If there is one place in my life where I have strived to get rid of the chemicals, toxic or otherwise, it’s in the household cleaner category. Just take a moment to look underneath the cabinet in your kitchen or bathroom. How many cleaners do you have lurking in the darkest corners behind snaking p-traps? Do you even know what those cleaners are, let alone what ingredients are used?
For the past couple of years, I have increasingly used a mixture of vinegar and water for general cleaning purposes in my home. It resides in a repurposed spray bottle for use cleaning counters and wiping down whatever gets dirty when a two-year-old boy gets down to eating dinner. Which is to say, a lot. Another bottle gets used with a microfiber mop to clean the hardwood. This is really where a lot of my concern about the toxicity of cleaners came about. When I thought about my son crawling across the hardwood I wondered about what kind of residues were left behind by the cleaners and, thus, on his hands when the little mitts inevitably found his way into his mouth. Yuck.
One problem with the straight vinegar and water mix is that it fails to break down some of the oils that end up on kitchen counters, tables, or floors. It requires a little more elbow grease or an application of something with a natural degreaser. Why not make my own?
Making the rounds on the internet are several variations of a homemade citrus cleaner using orange oil infused white vinegar. My father, he of the turning vegan at age sixty-four persuasion, sent me the link because it is all he is using in his house as well now.
It’s not hard to get children to eat oranges, so I was quickly given a jar full of peels:
My two children consumed a bowl of clementines in the amount of time it took to peel each fruit. It was like an assembly line of citrus consumption. Two weeks later and a quick trip through a mesh strainer gave me a pale liquid:
The liquid was surprisingly thick, but a quick dilution with water gave me a spray bottle full of all-natural citrus tinged cleaner. The spray contains d-limonene, which is the chemical that gives oranges their strong orange smell. D-limonene is also a strong, renewable solvent. This should work well to clean the stubborn spots on the countertops and stovetop that a vinegar-water solution is not capable of breaking down. Spray on!