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Natural Health

How to Make Homemade Lemon Vinegar Cleaning Spray: Natural, Non-Toxic & Effective!

Got lemons? Hate chemicals and artificial fragrances? Try making your own non-toxic household cleaning spray solution! It only has two ingredients: lemon and vinegar. Actually, you can repurpose any type of citrus peels to make this cleaning spray. Orange, lime, lemon, grapefruit, or even a combination of them… whatever you have on hand!

Not only is this recipe incredibly easy to make, it also serves the added benefit of repurposing spent citrus scraps instead of trashing them! This is one of our favorite uses for lemon rinds, along with making delicious lemon powder – which you can learn more about here!

On its own, white vinegar provides natural but effective antimicrobial activity. It is also very inexpensive! However, many people find the smell of white vinegar to be far too pungent and sharp to use as a cleaner on its own. That is where the lemon (or other citrus) come in! By infusing white vinegar with lemon peels, this cleaning spray takes on a fresh, citrusy, enjoyable scent. Furthermore, lemon has its own formidable cleaning powers too! Lemon is known to have natural anti-fungal, antibacterial, insecticidal, and deodorizing properties.


So, are you ready to make your own citrus cleaning spray?



SUPPLIES NEEDED


  • Lemon rinds, or other citrus scraps – organic if possible!
  • White vinegar (you could also substitute with over-brewed acidic kombucha vinegar!)
  • A large glass jar or other container for steeping
  • A spray bottle
  • A fine-mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth
  • Optional: fresh aromatic, antiseptic herbs such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage, or mint


A half gallon mason jar full with discarded halved lemons after they have been squeezed of their juice sits next to a gallon jug of Four Monks white distilled vinegar. The background is a barn wood type backdrop.


DIRECTIONS


Step 1: Gather Lemon Rinds

Collect your spent lemon rinds (or other citrus peels) in a large glass container. We typically use a half-gallon mason jar, but a pitcher, a couple of smaller jars, or even a vase would work! Also, it is definitely okay to have the membranes, pith, or seeds in there as well!

Our favorite time to create this cleaning spray is right after we make a large batch of our garden “Besto Pesto” – because we use a lot of our backyard Meyer lemons in the process! If you can’t collect your rinds all at once, that is fine too. Just keep the container of rinds in the refrigerator and add to it as you generate more. 

If it is going to take you more than a week to build a nice little collection of citrus peels, I suggest adding a little white vinegar to your jar by day 6 or 7. Pour in enough to submerge the lemon or citrus peels. This will prevent the citrus from molding while you continue to add more. If you do this, you can keep the jar out on the counter instead of in the fridge. 

The amount of citrus rinds you collect isn’t crucial. As you can see in the photos, we had almost a full half-gallon of spent, squeezed lemon halves! This will create a very lemony cleaning spray. Yet a lesser amount will do the job too! I suggest collecting at least a heaping handful. The more citrus you have, the more wonderful the smell will be.


Step 2: Soak & Wait

Once you have a good amount of lemon or citrus rinds collected, pour plain white vinegar into the container over them. Fill it all the way up, or at least until the peels are all submerged. Feel free to add a handful of fresh herbs (listed above) for increased natural aromatherapy and disinfecting power.

Soak the citrus in vinegar for at least one week, and up to three weeks. The container of steeping rinds can sit out on the counter at room temperature. To help encourage the infusion, you could give the container a shake every few days to mix things up. 


A hand is now holding the jug of distilled vinegar pouring it into the half gallon mason jar full of lemons. The vinegar has almost reached the brim of the jar. The same barn wood backdrop is shown.


Step 3: Strain & Bottle

After it has finished steeping, it is time to separate the lemon rinds from the vinegar. The liquid may be more cloudy, especially if you’ve been shaking or stirring it. We want to remove as many chunks and particles as possible, to avoid clogging the spray bottle! Therefore, you could pour the entire concoction into a very fine-mesh strainer perched over a bowl to catch it, as shown below. Another option is to pour the solution through cheesecloth. It may be worthwhile to strain the mixture twice before bottling.

Either way, I like to squeeze and squish the citrus rinds a bit – ringing them out to extract as much vinegar and juice as possible. 


A three way image collage, the first image is of the half gallon mason jar full of lemons and vinegar with a white plastic lid on it. The vinegar is no longer clear as seen in the previous photo but it is now cloudy from the infusion of lemons. The second image is a stainless steel strainer full of the lemons sitting over the top of a brown mixing bowl. The third image shows a hand squeezing the lemons in the strainer, extracting whatever juice is left inside them.



