DIY for a greener household: Citrus scrap cleaner

Reducing compostable food scraps from entering landfill is something we all ultimately need to do in order to minimise household waste. Before we turn our food scraps into compost, let’s look at how we could make better use of the parts we don’t eat, like making a more pleasant smelling household cleaning solution.

There are many ways our scraps can be used, but turning citrus peel and leftover herbs and spices into beautifully scented household cleaners, is an old classic that most of our grandparents would have made. These cleaners are natural, super cheap and can be used for almost everything around the house, even as a stain remover on clothes.

Commercially available household cleaners are often strong smelling and affect indoor air quality, so it makes sense to eliminate these from our homes. This citrus vinegar alternative is cheaper, safer and a lot better for the environment.

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant that can eliminate mould, bacteria, grease and germs. It can be purchased in bulk for one or two dollars a litre, so bring an old bottle or jar to your nearest bulk food retailer and stock up. The citrus peel adds a fresh scent, but they also contain oils that have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, which makes this cleaner a safe and natural option for your family.

Be mindful when using a vinegar based cleaner as it is acidic and can stain porous stone bench tops like marble or granite.

Another tip to get the best from your household cleaning equipment, look for glass spray bottles with a chemical resistant nozzle to extend the life of your cleaning tools.

Citrus scrap cleaner

What's needed

To make your own batch of natural citrus cleaner you will need the following items:

  • one large wide-mouthed jar
  • white vinegar
  • citrus peel to fill a jar including orange, lemon, mandarin, lime or grapefruit
  • herbs or spices (optional)
  • one spray bottle.


  1. Fill your jar with leftover citrus peel. Winter is the perfect time to collect lemon, lime and mandarin peel as they are all in season!
  2. Soak the peel by adding the vinegar until the jar is full. If you don’t have enough peel, leave some space in the jar and top it up over a few days, or freeze your peel until you have enough to make a batch.
  3. Expired spices or leftover herbs can be added to the solution so get creative, the combinations are endless! For example, rosemary and cinnamon sticks add a warm scent to the end product.
  4. Let the jar sit for a couple of weeks.
  5. Strain and keep the vinegar once it has been infused by the peel.
  6. Use a funnel and pour the liquid into a spray bottle.
  7. Dilute with a little bit of water and add a dash of dishwashing liquid if desired.

This cleaner can be used as a multipurpose cleaner around the house. Sprinkle bicarb soda on tough stains in food preparation areas like cutting boards and stove tops before cleaning with your citrus spray to really lift grease and baked on residue.

Once you have tried this out, keep saving your peel as this makes an inexpensive gift to bring next time you’re invited for dinner. Anything with a handwritten label is sure to be treasured.  

Living a low waste, sustainable lifestyle isn’t about depriving ourselves of the things that make our lives easier. It is about minimising the excess and being resourceful with what we have and reducing our unnecessary, wasteful and sometimes harmful habits. The things that are good for us are also good for the planet.

About guest blogger Hanna Hervall

Hanna lives a zero waste lifestyle with her family in Brisbane. Her new business initiative, The Green Light Collective highlights sustainable solutions from around the world and inspires people and organisations to take immediate action.

"Helping businesses find ways to become green, clean and sustainable is only half the job," Hanna says, "sharing it with the world and inspiring others to follow is how we can make the biggest impact."

This post was updated on 28 October 2019.

Date posted:
Last updated:28 October 2019
Topics: green