Make your own all-purpose citrus cleanser using orange, grapefruit, lemon, or lime peels. Take one or two quart-size canning jars and stuff them three-quarters full with citrus peels. Then pour in white vinegar and screw on the lid. Let the mixture steep for two to three weeks, and shake it daily. (The longer it sits, the more potent the cleaner will be.) After a few weeks, strain out the peels and transfer the infused vinegar to a spray bottle for use on sinks, countertops, stoves, bathtubs, or toilets.
flickr.com / via Chiot's Run
Make your own carpet freshener by combining 3 teaspoons grated citrus zest, 2 cups baking soda, and 1 cup borax in a bowl. Stir well to combine, and let the mixture sit until all moisture has evaporated. Store in a glass jar until you need it, then pull out to sprinkle on dirty carpets and rugs. With each use, give it a few minutes to absorb odors and dirt, then vacuum well.
Lemons are the secret ingredient to the easiest microwave cleanse in the world. Simply slice up a couple of them and place the wedges in a microwave-safe bowl filled with water. Nuke on high for about three minutes, then let stand for 10 minutes. The steam and lemon juice will loosen all the caked-on bits inside the microwave, so all you need to do is wipe with a clean cloth.
Salt and lime can be good for more than tequila—the combination also cuts through grease on stovetops and kitchen counters! To work the magic, sprinkle the area liberally with salt. Squeeze the juice from a lime over the salt, using as many fruits as necessary to thoroughly wet the area. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, then scrub with a rag or scrubber sponge. Wipe clean with paper towels or a damp cloth.
Scents and Sensibility
Might be time to start storing citrus in your closet—the fruit can really freshen your clothes! Stud an orange all over with whole cloves and hang in the closet to repel moths and leave clothes smelling lovely. Alternatively, you can also fill an old sock with dried lemon or orange peels for a natural drawer freshener.
Polish with Pizzazz
Make your own citrus-based furniture polish by combining 1 cup lemon juice, 2 cups olive oil, and a half cup finely chopped citrus peel in a glass jar. Shake well to combine. To use, dip a rag in the mixture and wipe down wooden surfaces. Buff dry with a clean rag, and store leftover solution in a cool, dry location.
Related: How To - Clean Wood Furniture
Kitchen garbage disposals can get pretty disgusting and smelly, full of caked-on grease and grime. Drop a handful of citrus peels down the disposal along with a three or four ice cubes, and run it until all of these are gone. What's left behind: a clean, fresh disposal and peace of mind.
Related: Even Your Garbage Disposal Needs TLC
Dried spills, soap scum, and tough stains typically need a cleaner with some abrasion. Make your own powdered citrus cleanser by mixing 1/4 cup grated citrus peels with 1 cup baking soda, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, and 1/8 cup borax in a glass canning jar; stir and shake to combine thoroughly. Sprinkle the mixture on stains, scrub with a soft brush or sponge, then wipe clean with a wet cloth.
Shine, Shine, Shine
A little elbow grease and half a lemon can make an effective, nontoxic metal polish for brass, copper, chrome, aluminum, and stainless steel. Dip the cut side of a lemon wedge into a bowl of salt. Rub firmly over the metal surface, let sit for a few minutes, and then polish vigorously with a soft cloth. Alternatively, you can make a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar that you can then wipe all over the metal; finish by polishing with a soft cloth.
Lemon juice doubles as an effective, all-natural bleaching agent. Brighten worn sneakers by spritzing on lemon juice and letting the pair sit in the sun; remove yellow underarm stains from shirts and blouses by scrubbing with a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and water; and even boost the power of your laundry detergent by adding a half-cup of lemon juice to the wash cycle.
In the Garden
They're not only for summer snacking—citrus fruits can keep away pests too! Rub orange or grapefruit peels over your skin to ward off mosquitoes and other bugs; reapply as needed. You also can use a mixture of two to three oranges blended with 1 cup of warm water as a liquid deterrent to ants; just pour the mixture directly onto an anthill.
Want a cleaner, tidier, more organized home? Sign up for the Clean Sweep newsletter to receive weekly tips, tools, and bright ideas that will help you maximize your next cleaning session.