Finally, pour the strained solution into a spray bottle. Grab a funnel if needed! We use these glass spray bottles, but you can also rinse and reuse any other spray bottle you have around! If there is extra, simply store it in a jar until your bottle needs a refill.

Some recipes say to dilute it by mixing it with equal parts water. If you want to increase the volume of your batch, feel free to add some water! However, based on my research, vinegar has the most effective disinfecting powers when it is used full-strength. 


A hand is holding a glass spray bottle with a plastic spray top, it is filled with the lemon vinegar solution. Behind the bottle is an additional pint mason jar that is full of the lemon vinegar solution as well. Even further beyond that lies the half gallon jar with the spent lemons inside of it. The backdrop is barn wood panelling.


Step 4: Get Cleaning!


Check it out! You just created your own non-toxic citrus vinegar cleaning spray. Now you can clean and refresh your space. It really doesn’t “go bad” in the bottle – you’ll surely use it long before that is a concern!


What can I use vinegar cleaning spray on, you ask?


We use this vinegar cleaning spray on our super-fancy 1970’s linoleum kitchen counters, sinks, shower, toilets, bathtub, on tile, stainless steel appliances, inside the fridge, and other durable, sealed surfaces. One of my favorite uses for it is to remove unwanted odors, such as that gross egg smell that seems to stay on plates and bowls, or to eliminate residual garlic and onion odor and flavor from cutting boards. In addition to sanitizing and deodorizing, vinegar is great at lifting stains, and sticky messes like sticker glue!

Spray it on, allow it to sit for a minute to reach its full antimicrobial potential, and then rinse or wipe away – such as with a damp sponge or cloth. For a deeper clean and stain removal, such as on shower grout, allow the vinegar cleaning spray to sit for up to ten minutes. You can also add a splash into the dishwasher, or even in the washing machine to freshen up laundry! I especially love to add a splash with our gym clothes. Plain white vinegar can also be used to clean windows (even better than Windex!), yet the citrus may make it a little streaky? I honestly haven’t tried.

Please note that vinegar and citrus are very acidic! Therefore, it is NOT recommended to use this vinegar cleaning spray on granite, marble, or other sensitive stone surfaces. The acid can cause staining and etching to them. We use it on our laminate “wood” floors, but would avoid using vinegar on natural hardwood floors or wood furniture. On the other hand, we DO use this spray on our wood cutting boards. When in doubt, use caution and do some research on the surface in question before dousing it in lemon vinegar.


A white mixing bowl with copper lining the top edge and copper handles sits atop a dark barn wood surface. The bowl is full of golden lemons that are glistening in the light after being washed.


And that’s really all there is to it!


It is time to take “garden to table” to a whole new level, and say goodbye to toxic chemicals in your home! I hope you found this tutorial useful and easy to follow. If so, please spread the love by sharing this post by pinning it below. See ya next time!


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4.6 from 30 votes

Lemon (Citrus) Vinegar Cleaning Spray: Homemade & Natural

Don't throw out those lemon rinds or citrus scraps! Instead, turn them into a refreshing, effective, natural cleaning spray! Come learn how to make homemade citrus vinegar spray in only 3 easy steps. Let's also talk about what surfaces you can safely clean using citrus vinegar solutions.
Keyword: citrus vinegar cleaning spray, homemade cleaning spray, lemon vinegar cleaning spray, natural cleaning spray, vinegar cleaning spray

Equipment

  • A large glass jar or other container for steeping
  • A spray bottle
  • A fine-mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth

Ingredients

  • Lemon rinds, or other citrus scraps – organic if possible
  • White vinegar (you could also substitute with over-brewed acidic kombucha vinegar)
  • Optional: fresh aromatic, antiseptic herbs such as lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage, or mint

