Citrus All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

Citrus All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

Keen for a DIY all-purpose cleaning spray that is super budget but isn’t just straight white vinegar?

We were too, so that’s why we started making all-purpose citrus spray!

All you need is left over peels from several citrus fruit (any citrus fruit will do, or a combination – we combined lemon, orange and grapefruit peels), white vinegar, and tap water.

So, not only is it cheap as chips, but it uses citrus peels. Citrus is a resource that’s in plentiful supply at this time of year and peels are a part of the fruit that might otherwise go to waste (unless you avidly preserve every last peel you have).

As far as we’re concerned, the jury’s out on whether the citrus spray has additional cleaning properties to straight white vinegar, but it sure smells better. What’s more, the citrus peels happen to give the resulting liquid a luminous yellow colour not dissimilar to what we might associate with chemical sprays. This alien, supernatural yellow glow may give a degree of psychological comfort to those who are skeptical about using ‘natural’ products to clean their home 😉

And, most importantly, the spray works a treat for cleaning surfaces – it magically cuts through grease and is also pretty handy when you’re scouring particularly grimy pots! For cleaning windows it’s a bit streakier than straight white vinegar (possibly because of sugar residue from the citrus peels), so maybe just stick to straight vinegar for that purpose.


You will need

  • a breakfast bowl of citrus peels (ideally, citrus that you’ve harvested off a tree in your neighbourhood, or at least locally grown citrus you’ve gotten without packaging)
  • white vinegar (you can get white vinegar on tap at most bulk bin stores – just BYO bottle)
  • tap water
  • a large glass jar (ideally, upcycled)
  • a spray bottle (ideally, upcycled)


  1. Over the course of a few days, save up the peels of any citrus you eat.
  2. When you have a decent amount (we suggest a breakfast bowl’s worth), stuff them into a large glass jar (we used a jar of one litre capacity).
  3. Once the peels are in the jar, fill the jar up with white vinegar. Put the lid on and leave the mixture for 2-3 weeks. It should look a bit like this:
  4. Once the 2-3 weeks have passed, strain out the vinegar with a sieve into a measuring cup.
  5. Dilute your citrus vinegar mixture with an equal part of tap water. We had 1.5 cups of vinegar, so we added 1.5 cups of water. Give it a stir. 
  6. Pour the liquid into a spray bottle. It’s ready to use!

Source: There are lots and lots of versions of this same recipe on Google, so we haven’t credited this recipe to any particular blog/person, but note that we didn’t come up with it. We read a few of the recipes online a while back and then made the spray from memory when citrus season rolled around.

11 thoughts on “Citrus All-Purpose Cleaning Spray”

  • Love it!!! Thanks to you guys I make almost all of my sprays and crimes myself! Thanks for this recipe!

  • I think the citrus, especially orange, does have some cleansing effect. I remember my father in law used to have a pretty heavy duty grease and oil cleaner for his workshop – made from orange peel.

  • Awesome!
    1. Do you have to store your peel collection in the fridge so it doesn’t go off (before you add the vinegar)?
    2. And/or, How old/smelly can the peel go before its no-longer useable for cleaning product?
    3. Does this method remove citric oil from the remaining peel so they can then be composted in a worm farm? Or is it best to boil them first?

    • Kia ora Bethany!

      Thanks for your message. In answer to the first two questions, we just put our used peels into a jar of vinegar as we use them. You don’t need to save up a whole bunch of peel before doing it – so you don’t need to worry about putting in the fridge, just put straight in the vinegar – you might as well get the infusion started while you accumulate more peels 😀 If you go through citrus slowly, like one lemon a week or something, then you probably will just need to leave the peels soaking in the vinegar for longer than three weeks given as for a bunch of the time you won’t have many peels in the vinegar. Hope that makes sense. If you do this, that also means you won’t have peels sitting around getting smelly, so you don’t need to worry about question 2. We wouldn’t use ones that are so old that they smell funky.

      In answer to question, the infusion process does remove the citric oil – in fact, the citric oil getting into the vinegar is what boosts the cleaning property of the spray. However, because the peel has been soaking in vinegar, when you remove it it’s going to be quite acidic, which worms don’t like either… it’s probably still worth boiling before you put into a worm farm… However, that’s just a gut feeling, an actual worm farm/composting expert might know better!

      Hope that helps!

      H and L

        • Ages! Doesn’t seem to go off… We use our batches up before any sign that they’re going off. The vinegar basically pickles everything so isn’t much opportunity for things to deteriorate.

  • The only problem for me is Citrus Cleaning products can be toxic to cats – have you looked into using a soapnut and vinegar approach – eucalyptus for the smells?

    • Hiya Kiri, we didn’t know that citrus was toxic for cats and no we hadn’t looked into soapnuts and vinegar. Prior to using the citrus cleaner, we just used straight white vinegar (and we still use straight white vinegar for windows as citrus oils leave streaks on glass). The only reason we went to the extra effort of making the citrus cleaner is because a) it certainly has greater degreasing power b) it smells a bit better. Soapnuts could be good, just that they have to be imported to NZ from far away, so feels less appealing to us than the citrus peels. In relation to the smells, we don’t use essential oils a lot (am presuming you meant using eucalyptus essential oil?). If we were to, they need to be diluted in oil (only oil dilutes oil) so just adding it to vinegar isn’t really advisable according to qualified essential oil practitioners. So I guess to get an alternative smell (other than the citrus) you could find something else that is appropriate to soak in the vinegar? Maybe a herb of some sort? Not sure how it would work as we haven’t tried, but I’m sure you could play around!

  • Hi! I’m just wondering if it matters how long you leave the peels in vinegar? I see you have 2-3 weeks, but do you know of any reason why it couldn’t be left longer before diluting?

    • Hiya Melissa, No, it doesn’t really matter. We’d say minimum 3 weeks, really, but if it were left for longer, it’d be fine. We usually want it to hurry along so we can get the spray, haha.

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