How To Make Citrus-Infused Cleaning Vinegar

Heather Dessinger

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Cleaning Vinegar

Making up a batch of lavender lemonade, orange julius smoothiessour gummy snacks or some other kind of citrus goodness soon? Here’s a quick way to turn your leftover peels into an inexpensive, all-purpose cleaning vinegar that’s perfect for kitchens and bathrooms, removing buildup and grime, and more.

So, what is cleaning vinegar?

It depends on who you ask. I lean towards the traditional definition of cleaning vinegar, which is just vinegar that you clean with. 🙂

However, some companies sell vinegar that is slightly more concentration (6% acidity instead of the standard 5%), and market it as cleaning vinegar.

Personally, I don’t see a benefit to increasing the acidity slightly since several studies (like the one I mention in this homemade veggie wash post) have found 5% to be effective. Also, I don’t know of any commercial “cleaning vinegars” that use non-GMO ingredients, so I prefer to buy plain old organic white vinegar at my local health food store instead.

Since my husband doesn’t love the smell of plain vinegar, I infuse mine with citrus peels and herbs, or sometimes essential oils if that’s what I have on hand. Here’s a spray cleaner recipe using essential oils if you’d prefer to use that method.

In addition to making my cleaning vinegar more aromatically pleasing, the peels also increase its cleansing and degreasing properties – that’s a win/win in my book.

Should I add castile soap to cleaning vinegar?

Remember that volcano experiment from elementary when we mixed baking soda with vinegar and “lava” flowed everywhere? While that combination makes a pretty epic science project, it’s not helpful for spray cleaners. Sometimes you’ll find castile soap added to vinegar in a homemade cleaning spray recipe, but that’s not an approach I recommend.

Here’s why: Baking soda – and castile soap which is what we’re discussing here – are both bases, while vinegar is an acid. Acids and bases both have their uses (baking soda make a fantastic homemade scouring powder, for example),  but they need to be kept separate or they will neutralize each other. If you add castile soap to vinegar it doesn’t add any cleaning power – it just lowers the acidity level of the vinegar.

What to buy if you don’t want to DIY

When life gets busy and you don’t want to DIY, here’s one of the best store-bought options I know of:

natural all purpose cleaner

Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar – This cleaner earns an A from the Environmental Working Group. It’s made from food-based ingredients and comes in four scents: Sweet MandarinLavenderFresh Lime Mint, and Eucalyptus

Other Ways To Use Leftover Lemon And Orange Peels

Find more ideas here.

How To Make Citrus-Infused Cleaning Vinegar
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How To Make Citrus-Infused Cleaning Vinegar

This recipe is wonderful for cleaning countertops, backsplashes, shower doors and windows, removing buildup and grime, and more. It can even be used to repel ants – more info on that here.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Author Heather Dessinger


  • Citrus peels (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit or a combination of these)
  • A sprig or two of fresh rosemary, mint or thyme (optional)
  • White vinegar (enough to cover the peels)


  • To Make Cleaning Vinegar
  • Scrub the lemons/oranges/limes gently and then peel them.
  • Set the juicy flesh aside for use in another recipe and place peels in a clean jar.
  • Pour vinegar into the jar until the peels are completely submerged. If desired, you can use a fermentation weight to keep the peels from floating on the surface, but it’s not a problem if they do float.
  • Screw the lid on tight and let the jar sit for a few weeks (out of direct light) while shaking occasionally. 
  • When you’re ready to use it pour the mixture through a mesh strainer.

To Use Citrus-Infused Cleaning Vinegar

  • To make up a cleaning spray, add a 50/50 mix of cleaning vinegar and purified water to a spray bottle – I like these glass spray bottles.

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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21 thoughts on “How To Make Citrus-Infused Cleaning Vinegar”

  1. I have mixed emotions about this information. From the picture, I was looking forward to learning about something to eat. LOL.
    Thanks for the twist. Also, what do you think about using baking soda for doing laundry?

  2. Wondering if it’s okay to leave peels and herbs in? Or do they do their colors turn nasty and look visually unappealing?

  3. Thank you for your wonderful blog. Is there a way to make the citrus vinegar was faster. I’m too excited/impatient to wait three weeks.

  4. Can this vinegar then be used along with your laundry detergent? I have made and tried the detergent and LOVE it but the vinegar smell does take some getting used to. Wondering if the citrus infused can be used instead. Thank you!

  5. Hi Heather, hope you and your family are well in these unsure times ( cvd19), I was wondering exactly what is the best white vinegar to use, just plain old white vinegar or distilled white vinegar, I have read that they are different 🤔

    • Is there anything you shouldn’t use this cleaner on? I’ve got mine completely infused and ready to put it in a spray bottle

  6. Heather, I have not found, on your blog, what I’ve been looking for. I’m preparing to start a smoothie (summer) and soup (winter) bar, in my store. I’m looking for a nontoxic, all-natural, SCOURING RINSE (i.e. something gritty but EDIBLE), used between non-oily, non-dairy smoothie blends that really just cleans out pulp, veg particles, etc, with a quick blend of a spoonful in water, so the blenders can drain & dry. Is there anything out there?

  7. Hi Heather,
    Citrus vinegar works amazingly well! I decided to try this recipe out just to do something with my lemon peels. I forgot about it for a while and then decided to try it on my bathtub soap scum. Amazing! It worked much better than the store product, without the toxic ingredients.
    I put all my citrus peels in white vinegar (I now have multiple jars!) and am experimenting if lemon peel only works better than mixed citrus peels.
    And of course, I share your website with anyone who loves learning about healthy living!
    Thanks for your wonderful website.