Instructions

Making Lemon/Citrus Vinegar Cleaning Spray

  • Collect your spent lemon rinds (or other citrus peels) in a large glass container of choice. You can throw in just a handful, or fill the container up to halfway. (The more lemon rinds used, the more citrusy it will be! But you still want plenty of room for the vinegar)
  • If you cannot collect all your citrus rinds at one time, either keep collecting them in the refrigerator over the course of 5 to 7 days. Any longer, store them in the freezer until you've collected the desired amount.
  • Once you have a good amount of lemon or citrus rinds collected, pour plain white vinegar into the container over them. Fill it all the way up, or at least until the peels are all submerged. Feel free to add a handful of fresh herbs (listed above) for increased natural aromatherapy and disinfecting power.
  • Soak the citrus in vinegar for at least one week, and up to three weeks. The container of steeping rinds can sit out on the counter at room temperature. To help encourage the infusion, you could give the container a shake every few days to mix things up. 
  • After it has finished steeping, it is time to strain the lemon rinds from the vinegar. We want to remove as many chunks and particles as possible, to avoid clogging the spray bottle! Therefore, you could pour the entire concoction into a very fine-mesh strainer perched over a bowl to catch it. Another option is to pour the solution through cheesecloth or reusable nut milk bag. It may be worthwhile to strain the mixture twice before bottling.
  • Finally, pour the strained solution into a spray bottle. Grab a funnel if needed!

Using Lemon/Citrus Cleaning Spray

  • Based on my research, vinegar has the most effective disinfecting powers when it is used full-strength. Thus, we do not dilute it with water. Vinegar is also most effective at killing bacteria if is is allowed to sit for several minutes before wiping up.
  • Do clean: laminate kitchen counters, sinks, shower, toilets, bathtub, on tile, stainless steel appliances, inside the fridge, and other durable, sealed surfaces.
  • Great for deodorizing: cutting boards, washing machines, inside the dishwasher, and dishes – especially to remove funky raw egg smell!
  • DO NOT USE vinegar on: granite, marble, or other sensitive stone surfaces. We use it on our laminate “wood” floors and wood cutting boards, but would avoid using vinegar on natural hardwood floors or wood furniture.



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56 Comments

  • Monica

    5 stars
    Thanks for this helpful recipe! I am wondering if you have ever used it on dirty interior walls? I’m worried the citrus may remove paint. Would love to hear if anyone has tried it

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Monica, I am unsure if the spray would take off the paint or not. It’s a good idea to test it on a small and inconspicuous area to see how the spray affects the paint. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

      • Maca

        Hi there, 1 question: I’m looking for a zero waste way to dispose of citrus scraps, if I blended the lemons and vinegar until fully liquified, would the cleaner turn out ok?

        • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

          Hi Maca, if you wanted to use it in a sprayer I think the citrus would clog your sprayer even if it is blended really well. You could probably use this method if you wanted to keep it in a jar and dip a rag or towel in it and clean surfaces from there. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Theresa

    5 stars
    I love that this is 100% natural.
    We’ve recently bought a travel trailer. Will it be too strong to use on the plastics of the trailer appliances and fixtures? They are made so much less durable than house items.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Theresa, sometimes after cleaning with the spray we wipe it down with a wet sponge to remove any of the extra residue.

  • Kim

    Hi, quick question… I accidentally forgot about the lemons soaking in the vinegar and it’s been about 2 months. 🤦‍♀️ Your instructions say soak up to 3 weeks. Will I still be able to use this? Will it be as effective? Thanks for the help!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Kim, since vinegar is a preservative and as long as the lemons that may have been exposed to the air aren’t moldy, it will be just as effective so no worries there. Good luck!

  • Frieda

    Love this!
    I typically zest my lemons (keep it in the freezer for later use) before juicing them. Can zested peels be used for this? Thank!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Frieda, lemon zest can absolutely be used for the cleaning spray. Just be sure to strain out the zest with a cheese cloth or nut milk bag before you add it to the bottle as it may get clogged in the sprayer. Good luck and let us know how it works out!

  • Cookie

    Does the steeping container have to be glass, or can it be plastic? Was thinking of doing this in a big mineral water jug, or one of those gallon-sized mayo tubs.

    Has anyone used this cleaner in a household with cats? As you may know, cats hate citrusy smells. I wonder if using this cleaner would be stressful or harmful to them. Thank you.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Cookie, plastic should work just fine. We have cats and are cautious about when and how we use the cleaner but we have seen no notable difference in their behavior due to the cleaning spray.

  • Kate

    Quick question. I have the lemons soaking with water over the top of all (they’re all submerged), and some vinegar added (since it was on the counter). Now it’s full and I’m ready to add the vinegar. Do I drain the water in there? It smells really citrusy. Color me confused. 😉 Thanks.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hello Kate, we just soak the lemons in vinegar with no water. Sorry if it was confusing, some people may mix part water and vinegar together but it won’t be as strong as using all vinegar. Good luck!

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