Sep 26, 2012

DIY: Lavender Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner

So, I posted last about making your own citrus vinegar.  While this alone can be used as a fab household cleaner, I added a few additional ingredients to up the pizzazz of this natural cleaner.

The Cast: 
Dawn (or your favorite dish soap), citrus vinegar,  additional white vinegar, 70% solution isopropyl rubbing alcohol (find it in the first aid aisle), essential oil, water.

  • Dawn--a surfactant--it lowers the surface tension of water allowing it to interact with oil/grease/grime pulling it away from its source
  • citrus vinegar and white vinegar--the acid content makes it a great all-around cleaning agent
  • rubbing alcohol--effective disinfectant and antiseptic; also dries quickly for a streak-free finish
  • tea tree essential oil--antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties 
  • lavender essential oil--relaxing aromatherapy

 Now there are lots of different recipes out there for all-purpose cleaners, but be mindful of this one tip--if the recipe calls for baking soda and/or castile soap AND vinegar, just click away.  The reason is that baking soda and castile soap are bases, and vinegar is an acid, so combined they can react to create an awful oily mess and leave you with a non-cleaning solution.  Check out Dr. Bronner's article (of the famed all-natural castile soap) on  how mixing an acid and a base cancels the effectiveness of both.

Here's what I did:

I strained the citrus vinegar through a coffee filter to remove any citrus pulp that might clog the spray pump.

I mixed the citrus vinegar, additional white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, Dawn, and the essential oil.  Looking at this picture, you can imagine my dismay to see oil sitting on top of my cleaning solution.  I didn't consider the fact that essential oil is indeed oil, therefore it isn't soluble in water. I blame it on pregnancy brain--might as well use the excuse while I have it!  I give the bottle a good shake before each use, and I haven't noticed any oily residue; I presume the proportion of oil is too small to have any effect.

So here's what I think of this cleaning solution.  I LOVE IT!  Honestly, the first time I used it, I wasn't sure if I liked it.  I think the solution needed to meld a little bit, because the next day I used it again, and I thought it did a fantastic job.  Besides the fact that it does the job, it is a safe product to use around your children and here's the clincher: it smells divine. I kid you not; sometimes I spray the counters just to smell this stuff.  Not a chemical clean smell, a fresh, natural clean smell.

I've used it on my countertops, appliances, carpet (please don't ask), tabletop, walls, glass, and mirrors with equally impressive results.

Lavender Citrus All-Purpose Cleaner
2 cups water
1-1/2 cups citrus vinegar
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup 70% solution isopropyl rubbing alcohol (helps to leave surfaces disinfected and streak-free)
4 drops Dawn dish soap
7 drops tea tree oil (natural disinfectant; find in the antiseptic aisle or at a natural/health food store)
10 drops lavender oil (find at a natural/health food store)

Mix it all together in a spray bottle. This makes a little more than a quart (36 oz.), so store any extra for refilling your spray bottle.  I have mine under the sink in a canning jar. Shake well before each use.

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