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Cleaning with lemons vs white vinegar

Lemons and white vinegar

Lemons have a lovely fresh scent and have many uses, including cleaning. Lemons are part of the ‘citrus’ family of fruits and naturally contain an acid called ‘citric acid’. Mild acids are popular for cleaning, including dissolving limescale and cleaning dirty/greasy surfaces. Any acid will have some disinfectant properties, as bacteria do not thrive in an acidic environment.

Many people, particularly those looking to reduce their exposure to ‘synthetic’ cleaning products extol the use of lemons for cleaning. Lemons are sometimes used in conjunction with salt as a surface cleaner as it combines the acid in conjunction with the abrasive qualities of salt.

But apart from the fragrance, we would say that our white vinegar is a better practical solution for cleaning. Our white vinegar is water and acetic acid, which is very similar in many respects to citric acid. The acetic acid is created by the fermentation of molasses. The advantages of white vinegar are:

1. Much cheaper than lemons

2. Much longer ‘life’ and easier to store

3. More convenient due to the trigger spray

4. No sticky residue on surfaces (or fingers)

So in summary, the only real advantage of lemons over white vinegar is the fragrance….and that can be easily remedied by adding ingredients to the white vinegar itself. Our recommendations would be:

1. Add a few drops of apple essential oil. It’s best to do this, immediately prior to use as vinegar is a natural deodoriser and will reduce the strength of the fragrance over time

2. Infuse it with orange peel and cinnamon.

But if you really are keen on the lemon smell, you could use lemon essential oil or infuse with lemon peel.



9 thoughts on “Cleaning with lemons vs white vinegar

  1. I don’t want to keep buying plastic bottles of white vinegar, can you please tell me the ratio of citric acid to dilute (in it’s more friendly cardboard packaging) to use as a substitute.

  2. Can a bottle of citric acid be used for cleaning in the same way as your vinegar while I’m waiting for tge vinegar to arrive please?

    1. Most certainly. It also works out cheaper in the long term and there’s less waste. Simply dissolve 30 – 50g citric acid in a 500ml bottle, preferably in warm water and shake until dissolved.

  3. I always make my own cleaning sprays: white vinegar, water + essential oils ( lavender, lemon oil, tea tree, peppermint whatever I feel like using; lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus have an advantage in the summer in that they also act as insect repellents). A bit of white vinegar in the softener drawer is better than regular fabric softener & leaves clothe smelling lovely & fresh, I always use EcoZone Eco balls for washing my clothes rather than detergent. It’s all a matter of mixing & matching. What I’d love to Dry-Pak do are cleaning wipes. Please & Thankyou

    1. Thank you for your comment. White vinegar is already diluted ready to use, but if watering it down makes it go further for you, then that’s all good. Apple is a very ‘sympathetic’ essential oil to add to white vinegar.

      We are not equipped, production facility wise, to do cleaning wipes and it’s not a sector we’d particularly want to venture in to. Many find them convenient, but ecologically we feel they aren’t particularly sound. We’d much prefer people to use white vinegar and a good cloth. Many people dispose of them down the toilet, leading to blockages, either in domestic drain or the sewerage system. See our blog post on the topic of blocked drains.

    2. I’m not a fan of cleaning wipes – they’re up there with disposable nappies on the environmentally unfriendly scale! If you want something for a quick clean-up, good quality kitchen roll is a much better alternative and combined with your natural cleaner, will leave a better finish on shiny surfaces. My favourite is Regina Blitz as this can be used wet but leaves a fab finish on glass etc.

  4. Ive just read the Cleaning with lemons vs white vinegar and I’ve been using a diluted solution combined with water and drop of washing up liquid when I want to wash my windows. I make this up each time. So the option of infusing the lemons to the white vinegar is great. I’m going to give this a try and I’m looking forward to never purchasing glass cleaning spray ever again. You say to infuse with lemon peel. Is there a reason why I shouldn’t use the whole lemon?

    1. Hi Kim

      The suggestion to use just the peel is to reduce the amount of fruit that is likely to be present in the solution, which could potentially cause streaking on windows etc.

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