What isn’t there to love about citrus fruit? It is vibrant and bright, it looks beautiful when sliced, it adds flavor to delicious foods, and it has a multitude of practical uses. You may not know it yet, but these tangy fruits are also about to become your best friend when it comes to cleaning up.
The Citrus Clan
With a global industry valuing at over 5 billion U.S. dollars, citrus fruits are treasured for their high amounts of vitamin C, soluble fiber content, and healthy flavonoids. Citrus fruits also measure low on the glycemic index when compared with many other snacks, including most other fruits—which means it doesn’t make our blood sugar rise too quickly.
Citrus is generally thought to have originated in southeast Asia. From there, various species have been cultivated since ancient times. Today’s varieties can trace their ancestry to just four fruits; the Citrus micrantha, Citrus medica, Citrus reticulata, and Citrus maxima. No matter which citrus fruit you favor, each variety offers potent compounds for your health and wellbeing (and maybe even your cleaning routine!).
Lemons are known and loved for their sour, fresh taste. The acid in lemons works in harmony with your digestive system, while the vitamin C gives your body exactly what it needs. Lemon essential oil has additional benefits like uplifting your spirits and clarifying your skin and pores. Learn more about its cleaning potential from our post all about Lemon cleaning.
Limes are valued worldwide for their sharp, tart flavor that can power through sweetness and brighten boring soups and chilis. Bursting with vitamin C, limes can work just like lemons, supporting your body and clarifying your skin. Lime essential oil offers the brightest scent of all the citrus oils.
Mandarins are small, sweet, and sharp fruits that hail from the citrus reticulata tree. Mandarin essential oil is lauded by many for its powerful, fresh smell. In fact, it is a common ingredient in perfumes. Mandarin is also great for brightening the day and refreshing the mind.
Tangerines are small, tangier cousins of the mandarin. While tangerines are high in vitamin C, they are also highly concentrated sources of the antioxidant beta-cryptoxanthin. This compound is used by the body to produce vitamin A. Furthermore, tangerines are a great source of potassium and B vitamins. Tangerine essential oil is great for relaxing during stressful times.
The most popular citrus fruits, oranges are used in cuisine, pastries, juices, and devoured raw in droves. Oranges are filled with natural antioxidants. Orange essential oil lifts the spirits with its sweet, characteristic smell. It also improves the appearance of dull skin.
Grapefruit is a favorite breakfast for people who want something a little less sweet. This beautiful pink fruit is a lovely concoction of sweet, sour, and bitter. Like other citrus fruits, it is low on the glycemic index. Grapefruit essential oil is energizing and acts as a light astringent for healthier looking skin.
Clementines are the small, sweet fruits that come by crossing the mandarin with the sweet orange. Anciently, clementines were celebrated as the “crown jewels” of the mandarin family. Because of its perfect size and easy-to-peel skin, many modern families would agree. Clementine essential oil uplifts and revitalizes.
Bergamot is a lesser-known citrus fruit prized for its aromatic properties. Native to and popular in regions of Italy, Bergamot is a small green citrus that is not often eaten raw. However, it is a common ingredient in teas, jams, and desserts. Bergamot essential oil compliments other essential oils very well and smells amazing when diffused.
Why Cleaners Use Citrus
Have you ever wondered why so many commercial cleaners have a citrus base? Just walk the cleaner aisle of your local grocery store and you will find all kinds of orange sprays, lemon detergents, and even citrus-based industrial-grade solvents. You might think it is for the fresh smell so characteristic
of citrus fruits. However, the smell is only a secondary benefit. Citrus oils boast mighty cleansing, degreasing, and dissolvent properties. While citrus oils are highly effective cleaners, they are also non-corrosive, versatile, natural, and safe.
Tips and Tricks to Citrus Cleaning
There are few messes that citrus can’t tackle. From disinfecting to removing grease, ink, adhesives, oil, and gum, citrus has you covered.
To disinfect your garbage disposal, simply feed it a few citrus peels, turn on the cold water, and let it grind away bad smells and goopy residues. Don’t have citrus on hand? Just do the same thing with some ice and a few drops of your favorite citrus essential oil–mine’s grapefruit.
To remove adhesives, gum, tar, or other sticky messes, simply dab a few drops of citrus essential oil onto the area. With a gloved finger or damp rag, agitate the mess until it lifts, then wipe clean. Don’t for get to rinse with water, citrus has a tendency to break down more than just its desired foe.
To make your own natural degreaser, combine 1 cup warm water, ½ tablespoon baking soda, and 15 drops lemon essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray, wipe, and be amazed.
To brighten your whites without harsh chemicals, soak them for several hours in a mixture of ½ cup lemon juice for each gallon of hot water. Launder as you normally would.
To disinfect commonly touched areas such as your keyboard, mouse, and phone, wet a microfiber cloth with our lemon hand sanitizer and wipe down the area.
Any time you can replace a toxic commercial cleaner with something natural, like citrus, everyone wins. Your home will sparkle, and your pocketbook and the earth will thank you. Try one of these tips, or experiment and discover new ways that citrus can assist you with your cleaning.