Don’t toss your orange or citrus rinds; instead, use them to make a natural cleaning concentrate. Here’s how to save money, reduce waste, and make an easy DIY orange peel cleaner with vinegar. And 4 incredible ways to use this powerful cleaner in your home.
PS: You can use any citrus to make this awesome cleaner: lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit peels!
Baking soda, vinegar, and Sal Suds are my go-to non-toxic cleaning products. Every time I mention vinegar, I get a few comments like this, “But I can’t stand the smell of vinegar in my home!”
I get it. A house that smells like vinaigrette salad dressing isn’t for everyone.
This recipe is the solution!
It infuses citrus rinds, fresh herbs (optional), and warm pantry spices (also optional) with white vinegar. This infusion turns the vinegar into a deliciously-scented orange vinegar concentrate that you can use to make your own DIY cleaners.
First thing, you need to make a cleaning concentrate with the citrus peels and vinegar (AKA: a citrus-infused vinegar). You’ll then use this concentrate to make your natural cleaning solutions (like all purpose spray, window cleaner, etc.) Here’s what you need to make the concentrate…
- 3-4 cups distilled white vinegar (should contain somewhere between 4-6% acetic acid, like this)
- a handful or orange peels, lemon peels, lime peels, or grapefruit peels
- (optional) 1 cinnamon stick or a few cloves
- (optional) a few sprigs of a fresh herb: sage, thyme, or peppermint (one or a combination)
- 1 quart-size glass jar (like a wide mouth mason jar) for infusing the vinegar and citrus rinds
- glass or plastic lid to seal the jar during the infusion process
- fine mesh sieve or strainer to separate the rinds from the infused vinegar
- large bowl for straining the vinegar from the rinds
Pro Tip: If you’d like to make a big batch of this concentrate, use a large jar and enough citrus peels to fill the jar. You’ll also need enough vinegar to cover the peels with the vinegar.
Q: Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar?
A: I don’t recommend using apple cider vinegar to make this orange peel vinegar cleaner. White vinegar is considered to be the most acidic vinegar and the strongest option for making a household cleaner. Save the apple cider vinegar for homemade salad dressing.
How to Make: Step By Step Instructions & Video
Step 1: Add Citrus Peels to a Jar
You can use just one kind of citrus peel, like orange peels, or a variety of different citrus peels mixed together in the jar.
Pro Tip: I collect citrus peels in a bag and keep the rinds in the fridge. After about a week, during citrus season, I can make a big batch of this cleaner with all the leftover rinds.
Step 2: Add Fresh Herbs or Spices (Optional)
This is optional. I love to add a sprig or two of fresh sage, mint, or thyme to the jar. Add both the stem and leaf.
You can also add a cinnamon stick or a few whole cloves as well. All of these ingredients add a lovely scent to the concentrate.
Step 3: Top with Vinegar
Pour vinegar over the peels and herbs/spices so they are completely submerged by the vinegar. Fill the jar to the top. Then secure the lid.
Step 4: Infuse for 2 Weeks
Place the jar under your sink, or on the counter, and allow the mixture to infuse for 2 weeks. Sunlight will speed up the process.
During this time the orange oils (in the rinds), herbs, and spices will infuse with the vinegar. The vinegar will turn a visible orange or yellow (depending on the citrus used).
Step 5: Strain the Peels from the Vinegar
After 2 weeks, the orange concentrate is ready to use. Yay!! Your patience has paid off and you now have a natural and incredibly powerful cleaning solution.
Using a fine mesh strainer and a large bowl, pour the contents of the jar into the strainer, allowing the beautiful cleaning vinegar to fill the bowl underneath and the strainer to catch the rinds. Discard the peels (and herbs or spices).
Return the infused vinegar to the storage jar (or use a clean jar) and secure the lid. Use this concentrate to make your own cleaners (see recipes below).
Store the infused vinegar in the jar with a lid until you need to use it. The vinegar can be stored at room temperature for a couple of months. Or kept in the fridge for up to 6 months (or longer).
Why & How This Cleaner Works
- Vinegar, used to make this DIY orange cleaner, has incredible cleaning power! Most household vinegars (used in the kitchen) contain 4-6% acetic acid, which is what makes vinegar such a great cleaning ingredient.
- Vinegar has been shown to have antibacterial properties. To quote Dr. Alan Taege, an infectious disease expert at the Cleveland Clinic, in a recent interview with Women’s Health Magazine, “Vinegar does have disinfectant activity. Vinegar is acetic acid, which has the ability to destroy bacteria and viruses.”
