I love the idea that in my permaculture garden I can be growing a lot of ingredients for the household and personal products I use. It's super simple to do, I know they are safe for my family and my greywater, and doing this helps me reduce the waste I create and walk a little lighter on the earth. Take for example the natural all-purpose household cleaner - citrus spray. It's actually very easy to make and is so useful for cleaning around the home. All you need is a jar, citrus peel and apple cider vinegar. It makes a very effective and safe home cleaner, and I really like the fresh citrus scent - particularly because it's fresh real citrus from the garden.
What is citrus spray good for?
Citrus spray can be used to clean bench tops, windows, showers or anywhere you need a natural all purpose cleanser. Please note that this cleanser does not work well for marble or stone surfaces, as well as certain granite counter tops... the acid content may cause etching. It does work like a charm for glass windows, showers, mirrors, and many other household surfaces!
What citrus can you use?
Any. Fortunately I have a citrus abundance in my garden almost all of the year. I purposefully selected varieties to stretch my citrus harvest season as long as possible. There are lemons and limes, mandarins and tangelos, oranges and grapefruits, lemonades and Buddha's Hand, kaffir lime and finger lime.
How to make citrus spray:
Collect citrus peel and fill jar with peels
Pour apple cider vinegar over peels, put a lid on and let it sit for 2 weeks
Strain off the liquid and dilute 2 parts water to 1 part citrus vinegar (compost the peels)
Use as a spray cleaner around the home.
The oils in the citrus peels add disinfectant properties to the vinegar and the peels contain d-limonene which is a natural solvent that breaks down and removes oil from dirty surfaces. It takes time for the d-limonene tofuse with vinegar which is why it's important to let it sit for a couple of weeks before you use it.
Extra garden ingredients...
I like to get creative with the mix too - adding extra things from the garden. You could add a twig of rosemary, a few mint leaves, sprigs of thyme, or a few leaves of lemon myrtle into the mix. You can use any of the citrus peels - they each bring a different aroma. Imagine grapefruit and mint, orange and cinnamon, lemon and thyme - it's up to you.
If I could grow apples here I would - we all love apples - then I could make my own apple cider vinegar. Perhaps I need to take a trip to Stanthorpe, the closest apple growing region and buy a few boxes. I should ask one of the farmers at the market to bring me up some boxes of damaged apples for this purpose. More on that another time....
Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
Not all vinegars are natural. If you are buying vinegar chose ones that specifically say naturally brewed or fermented. There are the distilled vinegars made in a distillery/brewery and synthetic vinegars made from diluted synthetic acetic acid. Not all countries approve of using synthetically created acetic acid for human consumption, but Australia does and so does the USA and EU.
About white vinegar production, the US Food and Drug Administration (which Food Standards Australia seems to copy) says: “Presently, weauthorize the manufacture of vinegar from ethyl alcohol synthesized from natural gas or petroleum derivatives. It is our opinion that most of the distilled spirits used in the production of vinegar are derived from natural gas and petroleum…
Keep an eye out for a youtube clip about this soon.
Do you have another favourite recipe for making household citrus cleaner?