a bit longer than you do and have found that it will cut right through any grease you put it on. And if you have a stain on your counter that it won't get up, just sprinkle a tsp of baking soda on it, then spray with cleaner and scrub it for a few minutes. It will take the stain right up. We will never go back to store bought cleaners. And as far as bathrooms, it works great in their as well!

  4. gah! I just wrote an entire comment and it disappeared!
    Anyway, the jist of it was, be careful with vinegar. I used it for years until getting in big trouble from the flooring people (when I built the new house) because the corrosive nature of it that makes it clean so well, also eats away at the surface of whatever it is you are cleaning. I think if you dilute it enough you should be fine, but just a little heads up. :)

  5. I saw that citrus infused vinegar on Pinterest as well--such a good idea!


I love to get comments and questions, and particularly suggestions!