- The skin of citrus fruits contain something called d-limonene, which creates that lovely citrus scent we all love. If you’re not a fan of a vinegar smell, this cleaner is the solution: it has a pleasant citrus odor and a fresh scent!
- Beyond the scent, d-limonene is also a natural solvent. A solvent dissolves and lifts dirt from surfaces. Thanks to the citrus peels, this cleaner is a natural way to clean soiled surfaces effectively.
- The fresh herbs infuse antibacterial properties into this non-toxic cleaner. Yes, you could add essential oils, but I’d much rather go the sustainable and economical route and use fresh herbs. I love to add thyme, mint, sage, and/or a cinnamon stick.
4 Ways to Use Orange Peel Vinegar for Cleaning
Your orange peel vinegar concentrate is ready, now what? Use this concentrate to make your own household cleaners.
1. All-Purpose Spray
Use the concentrate at full strength or add 1 cup water and 1 cup concentrate to a 16-ounce glass spray bottle (my favorite bottles). Shake the bottle to combine the ingredients. Use throughout the home: bathroom, kitchen, counter-tops, sink, cutting boards, the tub, shower, garbage can, or inside the fridge. Always wipe the surface with a clean, damp cloth after spraying.
Caution: Never use vinegar (which is acidic) on granite or marble kitchen counters or bathroom counters.
2. Clean Windows
Use the concentrate to make this homemade window and glass cleaner instead of using white vinegar. Don’t use vinegar on your smartphone screen or computer monitors since acid can strip the special coating.
3. Garbage Disposal Pods
Finely chop 2-3 lemon or orange peels and add them to an ice cube tray. Pour the concentrate over the top of the peels and freeze the ice cube tray. Once the pods are frozen, remove from the ice cube tray and store the pods in a freezer-safe bag. To deodorize, de-grease, and clean the garbage disposal, run cold water in the sink, place 1-2 pods in the garbage disposal and run the disposal.
4. Kitchen Degreaser Spray
For a simple kitchen degreaser, add a few drops of natural dish soap or Sal Suds (not castile soap, remember the reaction issue?) to either the full strength concentrate or 1 cup water and 1 cup concentrate in a 16-ounce spray bottle. Spray on the surface and wipe clean.
download the Handbook
Free Natural Cleaning Starter Guide
The beginner’s PDF handbook to natural cleaning. Clear the confusing myths about cleaning products and make two essential product swaps.
Easy Orange Peel Cleaner (With Vinegar) + Uses
- 1 quart-size jar such as a wide mouth mason jar
- 1 lid glass or palstic (not metal due to corrosion) or use a cloth or parchment paper secured with a rubber band
- 1 fine mesh sieve to separate the rinds from the infused vinegar
- 1 large bowl to separate the infused vinegar from the rinds
- 2-12 citrus peels such as: orange peels, lime peels, lemon peels, and/or grapefruit peels (one type or a variety, amount needed depends on size)
- 3-4 cups distilled white vinegar (between 4-6% acidity)
- 1-3 sprigs fresh herbs such as: sage, peppermint, or thyme
- 1-3 cinnamon sticks
- 5-10 whole cloves
Make Orange Peel Cleaner Concentrate:
- Add the citrus peels, herbs, and spices (if using herbs and spices) to the mason jar. There should be enough peels to fill the jar.
- Pour the vinegar over the peels and herbs/spices (use just enough vinegar to submerge the ingredients, the amount used will depend on how packed the jar is with peels).
- Now the vinegar needs to rest (infuse) for 2 weeks. I keep my jar under the sink during this time. During this time the orange oils and herbs and spices will infuse with the vinegar. The vinegar will turn a visible orange or yellow (depending on the citrus used).
- After 2 weeks, the orange vinegar cleaning concentrate is ready to use. Yay!! Your patience has paid off.
- Using a fine mesh strainer and a large bowl, pour the contents of the jar into the strainer, allowing the beautiful cleaning vinegar to fill the bowl underneath and the strainer to catch the rinds. Discard the peels (and herbs or spices).
- Return the infused vinegar to the storage jar (or use a clean jar) and secure the lid. Store the cleaning vinegar concentrate at room temperature for a couple of months, or in the fridge for up to 6 months.
- Now you can use this concentrate to make a cleaning solution. Here are a few options…
4 Ways to Use Orange Peel Cleaner Concentrate:
- Option 1: All-Purpose Spray Use the concentrate at full strength or add 1 cup water and 1 cup concentrate to a 16-ounce glass spray bottle (my favorite bottles). Shake the bottle to combine the ingredients. Use throughout the home: bathroom, kitchen, counter-tops, sink, cutting boards, the tub, shower, garbage can, or inside the fridge. Always wipe the surface with a clean, damp cloth after spraying.Caution: Never use vinegar (which is acidic) on granite or marble kitchen counters or bathroom counters.
- Option 2: Garbage Disposal Pods Finely chop 2-3 lemon or orange peels and add them to an ice cube tray. Pour the concentrate over the top of the peels and freeze the ice cube tray. Once the pods are frozen, remove from the ice cube tray and store the pods in a freezer-safe bag. To deodorize, de-grease, and clean the garbage disposal, run cold water in the sink, place 1-2 pods in the garbage disposal and run the disposal.
- Option 3: Clean Windows Use the concentrate to make this homemade window and glass cleaner instead of using white vinegar. Don’t use vinegar on your smartphone screen or computer monitors since acid can strip the special coating.
- Option 4: Kitchen Degreaser Spray For a simple kitchen degreaser, add a few drops of natural dish soap or Sal Suds (not castile soap, remember the reaction issue?) to either the full strength concentrate or 1 cup water and 1 cup concentrate in a 16-ounce spray bottle. Spray on the surface and wipe clean.
NATURAL CLEANING MADE EASY!
- ditch toxic chemicals
- and make your own natural cleaning products
Can this cleaner be used on glass top stoves ? Thank you
Hey Vickie, Yes, it should be okay. As long as the manufacturer allows vinegar to be used on the surface.
HI! Thanks for this recipe! I’ve just put my peels in vinegar today and I’m excited to try it out. How long does the cleaner typically last? I saw the above comment about topping it off and using until the peels loose their colors. I would assume this would also be the end of the oil supply in the peels. But if it’s strained and there are no orange peels in the vinegar, how long should it last?
Hey Megan, The vinegar, once strained, will last a couple of months. You can also store it in the fridge, between uses, to extend the life even longer.
Hi! I’m in the process of trying this. My vinegar is soaking in orange peels and is literally turning orange. Have you found this leaves streaks or makes things sticky?? I’m worried I didn’t remove enough of the fruit from the peels or something…
My plan is to dilute 1:1 with water for my all purpose cleaner.
Hey Elizabeth, It should be good, even if a bit of fruit is left on the peel. It shouldn’t stain, but I would avoid using on white fabric. I’ve used it on many surfaces, including our white walls and white desks without issue. Always perform a spot test first on any surface when using a new cleaner.
I’ve heard mixed things about where to store the citrus vinegar solution. Some say to place the solution in a dark cabinet with no sunlight. You suggest placing the vinegar solution in an area with loads of sunlight. What is the reasoning for this?
Hey, I find it speeds up the process of infusion. Either method works and I’ve used both succesfully.
I absolutely love this! My peel solution is done soaking now and I was thinking… Are there any ways to reuse the orange peels once the vinegar solution is done?
Hey Kendall, Yay! So happy to hear your solution is infusing now. I haven’t found another use yet. Let me know if you do.
Would you use all the spices together or it s more either cinnamon or thyme or…?
Hey Lara, You can, I do. Or you can choose just one or play around with different combos.
Great post and recipe Kristin!
I have been using 6% Distilled Vinegar + a little juice & the peels (no pith or pulp) of organic lemons as a fruit and veggie spray for years now. The aroma is amazing! Smells like Lemons! I usually leave the lemon peels in the spray bottle & top off the spray bottle w/more vinegar as I go. Once the lemon peels lose thier color and look light yellow, I use all my spray up then dump & run the lemon peels in the garbage disposal (super soft by then) and start over w/a new batch of Lemon Vinegar.
I love using vinegar in my laundry, using apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse and using it to make a bentonite clay wash for my hair and a bentonite mask for my face. It’s uses are indispensable. Once again Kristin, Thanks for the great recipe! I think I will try fresh Rosemary in my Lemon Vinegar fruit & veggie wash next time!
Love it, Tia! Thank you for sharing–such great tips!
Could dry spices he used in this recipe?
Hey Trish, I think so. I’ve made lavender vinegar with dried lavender before, so I think dried spices would work here too.
I love all ur posts…willl try out for the natural skincare as soon as possible. Continue with ur God given insights and hardwork.